Are There Gaps In Summertime Urban Ministry? - Part One
Summertime marks the "Invasion Season" where suburban churches gather up their youth for mission's trips into inner-cities across America. Service projects, clowns, music and mass quantities of food are the main ingredients of evangelistic outreaches in urban neighborhoods. There's a great deal of spiritual value that's truly immeasurable in many ways. And yet these three remain - poverty, violence and immorality. Is the spiritual condition of decay fueled by a cultural divide? Are we attempting to put an unshrunk patch on an old garment?
Please don't make the mistake of believing that I'm criticizing the heart-conditions or soul-cries of the urban missionaries. They are beautiful people in love with Jesus who actively share His love. This is simply an attempt to paint a picture of the aftermath of summertime ministry. It's written from the viewpoint of an inner-city dweller whose been left behind after the church vans have pulled out of the city. I have over 15 years of echo experience - I hear the sounds of summer worship drifting away in a cool fall breeze as it heads for winter. The people in the city return to their cold existence after the warm-hearts have gone. They begin asking, "Was all this Jesus-talk real?"
"The drug dealers are back worse than ever!" That was the comment of a young man on Buffalo's West Side as he described the neighborhood the year after a massive outreach by many church groups. Houses were painted, people were fed and a neighborhood was improved, or was it? Paint on a building does not circumcise a heart. When an evil spirit comes and finds a house swept clean, he brings seven of his evil buddies and creates an even greater darkness .
An Unclean Spirit Returns
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”- Matthew 12:43-45 (NKJV)
There were folks who accepted the message of salvation and gave their hearts to Jesus. Leading people to Christ is among the greatest works a faith-filled person can do. It's the work of an Evangelist, but what happens when the Evangelist leaves town? Is there a Pastor, Teacher or Prophet who can guide them from a spiritual new birth into maturity in their new faith? The life-change of the Gospel is a garden that requires nurturing through all of life's seasons. An Apostle is needed to plan the spiritual gardening - year by year, not just for a summer.
A good example of success for summertime missionaries is on Buffalo's West Side at the Buffalo Vineyard with Pastor Steve Schenk. Steve and the members of the Vineyard opened their hearts to the community and they have been bearing kingdom fruit ever since. People in the neighborhood have joined the church through the outreach of summertime missionaries. Can you imagine what would happen if the success would continue every summer? Evangelists create an entry point for the message of the Gospel. Pastor Steve Schenk and the Buffalo Vineyard have opened a door beyond the entry point of summertime evangelism. They help folks get plugged into their God-given life purpose. Imagine the kingdom impact if the summertime invasion of missionaries continue every summer!
The five-fold urban ministry landscape has gaps. Is it possible, that despite their best intentions, the summertime missionaries are unknowingly attempting to sew unshrunken cloths unto old garments? If we are to run the race of life with perseverance, can we say like the Apostle Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Timothy 4:7
If you are doing any inner-city ministry please seek His Presence before you plan. Invite the neighbors into your Presence seeking time of prayer. Focus on finishing by ensuring connectivity in the five-fold ministry. He will direct your paths and ensure that your plan is compatible with the wedding garments that He has prepared.
Thanks for your time. Go and do something nice for somebody.
Jesus loves you and so do we. #LIFETICKET #JLYASDW
Youth With A Purpose Inc is an inner-city ministry focusing on young men 18-30 yrs. old A life can be changed simply by having a godly man in a young person's life. If you would like to get involved please contact us. www.youthwithapurpose.org firstname.lastname@example.org 716-830-8240