Changing to connectToday’s blog entry is by guest blogger Dr. Parnell Lovelace.

An extraordinary trend is emerging within many urban cities and communities: churches are being planted in the urban centers of large cities in America. As many cities are redeveloping and expanding, there is an emergence of new church planters that are leading the charge to bring the gospel back to the core of the city.

This phenomenon is requiring pastors and their teams to strategize ways to remove subcultural barriers that may block effective church planting processes and healthy ministry. I am reminded of a statement that George G. Hunter III made regarding the fact the Church must be careful that it does not erect barriers that separate people from the possibility of becoming disciples: “Most of their barriers can be described as cultural barriers.”

The urban core of the thriving and re-emerging city life reflects diversity socially, financially, and spiritually. Effective outreach will not only require sound theological perspective, but also radical creativity that moves beyond the boundaries of the traditional Church.

Frankly, little if any consideration is given to how ministry is viewed by a diverse population. There must be a courageous attempt to dismantle many cultural barriers that interfere with producing Christ followers.

The church I planted 25 years ago has had to face the reality of changing to connect to the city. Twelve years ago the church moved from a suburban area to an urban center (Midtown Sacramento, California). This centralized community is very diverse. The church was predominately African American in membership. Therefore, there was a need to evaluate, adjust, and respond in a way that could reach people of all ethnicities and cultures. We could not present a mono-cultural approach to worship, preaching, or outreach.

In order to connect to the expansive ministry center, the church has sought to disconnect from elements that undermine effective and impactful ministry. The church had to change to connect. As the apostle Paul affirms, we must become all things to all people…. May the Church have the insight to think and live likewise.

Parnell M. Lovelace, Jr., MSW, D.Min.
Lovelace Leadership Connection
Rancho Cordova, California

As the successful founding pastor of 3000 member Center of Praise Ministries, Sacramento, California, Parnell M Lovelace, Jr. serves as an apostolic strategist, merging the Church with the social constructs of urban community. He holds a MSW, University of Oklahoma; MPTH Oral Roberts University, and D.Min., Talbot School of Theology.