Dr. Ron Morrison, Senior Pastor
Hope Alliance Bible Church in Maple Hts.
Urban ministry has unique challenges in the area of family ministry. I say that because crowded cities have a higher percentage of broken homes, single parents, and blended families that are connecting with our churches. Many published materials for family ministry assume children have a father and mother in the home that actually invest in their lives. Since that family dynamic is rare, urban leaders must be sensitive in making sure the body of Christ actually functions as the healthy family Christ intended.
I recently had the privilege of sharing a devotional message with the Cleveland Browns the evening before a pre-season game. One of the first things I think of when accepting invitations away from the local church is who I could take with me that might enjoy a unique experience. Years ago my wife and I were invited to speak at a college and we took along a young man from our church who did not have a father in his life. It was his first plane ride and first visit to a college. That experience gave him a vision for what his future could be with the right support. He is now a college grad, who is working in his field. He is married, and is a wonderful father to two children, one of whom was abandoned by his birth father, just as he was.
Johnny is an 11 year old in the foster care of a single mom in our church. With her permission, I took him to the Browns’ hotel, with the previously agreed upon goal of making this a surprise. He loves coming to church, sits in Bible class with the adults, and gives every indication of following Christ with child-like faith. He was excited by his first visit to a hotel and meeting players and coaches as he distributed my preaching notes to them and sat between two huge athletes as I shared the Scriptures admitting afterwards how his heart was racing and how he enjoyed the experience. He says I am the first pastor he has ever known, although he has attended other churches in his young life.
Life is full of hard knocks for many people and under-parented children can grow up with a distorted view of God’s love for them if believers do not look for opportunities to step up and step in. Our urban pastors are cognizant of the extenuating circumstances that may impact how someone hears and responds to the Scriptures. Like our Lord, we are working together to make sure those who may feel left out are welcomed in. (Ephesians 2:13)