What does it mean to truly connect to a place and its people in a meaningful way? Don Everts’ quest to find the answer resulted in The Hopeful Neighborhood: What Happens When Christians Pursue the Common Good (InterVarsity Press, 2020).

After traveling to a Hutchmoot gathering in Tennessee and a read through Wendell Berry’s classic novel about rural life, Jayber Crow, Everts realized his lifelong nomadic experience of frequent moves left a gap in his understanding of what it means to fully inhabit a community.

Everts incorporates biblical truths, insights from church history, and original contemporary research from the Barna Group and Lutheran Hour Ministries into The Hopeful Neighborhood. He does not shy away from the realities facing our world today. A rise in materialism since WWII continues to lead neighbors further from one another, into ever-increasing chronic loneliness and isolation. While this research pre-dates the global COVID pandemic, undoubtedly the healthcare crisis accelerated this trend. Our “neighborhoods are no longer places where we are known and active;” Christians are no longer actively working against this trend, reducing our ability to remain relevant to our neighbors.

Readers benefit from the form Everts uses to weave together and present his findings in an approachable, straight-forward, and practical framework. Guided reflection questions end each chapter, providing opportunities to immediately consider how to move the information presented from the page into practice.

The combination of solid research and pragmatic application make this book a valuable guide for Christians seeking opportunities to bring hope and healing into their own neighborhoods. Although not presented in a workbook format, the end-of-chapter exercises kept together by readers have the potential to create a valuable roadmap that leads to the development of healthy and hopeful neighborhoods.

“This path starts right at our front doors and leads, by God’s guidance and grace, to the pace and people around us.”—Don Everts

Does this book offer a quick fix to all that ails communities in the era of political division, racial tension, and a global pandemic? It does not. However, it does extend an invitation to Christians seeking opportunities to follow the way of The Better Samaritan, learning to do good better.

After all, as Everts points out in his conclusion, we have “...the same path in front of all us: the path from division to unity and from irrelevance to relevance. This path leads to a more grounded and integrated way of life, to a kinder and more respectful way of influencing the world, to a more compelling and active Christian presence in our country, to greater use of the gifts God has given us, and to more genuine relationships with the non-Christians in our lives. This path starts right at our front doors and leads, by God’s guidance and grace, to the pace and people around us.”

Christa Cordova works with faith-based organizations and churches as an engagement strategist. Her current work includes leadership of the marketing and communications team at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, and holds degrees from Fuller Seminary (Master of Divinity, '18) and the University of Kansas (Journalism, '03).