“We don’t need any more liquor stores and churches in my neighborhood.”
It would have been easy for me to dismiss these words, but something about Jerry’s passion for the neighborhood caused me to wrestle with them.
You see, Jerry is one of the more influential men in our neighborhood when it comes to urban renewal. He has lived in the area since he was a boy (back when it was a lot rougher) but left to attend college at the “Harvard” of art schools. He got his degree and then felt compelled to return to his neighborhood and advocate for its revitalization.
Jerry is a rare breed. Most people of his education and expertise never return to the ‘hood; they want to get out and live the good life.
After that conversation with Jerry, our team did some research on the churches in our neighborhood. Here are a few things we discovered:
- Out of the 8-10 churches in our neighborhood, most only have 6-20 members.
- These churches sit on prime real estate that could be used in a variety of ways to bring life and renewal to residents.
- Few of the attendees actually live in the neighborhood. Many commute to church from elsewhere, which can lead to a lack of care and vision for the church’s immediate neighbors.
I deeply love the Church and want to see movements of fresh, authentic expressions of church embedded in neighborhoods across the San Diego area. But something about Jerry’s expertise and passion caused me to wonder what type of church Jerry might consider as an asset to the neighborhood. Would he have put liquor stores and churches in the same category if he saw the following?
- Residents attending local churches and embodying a deep care for the neighborhood that is their home.
- Buildings being used not just as a gathering place, but as a place that brings blessing to the community.
- Churches making the Kingdom tangible by touching the very fabric of the neighborhood in which they reside.
I think this type of church just might get Jerry excited. There is no doubt in my mind that he would soon start to see these types of churches as agents of renewal and positive change. So this is what we’re praying for and working to see accomplished in this place.
Golden Hill, San Diego