Wow. My very own post. Cool.
I really enjoyed reading your candid thoughts on how the urban community could indeed minister to the community that has come to minister to them. That paradigm must be frustrating, I can imagine.
So, if I understand you correctly, your beef is with the “Great White Hope,” is that correct? Essentially, suburbanites thinking that they are the answer to the world’s problems?
Let me challenge your thinking a bit, because I feel like you might be guilty of a little elitism, classism, or maybe even ethnocentrism.
How, in your opinion, could this situation be remedied? I can’t imagine your answer to be, “well, tell the white suburbanites to not come down here!” Is it? If that’s not your answer, give me an outcome in this situation that would be acceptable in your sight and to your cultural setting.
Justin it is not really so much about a great white hope…as I am white and usually not so great. It is really about consumerism, wealth, and the American Dream. Some Background.
I am a church planter. When I planted my church I did everything wrong and started with a big group of people who did not live in this neighborhood. The result was a bunch of people who were willing to minister too people but they were not willing to be ministered to themselves. We had a bunch of people with a messiah complex who could not figure out why these dumb city people did not want to be just like them. This is no way to have a church I would point out, and it was my fault, as I did not look closely enough as incarnation and relocation when I planted the church. My theory essentially is that if you do not have two way ministry where everyone is viewed equally you will never have any lasting kingdom effect.
As to the specifics of the original post: I know a lot of folks in the church I was referring to, and frankly they are the poster children for American consumerism, they also, bless them have a tendency to think that there way of life is what everyone is dreaming of because in their mind it is inherently superior (I know this is a generalization, but in general it is true :). This is a problem because it once again makes middle class America the arbiter of what Christianity should look like.
As to the solutions I will suggest several, which I theorize will not happen:
- Grand scale confession and rejection of consumerism
- Rejection of the popular American definition of success, in relation to the church this means that bigger is not always better.
- When doing justice ministry total submission by those outside the target area to those who are inside
- All urban ministry should be done in partnership with the indigenous. All leadership should be indigenous.
- If a person can not be ministered to as well as minster they should be confronted for their sin problem, and removed from the service.
- Suburban ministries should come first looking to learn and then after that they may serve.
To wit: We have a wonderful relationship with our mother church which is suburban, but if they wanted to minister in the city (and they often do) they would do it through us, not too us. In other words unless they desire to be indigenousness I doubt the validity of suburban churches starting urban ministries, both for their effectiveness and for their social value. When outsiders create ministries in the city that are drop in they essentially function like Christian welfare…and the problem with welfare whether Christian or otherwise is that is subtly communicates to the recipient: I own you. I paid for you. You belong to me. I have , you have not, I am valuable, you have no value.