If you’re the pastor of an inner-city church, should you live in the same neighborhood as your church? And, if so, what are some of the unique challenges and opportunities of living in the inner city?
God did not create us as disembodied or decontextualized creatures. He created us as physical beings who live in particular places. And, in the beginning, he called Adam and Eve to cultivate their physical space and to create culture in the context where he had placed them. If you’re called to serve God in the city, how can you learn to love the context where God has placed you?
What you do for God beyond your home will never typically be greater than what you practice with God within your home. Whether you’re single or married, with children or without, your family has a profound impact on your ministry. That’s why one of the qualifications that Paul gave for pastors was “to manage his own household well.” So how can you as a pastor or a church planter care for your family well?
Ministry is filled with surprises—but the types of surprises you face in ministry will be different, depending on your context. Paul urged Timothy against “myths and endless genealogies” in Ephesus—but the warning he gave to Titus in Crete was against “empty talkers and deceivers.” This week, our goal is to help you to pay attention to the unique challenges of the context where God has placed you.
The inner city is defined by poverty—literally. The inner city has been defined as a region in a metropolitan area in which 20 percent or more of households live in poverty and where the median household income is 50 percent or less than that of the region as a whole. But how did the inner city become the inner city?
“‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’ ‘Don’t stop him!’ Jesus replied.” These words from Mark chapter 9 remind us that, whenever we arrive in a particular place to proclaim the gospel, there very well may be others who were there long before we arrived. And so, when planting a church in an urban context, how should we engage the congregations that are already there?
The gospel that we proclaim as believers in Jesus Christ is an all-sufficient for salvation. But the compassion of Jesus calls us not only to seek the salvation of people’s souls but also to care for physical and emotional needs. In urban contexts in particular, these needs always seem to be greater than the resources we have available. So how can Christians partner with organizations in their community to provide comprehensive help for their communities without compromising the gospel?