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The Church Embattled

The secular world supports ministries that help people with their physical and mental needs, especially if the church tackles problems no one else can or will.
— Wayne Gordon

I am the founding pastor of Lawndale Community Church, located on the west side of Chicago in the fifteenth-poorest neighborhood in America. You might guess we've had our share of crises.

After meeting in a storefront for several years, we purchased a former factory. It had space adequate for offices, a worship center, classrooms, and community services such as a medical clinic and a gym, but it needed major renovation. In order to have a usable gym, for instance, we needed to excavate six feet of dirt from the basement.

We started with a few strong backs and some picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows. In their spare time, people from our church, of all ages, wheeled one load of dirt after another into our adjoining lot. The pile steadily grew. After nine months, someone donated a bulldozer and driver; we knocked a hole in ...

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