Don’t Neglect Your First Ministry


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIVE, RENEW, REFRESH, RECONNECT

We in the ministry spend considerable time with young people or Youth Workers at the expense of our families.  This simple post is designed to remind you to not neglect taking time to get away with your family.  Take time to rev up your family relationship, read, rest and recharge.  (Oh yes, and let your wife shop)  Before you can be a blessing to anyone else, your own home must first be blessed.  Home ministry is the God-given requirement we have as husbands or wives to love our spouses as God loves us.  If we are parents, it includes our role to love and raise our children according to His truth.  The Bible commands us to invest in our spouse and children by nurturing them, helping them develop intellectually, physically, relationally, and spiritually.

A Husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)

Wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22)

Parents are to raise godly children to be the next generation of those who love the Lord with all their hearts (Proverbs 22:6Ephesians 6:4)

The scriptural order of priorities is God, spouse, children and then others.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Stay encouraged, stay engaged and don’t give up on our young people.  It’s not their desire to fall so hold them up.

Is The Right To Vote A Racial Entitlement? Oh How Far Have We Moved From God

Scripture teaches us we are to view  government through the lens of scripture, attempting to persuade them to make laws consistent with biblical standards of morality.   I know I have readers who are Republican and who are Democrats and I don’t want to alienate any of you.  Preaching on politics is just too divisive.  But I like Paul will challenge you, as Christians, to faithfully discharge your responsibilities before God on issues of  justice.

 

             “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for i did not shrink       

                                     from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27)

 

Scripture  point to believers who spoke out on behalf of government doing what was right.  Jesus taught, in Matthew 22:21, about the distinction between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that are God’s.  Daniel, in Daniel 4:27 called out Nebuchadnezzar to hear his council and break off his sin by practicing righteousness.  Verse 49 says he was regularly at the king’s court.  Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 29:7 told the Jewish exiles in Babylon to seek the welfare of the city because in it they would find their welfare, the laws and policies consistent with the Word of God.  Joseph oversaw Pharaoh’s great wealth.  Moses demanded freedom for the people of Israel – “let my people go” (Exodus 8:1).   Nehemiah orchestrated the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  Queen Esther had influence on the king in changing the “policy” that were created.  Several of the prophets witnessed to the moral standards and requirements of treatment of people and how to conduct themselves.  John the Baptist rebuked Herod for the things he had done (Luke 3:19).  In Acts 24:25 Paul spoke to Felix about “righteousness and self control and the coming judgment”.

 

 

Today I am honored to bring to you a man who has been in the fight for justice for a long time.  A man who has stood on the front lines, the soup line, the unemployment lines and the prayer lines in an effort to bring justice to every man. I thank him for inviting me to be a guest on his TV program this Saturday night and for  joining the conversation today.

 

 

 

GUEST POST: REVEREND  JESSE JACKSON SR.

Weekly Commentary | Chicago Sun-Times

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia slandered the act as a “racial entitlement,” arguing, “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.” So, the right-wing justice intimated, the conservative “Gang of Five” on the Supreme Court had every right to step in and overrule the 98 senators who voted unanimously to reauthorize the act (including the senators of every state and jurisdiction required to seek pre-clearance of any changes in their voting laws).

The justice proved once more that he is not a neutral arbiter of the Constitution but a right-wing activist with an agenda to enforce. Deference to the popularly elected Congress and president is, apparently, only when they do what Scalia considers to be proper. When they choose to reauthorize a Voting Rights Act that has protected the rights of millions and transformed America’s democracy since its passage in 1965, Justice Scalia thinks the court should negate their act, since he somehow considers protection of the right to vote a “racial entitlement.”

Scalia’s racial taunt has received the scorn it deserves. It makes more sense to apply his reasoning to the real “racial entitlements” that still scar our nation.

For example, a recent study by Brandeis University revealed a stunning increase in the wealth gap between whites and blacks in America. The gap tripled between 1984 and 2009. In 2009, the median wealth (the difference between what you own and what you owe) of a white household was $113,149. The median wealth of a black household was $5,677.

Why the difference? The study found five contributing factors.

First, whites were more likely to be homeowners than blacks, often because their families are more able to help with down payments. Black families who worked for 200 years in slavery and 100 years in segregation had less ability to accumulate wealth.

Second, whites made more income than blacks, even for comparable work.

Third, blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites, and, with less of a family cushion to rely on, more likely to deplete their savings when unemployed.

Fourth, whites are five times more likely to inherit money, and their inheritance averages 10 times as much. Again, this surely is in part a legacy of our scarred history.

