One of the most prevalent myths surrounding poor communities the world over, when viewed from the outside, is that parents do not care as much about their children as parents do in middle- and upper-class communities. Reporting of crime, especially violent crime, higher levels of reported abuse, general issues of poverty and lower standards of …
(Originally presented at Christian Scholars Conference 2018, Lipscomb University) In the history of humankind on this planet, the idea of change should not be a surprising concept. Regular adaptation has been consistent throughout history. The first agricultural settlements leading to inevitable urbanization, naval navigation, the printing press, the nation-state, the industrial revolution, the internet . …
Philosophy. Oral Rhetoric. Christian Formation. Business. Biology. These are among the many subjects studied by incarcerated college students. Behind barbed wire, concrete walls, and steel doors resides intellectually curious men and women who are enrolled in rigorous academic programs. But the resources for postsecondary education are sparse. And few Christians are assisting in this academic …
Restorative Justice vs. Retributive Justice: Definitions and Illustrations My daughter – then a 3rd grader – came out of school crying. Her teacher explained to me that she had confessed to writing graffiti on the stalls of the girls’ bathroom: “Happy death day.” Apparently, it was the name of a movie I had never watched. When the 1st …
Behold, children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Proverbs 127:3, NIV) Two 17-year-old youth, arguing. A crime is committed. The outcome? It depends… True Story Two 17-year-old African American youth live in a low-wealth, resilient, urban community frequented by trauma. They play ball together in the gym of a …
A narrow gate is more difficult to pass through than a wide gate. So why take the narrow gate? Christ once charged his disciples with these words: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
In Jeremiah 32, the prophet Jeremiah enters into a land deal with his cousin Hanamel in one of the worst real estate markets imaginable. Does his prophetic economic activity open up new horizons of possibilities for Christian disciples today in the face of urban blight and seemingly dead economic potential in many urban neighborhoods?
The prevailing model of urban mission has been one of dependence on Outsiders who seemingly bring needed resources–money, education, connections to outside communities. Has this model brought about more harm than good? Is there a better way forward for ministry in the inner city? And what is the proper role for Outsiders in a such a vision?
Contemporary evangelical theology and missionary practice of the urban church are sorely in need of a solid theology of place. The author looks to the biblical narrative for guidance, and finds a pilgrim church called out and sent back to the world on God’s mission as redemptive agents to specific places and concrete contexts.
This article will address (1) how mentors may biblically affirm a disciple’s physical cultural differences within a dominant culture’s message that there is something inherently flawed in his or her design, (2) how theology addresses a body/spirit symbiosis relevant to identity dissonance, and (3) how mentors may move a disciple from identity dissonance to identity satisfaction through a holistic application of Scripture.
Why should contexts of urban poverty so often be perceived as alien territory for the people of God, and hard places for the gospel? Through his experience in Kibera, a slum community in Nairobi, and through his reflection on the eschatological vision of Isaiah, the author discerns the Spirit of God at work in the burgeoning urban areas of poverty where many outsiders see little hope, and outlines a theological vision for the church’s missionary agenda there.
Church leaders can become consumed by activities, numbers, and plans. Indeed, such leaders are regularly held up in the professional ministry world as models for the rest to emulate. A church planter in South Philadelphia took a different direction–often against his own wishes–and he shares his journey from activity to inactivity, from busyness to stillness, and from being a Martha to becoming a Mary.
Migration and mission are often woven together as key themes throughout Scripture. As migration continues in an increasingly global society, contemporary cities are emerging as nodes of transnational social networks, and urban missionaries face new opportunities to contextualize evangelism and church planting. This article highlights these emerging opportunities, offers concrete examples of ministries that are aligning themselves with these new realities, and identifies some key principles and practices for transnational evangelism in global cities.
How does the Western Church proclaim the gospel to a post-Christian world that does not care about its message? The Church must speak with confidence the authority of Christian scripture, despite the temptation for scriptural relativism. As an alternative to the idolatrous individualism perpetuated in the West, the Church must provide a visible testimony of authentic community. And the Church must adopt a missional identity in which every church member is recognized as an agent of gospel mission. The world is changing, but the Church can make a difference with a renewed, gospel-centered heart.
“Theological hospitality”–the practice of welcoming other Christians whose understanding of scripture and theology may seem strange or challenging–is a way for the church to pursue unity among theological diversity. Instead of an “us versus them” mentality, the church should expand its “gene pool” of theology, culture, and ethnicity. While it is not a strategy of theological minimalism or compromise, practicing theological hospitality reflects God’s heart to care for one another and avoids a combative style of orthodoxy.
Modern Western evangelicalism is experiencing a crisis of discipleship and gospel witness because of its perception of spiritual maturity in almost exclusively individualistic terms. The Scriptures, however, conceive of spirituality and growth in corporate terms. The leader’s role, then, is not to disciple a select few, but to create a culture of mutual discipleship, resulting in communities of genuine grace and repentance. Western churches need to recapture this community approach to discipleship to combat the crisis.
Church-based community organizations often struggle with navigating partnerships in their communities, as they sit at the pluralistic community “table” in order to serve the poor and faithfully proclaim the gospel without compromising their Christian witness. What community issues can Christian organizations agree to work on with others in the community in order to bring honor to God’s kingdom? How exactly will they bear witness to the gospel so as not to be seen merely as one group among many committed to social transformation? This study offers some theological guidelines.