By emphasizing discipleship and justice, urban churches have a neighborhood impact and empower people to bring about real transformation.
Different Kinds of Neighborhood Impact
How can urban churches make a neighborhood impact? A healthy urban church provides hope and community to those living in an area that may otherwise feel forgotten or left behind. It creates a place where individuals can come together to worship, build relationships with each other, and connect with God.
A flourishing church in an urban setting can also provide a place for individuals from all walks of life to express themselves spiritually, without fear or judgment. Leaders can encourage members to dig deeper into their faith and provide support when needed. Communities may come together through service to one another, collective prayer, and other events that allow individuals to share their love for God with each other.
But is that where the impact stops? What about meeting the tangible needs of individuals and families in impoverished areas? Care can look like many different things. And in the case of Mt. Salem–New Wave Fellowship Church in South LA, sometimes care comes in the form of advocating for safer streets.
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Making a Difference in South LA
South Los Angeles has long been known as the capital of hit-and-runs. It’s a place where pedestrians are constantly at risk, where accidents happen too often, and where lives are lost due to reckless driving. But for the community of believers at Mt. Salem–New Wave Fellowship Church, this reality is not something to be accepted but rather something to be changed.
It was on these very streets that a homeless man was killed in a hit-and-run accident just after being helped by the church to find a place to live. It’s stories like these that break hearts and fuel the passion for change.
For many years, World Impact has been working tirelessly with organizations like Faith for Safer Streets to bring about change in South LA. They have been advocating for safer streets, hosting town hall meetings, and pushing for safety lights at key intersections.
But their work goes beyond physical changes; it’s about changing hearts as well. As the church’s pastor, Patricia Strong-Fargasone, put it:
“That needs to change, and the only way that it can change is that they know Jesus Christ and His personal relationship with them.”
For ten long years, they fought for a safety light at one particular intersection. Through perseverance and faith in their cause, they were finally able to prove its importance to their councilman. And when change finally came, it was clear that their love and faith had played an integral role.
Empowerment Brings About Transformation
In World Impact CEO & President Alvin Sanders’ book Uncommon Church, Sanders touches on one of the elements at the foundation of churches impacting neighborhoods: empowerment.
“Empowerment is not a buzzword but a critical principle to embrace. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, 81% of the world’s Christians live on less than $100 a day. If we are serious about having healthy churches, we must be serious about empowerment.
By emphasizing discipleship through the local church and advocating for the common good, we lay the foundation to empower people. We address both systemic injustice and our sinful natures. By doing so, people transform their lives and communities.
Empowerment is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe the most common mistake I see is people thinking that short-term initiatives will make long-term impact. There is no magic bullet; community and individual transformation involves lifelong investment and commitment.”
When individuals are empowered to make a tangible difference in their environment, the impact will extend beyond the church walls.
Improve Bible Knowledge: 4 Simple Steps to Increase Your Bible LiteracyWe must prioritize discipleship and justice in churches to empower people and bring about transformation. This includes overcoming systemic injustice and addressing our own sinful nature. Click To Tweet
NEIGHBORHOOD IMPACT CHANGES HEARTS
At its core, World Impact believes that there is nothing that will make a neighborhood impact like the love of Christ. We get to see firsthand how transforming lives through faith can lead to tangible results on the ground—from safer streets to transformed hearts.
So if you’re looking for hope amid difficult circumstances or wondering how you can make a difference in your community, we’d love to help. Our message is clear: love can transform even the most broken places—one heart at a time.
Discover which World Impact program could teach you the skills needed to make a lasting neighborhood impact. Need help choosing the best training for your unique ministry? Contact us today.