Finally, whites are more likely to have a college education than blacks. Blacks are more likely to find advanced training difficult to finance. They are more likely to graduate with debt, and their average debt on graduation is greater.

The wealth gap is, in Scalia’s words, a “racial entitlement.” Only this entitlement favors whites, not blacks. As Scalia wrote, “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.” That’s why it took a Civil War to end slavery, and to amend the Constitution to guarantee equal protection of the laws. It took the sacrifice of lives and limbs in a civil rights movement to end segregation, and to pass the Voting Rights Act to provide minorities with an equal right to vote. On economic inequality, the promise of 40 acres and a mule for freed slaves was broken. Dr. King marched on Washington to redeem a “canceled check” marked “insufficient funds.”

If Scalia is right, “the normal political processes” won’t solve this racial entitlement. Nor, for that matter, will the right-wing Gang of Five on the Supreme Court.


Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.

Spiritual Formation for Motley Crews by Gabriel Salguero

Last week on our consciousness cruise, we metaphorically stopped on the corner of Praise & Judgment to refuel.  As we left that station headed for the ramp to get back on the highway; through a series of detours and events, I was blessed to meet Pastor Gabriel Salguero.  Gabriel is the Senior Pastor of The Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene, a multi-ethnic church in New York.  I had an opportunity to speak with him to discuss what God is doing in his neck of the woods.  He has given me permission to share with you his view on Spiritual Formation for Motley Crews.  He discussed his belief that urban churches are presented with unique opportunities to model the rich diversity of the kingdom of God as seen in Isaiah 11 and Rev 7:9.  I am honored to share his words today with all of you.

This continues our mission of continuing to broaden your understanding and consciousness of  The New Urban.  Bringing you this view from multiple perspectives from around the country.  Enjoy and please comment below.

 

 

 

GUEST POST: PASTOR GABRIEL SALGUERO 

These days “discipleship” and “Spiritual Formation” are ubiquitous terms. Blogs, books, conferences, and conversations all strive to respond to the question, “How do we nurture Christ-like disciples in our generation?” While I know well that there is some great writing and teaching being done in this area my hope is that my musings as a “young” (I’m 39 and not sure what young is anymore) urban pastor of a multi-ethnic church restart can in some way contribute to this important conversation. I am of the conviction that spiritual formation and diversity are deeply interrelated.

The Lamb’s in New York is the congregation my wife and I lead. The Lamb’s had its most recent restart in 2007 when we relocated from Times Square to the intersection of SoHo, Chinatown, Loisaida (a Spanish term given to this part of the Lower East Side). The average age of the new members is around 28, and we have some older Chinese and Hispanic immigrants whose average age is between 55-60. In addition, we have graduate students worshipping with folks who barely have any formal schooling. The Lamb’s has two worship services; one in English-Mandarin and the other in English-Spanish. In short, it’s a real motley crew. Honestly, we are probably violating the majority of rules and expectations for church-planters and church-restarters. I am often tempted to pursue the homogenous unit principle (HUP) as I see many of my dear friends growing in numbers at much faster rates. Still we are, at least for the present, pursuing a road less traveled. One main reason for pursuing this course is discipleship.

Many of the NY church-planting successes used as models across the country are paradigms of young urban professionals (Yuppies) that worship together. Indubitably, there is much to celebrate in reaching young urbanites. Still, a challenge remains. While some number of these congregations has some spattering racial-ethnic diversity they often lack economic and class diversity; not to mention leadership diversity. I do NOT believe all congregations have to be multi-ethnic and multi-class. However, I do believe that urban churches are presented with unique opportunities to model the rich diversity of the kingdom of God as seen in Isaiah 11 and Rev 7:9. Beyond modeling the ecclesiology of Pentecost, and the early church experiment of creating a new Christ-centered community of Jews and Gentiles, diversity is essential for spiritual formation in our generation. As this new community learned to work through difference and disagreement for the sake of the cross, they were becoming disciples who learned grace in action.

How does diversity inform spiritual formation? Simply put, Christians are broadened and deepened as they worship, study, do ministry, and share life-together in community. It is across difference where the most important of Christian virtues, love, is tested. Now this has to be beyond window-dressing of doing drive-by ministry “to” and “among” the urban poor, immigrants, and the rich, racially-ethnic diversity of the global church present in urban centers. When all these demographics form a vital part of our worship community and leadership, spiritual formation takes on a richer texture. As we listen to one another across differences, our own assumptions, prejudices, and limitations are challenged by other followers of Christ. This is precisely what Christian ecclesiology is; “unity in Christ with diversity.”

