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Broken and Whole

As I speak to people about our strategy I've been fairly amused at how quickly the Church has fallen into cut-and-dry lines of socioeconomic status. It would be hilariously funny if so many Christian leaders weren't so deadly serious. I didn't realize that Christ called Pastors to be paralyzed.

With my return to Baltimore I have a desire to Pastor the entire city. I believe every Pastor should have this passion for their city or town.

Since I will be the Pastor to (at least) two diverse socioeconomic groups I will from time to time speak to how we're going about reaching these groups in different ways. As a Christian who was raised in the projects but spent the last 12 years in suburbia I hope to show the American Church that we can walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to ministering to diverse socioeconomic groups.

Here's one basic key for urban ministry.

Key: Some people have a great need to learn what it means to be whole while others have a great need to learn what it means to be broken.

If you're suffering from the plight of generational poverty your main needs have to do with learning to be made whole in Jesus name. Chances are that the systems you've learned to adapt to do not line up with Jesus' teaching on almost any level. Therefore when you come to Christ you will have to learn entirely new ways of dealing with your finances, your health, your attitude, your tongue, etc. Everything needs flipped. You will have some things about the Christian life down pact. You would likely have learned to live on less. You will know what its like to have been broken. You will know loyalty. You will understand the value in respect and defending the weak. As a man or woman growing in Jesus your main issues will be not brokenness but wholeness.

Conversely as we interact with the suburban version of the urban-ite we will find people who are socially engaged, educationally proficient and usually excited about their creature comforts. These folks don't have a problem being 'whole' in many of the ways I described above. In most of these neighborhoods you will see people taking care of their property, doing life in an orderly manner and running or working out regularly. Folks in this mindset tend not to have a problem understanding the steps the need to take to be healthy but rather their biggest challenge is their own comfort. When I talk with people from this world almost every one has shared some form of the statement "I need to be broken." They won't say it this way but what they do say comes back to meaning and purpose. They will struggle with the difference between success and significance. They have a hard time with honoring God as the owner and authority. Afterall the title on their name plate at work says they are in charge. Their main issue is not that they need to learn to be whole but rather that they need to be broken. Broken to self, broken to the pain of others, broken to the cause of Christ.

What I find amazing about the gospel is that it calls us to a faith that is not either/or. The Gospel calls us to an amazing tension of brokenness AND wholeness. Jesus bascially challenges us to remain broken to find wholeness and in our wholeness we will remain broken.

Christianity at large tends to accomidate one or the other. Christianity seems to be okay with socioeconomic segregation. "Don't try to reach both segments of the urban landscape because it won't work." Again I would laugh at this attitude except it appears to be the prevailing wind in and around our urban centers.
In Baltimore and Baltimore County, MD the numbers I keep hearing are about 2.6 million people. Our denomination has an average weekly church attendance in these areas (all churches combined) of 5,500 attendees.

I'd say it's time we try something different. I believe people can find more commonality around the Gospel than our current socioeconomic segregation suggests. Brokenness AND Wholeness.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, December 16, 2008


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