Before I was a Youth Pastor at a multi-cultural church in Downtown Santa Ana, I helped launch a church in the diverse city of Fullerton – with some extreme levels of poverty. In between and at these two stops I also got a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.
While at Fuller, I was blessed to be able to take classes on community development and urban ministry. I have a spot in my heart for these areas and communities. However, as a white guy with a beard, who grew up in a middle class family, I know I will never fully understand what it is like to grow up in this environment. My own upbringing was completely different then these kids and my family dynamics are one hundred percent different as well.
As I think about that, I am present with a choice to make.
Do I let my differentness, my otherness push me away from these areas and people God loves, thinking I won’t fit in or don’t belong, or do I choose to dive in to these neighborhoods and communities?
My choice is to dive in, is to engage and initiate. I don’t want my fear of being an outsider to mean I ignore areas that need help, need to see how much God loves them, and the importance of Jesus. I don’t have to be able to share their experiences with my past; I have to be willing to hear them, learn from them, and see what I can offer – even if it is simply the gift of presence. Maybe, it means I simply need to be long before I offer or help. I can’t rush in as a savior to fix their world.
Honestly, the gift of presence is one of the most valuable gifts you can offer in ministry – especially urban ministry. Don’t see the area as a project – turn it into a place you cherish and value, maybe even eventually your home.
Now, enough of me talking. Watch Lecrae talk about hip hop and share with me your thoughts, please.