In the main stream, many congregations push for assimilation and homogenization in the name of “urban missiology” and is usually said as, “Whatever it takes to reach people.” However, Christian missiology has a distinctive. Our mission is not absent from ecclesiology. What makes our mission so distinctive is that Christ calls us to embrace the other. In Scripture, this radical hospitality is “xenophilia”–not just tolerance of the stranger but love and celebration of the other. It is not telling the other, “You must be just like me for us to be in community.” The cultural and class-homogenizing impulse while often facile is not the way of the cross. Our congregations ought not to be cultural or class silos that only gather us with people who make us comfortable. Much of culture is going in the direction of echo chambers. Google+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts will be custom-made so that we only have advertisements, friends, and links that reflect our own image. Church ought not to be simply a reflection of me, my class assumptions, my favorite songs, or cultural values. No! Spiritual formation requires that the church reflect Christ not in my image, but Christ as he is in the world.

Now if we seek diversity just for diversity’s sake we’ve missed the point. The motley crew congregation is not something we pursue to be “hip” or “trendy.” We do it because it has always been at the heart of the foundation of Christ’s church. The diversity of Christ’s body teaches us to exhibit and receive grace, to be slow to speak and quick to listen, and to value every member of Christ’s body. A motley crew church helps protect us from reducing the Gospel, to our hermeneutic, our preaching, our culture, our class, or political party. Yes, for in this kaleidoscope of people we can see the multiform grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This is not easy; we’ll trip all over ourselves. But we don’t do things because they’re easy. We do them because they’re right. Grace abounds.

 

 

 

Follow Pastor on twitter @salgueros

 

The Church Website is www.lambschurch.org

 

 

If you are in or near New York, Pastor invites you to join The Lamb’s this Wednesday, February 13, as they welcome the season of lent.  You can join them in the following ways:

 

1)  Ash Wednesday Prayer and Ashes

Time: 10 am – 2 pm

Location: The Lamb’s Church, 61 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002

 

2)  Joint Ash Wednesday Service at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene: In lieu of our mid-week worship service we will be having a joint Ash Wednesday service in the Bronx at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene.

Time: 7:30pm.

Location:Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene

971 East 227th Street

Bronx, NY 10466

Youth Ministry Has Taken An Exciting New Directions — It’s Called The New Urban!!!

Happy New Year everyone.

I have just returned from a couple weeks vacation in Paris with my wife’s family.  My time away allowed me to reflect on the past few years and where I see the future of youth ministry.   As I said on facebook the other day – My wife asked me to step away from the IPad, IPhone and email while we were away.  I was able to do some deep reading, contemplative, reflective, introspective thinking and I was able to spend some incredible downtime with God in prayer and fasting.

 

As a result of this time, today we are re-launching our entire Platform – our ministry, social media, workshop series and sermons under the forward looking focus on Leadership in the New Urban.  We will focus on the new models required in ministering to all young people, in keeping our sanity and in networking outside our familiar circles.

 

These are exciting times for those of us who labor in the vineyard.  The urban landscape has changed in such a way that nothing is what it use to be.  The challenges our young people face are so expansive and can no longer be approached through our previous methods.  So what is the New Urban?  The new urban is a lifestyle that permeates all segments of life.  It’s non geographical.  No longer viewed through the lens of suburban, urban or rural.  Check out your young people, everyone’s into the music, the dress, activities and the talk of the new urban.   It’s multicultural, multiracial and multigenerational.  It’s cosmopolitan meets the thug, its hip-hop with a violin and everything in between.

 

 

MINISTERING TO YOUNG PEOPLE

For Youth Workers, the New Urban will require us to be at the top of our relational, relevant and revelatory game.  Young people don’t want to be entertained, taken for granted or spoon feed.  They are living in a world where everything goes and are questioning why they shouldn’t participate.   Peer pressure to conform to the world view is intense.  The world is telling them there are no limits, no morals and no judgement of anything they do.  Yet they want to know how to make God honoring decisions in a world where morality seems to be fading.  They want to see us “Walk The Talk”.  They don’t want us to be their best friends; they want adults who will walk along side them through their mess, guiding them along the way.  Pizza is great, but presence is better.  Lights are nice, but loving is more impactful.  Gimmicks are interesting, but grace is more desired.  Entertainment is fun, but equipping is long lasting.   Dodgeball is engaging,but destiny is the focus is.

