Churches have a vital role in preventing violence on our streets

On Monday night this week (16th April), one of my colleagues who lives in Leytonstone and I took part in the prayer walk through the area, to remember the tragic and violent death of Paul Erhahon.  I am heartbroken by this, and by the many other needleess and violent deaths of young people that have occurred in London recently.  My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and communities of all those who have died or been hurt.

The walk was organised by Churches Together, but included people of all faiths, colours and cultures, as the community came together to show they want to stand together against a culture of violence that seems to be growing.

Lives have been torn apart.  We cannot sit back and do nothing.  It is vital that churches now rise to the call of being at the forefront of engaging with young people.  There are churches in every community in the UK, and they are in an ideal position to initiate and lead work with our young people and their families.  Thousands of Christians and people of faith across the country are already working compassionately and inclusively, at the heart of their communities, in this way, for instance with groups such as Street Pastors, the Peace Alliance, and Bringing Hope in Birmingham, to name only a very few excellent examples.

I want to encourage more churches to work together to put more resources, time and effort into helping the young people around them.  I also want to call on statutory agencies to recognise the huge potential that churches hold for bringing positive change, and to continue supporting and extending their work with them.

In Leytonstone in particular there is a pressing need for a safe place for young people.  Leytonstone United Free Church is currently leading in trying to set up such a project, and is due to meet with the local council and statutory youth services soon to try to take this forward.

The answers to these problems lie within our communities, and only be working together can we solve them.

I’d love to hear what you think.

2 comments

  1. I sometimes wonder what I might do if confronted by a person(s) wielding a knife. In my finer moments I like to think I would say, ‘Have you met the Lord Jesus Christ,’ In my less finer moments I imagine this great surge of adrenalin and I rush at my attackers and hopefully kill them before they kill me. Either way I might end up losing my life but if I took the former course of action a seed would have been sown.
    The answer to these problems does not lie in our communities it lies in minds transformed by the renewing power of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus command to the churches is clear ‘…go and make disciples of all nations.’ The Word of God preached boldly will bring about the changes society needs.
    Any other approach seems back to front to me. If we try and cure social ills by attempting to conform the social order to the teachings of Christ we have not kept the command given to us. The ‘Social Gospel’ tries to transform society. The Gospel of Christ transforms people through the renewing of their minds.

  2. Hi Steve
    Thanks for the comments. I think actually the gospel imperative lies in both personal transformation and our call to change the world. The world is changed by changed people – but Christians are not the only source of goodness or kindness in society. The call to preach the gospel is about words undoubtedly, but it is also about love, life and the way we engage with and treat others.
    I think a social gospel believes that the only way our communities are changed is if we bring about that change. The gospel as I understand it is not about us changing the world, it is about the fact that Jesus life, death and resurrection has inaugurated God’s Kingdom, that it will only ultimately be brought fully into being through the return of Christ, and that the church has a responsibility to live in the reality of what shall be in faith, living our lives for the establishment of the Kingdom. That involves words and actions – personal and private morality. Discipleship is not just about one decision to follow Jesus, it is a putting to death of all that is wrong in my life on a day by day basis and becoming more like Christ in everything I say and do.
    I think you have both personalised and privatised the Good news too much.

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