Is your church looking for better ways to have a more meaningful impact in your community?

If you answered yes, then you’re in the right place! The Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE) is a transformative learning process that prepares congregations with the practical tools they need to forge more meaningful relationships with and sustainable impact on their community.

We speak to so many congregations that desire to thrive as instruments of God’s love. 

However, shifting cultural and social contexts have changed what is necessary for congregations to do this. 

IF YOU…

  • Aren’t effectively connecting with your community in an authentic and impactful way.
  • Are struggling to sustain your church under traditional models of serving your community.
  • Feel gross about evangelizing in the way most of us have been taught.

AND YOU WANT…

  • To find better ways to express your faith in ways that genuinely care about your neighbors (and not just your church). 
  • To find ways to integrate your faith into your daily life and interactions rather than just when you attend something at church.
  • To be a relational, abundant and joyful congregation.
  • To see where the Spirit of God is moving and draw upon your congregation’s strengths in order to follow it.
  • To energize your church members and strengthen your community.

Your Congregation Can Start Thriving In the New World

If your church cares and believes they can make a difference in their community, but they don’t know how, you’re in the right place. The GNE has helped dozens of congregations achieve each and every one of these things.

Learn How In The Good Neighbor Experiment

What You Experience

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Gain Practical Tools
The GNE gives you hands-on, practical tools to create lasting, authentic relationships with your neighbors.
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Go From Scarcity to Abundance
Through the GNE, you will become bridge-builders instead of do-gooders, connectors instead of providers. You will be able to identify and dig up the abundance in your community.
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Learn a Different Way
Learn to do things differently. “I used to…. but now I’m intentional about building relationships with my neighbors and others in my community.”
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Revitalize Spirituality
When an emphasis is placed on relationships and seeking gifts, it can revitalize standard practices and energize participants’ spirituality.
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Retreat Setting
The retreat setting of the GNE gets you out of your typical context where participants grow more as a team, creating deeper relationships with fellow church members and colleagues.
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Continuing Ed Credit
The GNE offers pastors the opportunity for continuing education credit in Asset Based Community Development.

Want to experience how the GNE will impact your congregation?

SUPPORTING PARTNERS

Discipleship Ministries
Rev. Cheryl Scramuzza

The Good Neighbor Experiment was a wonderful experience for our small group that participated. We shared a meal each time we met and grew closer to one another in relationships that were grown and in sharing our stories in class. The material challenged us to think about how we can be better neighbors and individuals and as a church community. We gained new ideas and added perspectives from the Asset Based Community Development model, which I expect will continue to drive our missional efforts into the future, so we are approaching this work by seeking the abundance of gifts in our midst and all that the community has to offer one another.

What’s Inside the Good
Neighbor Experiment

  • Created by the Asset-Based Community Development and Neighboring specialists behind The Neighboring Movement, the GNE is one of the most comprehensive faith-based community development curricula. This program will equip you with perspective and the necessary tools to implement in order to thrive today. 
  • When it comes to helping churches thrive under changing societal and cultural norms, The Good Neighbor Experiment is based on learning from lots of experience.
  • From in-person or online workshops; extensive, action-based small group ‘Labs’; neighboring worship guides; and congregational coaching and support – there’s not a single stone left unturned in this 9-month process. (the neighboring movement will see you through the entire 9-month process.)
  • This content is designed to walk you step by step through the process, whether your congregation is struggling to sustain itself or you’re ready to have a more meaningful impact (presence) in your community.
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Multi-week, action-based Labs
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Workshops
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GNE Alumni Churches
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Small Group Participants

Sign up for our next Online Cohort!

The Neighboring Movement hosts virtual GNE cohorts that start each January and August. Check the registration page for the upcoming dates.

Take a Sneak Peek At What The Curriculum Covers

The Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE) is not your typical church growth program. In fact, we refer to it as the un-program. GNE participants receive training in workshops and small groups, along with individual coaching that leads them to take actionable steps toward practicing the learned skills of community neighboring.

Take a look at the slides below for a sneak peek at what the curriculum will cover.

Rev. Lora Andrews

GNE built relationships in our neighborhoods but it also refined our mission as a church. It gave our 130 year old church the tools we needed to have a fresh look at where God resides in our community and called us into something new. GNE helped me be a better neighbor personally. I found freedom in learning that I could be missional right where I was. Neighboring is the personal spiritual discipline I needed to have integrity in how I see and know God in others. I needed that regular practice and accountability to grow in my relationship with God and my neighbors.

