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While some urban churches don’t have resources for extensive ministries, they still do more than preach and sing. In fact, one urban church in Chicago has 70 different ministries. They not only teach the Bible, they offer a variety of services for children, youth, young adults, adults, and senior adults. They serve the incarcerated, the poor, the homeless, and people with civil and legal issues. This church also supports whole villages in Africa. Most urban churches know that God calls Christians to serve all the needs of people, not just the spiritual. That was one of the points the elderly Apostle John reflected in his 3rd letter. Writing to Gaius, one of the early church leaders, John complimented him for the way he assisted others in their physical needs. John told him that by meeting these urgent needs of others, he was living out or acting out the truth. He was unlike another leader, Diotrophes. That brother was proud, dictatorial, and self-centered. He even excommunicated those in the church who showed kindness to others. But John considered Gaius a genuinely mature leader. He encouraged God’s people to serve others by using the gifts and abilities God had given them. Jesus had taught John that showing love to one another is not only the best way to maintain unity in the church; it is crucial in attracting others to accept and follow the Lord.

One Comment

  • Charity Dell says:

    It is true that many of our urban churches have different ministries in which the practical aspects of our Christian faith are applied to meeting needs in the community. Urban churches that spread the Gospel outside the four walls of the church are literally bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God to a hungry world. However, the plight of many small urban churches is that they have few members, most of the members are poor and struggling, and many of these members are in transition–the elderly, the unemployed, etc. The Black and Latino churches cannot be everything to everyone; unfortunately, the media reinforces this idea that the urban church is supposed to do everything NOT being done by the family, the school system, the criminal justice system and the politics of the municipalities in which these churches reside. The clergy of Baltimore are working hard to help the communities within Baltimore to weather the latest crises caused by the untimely death of Freddie Gray. However,
    the essence of the problem–the wanton destruction of black male life by police officers–is not
    the fault of the urban church and the urban church should not have to “help solve the problems” they did not create in the first place. It is ironic that America at large believes that Black/Latino urban churches are supposed to “wave magic biblical wands” and solve everything caused by American racism and systemic injustice toward peoples of color–the same black churches that are depicted as cute little ethnic jokes(complete with fornicating reverends and promiscuous members!) in movies and television shows. The spiritual importance of the urban church of color is its most important function–nourishing the souls of human beings created in the image of God. Preaching, praying, worship and Bible study are not only fundamental to the mission of the church, but the biblical foundation upon which all outreach ministry is built. People forget that most of the rioters, looters and angry youth throwing bricks and rocks do not belong to, or worship at churches, for the most part. It is ironic that police administrators “reach out to the clergy for help” only after they have permitted injustice to inflame these communities–the crimes committed by the police officers under their command. Then the urban clergy are supposed to “appease the masses” to keep them from erupting in anger when citizens are unlawfully abused and killed.

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