Monday, April 21, 2008

The Kings are Coming

We're having a little trouble in my neighborhood these days. The Latin Kings are attempting to move in, or maybe back in. It's not that the Latin Kings are necessarily worse than the gang that's already here, but rather the transfer of power that I'm concerned about.

This is a picture I took tonight of the viaduct a half-block from my house as I was walking my dog. The graffiti was not there two days ago. ALKN means "Almighty Latin Kings Nation" and "MLDK" means "Maniac Latin Disciple Killers". And they're serious... they really do kill each other. While the politicians pontificate about more gun laws, broken young men in broken homes and broken families kill each other instead of playing baseball together and nobody seems to be asking why.
But we know why. Broken people break things. And we're broken because of sin - generational sin, institutional injustice, personal immorality, sinful choices, and our innate depravity.
Of course the Gospel addresses this powerfully.
Will we take it to the streets?

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Blogger Sarah said...

How do we take it to the streets, Steve?

I mean, really, literally?
what you want to do?

April 22, 2008 at 12:48 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

We can start modestly and work our way up...

I'm taking both my High School and College small groups out on the street - praying around schools and talking to people who are willing.

But it has to go beyond that. The church has to immerse itself in the lives of people. We are doing that to some extent at our church (tutoring, youth group, home visitation, Peace Patrols, neighborhood relationship networking, etc.), but we need to take it to the next level.

We need to create a culture of ministry and evangelism, where getting into the nitty gritty of the neighborhoods is in the DNA of the majority of church members.

That takes time. It's a shame that we're not that aggressive anymore, but I believe God will honor our repentance.

April 22, 2008 at 12:10 PM  
OpenID shanevanderhart said...

Very true. We have to go to them, so much of church is come and invite. That doesn't work. Great suggestions.

April 22, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Meridith said...

We talked about this in grow group Tuesday night. It's impacting an individual's life one-on-one in the name of Christ; but, you're right, it does take time.

This past weekend, I drove one of Caitlyn's friends home from our house to the west side. It was around 9:30 p.m. and you can feel what I will call "ripeness" for violence in the air (like a dry hillside in California before the Santa Ana winds kick up and turn deadly). Perhaps, this is what our city needs to bring revival.

April 23, 2008 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Beautiful post Steve!

I am a firm believer in Young Life's motto: "Meet them where they're at, and earn the right to be heard."

Relational evangelism. This is the ONLY way to reach Gang Members that I am aware of - unless you can get to an O.G./Leader and win them over. Often, they will bring some of the "shorties" with them.

So the real question in my opinion is, "how do we relationally engage them (the gangs)?" Where do we start?...

April 25, 2008 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

For me personally, there are few gangbangers who could really relate to me, though there are some. Wlaking up and striking up a conversation might not be the best strategy in my personal approach.

However, I am pretty tight with a number of young guys who came from the streets and now love Jesus and eat up Scripture like it's meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Guys like this can and must be equipped by people like me and you to be bridge builders between the church and the streets.

The caveat is that in order to equip them, I must model what I want to reproduce. So there is still responsibility on my part to be on the streets, even if I'm not the one doing all the talking.

This is presently going on all over Chicago on a small scale, and that's the dilemma of my post. We are doing SOME of the right things, but on a scale that does not address the problem adequately.

How do we do MORE of the right things, and on a larger scale?

I don't beleive the church is going to "fix" the world before Jesus comes back. In fact, if I'm reading my Bible right, it's only going to get worse.

But right now in Chicago, the Church has egg on its face in the eyes of unbelievers (and as a result Jesus does too). The church can and must show the power of God.

April 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Mmm Granola. said...

Dang Steve, too true... Gangs are no joke, I realize that more and more every time I go to work and I hear the kids talk about ones they can't wait to join. 10 year olds with knowledge of drugs, sex and guns. Taking it to the streets, ministering on the streets, effective. Taking it off the streets, inviting bangers as they are, effective. I might have a few coming to SST this year... prayerfully.

May 6, 2008 at 4:54 AM  

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