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Answering the Call to Urban Ministry



by Bob Adams

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page 1

At Bronx Bethany, here is what the Spirit is already doing:

  • Worship that consistently manifests the majesty, holiness and beauty of the Lord through music, the arts and proclamation of the Word of God
  • Ministries that reach out and touch people in the Bronx and the greater New York region, effectively providing physical, spiritual, emotional and social healing
  • Fellowship that provides dignity, nurture, acceptance, personal empowerment and personal development
  • Discipleship that provides growth for members into Christ-like behavior and examples of redemption wherever their spheres of influence take them
  • Pastoral staff team that is capable, effective and efficient in equipping the saints for the work of the ministry

The mission of BBCN is to be a Spirit-filled community of love with a place for everyone, where people experience the forgiveness of sins and the cleansing of their hearts by faith in Jesus Christ. The church is committed to:

  • Providing access to God’s grace for everyone,
  • Responding compassionately and practically to human needs in the name of Christ, and
  • Being a redemptive influence in the Bronx and the world to the glory of God.

Bronx Bethany is living out the Word of God among people who are far from God. In addition to the “saving grace” that only God can provide, they seek to cultivate what Bakke calls “common grace” to live and grow in the city. Common grace is the grace God uses to animate architects, artists, prophets, politicians, teachers and preachers alike – to fully invest themselves in the city to provide healthy people, healthy families and healthy communities. The cultivation of a good city is the business of all believers until the consummation of his kingdom occurs.

It’s not enough to look to the cities and see a great mass of unreached people there. A theology of the city must include, as Bronx Bethany lives out daily, a biblically comprehensive gift of common grace for all people who call the city “home.” As Psalm 48 reminds us, God has an urban address: “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God.”

Most of us (certainly me, before my Bronx adventure) look at the inner city and see misery and despair. The congregation at BBCN sees promise and opportunity in an after-school program that consistently has a waiting list and helps develop boys and girls in academics, the arts and social interaction. Who among us has not looked at efforts to eliminate poverty and seen a history of failed programs? Bronx Bethany sees progress – slow, but steady – and creates a community corporation to work with diverse groups in the neighborhoods to continue that progress. When we dare travel in the city, it is mostly to go through it, from one place to another. The people of Bronx Bethany live there, or travel to there, to minister among the people there.

I don’t know where my urban adventures will go next, but I do know that the people of BBCN are living out a very clear biblical mandate in their city; they see solutions, not problems. They are committed and optimistic that God is indeed in their city – and they are making deliberate choices to join him at work there.

Bob Adams is the lead church development consultant for JH Batten Inc. (www.jhbatten.com), a church design-build firm. His background includes 23 years as an associate and executive pastor with primary responsibility in church facilities administration. Adams’ passion is helping the Church and its people to be efficient in their use of ministry resources so they can be effective in accomplishing their vision. Read his Learning Solutions blog or visit his personal blog at http://27gen.blogspot.com.

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