Urban Bible study aims for edgy, relevant
Study connects with hip-hop audiences
NASHVILLE, Tenn. 7/29/2008 07:17 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
You hear urban, you think black. But, that’s not exactly true. That’s too simplistic.
Urban is multicultural, interracial, vibrant, nonstop and exciting. It’s Jesus loves the little children – red, brown, yellow, black and white – and every combination of those. Urban is America.
“YOU: Connect, Grow, Serve, Go!” is a new Bible study resource from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention debuting this fall that is designed for urban audiences. Its discussion topics are edgy – think of the fall of Michael Vick and the power and pull of pornography over a married man. Not your usual Sunday school topics for sure, but topics like that are what people talk about. It’s good ministry to bring those “outside of church” conversations inside.
The biblical content in YOU doesn’t dance around the issues, either. It calls it as it is – you’ve sinned; you’ve messed up. Sin destroys your relationship with God. Here’s what the Bible says you can do.
“I want YOU to take a comprehensive approach to relevant Christian education,” said Chandra Bennett, YOU editor. “I want to help people address topics that are already in the public sphere and add a Christian perspective.”
According to the 2000 United States Census figures, just over 71 percent of Americans live in urban areas, defined as cities with populations of more than 50,000; 30 percent of Americans live in the 20 largest cities; 24 percent live in the 10 largest cities; and 17 percent of us live in the five largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami metropolitan areas).
“As we talked to churches from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., we heard that urban churches are looking for something different than the rural churches of middle America want,” said Dawn Cornelius, a marketing strategist at LifeWay. “We generally think about urban churches being African-American, but they told us that, no, they are much more than one color. They have been multicultural and interracial all along.”
The quarterly, non-dated material is a magazine format, with lesson plans, discussion starters, teacher helps, daily Bible reading, how-to’s, follow-ups, with art and photos that reflect different colors and cultures. It’s an all-in-one resource for putting the truth of the Bible into the hands of urban adults.
Charles Grant, a church consultant in LifeWay’s African-American ministries area, was one of the LifeWay consultants who traveled around the country talking to churches and asking what they needed. He found that not all urban churches are alike any more than all small town or rural churches are alike.
“It’s a myth that urban churches are all large,” Grant said. “They aren’t. Many have a very small membership. We wanted to find out what kind of resources would work for both. We think we’ve come up with something good.”
“When I showed a sample of YOU to pastors, they saw incredible potential for this kind of resource. Its clear message of ‘Connect, Grow, Serve, Go’ sets a process for fellowship, learning, helping and getting outside the church walls.”
Willie Freeman, pastor of Greater Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., previewed the new YOU resource. He said, “Every church needs a process and I think this can help us with that.”
Lonnie Dawson, pastor of New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, is ready to get started with YOU at his church. “This process of Connect, Grow, Serve and Go fits right into our church’s strategy,” he said. “I think YOU and the process that it is built around is going to be ideal for us.”
For more information, go to www.lifeway.com/you. To hear a podcast with the author visit www.lifeway.com/insidelifeway.
For up-to-date news and information regarding LifeWay Christian Resources, visit www.lifeway.com/news.