Some friends of mine are part of a really exciting church plant. The neighborhood they chose for their church plant is very ethnically diverse. Economically, however, the neighborhood is uniformly lower class, though they are surrounded by booming business, and upper class neighborhoods are not far away. It’s a neighborhood that is ripe for the gospel, that desperately needs the life of the church in its midst.

One of the fascinating situations born out of their desire to see the church rooted in this neighborhood (rather than transporting people to a nicer neighborhood for their church meetings) is that the church meets right next to a porn studio. They literally share a wall.

That’s bound to be awkward.

One day, as the worship team was rehearsing their songs for Sunday, the director from the porn studio walked over and asked them to stop practicing because they were trying to film something and the noise was inhibiting them. He even offered to pay each musician to stop.

So what do you do in that situation? Do you keep playing music loudly so that they can’t film their porn? Do you comply in the hopes that maintaining a good relationship with the folks next door will eventually yield more fruit for the kingdom than a sound war ever could?

I’m not sure what your church looks like, but I doubt you’ve ever had a problem like this. I would encourage you to think about how you would respond in this type of situation. But I also think that inherent in this situation is a beautiful lesson of what the church is meant to be.

Regardless of how you would respond to this dilemma, I think the dilemma itself is a great thing. When the church stays in nice, respectable neighborhoods, then we don’t have to face problems like this. We are free to condemn the porn industry from a safe distance. We never have to ask what ministry to a porn director looks like, because we’ll never meet one.

But when the church enters the areas of greatest need, we face problems that we’ve never even considered before. I’m not saying that the church shouldn’t exist in suburban neighborhoods—it should. I’m just saying that the church should be everywhere. And the stranger the location the stranger the problems—and therefore the greater the opportunity for the gospel to shine forth in ways and in areas that people have never seen.

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Mark Beuving

Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of “Resonate: Enjoying God’s Gift of Music” and the co-author with Francis Chan of “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.” Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.