Barlow-Thompson preaches on the power of neighboring

David Burke


When he started discussing Asset-Based Community Development with people a decade ago, the Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson said, “their eyes would glaze over.” 

Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson, co-founder of The Neighboring Movement, delivers the opening sermon at Orders & Fellowship. Photo by David Burke

Barlow-Thompson -- co-founder of The Neighboring Movement, known in Wichita as SoCe Life -- began the 2020 Orders & Fellowship Gathering with a sermon that emphasized the simplest form of ABCD: Neighboring. 

“Neighboring is bubbling up all over the place,” he said. “Our neighbors are the people who have this special power to bring out something good in us.” 

Jesus, Barlow-Thompson told his fellow pastors, told us to neighbor, as illustrated in scriptures about Lazarus. 

“This story really hit home for me,” Barlow-Thompson said. “Jesus is out there with my neighbor, and I need to be out in this space.” 

Churches that take a neighboring attitude as they move forward can absorb some of the impact of a likely split among The United Methodist Church, Barlow-Thompson said. 

“We have a lot of sunk cost in being church in a particular way,” he said. “We’ve been the church for a long time.” 

Acknowledging “a lot of grief in the room” over the likely division, Barlow-Thompson said following Jesus and loving our neighbors can make a difference. 

“Jesus is with us in our grief and our pain,” he said. “Jesus is out there waiting – with our neighbors.” 

Watch the video of his sermon.

Contact David Burke, communications content specialist, at

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