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    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Working with Inner City Youth

    I am an inner-city Student Ministries Pastor. I work predominantly with Middle School students. This past week has been tough.
    My heart is to see these students (churched and non-churched) to grasp the depth of Christ's love for them, know Him and then in turn make Him known.

    Working in an inner-city context is rough. You hear about friends dying, drugs being sold and pregnancies happening. My heart breaks for these kids. I love them and care for them deeply. I desire to see kids who would normally be hopped up on drugs, hopped up on Christ.

    It is hard. Satan loves to stir the city. Satan loves to attack the city. The enemy wants to destroy the lives of these kids and they are letting him do it.

    I am under no delusion that I am Jesus and that I can in fact save them from the sin they are in, save them from the pain they face or even save them from themselves. That's God's job. It is however my job to be a tool and a willing vessel for Jesus to do those things through me.

    There are few books written about Inner-city Youth Ministry, fewer still about Inner-City Middle Schoolers.

    There seems to be a disconnect with authority with these teens. There seems to be a lack of respect for adults and a hatred for rules. This becomes hard when you are trying to create a safe, loving environment. Students buck the system, rebel against the rules, push the authority and their goal seems to be to so ruin the authority that they can then do whatever they want.

    With God's empowering grace, I will not budge, I will not break. I will continue to love, continue to care for and continue to preach His message to these hurting teens.

    I've been lied to, cussed at, laughed at and disrespected but man do I still love these kids. I don't let them walk over me, they know the boundaries...yet they continue to push, continue to pull and continue to disregard.

    I'm writing because its freeing for me. I'm writing because if I don't I may not let these things out.

    I'm sad for these kids. I hurt for them. I want them to know Jesus...but I am not Jesus. I can not force them to come take a drink of His eternal waters. I can simply be a voice, a life and a guide to lead them to the well. They must decide to take the plunge.

    I've only been in Urban Youth Ministry as a pastor (not including my intern days) for 7.5 months. I am not naive though in thinking this is the most pain I will feel. I know someday I will hear: "_____was shot and killed" or "______is in jail". This is not resignation to the bad things of the city, it's a reality. I will know a student who makes a bad choice that lands them in one of those places. My prayer it is jail, not death.

    I love my job, but ministry takes a toll on your heart. Anyone who says that ministry is a breeze and won't cause pain either: hasn't been in ministry longer than a millisecond or they are in denial.

    There is so much to say about inner-city youth ministry and I'm sure I will continue to write about it since it is my context now. I am lucky to have a 22 year veteran as my boss. A man who has heard both: "___has been shot" and "____is in jail". He knows the pain; he's lived it, felt it and probably even dreamt about it.

    I am lucky to have his wisdom, his shoulder and his leadership, it helps.

    Pray for the inner-city youth and pray for those of us who work with them. Satan wants to rip them away from Jesus and he wants to slay us for attempting to bring them to Christ.


    1. Your writing has really helped me. I am a youth pastor currently working in the community where my church is and there is a lot of inner city kids there who attend our youth group. i understand everything you say. praying for you.

    2. My husband I just started leading the Middle School Group at our church in inner city Atlanta. Thanks for the reality as well as encouragement.

    3. I TOTALLY understand your pain and heart. I've been with the kids on Buffalo's west side for almost 2 years and I still get it all. Only recently have I put my foot down on them harder. They still spit venom, but I love em to death.

      Be encouraged, brother!