I would be remiss if I started into this blog without first recognizing the birthday of Reverend Martin L. King who would be 84 today. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience.
Now to the ministry . . .
Today I am writing to encourage those of you in the trenches of the new urban ministry. As I explained last week, the new urban is a life style that permeates all segments of life. It’s non-geographical; it’s multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-generational. It’s looking through a prism with each layer being non-parallel.
I want to start today’s focus with a statement that is extremely relevant for those serving on behalf of young people – Behind every social problem; there is a spiritual solution! Our young people are facing incredible moral challenges. Whether they are watching the Game on BET or Whitney on NBC; the media makes casual sex, living together and all other forms of sin seem exciting and ok. Gay marriage has become a cornerstone of network television. NBC calls its new comedy about a homosexual couple adopting a baby “The New Normal,” and that kind of understates it. This season they are not only normal they seem de rigueur. Actors and entertainers, in Hollywood, are changing relationships like we change underwear. Kim Kardashian makes out of wedlock pregnancy “in fashion”. The music industry, of which everyone is listening, still glorifies sex, violence, money power and respect. We must be the counter to all of this for our young people. Violent shootings are in every community. In reality, this kind of violence is in many ways a part of our violent history and culture, and we have to start recognizing that there is no “typical” face of violence — it is not just the black kid killing people in gang shootings, the Mexican cartel member, or the “Muslim terrorist.” It can be, and often is, the white, suburban kid next door. Over 917 deaths from shootings have happened since the Sandy Hook shooting.
Lives that are void of spiritual commitment are more willing to accept social response to spiritual problems. We have to break the cycles, educating our young people on the structural roots of their suffering; historically rooted in structures of apathy and dependence. J.F. Kennedy once said – Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. We must help our young people lift themselves out of a self-centered; mentality that says they are victims rather than as the Bible says – we are more than conquers. Our vision of the community must be God’s vision. Our mission is to reach our cities and make them places where God’s presence, God’s way and God’s Word flourish and is understood to be the only way to solve problems. Yes, young people in our cities face numerous challenges. But WE are called to minister and serve in these environments because this is where God had placed us.
We must see our cities as it really is today before we can reach what we hope it to be. God has a vision for our cities to become places of shelter, communion, purity and hope. We must understand God’s sovereign purpose for our lives and the communities in which we live. We must speak positive words and cease denouncing the city and being negative about its problems by beginning to addressing them through prayerful strategic action.
The Book of Nehemiah, and the burden he had for his city, lays out a model for us to address this deep spiritual burden for our community, neighborhood and city. The purpose of your ministry is to bring healing and wholeness to a broken people and a broken generation. God takes the broken pieces of humanity and transforms them into building blocks for His creation. The opportunity to become builders and arise up out of the ashes of brokenness is upon you the youth worker, a part of God’s church.
Over the next few weeks I will break down Nehemiah’s four-step action plan and how it perfectly ties into your responsibility to the young people in your communities:
Nehemiah heard the report of his city. In response,
1. Nehemiah spent four months of fasting, praying, weeping and mourning
2. Nehemiah developed a vision of restoration that symbolically connects to those hurting young people today
3. Nehemiah witnessed firsthand the terrible conditions of the city
4. Nehemiah purposed to arise, restore and rebuild.
Our young people are depending on us to step up and equip them to be able to discern and make Godly decisions. Stay encouraged. Stay engaged. Stay upon the Wall. Your diligence determines our young peoples destiny.
Join the conversation, share some of your challenges in the new urban that it may strengthen other youth workers . . .