Is relocation required for urban ministry?

A picture I took in downtown Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics

Did you know that in 2010, slightly over half of the world’s population lived in major urban centres, but that by 2050, the estimate is 70%?

What are the implications of this massive shift? Well, this scale of an urban migration can often lead to the separation of families due to work and a loss of a communal identity. It can also lead to ecological challenges, increasingly concentrated areas of poverty, and a decrease in family support systems.

Thus, cities need to be on our radar, since this massive shift IS happening.

Doing ministry in the city is going to be an increasingly talked about issue in the 21st century, but is it actually necessary to move into the city? Or is it possible to have an effective and fruitful ministry in the city, while living in the suburbs and just driving in?

Ray Bakke, in his book, A Theology as Big as the City (click here for a book review), has a strong view on this issue. He deeply believes that there is no substitute for “the conscious relocation of Christians to set up residency and witness in the midst of the evil” in the cities. He even goes as far to say that there exists a relationship between the preservation of urban communities and the presence of the godly.

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Book Review: Primal Leadership – Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee

The following is an analytical book review of Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee’s Primal Leadership.

The thesis of Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee’s Primal Leadership is that it is neither a high IQ nor masterful skills that truly make a leader – the key essence is a high level of emotional intelligence.

This emotional intelligence helps leaders create resonance, which is “a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people” (Location 46). Leaders can do this by moving between the six different leadership styles, while also increasingly growing in the four emotional intelligence domains. If leaders grasp these truths, then the impact across their lives, teams, organizations, and society will be revolutionary. [Read more…]

Incarnational Ministry in the Inner City

Macarthur Park

During my recent visit to L.A., I visited Macarthur Park with my classmates. It was originally built in 1880 as a vacation destination for the rich, but then it degraded into a gang banging, drug filled, crime scene from the 1960’s-1980’s. Now, it is a cleaned up multicultural neighborhood that is predominantly Mexican and Central American.

While I was there, I visited Innerchange, which is an incarnational Christian order among the poor with locations across the world. They are communities of missionaries who are intentionally choosing to live in marginalized neighborhoods in order to live out the Gospel there, in both word and deed. It’s because of their presence in that neighbourhood, along with Mama’s Hot Tamales, that MacArthur Park is now what it is.

What impacts me the most about this experience is how Innerchange is not just in the neighborhood to temporarily fix a problem, but that they are there living in the neighborhood with the people.

They are ministers amongst the poor who are critically thinking about how to transform problems into assets.

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Book Review: A Theology as Big as the City – Ray Bakke

The following is an analytical book review of Ray Bakke’s A Theology as Big as the City.

Ray Bakke is the Chancellor, Distinguished Professor of Global Urban Ministry and Urban/Global Leadership, and a member of the Board of Regents at Bakke Graduate University. He is an author and also the founder of International Urban Associates, which is a network of urban-based church and mission leaders from many of the world’s largest cities.

With the increase in urbanization and urbanism, and with the increasing trend of the world moving into cities, a lot of new challenges are arising. Despite the demographic, missiological, ecclesiastical, and financial challenges that are accompanying this increase, the primary challenge is theological.

Thus, the thesis of this book is that God is not just interested in our personal needs and problems, but he is also interested in the city, and the engagement that Christians have with our “external-world reality” (Location 73).

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The Organizational Culture of…Umami Burger

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I visited Umami Burger Pasadena, a hipster burger restaurant in old town Pasadena. As I was being seated, I could not help but notice how open and sleek the restaurant felt. The doors were wide open and the front of the restaurant was covered with all windows. Even the kitchen in the back was open – there were no dividing walls in sight. The white and silver colors definitely made the restaurant feel modern, while the plastic fork covered lights gave the restaurant an aura of hipster. The paintings on the wall were abstract and incredibly simple, nicely integrating with the rest of the feel in the restaurant.

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Every Umami Burger Restaurant has the same menu, except for a signature burger that is unique to each location. I decided to dive in and have the signature burger unique to this location – Le Cordon Bleu Burger designed by the local culinary arts students at the Pasadena College of Culinary Arts. It was an expensive, yet delicious delicatessen burger.

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