The Ins and Outs of Urban Ministry
Today I want to share with you an excerpt from my new book, which launches October 13th. Uncommon Church: Community Transformation for the Common Good.
When I was pastoring, a colleague who worked at another ministry in our community dropped by to talk. I could see she was dejected. She had a heart for the hood and felt that God had called her to change lives. She had left corporate America, taking a massive pay cut.
But she was starting to become bitter because she felt God had abandoned her. Because of the pay cut, she was in as bad financial straits as the people she worked among. Her heart’s desire was to help the people, but she felt they were using her. When she started, she had been filled with energy. Now she hated to show up at her office because she feared what the day would bring. Her big dream was crumbling right before her eyes. She was suffering from savior syndrome.
People have good intentions and come into poor neighborhoods to help. They believe either consciously or subconsciously that they will be the ones to save the community. But that’s impossible, and my colleague was beginning to realize it. Let me confess that I am one who has recovered from the savior syndrome.
While at a state university, I was studying to become a physical therapist. About halfway through, I realized I didn’t want to do that as a career. That’s because I served as a volunteer in the hood, where I got tired of seeing impossible situations and wanted desperately to make a difference. I transferred to Bible college, graduated, and promptly embedded myself in an under-resourced community. It didn’t take long for me to reach the place my colleague was in: embittered and sad.
Being a survivor of savior syndrome, I spent significant time helping her unpack her mindset. And I told her my testimony. Those who are serious about the hood at some point realizes there’s nothing in it for them except spiritual growth. You end up growing in your faith, abandoning it, or burning out. Freedom is realizing you can’t save the hood – only Jesus can.
Like the excerpt? Continue on and read the first chapter of Uncommon Church entitled “Advocacy is Not Enough.”