One day we got the report that crime dropped around the area by the Dream Center 73%. A police officer came by to thank us. I said, “Why are you thanking us?” He said because your church has “changed the atmosphere of the community.” He went on to say that by doing good for so long that this neighborhood’s peer pressure had begun to change. Simply put he said, “you’ve made this a place where people don’t want to do crime.”
I thought about his remarks and the statement “changing the atmosphere of a community” stung my ears. Then, I began to think about the day by day, relentless work of the people doing consistent loving acts of service in our neighborhood. Food trucks daily, medical trucks daily, graffiti cleanup daily, it hit me; the church can change any community in America if we are relentless in day by day outreach. Not a nine week series, not a once a month activity, but a relentless commitment to stand the test of time. The truth is, whoever stays longer in a community will win the heart and souls of the streets and win the battle of influence. The givers have to give more than the takers; the free have got to dominant the oppressors. In the end, we have to earn the right to be heard in any neighborhood.
The good news is that it’s starting to happen. The church is rising up and communities are changing. We must continue. The churches of America don’t need a million dollar grant or even buildings. Just a group of people who will commit themselves to a troubled area of the city and will relentlessly keep coming back day by day and change the atmosphere of the community.