Local ministers and community leaders will hold a news conference today to discuss crime in Indianapolis. Rev. Charles Harrison, pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church, was a victim of a robbery over the weekend. While at church Sunday evening, he was robbed by three young men. The group will discuss that and other crime issues at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and 30th streets.

What was it that Chris Rock said you should do if you found yourself lost on MLK Jr Street at night? Run! This is more sad than funny as we are coming off one of the most murderous years in our city’s history.

We keep waiting for folks, politicians, churches, and community leaders to do more than talk. There comes a point where talk is cheap. When you’ve done all you can do to draw attention to a problem and have to come up or join in with a solution. Maybe we–the people, the community–need to do more to stem the tide of violence where we can. Bear our share of the burden. Warehousing criminals, again, sounds good but isn’t a real solution. That’s society saying that we’ve given up so when you go bad, we’ll just lock you up. Yep, statistically crime will drop. Yep, we will “feel” safer knowing that we’ve thrown away the key. However, this country already has too long a sad history of putting people in chains and we can’t afford any more of those long-term scars on our collective soul.

Too many of us live in an utter state of self-delusion. We think danger is black, brown and poor, and if we can just move far enough away from “those people” in the cities we’ll be safe. If we can just find an “all-American” town, life will be better, because “things like this just don’t happen here.” What has gone wrong and is not TV, rap music, video games or a lack of prayer in school. What went wrong is that we, as a society, decided to ignore dysfunction and violence when it only affected other communities, and thereby blinded themselves to the inevitable creeping of chaos which never remains isolated too long.

Churches are a good correct place to start in the war on crime. The church is supposed to be a reproducing community of authentic disciples who are being equipped as missionaries to be sent out by God. We listen to the questions asked by our community and dialogue over those questions. We don’t force questions that we think our community “should” be asking and provide those answers. That’s not real helpful.

As Christians, we have our identity in Christ. We find our mission in Christ. Missional people might not spend as much time at church because their whole lives are missions. And that mission is connected to social action, the key word being “action”. Not just “press conferences”. But you know what? I know in my heart that these leaders won’t be stopping at this press conference. I’d be willing to bet that this press conference is the beginning of a conversation. A laying out of a vision that will then be taken off camera as people assemble to put “feet” to the vision and do the work.

At least that’s my hope.

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