The Gathering Place

Overview

A Hand Up Instead of a Handout

In order to break the urban cycle of poverty and oppression, our communities need the empowerment that comes from a practical education--one that combines biblical principles with real-world knowledge and application. Inner-city churches are ideal for providing such an education. The Gathering Place shows how your church can give needy people not only a handout, but also an essential hand up to successful lives.

"This book serves as a training ...

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Overview

A Hand Up Instead of a Handout

In order to break the urban cycle of poverty and oppression, our communities need the empowerment that comes from a practical education--one that combines biblical principles with real-world knowledge and application. Inner-city churches are ideal for providing such an education. The Gathering Place shows how your church can give needy people not only a handout, but also an essential hand up to successful lives.

"This book serves as a training manual . . . even for those who are ill-equipped for or overwhelmed by the task of urban church education," writes Dr. James R. Love Sr. From his years of experience with urban churches, Dr. Love shows how the church can bring people together and give them the spiritual and practical resources needed to put the life-changing power of the gospel in motion.

With case studies demonstrating urban church education in action, The Gathering Place includes:
• Introduction: Forging a Vision
• Empowerment: Why Urban Church Education Is Needed
• The City on a Hill: The Context of Urban Church Education
• Liberated to Learn: Principles of Empowering Education
• In Order to Succeed: Constructing a Christian Education Ministry
• Follow the Leader: Becoming an Empowering Teacher
• Striving for Knowledge: The Legacy of African-American Education
• Reap What You Sow: Developing a Christian Philosophy of Education

Author Biography: James R. Love Sr. (D.Min., Westminster Seminary) is pastor of Faith Tabernacle United Holy Church of American (UHCA) in Washington, D.C., and president of Love the Word Ministries, Inc. He served as principaland director of Christian education at Evangel Church in Washington, and has been published in several journals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310241409
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 10/1/1902
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Gathering Place

Empowering Your Community through Urban Church Education
By James R. Love Sr.

Zondervan

Copyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-24140-5


Chapter One

Introduction

Forging a Vision

I was in seminary in the late 1980s when I began to take my call as a preacher and Christian educator seriously. I was particularly interested in how urban churches handle the relationship between Christian education and social challenges. I discovered that because cities are usually heavily populated, most urban churches are confronted daily with the poor, the homeless, winos, and welfare-dependent mothers. I wondered whether there was more the church could do to help these people whom society had tossed away. I saw urban ministries organizing Meals on Wheels, soup kitchens, or clothing banks-all programs that I call "handout ministries."

At the same time, I was studying Black Theology, a type of theology that emphasizes liberation. That caused me to think about the connections between education and empowerment, and between empowerment and liberation. As I started on my journey to discover what urban church education is and to contemplate how it relates to empowerment, I was soundly disappointed. I discovered that very little work had been done in this area. Aside from the works of Donald B. Rogers, Cullen Brichett, and Olivia Pearl Stokes, most of what I discovered about urban church education also had to do with "handout ministry." So I began to wonder what could be done to give the poor and the oppressed a "hand up." I firmly believe that education equals liberation for the poor and oppressed.

In 1983 I was hired by Evangel Temple, a large, urban, African-American church in Washington, D.C. My job was to lead its education ministry and develop a Bible institute. Moreover, I have taught workshops and offered seminars on Christian education within an urban context. Therefore this book is the culmination of my experience interacting with churches in cities from around the country.

My basic assumption in writing this book is that far too many black independent churches regard Christian education as a desirable goal but typically give little or no financial resources to achieve it. Education sometimes seems to be just an after-thought. In most settings, the person who coordinates the education ministry and the people who teach are essentially very willing workers but come to the task with little or no training in the basic methodologies of education. Furthermore, they are then offered little training, so they must simply do the best they can to keep children, youth, or adults entertained until the church service starts at 11 A.M.

For too many pastors, Christian education is reduced to Vacation Bible School in July or to Sunday school quarterly curricula materials year-round. In contrast, these same churches have music ministries staffed by someone who has at least a basic level of competency. The result is that too many churches are musically dynamic but educationally static. This may be a reason why studies done by George Barna and George Gallup have shown that among people who identify themselves as Christians, the level of Bible knowledge is very low. I believe that if this trend continues, a generation of illiterate Christians will emerge.

I see urban church education as a powerful tool for meeting these needs and overcoming these past shortcomings. Urban church education is an effective vehicle for the empowerment of African-Americans and other ethnic minorities who are socially oppressed. Without adequate skills or the appropriate knowledge in this "communication age," the poor and the underclass have little chance of getting ahead. I believe that the urban church must step into the educational void left by public schools. The urban church must become the citadel of learning and empowerment within the neighborhood. This empowerment releases those who are disenfranchised, oppressed, and powerless. This release is accomplished through urban church educational principles. These educational principles utilize the liberating power of the gospel. And this liberating power affects the spiritual, political, and economic situation of the marginalized.

The problem is that black churches in the urban situation have only seen the models of handout ministry. They have not seen the powerful hand-up potential that lies in urban church education. Therefore Christian education must be expanded to include programs with a Christian worldview that motivate and inspire people to achieve. This will ultimately result in empowerment. Urban church education can empower the oppressed to obtain what has been denied them: the freedom that comes through knowledge.

In this book I present both the theory of urban church education and various ways in which it finds practical expression. That is, my intention is to provide a resource book that can and will be used by churches in urban areas. This book serves as a training manual for the people responsible for organizing education programs in their local church. It offers some valuable guidance to those who are ill-equipped for or overwhelmed by the task of urban church education.

In writing this book, I have decided to use an inductive approach instead of the usual deductive approach. The inductive approach starts out with the setting and then moves toward developing certain theories. By contrast, the deductive approach starts out with developing theories and then moves to the setting. Both of these are legitimate ways of thinking, but an inductive line of thinking better reflects my own experience. I have observed the urban scene both through my experiences and by interacting with others who were in a similar setting. Afterward, I began thinking critically about my experiences, and in doing so, I observed certain patterns and principles that are reflected here.

Therefore, chapter 2 explores what urban church education is and explains some of the characteristics and principles we find at its foundation. Chapter 3 examines the context for urban church education, as I make some personal observations about the city and what distinguishes it from other social environments. Chapter 4 defines empowerment and examines how empowerment principles can be used in urban church education.

Chapter 5 reflects on my experience at Evangel Temple-specifically, how we structured our educational programs to empower people. Chapter 6 is a basic introduction to educational and teaching methods, an understanding of which, as I have noted, far too many urban church educators lack.

Chapter 7 offers a summary of the struggle for education for African-Americans from the era of slavery, through Reconstruction, up to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision of the U. S. Supreme Court in 1954. This is helpful because this struggle is part of the context for the vision shared in this book.

Finally, chapter 8 is a brief look at various philosophical systems that compete for the minds of urban dwellers.

Each chapter ends with a summary and several provocative discussion questions.

In between the chapters are case studies of local churches and church organizations that have established various kinds of empowerment programs with some success.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Gathering Place by James R. Love Sr. Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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