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Archive for Urban Ministry


A Heart for the Community

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Serving in urban St. Louis during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s presented a pretty steep learning curve. I grew up in rural northeast Missouri and attended college in a county seat town that boasted a population of around 10,000. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the city of St. Louis. Still do. Two of my children were born there. And I learned a lot about people and ministry during that first decade of full time service. If the streets were tough, you just had to be tougher. If money was tight, you had to be more creative. If the work load grew heavy, you had to work longer. All in all it was a good ministry, but I honestly shudder to think of what could have been.

Since those days I realize how little I knew about urban ministry and the impact I could have had if I had only known the kind of information available in the latest book I’ve read titled A Heart for the Community by John Fuder and Noel Castellanos. This book was birthed out of the urban ministry of various leaders and organizations in urban Chicago. Some 35 contributors wrote extremely helpful sections resulting in this reference guide for those who lead ministry in urban locations and suburban areas that are beginning to undergo transition.

The book is divided into four sections, each complete with multiple chapters by multiple voices. Section one details some of the critical issues facing urban areas including a helpful chapter that explains neighborhood gentrification and how to identify it. Section two describes and evaluates several church planting models that have found success in urban areas (e.g. the “Hip Hop Church,” “House Church,” and “Replants,” et al). Section three provides an unexpected series of conversations regarding challenges surrounding the transitioning of suburban neighborhoods where poverty is meeting luxury, chiefly due to the gentrification of the inner city. The final section details several parachurch organizations that are committed to serving the needs of the urban culture and how churches and parachurch organizations can work together to accomplish kingdom causes.

If you’ve served, are serving, or are called to serve the city, pick this resource up and keep it near you. It will inform you and inspire you as you serve among the “least of these.”