I’m honored to sit on the advisory board for the Salvation Army’s Western Territory here in the United States. My wife Kathleen is on the Salvation Army’s national board, but then again, she’s more influential than me in a lot of areas! But back to my point: In our board meetings over the last year, one of our major topics of conversation has been to move the main Los Angeles HQ – but not because of the reason you may think.
Working with churches for a living, I’ve been in many meetings where a change of location has been discussed. In almost every case, the reason has been pretty straightforward: the church’s neighborhood is sliding downward, and the congregation wants to be in a more upscale, growing location.
That’s understandable for a lot of reasons. However, it’s not the way the Salvation Army thinks.
Our meetings over the last year have focused on the fact that our Los Angeles HQ facility is actually in one of the fastest growing and hottest locations in downtown LA. But the problem is, that’s not where the people we minister to live. So during the last year, we sold that facility and are moving to a more needy area in the city.
That’s a lesson local churches could learn. I don’t have a problem with launching new campuses in any part of town you want to reach. But I wonder if we’ve been so quick to leave our main location when the neighborhood begins to struggle that we’ve lost our influence in many urban areas.
It never hurts to rethink our mission and remind ourselves why we’re here in the first place. Bailing on the hurting people in our own neighborhood may be a costly price to pay for moving to suburbia.