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Sara Johnson has joined LHM as its first neighborhood project coach for its new Hopeful Neighborhood Project (HNP). Before joining the LHM team, she developed an initiative for The Salvation Army that focused on the intersection of faith and neighborhoods. "It was a joy to walk with pastors and laypeople as they discovered how to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods in a meaningful way," she said.

After morning coffee, Johnson follows up on social media and website engagement for HNP. When someone completes the EveryGift Inventory at hopeful neighborhood.org, joins its mailing list, or becomes a site member, she reaches out to help them best use HNP tools and resources in their context. Other tasks include recording voiceovers and recent work in a video about imagining the possibilities.

Concerning people's perspective of their own neighborhood and how to get their buy-in to see its future potential, Johnson said, "There is definitely a movement towards neighborhood and place-based ministry happening in many Christian circles. Neighborhood-centric phrases have entered the Christian vernacular in the last decade, for example: 'living above place,' 'the power of proximity,' 'faithful presence,' 'missional community,' 'placemaking,' etc. To me, this indicates our views are changing, in a good way.

"As for buy-in, I think it's important for people to grasp the benefit of mutual care and connection at a local level. The more people understand that our well-being is interdependent, the more likely they'll begin to see the potential in their neighborhood. We're in it together."

Johnson thinks The Hopeful Neighborhood Project is loaded with possibilities for helping neighborhoods thrive. "Among its many strengths, two stand out. First, our resources are accessible and deep. This means both a novice neighborhood enthusiast and seasoned practitioner will find our curriculum useful. Second, our resources come with a real-life guide-me! Imagine you're a pastor who is at capacity, but you have an eager young adult who wants desperately to make a difference in her neighborhood. You simply don't have the bandwidth to help her along, but I'm here to do just that. I believe that's a real asset to faith communities and neighborhoods all over.

"HNP has a three-step process to increase neighborhood well-being: discover the gifts, imagine the possibilities, and pursue the common good. If a handful of neighbors in a handful of neighborhoods choose to follow these steps, I believe we'll see healthier, happier, more connected neighborhoods. That is something I can get behind!"

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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