 

 

UNDERGIRDING YOUTH WORKERS

Let’s face it, we are challenged with the new urban also.  This world is waxing worse and worse right in front of us and we are about two steps ahead of the young people in keeping up and understanding what’s going on in the secular culture.  We are dealing with situations we never expected the young people we minister to would be involved in at this age.  Our only advantage is our spiritual maturity and experience in dealing with the idols of the world.  The Bible tells us, “we must know the times. . .”.  Even though, I have to admit, sometimes I struggle with the burden of our young people. The weight of their plight brings me to tears.  But we know all of our problems, all of our pain, all of our situations, all of our heart ache can be left at the feet of Jesus.  Place your cares upon Him, He will hear your call.  We serve a God who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can imagine.  Trust in His Word, you know none of this is new to Him.  Stay encouraged and on your knees.

 

 

NETWORKING TO STRENGTHEN EACH OTHER

If we are willing to share our gifts, talents, resources and knowledge we will prevail.  If we are willing to network with other ministries in and outside of our normal circles; if we stay unified in the Kingdom building, holding each other up, praying for each other, strengthening each other in our walk, we will prevail.  Building strong networks take time, energy, empathy, open minds and passion.  In a world of social media, it is easy to make connections, but these connections are not a network.  The strength of your network is more important than the size of your network because, in the end, a strong network is something that you carry with you.  Today’s youth workers need to be able to build networks and work with others to address our young peoples challenges.  In the past it was possible to minister on your own and stay in your personal circle but today, requires sharing information and collaborating due to the overlapping of our young people’s experiences. Where we live is irrelevant, the size of our church is irrelevant, what we did in the past is irrelevant.  To assist parents in the spiritual development of their children, we must press toward to the mark . . .together.

So my brothers and sisters in Christ, stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  I offer this prayer of encouragement from the words of the songstress Laura Stong’s Blessings   :

Dear God;

We pray for blessings
. We pray for peace.


Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
.  We pray for healing, for prosperity.

We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
 yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

We pray for wisdom
. Your voice to hear
.

And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love,
 as if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea
 and long that we have faith to believe

.

What if our greatest disappointments
 or the aching of this life,
 is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
, what if your healing comes through tears.


What if a thousand sleepless nights
 are what it takes to know You’re near

And what if trials of this life
: the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
 are Your mercies in disguise.

In Jesus name . . . Amen.

 

Welcome to the New Urban, ready or not here we go . . .

 

 

Actions                                    Preferences

 

                         Attitudes                                     Perspectives

 

Aspirations                                    Principles

 

 

 

 

Learning And Relearning The “Truth About Reality”, Or The Truth About Urban Ministry

Some make it a habit of reading the experiences of Urban Ministry through the lens of stereotypes, symbols and beliefs and its difficult if not impossible to attach other meanings because there are no other interpretations beyond the “knowledge” they carried with them.  That knowledge would be “shadows cast on the wall” that prevent them from knowing the truth about urban ministry.  They take the shadows as objective representations of reality.  It’s time for us to help them confront their shadows so that they may know the truth about urban ministries.

Most times this is not an intentional act against another group but a lack of deep scriptural knowledge.   I am not referring to memorization or reading of scripture, but an exegetical study to understand the linkages and meaning of treatment to and of others in relationship to treatment of self.  The power behind Jesus commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself should flip the script on our day-to-day thinking.  This goes beyond the idea of just helping someone in need. This view does not allow you to look at them as less than, separate, inferior or not deserving of all that you would do for yourself or your family.

It is antithetical to think that we would do more for others than we would for ourselves.  We each see the world from our own self-interest first and then in service to others.  But this view contradicts scripture.  Let’s look at one of the most well intentioned concepts of service – mission trips.  On the surface they seems totally the right, the Christian thing to do and a learning opportunity for young people.  But from the side of those you choose to serve, it is as disrespectful as any action that one could engage.

 

I will use the word of two greatly respected figures, Martin L. King and Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, to unpack this concept in an attempt as was taught in Ephesians, to tear down the walls of separation in the church that worship the same God and has the hopes of a future in the same heaven.

King said – True altruism is more than the capacity to pity; it is the capacity to sympathize.  Pity may represent little more that the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern, which demands the giving of one’s soul.  Pity may arise from interest in an abstraction called humanity, but sympathy grows out of a concern for particular needy human being who lies at life’s roadside.  Sympathy is fellow feeling for the person in need – his pain, agony, and burdens.   Missionary efforts fail when they are based on pity, rather than true compassion.  Instead of seeking to do something with people, we have too often sought only to do something for them.  An express of pity, devoid of genuine sympathy, leads to a new form of paternalism, which no self-respecting person can accept.

