My wife and I have been previewing "Intersect Faith and Culture" (The Christian Vision Project), a six week DVD study series on being a missionary in the U.S. (its a little more complicated than that but that is not what this post is about). There is alot of theology in support of moving out of the suburbs and/or rural areas and into the city and we really are yearning to do just that but we have two teenage girls that we don't want to uproot from their world. I know it would probably be the best thing for them but I also have an ex-wife that would disagree and I think, to minimize the drama, my family will wait until my two girls are at least graduated from high school before me make the move. We've lived in the slums before and its not as scary as one would think. The people are real people and respond to love in the same way that wealthy suburbanites do, it leaves them unbalanced and destroys the solid judgements and vows that people have nurtured from their deep woundings.
So what do we do with this overwhelming urge to get busy with something a little more costly, something outside of the small groups, prayer meetings, leadership development, team-building, 40 days of this or that (I don't want to belittle local church discipleship but at some point a disciple has to move into something else and risk something, that is what is meant by faith, not the faith that comes from building each other up to Christ but the faith that comes from trusting Jesus with everything and risk losing it all) and build something real and lasting and firm. We need to do something that pares away the rot of the civil religion most of us have called church and breathe deeply of true self-sacrificial love that finds is source from the one that whispered "follow me" to some dirty, raw-boned, smelly, dark-eyed fisherman.
In one of the sessions the DVD profiles a family of suburbanites that developed a "homework time" at an inner-city apartment complex. I think they eventually moved in to the complex but they started by renting an apartment and offering to help kids with their homework after school. They also played games with the kids and just loved them. I'm thinking this is for me. I'm putting the plan together right now and am going to start a non-profit, buy a trailer in the worst trailer park in the city I work in and start it up this fall. I've offered the idea to my bosses and now they are talking about kicking out the tenant that is in the old theatre that they bought (he just stores antiques in there) and making it a teen center. I think I'm going to forge ahead with the homework/game trailer because I can almost cover that with my own resources (other than volunteers). I guess the reason I posted this is my excitement level is so high I had to tell someone and now I'm thinking I'd really like any readers to be in prayer for this project. I think the right kind of mission not only transforms the person being served but also the one serving.