I was recently asked what is the Biblical basis for the concept of The New Urban and how do we know it when we see it and how do we live it out. In framing my answer to this person the narrative of the conversation moves from games, gimmicks and entertainment of young people to authentic collective ministry focused on equipping young people for the pressures and challenges they are facing day to day.
First and foremost the Bible teaches us that we are no longer separated and are all in the same spirit. Ministry to young people is not urban, suburban or rural; its Jesus Christ crucified. And our unity is an integral part of that dialogue.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Second, the equipping of young people is also about our own walk with Christ, for how can we convince young people to live a life that we ourselves are not willing to live. If we never engage with people unlike ourselves we plant an image of divisiveness in our young people that is not the reality of the world in which they exist.
I believe as the Body of Christ that we are “to present our bodies a living sacrifice” in honor and praise to God (Romans 12:1-2; Eph. 1:6), to reflect the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our lives, to evangelize the world by the preaching and sharing of the Gospel (Acts 1:8) and to equip Believers with God’s Word to face the struggles of this world.
Third, people have differing skills; ministries have different talents and resources. Working together enables our varying gifts to work together to advance the gospel to young people. We must do ministry with young people together, not just conferences and meetings of youth workers.
Jesus Christ has given different ministerial gifts to the Church For the perfecting of the saints . . . for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16) and it’s through our unity not separation that we bring young people to the full understanding of the gospel. The ultimate mission of the Church is winning souls to Christ through the preaching of the Gospel.
The individual looked at me with a blank stare on their face. He said, but I don’t get it, what events should we do first? I replied, before you focus on events lets spend some time in prayer and ask God to make sure our hearts are pure. That the life we live be pleasing to Him. Ask Him to help us to view everyone as equal, to not think of ourselves as above others and open our hearts and minds to how we work together with people of all types. That our walk be an example to those under our care and we point them to Christ not us. Let’s pray for the issues our young people are facing.
He then said, now what? How about we go visit someone at a church outside your circle of influence and let’s spend some time with them in prayer about the issues their young people are facing.
He replied, ok let’s hurry up and get through this, I need to setup the dodgeball game for the kids tonight. I wondered how do you tie it to the Word of God? “Oh we don’t really, the kids like it and it’s how we keep them engaged. We’ll do a quick lesson at the end.”