Downtown Ministry: “In the City for Good”

El Paso: This week I read a series of articles by Robert Dilday for the Religious Herald reprinted by the Baptist Standard on downtown ministry. As the pastor of an historic downtown church I read the articles with keen interest. Dilday, in his series of articles, identified a handful of thriving congregations that have found great fruitfulness and effectiveness through ministry in the downtown community of a large urban center.

I particularly resonated with the motto of Third Baptist Church in the heart of St. Louis which states: “Third Baptist Church Is in the City for Good.” The double meaning of the motto captured my imagination immediately. In essence this great church declared to its community we are staying put–we are here for good. In addition, the church shouted to its neighbors, “we are here for GOOD” or in other words to seek the good of the city and its citizens.

In recent days, our church has rallied around the slogan “for the heart of the city.” Our mission revolves around touching and transforming the “heart” of the city of El Paso. I consider it a great honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of maintain the light of the gospel in the heart of the city.

Having served downtown now for two years I am gaining a greater and deeper understanding about the challenges face in the heart of the city. Many of our neighbor churches are struggling for identity and survival. Downtown is not for the weak of heart. Leaders in downtown ministries must claim their place of service by being “strong and courageous.” They must be willing to fight off “fear and discouragement” at nearly every turn, but without doubt some of the greatest opportunities for Kingdom work can be found downtown.

I take to heart the words of Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon when he wrote:

“Seek the peace of the city…”

This is a cause worth living for!

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Devotion, El Paso Journal, FBC El Paso

3 responses to “Downtown Ministry: “In the City for Good”

  1. Dan Malone

    David,
    You may not know that the Pastor of Third Baptist St. Louis, