Funny how little things catch your eye. Reading an article in the Enquirer about big money being behind all the ballot referendums in Ohio, I came across the following quote: "Jaime Love, 29, of Amelia, for instance, said she and other members of Corinthian Baptist Church in Avondale were approached 'under false pretense' after Sunday services last month to sign a petition for Smoke Less Ohio."
This little sentence, in my opinion, demonstrates why the Cincinnati is struggling and why we felt compelled to start an urban church; and it has nothing to do with petition signing. The Corinthian Baptist Church is about a mile-and-a-half from our home. Amelia is about twenty miles away. Jaime Love drives a half an hour on a Sunday into town to attend church. Here's a map to demonstrate how far she'd have to drive to church:
Now I don't know Jaime Love; I'm sure she's a great person. Most likely she and her family grew up in the Avondale area and she eventually moved outside the 275 belt loop. Corinthian is an established African American church which people rarely leave regardless of where they move. The attendance of these urban churches have maintained somewhat steady over the years while the communities in which they're located have deteriorated. But while Jaime probably thinks she's helping the city, she's most likely harming it.
My analysis: these communities are struggling because God-fearing people have fled to suburbia, leaving a moral and spiritual vacuum behind. To some extent they still "believe" in the neighborhoods, so they go to church there supposing that, if the church remains, there's still a good presence there. Thus, they feel good about their attendance at an urban church thinking that they're keeping things going. But what they don't realize is that THEY ARE THE CHURCH and their presence [habitation] in the city is necessary for a positive effect. And because people falsely believe that church attendence equals health, we're not accurately measuring the situation.
It's not enough to have churches, and/or large churches, in our cities. We need Christian people to inhabit these communities if we ever hope to see the kind of city change we're praying for.
You know, I've never done this, but I really think some of you reading this need to move to the city. You might laugh at that suggestion, thinking we were suicidal for moving here, but maybe it's something you should pray about. If you've ever wanted to be a missionary but thought there was no way you could move out of the country, America's cities are a great place to start. It's not third world, but it's been forgotten.
You have no idea what kind of difference your presence could make.