Urban Ministry is a special ministry called to establish relationships within the urban areas.
Cities are more than malls, high rises, and mass commutes. Cities are individuals who are precious in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus wept over the cities not out of pity but because He knew the challenges that would hinder the gospel work in urban areas. But the apostles and Paul in particular, demonstrated the need to reach cities and the difference the gospel can make in the cities of Corinth, Rome, and Thessalonica. We need the same passion to minister to people living in our modern urban environments.
Planning – A primary task of the Inner Cities/Urban Ministries Director is that of a guide and facilitator who helps the church and the community establish and find ways to achieve their outreach goals.
Identifying needs – The Inner City/Urban Ministries Director tries to be aware of conditions in the community and the metro area. The Director is interested in the social problems, public attitudes and values of the various segments of urban society and seeks understanding and ways to be helpful. Plans for urban ministry will be effective only to the extent that they are based on objective fact and sensitivity to the self-identity and perceptions of each ethnic, socioeconomic and lifestyle group. This means learning to conduct surveys, interview civic leaders, make use of census data and social science information, and seek out opportunities for the church to meet needs in the community.
Community relations – The urban church must relate to a complex community situation where there are many diverse groupings instead of one culture. The Inner Cities/Urban Ministries Director helps the church to find ways to establish a caring, healing relationship with each group. He or she must maintain open lines of communication with the specific groups within the community and at the same time resist being “captured” or used by any group or class. He will seek to establish good relations with community groups even when they may be suspicious or resistant. A director cannot function effectively in community relations for the church if he speaks as a partisan for one group, project or point of view over another. Instead he is an advocate for a process of inter-group cooperation and effective methods of community work.
Advocacy – There are times when the Inner Cities/Urban Ministries Director must take initiative. The most difficult task is to stimulate a sense of need with churches or communities which appear apathetic or actively disinterested. Many churches and communities are content with the status quo. The Inner Cities/Urban Ministries Director has the responsibility of communicating the needs of hurting people and stimulating discontent about painful conditions in the community. The Director speaks for the poor, the oppressed, the victims, the discouraged and shut-out.
Program development – Special programs of urban ministry have been set up by Adventist churches in many large cities in the United States and Canada. Sometimes these are directed by the Community Services Director, Personal Ministries Director, Health-Temperance Director r, Adventist Youth Society or a Community Services Center. At times they are managed by the Inner Cities/Urban Ministries Director. This responsibility includes the recruitment and training of volunteers, learning to delegate, providing operational supervision and overall project leadership. These programs vary greatly in their exact nature and each requires specific technical skills of its own.