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What Churches Can Learn from Gangs

According to research studies, people join gangs for several reasons, including:

  • Security or safety
  • Friendship
  • Acceptance
  • Sense of belonging
  • Peer support
  • Mentoring
  • Structure
  • Family
  • Guidance
  • Loyalty
  • Accountability
  • Trust
  • Responsibility
  • Community

These are some of the basic human needs. Unfortunately, many gangs have strings attached. In exchange for a feeling of emotional or spiritual wholeness there is pressure to conform to certain behaviors. Members are often abused emotionally, physically or verbally. If they try to leave the gangs there are serious repercussions that in many cases lead to death.

Churches can fulfill these same human needs without pressure or expectations on people. Sadly, this is not always the case. We need to follow the example of Jesus and accept people for who they are. Then we need to offer them support and encouragement as we guide them into developing a relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, we need to help them understand that being a follower of Jesus gives them freedom.

Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Being a disciple of Jesus provides definitive freedom. We need to preach and teach this truth and demonstrate it through our actions.

How can you demonstrate acceptance and love to others?

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