Okay, now you have all this information and you’re asking, “What do I do with it? How do I begin to apply all I’ve learned to my local ministry?” This section is designed to help you begin taking your first steps in ministry to urban, inner-city and ethnic students.
Your objective is to lay a solid foundation to begin a movement.
- Meet key people and build relationships in the community. Meet people on their turf when it’s convenient for them!
- Build trust!
- You must meet pastors and make your intentions known to them! These will be permanent, on-going relationships especially if kids are involved from their churches. In most ethnic communities, they are the main spiritual authority. If the pastor is not informed, it could create problems in the future.
- Identify any key inner-city or ethnic ministries that already exist in the community. Go in as a learner/servant who is only adding to what’s already taking place. It doesn’t mean you have to stop doing what God has called you to do; rather you only offer those things they ask for them with.
- Use this time to learn as much as you can about the culture. Read, visit churches, community events, etc.!
In this phase, your objective is to expose the claims of Christ to a broad segment of students, gathering a core group of Christians to build a movement.
- While on campus, look for groups and places where urban, inner-city, and ethnic students gather. Gospel choirs, step clubs, band, academic clubs, ROTC and Spanish club could be places to start. Many times, inner-city students must rely on the school bus or public transportation to get home, so they may not hang around after school.
- Enlist Christian students. African American and Hispanic students usually don’t have a hard time talking about God. You may find it easy to start up a conversation with them. The issues that most come up are assurance of salvation or issues dealing with the Holy Spirit. Depending on the background of the Hispanic student, Catholicism may be an issue.
- Follow-up may be a challenge. Don’t get discouraged. Be persistent! God will bring them students, but it may take a while. Bible studies and student meetings may need to be planned for right after school for inner-city and some urban students. It’s sometimes difficult to get them back to campus later.
- Always have food!
- Your team may need to be prepared to provide scholarships for conferences and retreats. Many inner-city students won’t have any financial means to pay for even the lowest cost retreat!
- Meet parents and keep them informed about what’s happening in your ministry.
- You may also find that you need to deal with some more topical/foundational issues before you can get into your normal Bible study material.
Here, your objective is to go public with the movement through the students gathered.
- Maintain and develop good relationships with parents and community contacts.
- Keep your meetings consistent and always send home something that explains what’s going on.
- It will be helpful to remember some of the cultural idioms of each ethnic group at this point. It may help explain why a student is or isn’t attending your events or is behaving a certain way.
- Continue to visit local churches and send your team’s prayer request to local churches to help keep them informed and educate them about your ministry. The more information, the better.
- Make sure, you are enlisting volunteers and encouraging people from different ethnic groups to work along side you and help you lead in some instances.
- Explain the purpose of meetings clearly. Remember, your way of doing things may be totally foreign to these students. You may have to keep helping them make the distinctions.
- Try and bring in ethnic speakers and remember ethnic holidays in your use of themes or even in scheduling of events.
- Your meetings should reflect your audience. The music, themes, speakers, curriculum, etc. should appeal to your specific or mixed audience. This may be a challenge, but persevere. It’s really worth it. (If your group is mixed, pray that God will help you to know how to maintain all the students in that setting.)
The objective is to delegate major responsibility for movement to students and volunteers.
- At this point, students should be seeing more and more people like them leading as volunteers or as student leaders.
- Students should be attending conferences, but international projects may pose another dilemma. Students will want to go, but their parents may not understand the reasoning behind it and parents may be intimidated by the cost. Plan on helping that student raise all of their finances. Inner-city families generally have no extra money to give to things like this.
- You may also consider including conferences and trips that are more ethnic or urban and inner-city specific. These events will help these students deal with the issues of Christianity that come up in their communities and in their personal worlds.
Tips to Remember
- Build local relationships. Start a friendship with a person of another culture. It could be a once a week lunch or a time to learn another language. Be creative with your activities!
- Visit ethnic Christian churches with a person of that ethnicity so you can ask questions if needed.
- Take part in or do an inner-city ministry project.
- Invite ethnic students to your home. Help them to see that you are willing and wanting them to be a part of your world – that you want to open your home to them.
- Read books, magazines and newspaper articles about specific ethnic groups. Go to your library or subscribe to an ethnic magazine such as Emerge, Vibe, and Hispanic. Start a file of your resources and keep copies on hand.
- Eat at an ethnic restaurant. One idea is to go to a different ethnic restaurant once a week for a month. This is a fun way to experience another culture without having to go out of the country!
- Take part in celebrating or attending ethnic holiday events.