Posts Tagged ‘urban’

Let the Church be the “Body of Christ”: Continued Reflections on Urban Churches

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Antipas Harris

Paul describes the Church as “the Body of Christ.” This means that the Church is a Christological organism and not a corporate organization. While organizational management has its place in the operation of the church, the organizational ideals that find themselves antithetical to the Church as an organism are problematic to the continued presence and work of Christ in the church. For example, recently I attended a church ministry conference wherein a noted guest speaker, a ministry consultant commented that in this time of economic challenge, this is a good time for ministry leaders to re-evaluate her or his vision and “get-rid-of ideas and people who he or she does not need.” Such advice may be appropriate to mainstream organizational leadership training wherein the organization has its own vision as central to its objectives. However, the conference speaker’s advice seems adverse to principles and theological ideals related to the Church as organism – the Body of Christ. There must be a more compassionate approach to handling hardships and economic challenges for churches. Scripture teaches principles for showing grace and love towards people struggling during desperate times. Certainly, the church should lead this charge. Read the rest of this entry »

Macedonian Cry from the Urban Streets: ‘Come Over and Help Us!’

Monday, September 20th, 2010 by Antipas Harris

If twenty-first century ministry leaders take the divine call to ministry seriously,  in the words of John Perkins, “they must take the gospel to the streets.”[1] I have spent time on the streets, praying with people, talking to them about the problems they face, feeding the hungry, picking up drug-addicts and taking them to Teen Challenge, pulling men off the streets late at night to prevent them from vandalism and robbery, and helping the homeless find safe places to live. None of the people I have ever worked with wanted to be in the situation they were in. Situations and poor choices landed them there. Their deepest cry has been ”Please, please help us!” From the ravages of Katrina to what’s left of the earthquakes in Haiti, Cuba and China, people continue to cry, “Come over and help us!” From the urban war-zones of Los Angeles, the south side of Chicago, Boston and many places in-between, there is a cry from the streets, “Come over and help us!” From battered women to trafficked girls, there is a cry from every corner of the urban world, “Come over and help us!” From the brutally treated undocumented residents to the swollen bellies of the hungry children, the cry resonates, “Come over and help us!” I have seen the eyes of pain and have heard the cries of anguish. The hearts of people are bleeding and their souls are crying out. Read the rest of this entry »

Gangs: A Growing Pandemic

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Antipas Harris

Youth exposure to drugs and gangs combined with a paltry 47% of African American males that graduated from high school  these days (with a perilous 28% of the ones who do graduate actually graduate on time) escalates the urban problem beyond the state of tragedy to a social collapse. Urban America is in a state of emergency while there are tons of churches and social service organizations all around. What can we do about this? What is it that we have not done to cure society’s ills?

 Last week the “Crime and Justice News” reported new findings from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). According to the report that a growing 27% (approximately 5.7 million) of public school students say that their school is both gang- and drug-infected; about 46% of the students report that there are gangs in their schools.

As an urban youth worker in Boston Massachusetts in 2005, I learned that each street or neighborhood is a “hood.” A “hood” is the equivalent of what we call “gangs.” There are the organized gangs as popularly known such as the “Bloods,” “Crips,” “Latin Kings,” MS13 Gang or the “18th Street Gang.” As 18th Street gang is named after a “hood” or 18th street in LA, MS13 is named after La Mara, a street in El Savador and 13th Street in LA. As noted here, even widely known gangs are named after street names or comprise of people in designated “hoods.” Teams of youth organize themselves to “watch each other’s back” to protect and to support each other. These teams lack constructive leadership and often veer into the abuse of substances and criminal activity. They often feel neglected by the national system and even by their own families. They often feel more loved and accepted by their own peers than from family and national support systems such as schools, and the justice system. Read the rest of this entry »