 

Bishop Brazier said – Some in the church contribute money to support missionary hospitals and schools in foreign countries.  They take trips to involve themselves in the total life of people with whom they are working for the sake of Christ.  Why is it that some, while supporting total involvement abroad oppose total involvement at home?  The New Testament sets out clearly a position of equality when it unequivocally states that none of the biological, ethical, social or psychological distinctions by which we compartmentalize men and make some inferior and some superior has any validity as far as their standing before God in Christ is concerned (cf. Col.3: 11).  If this is the case then surely there can be no artificial distinction and barrier in our relationship with each other.  

 

I write this out of love for my brothers and sisters so all races, creeds and religions.  Those I serve with, beside and those yet to be in relationship.   Truth is never uncalled for.  There is no polish without friction and it is with men as someone has said about tea: if you wish to get its strength you must put it in hot water.  So the real opportunity for those outside the urban community is that there is no meaning in a given situation until you relate your own experiences to it, regardless of what you might have been taught about it.  Obtaining personal experience in meaningful relationship with other leaders in the urban communities plays a critical role in this process.  It is through a lived experience of being with others that stereotypical perceptions can be transformed.

 

A general implication of the arguments presented is that, like any diversity related discourse, the choice, conceptualization and the practice in the diverging context not remain essentially a contextual matter.

 

Let’s talk about it.  Hit me back with your comments, thoughts and questions.

Thanksgiving in the Hood

This week we pause to celebrate my most favorite holiday.  I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday focused on thinking about how thankful we are, or should be, for all that we have.  It is less commercialized than any other of the holidays we celebrate.  Personally I am thankful first for my relationship with Jesus Christ.  When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He’s done for me, my soul cries out Hallelujah! I praise God for saving me.  Second, I am thankful God provided me my best friend and wife.  The Bible says when a man finds an wife, he finds a good thing and obtains favor.  She more than competes me, she brings out the rest of me.  I could go on and on but today is not  focused on me but on Thanksgiving in Urban neighborhoods.  I will be brief today so you have time to read everyones holiday post that will come tomorrow and Thursday.  Prepare for your thanksgiving sermons and  spend time with your loved ones.

 

In the hood, families gather at big mama’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Food, fellowship, family, friends and football.  Family members come from all over the city.  Some who have moved away, come home to join the celebration.  Students that have gone off to college come home, trying to show how much they have matured.  In some families, brothers and sisters have grown up and have families of their own.  Big mama may not be present anymore, and the kids rotate hosting the family dinner.   The one common thing in most urban families are that anyone is welcome to stop by to “visit”.  It’s amazing how open we become to sharing a meal with others during the holiday season.

 

But there are young people (and our volunteers) who don’t have the opportunity to experience these family get togethers.  for various reasons, the family dynamics don’t exist or have been broken.  Are you checking on your young people and co-labors to see what their plans are for the holiday?  How about inviting them into your homes.  Give them a peek into your world.  It’s easy to have them come to youth group and meet you on neutral turf.  But this year, let’s step out and take relationship building to a new level.  Extend yourself to help someone else feel wanted, cared for, loved and included.

 

And to those who go into the hood to serve food or deliver care packages. . .

While this is a good thing, I challenge you to invite a young person from the neighborhood to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family in your home.  Pick them up and take them back to your home.  While you love to “go and do to people”, how about this year “doing with people”.   A real test of our faith is are we humble enough to really be in relationship with those outside our homogeneous circles.

 

There’s great focus on Urban ministry these days.  Friends, now you have a perfect opportunity to really do urban ministry.  It’s not a program, it’s not a mission trip to serve dinners, it’s doing as God instructed us in Luke & Deuteronomy – to love the Lord . . . and your neighbor.  And who is our neighbor is our neighbor?  Anyone in need.

 

Great things happen when God’s people share a meal together.  In Acts 2, we see the church in its infancy. Here we find the early disciples of Jesus being both physically and spiritually nourished.  While they spent plenty of time eating the bread of life, they made sure to be caring and hospitable to one another, by opening their homes for a shared meal.  To describe the real intimacy that comes from eating with your brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take note of what happens when one is found to be unfaithful to the will of God. The Bible teaches that those who are true and loyal followers of the Lord are not to have fellowship with those who violate the commands of God and will not repent (I Cor. 5; II Thess. 3:6-15).  The common meal was a mark of fellowship.  As Christians shared in the one faith and had the common hope of heaven, they would also, as the family of God, gather together for the purpose of sharing a meal.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours

 

I’d love to hear your stories of how you will be spending your holiday and involving your neighbor.  Hit me back