A Church-Based Approach to Ending Family Homelessness

Pastor feedback about neighboring

Summary of Feedback from Pastors about Neighboring 

In the October 2016 Affiliate Council Meeting, council members suggested that feedback on the new neighboring language be invited from pastors, since pastors will be the ones (at least in some cases) who will promote the idea to their congregations. Council members and Bridge of Hope National, together, have, to date, reported feedback from 13 pastors, with the following demographics:


15 % African-American

70 % Caucasian

15%  not identified


85 % male

15 % female


54 % under 55 years of age

46 % over 55 years of age

Region where Pastor lives:

1 from York County, PA

4 from Lancaster County, PA

2 from Chester County, PA

2 from Harrisburg Area, PA

1 from Montgomery County, PA

1 from Berks County, PA

1 from other areas in PA

1 from New Jersey

In summary, all 13 pastors were very affirming of the language change, from mentoring to neighboring. One pastor indicated initial  hesitations but in the end was affirming.

Comments included:

  • I love this new language. It focuses church members on the call of Christ to engage with those who are hurting. 
  • I welcome this new language. 
  • The Biblical message will draw our congregants.
  • It is very welcoming and is consistent to the core with Bridge of Hope values.
  • I love the video, and I think the shift from “mentoring” to “neighboring” will be positive for Bridge of Hope.
  • This is cool, an awesome initiative!
  • I like the idea of neighbor because it puts everyone on an even playing field, and better communicates the value of each person in the group.  
  • I like the language of “neighbor.” I think it does 2 things well:  First, it places it within the biblical story so that people have a category for how their work with Bridge of Hope intersects with Jesus’ teachings about loving our neighbor. Second, if humanizes those we’re helping, which I think gets at some of the critique around how we do charity overall and particularly as Christians. And it also creates some cool teaching opportunities for me as a pastor.
  • Everyone knows what a neighbor is or should be, so I think this is an improvement over “mentoring.”
  • I think changing from mentor/mentoring to Neighboring is a prudent decision. The former sounds too authoritative and irrelevant to an adult. The latter makes it more relational where both sides are rewarded and play a part; not just one. It further answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Great transition.
  • I like it. I am intrigued by the new language and how you define it. It certainly conveys a more reciprocal relationship of mutual learning than “mentoring” does.
  • I think the term neighboring is reflective of the biblical concepts seen in Matthew 25 as well as in the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. The use of this word seems to express the focus of Bridge of Hope which puts the emphasis on relationship rather than role or classification of people into a segment of society. I think it positively reflects Bridge of Hope’s ministry perspective. I tried to be self-aware to note if it pushed any internal buttons that caused me to react negatively to what you are trying to communicate through the word “neighboring” and it didn’t. I am encouraged by the relational focus of Bridge of Hope.

Other helpful comments that we can use to inform our materials for engaging churches were as follows: 

  • The stronger (and earlier) you can make the connection to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the better the new language will be received. 
  • I may have appreciated a bit more on emphasis [in the video] on “neighboring” beyond our immediate neighborhood. I don’t think most people instinctively recognize homeless families as neighbors (and most “neighboring groups” aren’t going to come from areas with high concentrations of homelessness), so helping to activate our imaginations for neighboring in a broader sense would be good. 
  • Feeling as though I should give some additional feedback [besides awesome]… I did a search of neighbor in the scriptures, and the video describes well the roll of neighbor, and is in line with the biblical illustration of neighbor. Particularly in proverbs there are several references to Neighbor, which match really well. James also has a statement about not judging your neighbor, and that fits well too.  
  • My one suggestion would be to downplay the ‘contemporary / fresh’ explanation. In my opinion, that makes one think Bridge of Hope is just trying to be cool. I’d emphasize how important language is and the fact that ‘neighboring’ much more precisely and robustly describes what kind of relationship you’re looking to foster than ‘mentoring’ does. Who cares if the language is ‘contemporary,’ you want it to be meaningful and accurate.