Christian Living

Step Out the Boat: Following the Urban Disciple Maker

Cyril Chavis, Jr.

Recently, Karen Ellis, a regular contributor to the RAANetwork, teacher, writer, and theologian, captivatingly gives her readers a peek into the life and ministry of the urban disciple maker. She reveals to us the unique obstacles, cultural and political realities, and people a disciple maker face in the urban context.

By shining a spotlight on the work, faithfulness, courage, and sacrifice of urban disciple makers, Ellis inspires the church to humbly learn and follow their Christ-like example.

Here is are some excerpts from Ellis’ post:

“Perhaps an even greater obstacle to the mission of the urban disciple maker is the one that emanates from within the church itself, which denies the value of the young men and women involved in one of our society’s most difficult subcultures. The recent Garner/Brown decisions have revealed a train of thought in the American church that is desensitized to the value of lives of men like Garner and Brown. The resulting dismissal of the redemptive power of the Gospel exposes the hardness of our hearts, and is an indictment against our understanding of Genesis 1-3, as well as the transformative power of union with Christ.”

“During the height of the tensions of the Garner/Brown incidences, the terms ‘thug’ and ‘animal’ as pejoratives – as well as other terms similar to them – have been bandied about broadly by Christians across social media platforms. Tupac Shakur once attempted to redefine the word ‘thug’ by describing a person who perseveres in spite of the heavy, oppressive weight of circumstances stacked against him. The term has been conflated with today’s common ‘gangsta,’ and still holds a decidedly unpleasant and criminal element for those who misunderstand Tupac’s attempts at redefinition.”

“To dismiss those caught up in dysfunctional ‘thug culture’ as incorrigible and perhaps even dispensable, while abandoning them to their ‘just desserts’ sweeps the legs out from under the work of the urban disciple maker. It denies the entire mission of their Gospel engagement, and when allowed to develop to its logical conclusion, opens the door to a form of ‘natural selection’ we would likely find abhorrent in any other cultural application.”

“When we find ourselves with no compassion or remorse for a life lost, no matter how we may perceive and rate the moral quality of that life, we even go beyond the fundamental sentiments of the pro-abortion and anti-life movements; we suggest not only are some unworthy of life, but others may even be beyond the scope of Christ’s life-changing power. The loss of opportunity for the display of God’s glory and transformative power should be mourned most deeply by Christians, since God himself delights in the death of no man – not even as he dispenses divine justice.”

“Christians who follow this path of thought forget in the perspective of God’s covenant, we are all ‘thugs’. By the pejorative definition, Billy Graham was a ‘thug.’ Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and John Wesley were also ‘thugs.’ Tim Keller, Albert Mohler … they were once ‘thugs’ too. All of our pastors were once ‘thugs.’ This language should not surprise us; the apostle Paul had no problem admitting he was the ‘chief of ‘thugs.’ We would all still be ‘thugs,’ but for the grace of God and atoning blood of his Son Jesus Christ.”

“It must be possible then, for Christians to learn to hate ‘thug life,’ but still love the ‘thug,’ even as he or she may still be “thuggin’’ and yet simultaneously moving from foolishness to wisdom.”

“By their actions on the ground, urban disciple makers call us to remember our own humanity, to tangibly recall God’s promises, and acknowledge the redemptive power of Jesus Christ who marvelously restores and repairs. Their faithful work confounds our pessimism, and brings one question into vivid Technicolor: ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’”

You can read the whole post here

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