Why North Springfield?
Do we really need another church in Springfield?
This is a question I have been asked often. With millions of people around the world who need Jesus… why Springfield?
Springfield is home to The Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center, Baptist Bible Fellowship International and several Christian colleges and Universities.
Growing up in North Springfield I believed that we had enough churches in the city. It is often said the we have a Chinese restaurants and 2 churches at every intersection. As you can see on this google map, in our neighborhood, that is not the case. In addition, one of the 2 churches on this map (red dots) is slated to close in the next few months.
Many in our neighborhoods are in deep poverty and deal with very high rates of drug and alcohol abuse. Our county is one of worst counties in by the state for its rate of child abuse and neglect. We are also home to one of the largest and longest running atheist conventions in the country.
The city of Springfield just released a study on it’s most troubled areas. Their findings proved what God had already called us to do… assist in reversing the trend of a “red flag neighborhood”. You can click the map to enlarge it and see the statistics on Grant Beach Neighborhood.
While our well-intentioned people live in what they think is a moral and upstanding lifestyle, the vast majority have missed the point.
Not only is the socio-economic state of this area in poor shape but according to the InSight Report more than 65% of people who live in North Springfield do not attend a religious service of any sort. Not just Christianity but ALL religions total less than 35% of the population.
Having grown up here, I get it. It’s not that we didn’t HEAR about the message of Jesus but it was so confusing to watch a pastor’s son tell our entire high school class that they need to follow Jesus to make it to heaven and then later find him in the bathroom stall smoking marijuana. Or to see the parade of newly graduated pastors come through our church year after year with big hopes and dreams of changing the world only lose heart or fall into one sin or another and abandon their call.
Springfield has HEARD a lot about the words of Jesus but many have often ignored those living His words in our churches.
In some ways I fear that we have been on a mission to save the whole world but in the process have lost our own neighborhood.
As we plant Life360 church in North Springfield this year we will not be starting yet another church but we will BE the church in the form of a community center. An abandoned school building located in one of the statistically worst neighborhoods’ in Springfield. It is just 6 blocks from AG Headquarters building. This blighted property will become a center of hope and light. In partnership with Convoy of Hope we will launch an Urban Feeding Program. We will host afterschool programs, a preschool, a job training center, technology labs, Community Gardens and a fresh foods market and the list goes on.
But in all of this we will live the words of Jesus and celebrate as a community of faith through creative worship nights, community dinners, evenings of sacred music and intentionally draw people to connect with our small groups and leadership team that will demonstrate what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.