God has taken me on an incredible journey. I was once a young man who was itching to get as far away as possible from my neighborhood. Now, twenty years later, as an unplanned returning resident, I love Englewood passionately and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Church Forsaken shares this story.
This message can resonate with any resident, religious or not, but as a pastor I am obligated to remind local churches of our responsibility to be present in local communities in a real and tangible manner.
Beyond weekly worship gatherings and activities of charity, local churches and their members should be looking for ways to partner with and learn from their surrounding neighbors.
Many churchgoers, especially in neglected neighborhoods, have no idea what the local church has to do with the present state of their community. There are dozens of local churches in most communities and yet these congregations are often disconnected from the concerns and desires of the residents in which they are called to serve.
I am challenging local churches to rediscover that loving our neighbor means loving our neighborhood. Unpacking the themes of Jeremiah 29, in Church Forsaken I show how Christians can be fully present in local communities, building homes and planting gardens for the common good.
What is distinctive about my approach is that I am not speaking from the perspective of someone who relocated to a neglected neighborhood, which is often the perspective we hear from.
I am speaking as someone whose perspective about their own community changed as I began to practice presence. Many current residents and CCD practitioners have concerns about staying in neglected neighborhoods, as well as fears and worries that come with challenging the narrative of escapism.
This book speaks to why practicing presence is so important for the church and is honest about the struggles that people from these communities face when they stay rooted in their neighborhoods.
My hope is to not only see churches present and partnering in their communities but to have community stakeholders and civic leaders rediscover that churches are viable partners.
The local church can aid in community transformation in ways they may have never considered. CCDA family, we know that God has always been at work in neglected neighborhoods. Join me on this journey as we discover new hope for our communities.
– Jonathan “Pastah J” Brooks
RSVP today to join us in celebrating the release of this important new CCD resource- space is limited!