There are plenty of storefront churches in Detroit. I see them on the city’s main roads, along lesser traveled streets, and within some of the toughest neighborhoods. Almost all of the places of worship I pass while riding my bike, no matter the size, have entrances that are usually secured with steel doors, held in place with countless locks. This is especially true for those found on the lesser-traveled streets within the city. On many of the same places, the windows are also covered with steel bars, or webbing, in an effort to keep the places of worship from being vandalized. Unfortunately, the churches reflect the hard reality of the area in which they are located.
On my early Sunday morning rides I’ve also noticed other security measures in place at the churches. They may have fenced off parking lots with barbed wire snaking along the top. Some of the larger lots have small, elevated booths with security guards sitting in them, peering out at the gate or across the lot. It isn’t unusual to see other security guards strolling the grounds and sidewalks in front of the churches, watching over the congregation as they make their way into their place of worship. They also keep an eye on the cars parked along the street.
Other security measures are a little more passive. They may rely on video cameras and big signs attached to the building or fences surrounding them, warning people that they are being watched. Others announce that the building is electronically secured. Others simply say “protected, keep out” or “no trespassing”. However there is one church I came across the other day that uses the word of God to keep the robbers at bay.
This particular small church is located in a bare-boned, rundown eastside neighborhood. On or near the doors and small window openings someone had spray painted the typical “Private Property” and “Keep Out” notices. But what makes this place interesting are the words painted on the double-door main entrance. On those doors are a series of one line questions directed to the emotional side of robbers. The words ask potential thieves if they would rob God or steal from him. It’s certainly a unique, creative approach to crime fighting, and it gives a whole new meaning to “thou shalt not steal”.