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City Outreach Conference

First Baptist Durham Nov. 23, 2013 9:00 AM

“City Project” summer interns help CEF and others

Traditionally, our summer missions team would have just returned from Christian Youth in Action® training and have begun 6-8 weeks of 5-Day Club® ministry at random sites across the Durham area.  Urban workers from around the country would have already departed Durham surviving another urban boot camp.   However, this summer a very strategic decision was made to focus on what God has put before us rather than for us to add to the plate He gave us.

What does this mean?  It means, that CEF and its friends, who minister in Durham, are committed to all necessary strategies and tactics available to us for kingdom building.  It means, our yearly calendar and schedules may not match God’s, so what should we do?

God’s Calendar for us in Durham

During the early summer God scheduled CEF staff and ministers to continue its work in 10 under-resourced communities of Durham where the indigenous are being discipled to lead the outreach.  There are so many wonderful things happening through these efforts that, unfortunately, there is not enough space here to describe.  God allowed me to recruit and engage others from Durham to attend the Duke Summer Institute where we grappled with current and historical issues in Durham as well as navigating a course of biblical reconciliation for our city.  The PrayDurham initiative has taken me to the State Capitol in Raleigh, NC to meet with the NC Call to Prayer caucus.  I will be meeting with leaders of PrayNewark in their city during early July to learn how they mobilized their city to pray through a street adoption strategy as we are doing in Durham.

We’re enjoying breakthrough with several projects

God has also placed before us eight intelligent and committed interns from The City Project, a Campus Outreach effort of the Summit Church in Durham.  They serve on 4 teams focused on 4 projects, which CEF, BlessDurham, and World Relief are engaging.  They are helping us break new ground in ministry by (1) revamping our sports outreach—setting up camps and clinics for this summer thru next spring 2012, (2) reformatting and building our data bases for the blessdurham.org web site, which will impact PrayDurham and connecting the churches/ministries of Durham, (3) are doing research and development of a business plan for operating food and ice cream trucks for ministry to inner city communities and to refuges, and (4) joining the Butteflz team (Bible club/tutoring) to teach and administrate its summer programs.  All have provided needed breakthrough this summer, which will propel us into 2012 on a solid foundation for sustainable ministry.

The traditional mission of CEF in the Durham area continues in mid-July and August with club ministry, sports camps, community block parties, and teachers being trained. What a great summer not being bullied by my own calendar and agenda.

Quickly, most kids embrace those who teach, play, and care for them.  It’s been my experience that too many city kids too quickly embrace strangers just because they are present in their community and doing something fun or of value with them.  Our local CEF chapter made strategic changes in the way we mentor/disciple youth because of this reality.  Please contact me about this very significant topic, if interested.

Influence with city kids

cropped-lead_720_405.jpgThinking about such a strong social connection and potential influence with city kids… What stops our influence with kids?  We’ve known for a long time that reaching children for Christ as early as possible has the greatest impact on their social, mental, and spiritual development (present and future).  We know that if a child spends even one hour/week with a caring adult, outside of school and home, there will be a significant benefit to their development.  But at what point does one or more hours per week with that child lose its impact?  How strong is your influence with kids?

How much influence do we really have?

Last month a friend’s death caused me to ask this same question.  He had an extremely caring grandmother in whose home he stayed.  He had close friends who cared and hung with him most of the time.  His death also revealed that he was influenced by some outside his circle of friends.

He was taught about Christ and discipled at his church and at a Christian after school program in his community.  He participated in evangelistic outreach events with CEF.  Those outside his church and home were usually with him 8-15 hours each week until a couple of years ago.  Even so, how much influence is enough?

Friends of Delvonte, like Pastor Dub, Pam, Corey, and from CEF – Paula, Carla, Bianca, Syelwin, David, Sean, and me mourn his death, celebrate his salvation, and wish our influence had been stronger.  It’s understandable to feel this way for those you love, but more importantly, how much influence does faith, God, and the Word of God specifically have in the lives of our young friends?  And more generally, how influential is the local church upon youth today?

Staggering survey: How much are youth influenced by church?

I’ve said many times, city kids actually crave and deserve to be told the truth, to feel the love, and experience the proof that God is real and active in the world as well as in their lives.  The following survey is confirmation of this statement and a staggering reality check.  For pastors, parents, and the many friends of children and youth… you’ve got to read this survey.  For the sake of your family, church kids, and the Delvontes in our communities… we’ve got to make strategic changes to the value we place on teaching children the Bible and how we influence their lives.

While earlier surveys have shown that Christian students tend to quit church during their college years, the data collected by American’s Research Group cited in Survey: Churches Losing Youth Long Before College found that most of them were already gone in middle school and high school.  “They’re sitting in our churches right now … and they’re already gone…” Ken Ham said.

At an awkward conclusion, let me say, a majority of youth (as well as adults) lack a network of godly friends who affirm… it always comes back to belonging, relationships.  Loneliness within the heart of a young person produces a hopeless attitude, compulsiveness to fill the emptiness, and a craving for anything that brings him attention and recognition.

Lesson for the church, you, and me

What if we, who have influence with city kids, simply developed those relationships based on authentic, biblical truth, love, and proof from our mutual lives?  Isn’t that what we are called to do?

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