The office of Pastor can be compared to having children, it can be a wonderful experience but it can leave you with a few gray hairs. The calling of pastors is one that is typically approached with honor and an awareness that the work of the office has a lot to do with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is something that pastors need but the other thing that is needed is training. There are trainings throughout the country for pastors and ministry leaders. There are hardships at times that make it difficult for pastors, especially urban pastors, to attend conferences due to traveling expenses, registration fees, and not being able to get time off from their jobs.
Ninety percent of pastors feel inadequately trained to cope with the demands of ministry, according to PastoralCareInc.
So, where does the urban pastor go to get trained so that they don’t have to be part of the statistic? Where does the urban pastor find the tools to use in the cities where God has called them?
Over the last three years, I have been working with World Impact as an Associate and now as the LA City Director. World Impact is a Christian missions organization committed to facilitating church-planting movements by evangelizing, equipping and empowering the unchurched urban poor.
World Impact’s purpose is to honor and glorify God and to delight in Him among the unchurched urban poor by knowing God and making Him known. One of the initiatives that World Impact has for the urban pastor is the Urban Church Association (UCA). It is a coalition of urban church pastors that meet once a month for networking, resourcing, reproduction, and soul care. The Urban Church Association is a place of resourcing urban pastors with the tools to do ministry more effectively and economically. Some UCAs do outreaches, retreats, block parties, and unity services together. Not only do they collaborate and encourage each other, they seek to bring unity to the Body of Christ while transforming their communities together.
We have a ministry that is part of the Los Angeles Urban Church Association by the name of Jesus Knows My Name, which is lead by Jennifer Chou. Her ministry is located in Downtown Los Angeles near Skid Row. Every Sunday she, along with her team, set up to serve the Skid Row community with food and the Gospel. One fifth Sunday, the R.O.C.K. Church (Pastor Peter Watts) and Chosen Generation Church (Pastor Cedric Nelms) in collaborating with Jesus Knows My Name served the Skid Row Community. It was truly a blessing to serve those that are the under-served and the forgotten of our community.
We were able to pray for and engage those that were in the line waiting to be served a hot meal. I recall one gentleman that was leaving with this meal. I told him a blessing and to be safe. He turned to me and said that he doesn’t hear that from people that often. As we engaged in a short conversation I found out that he was a war veteran who was living in downtown LA. He had been living down there for a couple of years and let me know that there was a sense of community on Skid Row.
These pastors are a valuable link to the communities, churches, and pastors who need resourcing the most. Urban Church Associations are a great example of missional partnerships in that trust is transferable. The UCA is a place urban pastors are introduced to the ministry and resources of World Impact, and pastors in the UCA know the World Impact staff’s heart for the Lord and urban missions.
In short, any urban missions worker or pastor quickly learns that planting and pastoring churches in areas of urban poverty is a high-risk, high-reward effort. We believe that one of the keys to success is profoundly simple — we need each other. We need to link arms and work together to transform our communities.