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The Hopeful Neighborhood Field Guide

If you live somewhere and have an interest in that somewhere, then you should read this short book!  Tony Cook and Don Everts offer six short sessions to help you and your church or community group pursue the common good right where you live. 

Through easy to read content and short testimonial and instructional videos, you will learn to take concrete steps to seeking the common good for your neighborhood.   The Hopeful Neighborhood approach focuses on

  • possibilities over deficits,
  • discovering and sharing individual gifts,
  • valuing your neighborhood’s uniqueness,
  • measuring your communities health
  • imagining possibilities for collaboration
  • creating a plan and putting it into action

The Hopeful Neighborhood Field Guide is a companion book to The Hopeful Neighborhood which includes research from the Barna Group and Lutheran Hour Ministries along with many examples of what happens when the Church and community join together for the common good. Through the sessions in the Field Guide, Hopeful Neighborhood guides you through three steps:  Discover the Gifts, Imagine the Possibilities, and Pursue the Common Good.  You can also join the Hopeful Neighborhood Network to learn from and with others around the country.  

You can also join a Hopeful Neighborhood Book Club to meet with other faith leaders around the world to join in a virtually facilitated discussion on pursuing the common good in your neighborhood. There are upcoming one-time discussion or a 6-week discussion sessions starting in May.

Although I’ve read the Field Guide, I have not actually gone through the steps in my neighborhood. It was challenging, though, as I read to think through the questions and tasks using my own neighborhood and realized how little I do know about it.  What are some of the individual gifts of my neighbors? I know Fred is extremely generous with his time and his tools; Sylvia is a very hard worker and DIY expert in home maintenance; Karen is a passionate social justice advocate.  But what about the others?  I can name some of the neighborhood gifts too but am now challenged to keep my eyes open to those, as well as to get to know my immediate neighbors in a new way!

What about you? Are you committed to pursuing the common good in your neighborhood? Do you know where to start? How well do you know your neighbors and your neighborhood? Tools like The Hopeful Neighborhood Field Guide can help us work together to build a Gospel-centered common good that we all so desire!

Both books are available for purchase through The Hopeful Neighborhood website or IVPress.

12 Neighbors Films and Discussion Guides

12 Neighbors is a film series exploring what it truly means to love your neighbor. These high-quality videos show how churches and individuals are loving their neighbors in bold and innovative ways across the U.S. and Canada, such as:

  • understanding systems of injustice,
  • spending themselves,
  • doing development,
  • creating contexts for community, and
  • starting with strengths to love and serve one another.

Each video features stories of people doing each of these things, living out Jesus’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves. The featured programs include Jobs for Life, ESL teaching to refugees, a blended housing complex for families in need and older adults, a community food center, and more. Videos may be watched in order or individually, as they also can stand alone.

Each film is 12-16 minutes long and comes with discussion questions for small groups. Trailers and social media graphics are also available. Each of these resources is a completely free download, so that groups may use them regardless of funding or location. These videos could be a great catalyst for discussion and ideas for a small group, community program, or just a group of friends looking to make a change. 

Check it out for yourself at 12neighbors.org and let us know how you will use this resource! 

SPIRITUAL FIRST AID

I know my neighbor is hurting, but I don’t know how to help him. How do I assess his needs and find the best way to care for him?

Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute presents the Spiritual First Aid Course. This course is created both for Christian laypersons and professionals who care for others around them. Spiritual First Aid is not intended to diagnose or treat problems, but rather, is intended to give helpers a framework to humbly listen, assess the needs of others, and find ways to serve them effectively, whether that is by helping problem-solve or referring the person to others who can help.

The methodology of Spiritual First Aid follows the acronym BLESS: Belonging, Livelihood, Emotional, Safety, and Spiritual. Each of these areas of need is described in detail, with a firm realization that typically people experience needs in more than one category at the same time. Helpers are enabled to ask questions to identify the most pressing area of need at the moment, listen and then consider some ways to help, and then, if time, circle back to other areas of need. Throughout the course, there is an emphasis on caring for others with humility.

Spiritual First Aid is a research-based approach that can be used by helpers with anyone around them, not just other Christians. It was designed to train helpers in many different kinds of disaster zones, from hurricanes to mass shootings, but this online course has been specifically adapted to helping in the COVID-19 pandemic, although the principles can be used with anyone in need. 

The course is entirely online and self-paced, allowing for participants to move through as they wish. It includes short reading materials, video lectures, videos, and commentaries. One of the most unique features of this course are the role-play scenarios, each of which shows a video call between two individuals illustrating one of the areas of need. This is followed by a replay of the video, which is paused by discussions between the course facilitators to talk about what is happening, what is being done well, and what else could be added to the helper’s approach. 

Spiritual First Aid could be used by pastors, lay helpers, and even mental health professionals in learning better ways to care for the people around them. 

The course costs $99 for a single users with organizational and group rates available. The price includes a downloadable workbook in a variety of languages and many tip sheets by topic. You can learn more and sign up on their website.