Neighboring 101: 7 Books To Get You Started

by Holly Duncan

I was visiting a good friend in another city who asked me, “How did you get started in the community work you’re doing? I want to love my neighbors, but I don’t even know them! What did you do in the beginning to meet people?”

I get it. Meeting new folks can be awkward. (As an introvert, I think “mingling” could be one of levels of Hell in Dante’s Inferno!) But believe me, it’s not as hard as you think! If you look around your neighborhood but don’t exactly know where to start, this is a reading list for you.

It's a collection of stories, practices, ideas, and teachings about what it means to be a good neighbor from the inner city to suburbia and across the economic spectrum. Some of these books will flip everything you’ve learned on its head. Other books will share practical applications of teachings you already know. I have read some of them and they were meaningful to me as I began tiptoeing in the waters of neighboring. Others have been recommended to me and may be a valuable resource to you as well.

Strangers at My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

A family moves to Durham, NC, and opens a house of hospitality where anyone who knocks is welcome. Join the family through trials, tribulations, joys, and laughter as they learn what it takes to be a “good neighbor” to all who show up.

Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation)

by Christopher L. Heuertz  and Christine D. Pohl

Friendship at the Margins explores the transformation that happens when Christians are motivated by friendship instead of conversion. Through storytelling and teaching, Heuertz and Pohl share the reconciliation and righteousness that comes from mutual, reciprocal friendships.

Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America

by Robert D. Lupton

Lupton tells the story of his move into a high crime area in the urban core of Atlanta. Instead of bringing the gospel to “poor people” as planned, Lupton’s expectations get turned upside down. He must reexamine his heart, biases, intentions, and attitudes around the very people he came to serve and shares the new meaning he finds in the phrase “love thy neighbor.”

Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World

by Craig Warren Greenfield

Subversive Jesus follows the Greenfield family through the poorest neighborhoods of North America all the way to Cambodian slums. Greenfield points the reader to the subversive love and acts of Jesus while showing what this may look like in the modern day. He invites the reader to love one another in ways that might seem unsafe, weird, or unconventional.

Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World

by Kent Annan

Annan understands the patience and perseverance it takes to be part of God’s kingdom. He shares sustainable practices he’s learned over the years to love God’s kingdom, even as the progress seems painstakingly slow.

The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle?

by Mike Erre

In Jesus of Suburbia, Erre argues that we have reduced Christianity to a set of rules and transformed Jesus into a predictable, safe steward of the American Dream. Erre shares how Jesus calls us to live, act, and be a neighbor in ways that overturn the status quo we so comfortably live in today.

The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door

by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

Through a retelling of their church’s story, Pathak and Runyon share what it looks like when people choose to actively love their neighbors. The authors give real-life examples of how to build authentic, loving relationships with neighbors. Learn about the struggles, trials, and ultimately the joys that come out of neighboring relationships.

I hope at least of couple of these books piqued your interest. I’d love to discuss any or all of them with you if you decide to pick one up. Also, I should mention that we’ve included affiliate links in this post. So if you click through and choose to purchase any of these books through Amazon, a small portion of the proceeds will go to EIRO. There is no additional cost to you, and we thank you for your support!

Have you read any of these? What books would you add?