The Three C’s of Urban Ministry

I have now had three-and-a-half months to reflect on my 3-month sabbatical last fall. One of my main initiatives was to study and learn more about Urban Ministry.  I think it was a success!

I love the city. I love the people of the city.  And our nation is becoming increasingly more urban.  It behooves those of us in ministry to learn how best to minister in an urban situation…like the one in which I find myself right now.  Cities are getting bigger.  The mission field is coming to us.  Our nation is becoming more centralized.

As I have reflected on my experiences over the course of three months, I have come to the realization that really good urban ministry consists of Contextualization, Consistency, and Creativity.


If I were to go as a missionary to New Guinea, Africa, China, or India, the first thing I would do is learn the culture and determine the best way I could use the context of that culture to minister to the people there in the most effective manner; in a way that would speak to their “heart language.”

LINC ministries in Houston, under the direction of Rev. Mark Junkans, does it so well. They have ESL classes that draw people in to churches that use the Spanish language in their worship. They have an Indian (from India) ministry on the campus of The University of Houston that has a native Indian as its pastor.  They use Spanish language Christian bookstores which also double as food banks and educational centers.

Peace Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C., under Pastor James Wiggins, uses both traditional and “urban contemporary” worship to reach those in the immediately surrounding community. There are those in that congregation who would never have been there had it not been for the “urban contemporary” service.


The Dream Center in Los Angeles (check it out at is nothing if not consistent. Every Saturday they take panel trucks filled with creative children’s ministry teams into the parks in the worst neighborhoods of L.A. Each and every week they have teams and volunteers that adopt blocks in the most gang-infested areas of L.A.  They simply go into the neighborhoods and care by providing food, furniture, clothing…whatever is needed.  And they share the Gospel.  It isn’t until the people of these neighborhoods realize that these people won’t quit…that they are more than consistent…that they finally begin to trust them.  Through these consistent ministries many have come to know Christ.


I found numerous churches on my sabbatical that used both context and consistency in creative ways to share Jesus. Church For All Nations (LCMS) in Manhattan is right down the block from Carnegie Hall, and right in the midst of a neighborhood filled with musicians.  So they have concert series’ that draw people from the uptown Manhattan into their church on a regular basis.

Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, California, (a community similar to my own Sherman Park neighborhood in Milwaukee) fills the front of the church for every single service with a mass choir, and a 20 piece orchestra that would be the envy of most every congregation. Using creative themes, they draw all of their 1500 members into the message each week through song, preaching, and prayer.  It is a sight to see!

Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland, was a church planted to be intentionally multi-cultural. You should see the different “nations, tribes, people, and languages” used in the creative context of their worship.

4.  ONE MORE “C”…

And lest you think I’ve forgotten…there is one last “C” that begins, ends, and permeates any discussion or attempt at Urban Ministry:  Christ Himself.  He “completes” Urban Ministry, “cares” for it, and went to the “cross” for all the people of every “city,” throughout the “country,” and across every “continent.”

Contextualization, consistency, and creativity are the three things I pray the Lord will use at Mt. Calvary to “bring hope to the heart of the city” of Milwaukee…and beyond.

Do you have any examples of contextualization, consistency, or creativity in ministry (urban or not) that you could share with me?

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3 thoughts on “The Three C’s of Urban Ministry

  1. This is a great take on Urban Ministry Pastor! I could not agree more with your three "c's" appraoch with Christ in the Center. It is so true that we need to get at that "Heart Language" of the people and consistently be there in their midst. I have learned so much with what you have shared with me personally and in my studies and I look forward to my continuing education in Urban Ministry!

  2. The Car Care Ministry that Randy has been developing and waiting to receive approval status as a 501c3. Will be for low-income, elderly, and single parents. Then involving them in some volunteering in the community to give back for the help they've received. Also tying in some type of mentoring program for vocational training.

    Also women from our church called the 410 Club has been going into strip clubs and befriending the girls by talking with them and bringing gifts on occasion. They have been able to meet them at their homes and bring them soup if their sick. Just meeting their needs as women and loving them where they are, with the vision and mission of God by His Spirit will deliver them out of the place their in and move them into all that He has planned for them. Much prayer and hedge of protection goes into this ministry. Teams go in, another team prays, and another gathers and puts together the gifts.