Who’s in the Pew?

by Leneita Fix

Chances are, if you have interacted with a child between the ages of 5 and 15, you know what the “Rainbow Loom” is. As the name suggests, it’s a small “loom” type device that comes with thousands of tiny rubber bands. By following directions, you learn how to “weave” the bands together to form a bracelet, ring or necklace. I currently own many bracelets made for me in different patterns by my 6th-grader.

Children from different parts of the country, multiple ethnicities, demographics and socioeconomic statuses love these things. Standing in the security line at the airport the other day, I saw a professionally dressed woman sporting her bright rubber band bracelet.

The world has become “flat” with information and influence available to us at any time of the day from anywhere in the world. There was a time when, truthfully, by looking at someone’s fashions, interests and taste in music it was easy to identify where they “fit” in our society. The “Rainbow Loom” is a great example of how we can’t make these presumptions anymore. We have come to live in a “mash-up” society of culture, challenges, and tastes. Our idea of who is sitting in our pews is no longer easily defined by how much money they make, location, or the color of one’s skin.

Recently, we had the opportunity to teach at a national conference about those who live in a “survival mindset,” particularly in an inner city setting. Afterward, pastors from all over the country came and asked, “Do you see this in rural areas or in the suburbs? Because we do.”

The short answer is yes. What varies is the term used to identify those we minister to. We have heard: inner-city, at-risk urban, unchurched, spiritually immature, dechurched, and “The Community.”

You might choose a different word, but Frontline has chosen to use the term, “new urban.” Often, when we use the word “urban,” we associate it with a certain demographic area, culture, multi-ethnicity, social ills, and socioeconomics. We would argue, in terms of the Christian community, “urban” actually blurs those lines and moves beyond them. The other side of the tracks with their common misconceptions and problems are moving, and reaching each of us in ministry in some way. Families are dealing with deep-seated issues all around; honestly, some are just better at hiding it than others.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop making assumptions. It doesn’t matter what label we give, or what we see with our eyes; too many are stuck existing to survive the day when they need to know Christ wants them to thrive.

The question we must ask ourselves is: Will we stop labeling, thinking “those problems aren’t ours,” or thinking some families are just too broken, and intentionally let compassion move us to action?

For more information on ways to reach this “new urban” family, please visit www.everybodysurban.org.

Leneita Fix and Jeffrey Wallace co-founded Frontline Urban Resources to help equip, coach and speak into the lives of those working with families living in a survival mode mentality. They refer to this thinking as the “new urban.” Combined, they carry almost four decades of experience in the family ministry setting, most of it in the trenches in traditional urban ministry. Currently they also serve “on the ground,” aiding those who struggle in their relationship with Christ—Leneita with Aslan Youth Ministries in Asbury Park, NJ, and Jeffrey at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. It is their joy to see those who have lost hope be transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ. For more information, go to EverybodysUrban.org.

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