children’s ministry in the urban context – monday

recently i had the privilege of chatting over coffee with darlene kelley – a leader in children’s ministry in urban settings. we had such wonderful conversation as darlene described in great detail how we can rise to the challenge of leading children and families in today’s city context. i asked her if she would share her thoughts on this blog – and i’m thrilled that today kicks off an entire week of conversation. darlene offers her thoughts on the characteristics of the city church, and some suggestions for how we might more efficiently reach these children and families.

cultural diversity

the need to speak the gospel in the language of more than one cultural group to ensure receptivity is part and parcel of urban ministry to children/families. in urban contexts, a person is often surrounded by a vast number of cultural groups that is distinct from his/her own. in such an environment the reality is that many, if not most churches tend to segregate and zero in on producing a worshipping community that caters to one individual culture. subsequently many congregations experience limited growth in relation to the potential growth that could be experienced. many congregations are unwilling to stretch themselves beyond this pattern, however those that do find that real community and effective ministry does not come easy – especially as it relates to ministries for children and families, yet it is nevertheless worth celebrating once achieved!

concern for safety and well being

local news reports often provide a warped view of city life that leaves an outsider with a misguided view of what urban environments are like. certainly there are a vast number of negatives, yet there are even more positives that are overlooked and unreported. with the presence of both negative and positive experiences in urban environments, it is important to be spiritually prepared when ministering to the urban child. In the city of chicago where i live, we approached the month of June – six months into the year 2009 and reported that approximately 40 kids/teens had been victims of violent shootings. presenting god to children in such an environment requires contextualizing the bible to address the pain and frustration that many urban kids live with daily.

join us tuesday for conversation in limited resources and building on a different foundation.

Darlene R. Kelley has served as a leader of various ministry teams throughout the East Coast and Midwest teaching and shepherding children, parents and volunteers, hosting various community wide family events, and preaching to local congregations. She is a pastor and teacher with a heart for teaching the Bible and training others for ministry. She currently holds a Master of Arts in Educational Ministries from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and is currently studying full time as she pursues a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.

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