Cost and Commitments

Responsibility for Churches

Financial Costs:
Churches will be asked to cover some cost of the cohort. This cost varies based on the number of churches participating, if the cohort is in-person or virtual, and the regional area where it is being hosted. Visit the registration page for updated information.

People Power:
Churches are asked to form a team with a minimum of 4 lay people and 1 church staff person who are committed to attending every workshop and doing all 24 weeks of the small group curriculum.

Responsibilities of Individuals

Action Ready: The GNE only works if the church is committed to actually engaging their neighbors. All participants should have the expectation of meeting their actual neighbors, both where they live and in the neighborhood of the church.

Tuition Grants

Thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Endowment and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, the GNE is made available to churches at a far lower price than the actual cost. If financial constraints are keeping your congregation from participating, please contact us, and we can have a conversation about how to apply for a tuition grant.

Special Grant Opportunity for Great Plains United Methodist Churches
If you are a church in the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, you qualify to have your entire tuition paid for thanks to the generosity of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. Churches who wish to apply for this grant would be entered into the Healthy Congregations Program, which provides ongoing support and funding for projects in your local community. You can review this process online.

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Sponsor a Church

If you would like to help sponsor the tuition of a church, please contact us.
Rev. Scott McGinnis

As a Pastor, I feel the ingredients of the Neighboring Soup are key for Christian discipleship and growing a healthy church congregation. Choosing to grow an interactive relationship with God is fundamental as a follower of Jesus. Seeing the abundance of blessings God has given us, including the beauty of creation, is an abundant part of a Christian worldview. Cultivating joy by intentional practices is fun and should be on every Christian and every human’s to-do list. In my life, putting these together through the Good Neighbor Experiment curriculum has helped me see where my life of discipleship is growing and needs to grow. Seeing my congregation reflect on these, I’ve seen them grow their sense of what a Christian church does. As a church, we grow these ingredients in people.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is The Good Neighbor Experiment different from other church growth programs?

The focus of GNE is to engage neighbors (who may or may not go to church) for the sake of authentic community building WITHOUT inviting them to attend your church.

Will this work for me if I'm not ever in the neighborhood until I go to church?

The first half of GNE is about learning to neighbor where you live. The second half is about neighboring as a congregation. That can mean neighboring within the congregation or in the church’s neighborhood.

How much time do I need to commit?

  • 3 Saturday workshops led by neighboring movement staff at the beginning, middle, and end of the 9-month process
  • In your own congregation, Lead or assist in leading 24 weeks of small group curriculum split into 4 “labs” that are each 6 weeks long.
  • During the small group’s leaders will have 1 hour of prep, 1 hour of meeting, and 1 hour of homework How about: During each week that you are leading a Lab: 1 hour of prep to lead the session, 1 hour of meeting time, and 1 hour of reading/neighboring activities like the other small-group participants)

If you are just participating in the small group these are your commitments.

  • There are four small group sessions each last six weeks long.
  • During the small groups, participants will have 1 hour of meeting time, and 1 hour of homework.

How much does The Good Neighbor Experiment cost?

The GNE cost:
The cost for most churches is between $1500-$2100. This varies based on how many churches are in a cohort and if there are any grants offsetting the cost.

Thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Endowment and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, the GNE is made available to churches at a far lower price than the actual cost. If financial constraints are keeping you from signing up your congregation, please contact us, and we can have a conversation about how to apply for a tuition grant. 

Special Grants for Great Plains United Methodist Churches
If you are a church in the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, you qualify to have your entire tuition paid for thanks to the generosity of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. Churches who wish to apply for this grant would be entered into the Healthy Congregations Program, which provides ongoing support and funding for projects in your local community. You can review this process online.

What will I learn?

Participants will learn the competencies of being a good neighbor. They include Relationship, Abundance, and Joy.

Participants will learn basic strategies for connecting and maintaining neighbor relationships.

Participants will learn the principles of Asset Based Community Development.

Participants will learn how to discover the assets of a community and how to connect those assets.

Participants will learn a process for community and individual decision making. 

Participants will shift their understanding of church: from program to relationship, from scarcity to abundance, and from inauthenticity to authentic joy.

Will this program help grow our church numbers?

Maybe? Growing the church numerically is not our goal, however, we have seen some churches grow.

READY TO TRANSFORM YOUR CONGREGATION?

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