MINISTRY TOOLS IN WORKING WITH URBAN CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Keywords in my ministry at the Warren Ave. Presbyterian Church are connected with the same two concepts described by Chip Hardwick in his recent blog—COLLABORATING AND INNOVATING.  http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/comings-and-goings/2014/5/5/collaborating-and-innovating

As a former pastor of this small congregation with a huge building, a gigantic heart for the well-being of inner city children and plenty of sacred space to share with the community, the Session opened the doors to the Women of Colors Inc. for office and classroom use.  The Session also opened the church Gym and adjoining kitchen and classrooms for the Mark Neumeier Youth Center—an after-school / summer youth camp for as many as 60 neighborhood children .  

What made these decisions unique:

1.  Innovative vision in giving rent-free space to two organizations providing  programming and advocacy for the well-being of community children—programming aligned with the mission priorities of the church.

2.  Collaborative partnership with established organizations that had specialized expertise in running programs for children—more expertise than members of this small congregation with a huge building!

While I am no longer pastor of this Saginaw church, I truly believe this congregation is blessed with leadership willing to think “outside the box” in doing innovative/collaborative ministries. 

To end with three excellent questions Chip Hardwick asks in his blog: 

First, what are innovations which are currently going on in society and in the church which can help congregations to thrive?  Second, what are the basics of change management which will help church leaders to navigate congregational preferences and politics to implement the innovations?  Finally, what are the habits of the mind which help congregational leaders develop innovations on their own?”

May God continue to enrich and bless us in the work we do as church leaders!

URBAN LIFE AS GOD DREAMS

URBAN LIFE AS GOD DREAMS

 

“The end of the church is not more church—the end of the church is helping more and more people experience life as God dreams of it for them….”   Chip Hardwick. 

 

Chip Hardwick’s recent trip and blog, “Effectively Sawing Off the Branch We’re sitting On”,  has stimulated a few thoughts…..    http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/comings-and-goings/2014/3/2/efficiently-sawing-branch-were-sitting/ 

 

As a denomination (PCUSA) we talk about growing new churches.   What about the struggling churches we still have?  In my mind we are still closing too many doors to existing urban churches without going the extra mile to find new and creative ways to  connect with urban dwellers!

 

As presbyteries, are willing to risk doing what it takes with our limited resources to grow churches from the inside out?  Spiritually?  In our inner cities?  Urban churches and Presbyterian Seminaries need to be re-tooled with resources in order to meet people with the gospel from where they live within the reality of diverse, cultural settings.   We need to get away from the metrics of simply counting souls and buildings.  

 

As Chip Hardwick, director of worship and theology of the PCUSA recently stated in his blog (quoting Sergio Ojeda)[1]:

 

The problem is that we are adding churches, but we are not changing the culture.”  With this he helped remind me that there is a difference between the ends and the means.  The end of the church is not more church—the end of the church is helping more and more people experience life as God dreams of it for them, including both physical care and sustenance and the spiritual resources that come from our faith in Christ.   Many of the people who experience this care, sustenance, and faith will be inside the church, but many more will be outside the church.  More church is the means by which this end is delivered, but more church is not simply the end itself.  The more we remember that churches don’t exist for the benefit of their own members, but the rather for the benefit of the world, the more individuals and society and culture will resemble God’s hopes for them.

 

In my mind and heart as a Presbyterian, we should be searching for ways to help urban dwellers/congregations “experience life as God dreams of it for them”? 

 

 



[1] President Sergio Ojeda,  Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico.