Thursday, November 5, 2015

LOVE MY CITY: Neighborhood-Driven Churches

Jeremiah 29:7
"Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare."

It's easy for churches to get caught up in thinking about what the surrounding community can do for them.  What if a certain amount of people in the region joined up?  (Think how big the church would be!) And what if those people all gave generously from their resources? (Think how great the programs could be!)  And so churches often move from their deteriorating neighborhoods into more prominent locations, filled with booming populations of well-resourced families.

But that type of thinking seems flawed from the start.  Do people exist to build churches?  Or do churches exist for the good of God's people?

The longer I've been in South Bend, the more I have come to recognize and appreciate the many churches that really do love and serve the neighborhoods where they are planted.  These churches show the love of God to our city, and through God's love we see our city becoming great.

Many of these churches have found resources and encouragement from the Christian Community Development Association, which brings together churches and organizations who are working together for the peace and prosperity of their cities.

Here are just a few of the churches that I have seen loving their neighborhoods in profound ways:
  • Living Stones Church:
    • Home of the I ❤ South Side bumper stickers you may see around town.  LSC has done a phenomenal job of embracing the South Side, particularly the Miami Hills area near the church off Donmoyer.
  • Kingdom Christian Center:
    • Located on Elwood between the Near Northwest and Far Northwest neighborhoods, KCC has shown God's love to their community by being vocal opponents to violence in the community, barbershop & daycare ministry, and more.
  • Riverside Church:
    • RC has embraced their neighborhood south of the airport by launching the Beacon, a community center for the West Side.  RC also recently merged with City Chapel, a congregation that had loved the DTSB area faithfully for more than a decade.
  • St. Augustine Catholic Parish:
    • Just west of downtown on Washington, St. Augustine has been an ongoing presence in standing for justice and seeing basic needs met in the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Southgate Church:
    • Formerly Calvary Temple, Southgate has been serving the Southernmost edge of the city through community programs, athletics, and more.  They are now part of the greater Hope City Church, with a campus also on the West Side.
  • New City Presbyterian Church:
    • A new church plant, NCPC has a heart to serve the community downtown and just to the north.
  • That Church Downtown:
    • Located in Monroe Park Neighborhood, TCD has been a force for neighborhood focused presence, prayer, and care for a couple years now.
  • Tree of Life Anglican:
    • Tree of Life is as neighborhood as they come.  ToL meets in a home just south of Edison Intermediate School and loves their neighborhood well.
  • River Park Grace:
    • RPG is planted in the River Park Neighborhood and loves its community in many ways, most notably through The Well coffee shop.  RPG & The Well bring the opportunity for community connection to their neighbors.
  • Keller Park Church:
    • I'm a little partial here, but I am blessed by the KPC.  It started decades ago as a community center in the KP neighborhood and continues to embrace the people of the KP neighborhood by living, serving and worshiping as neighbors.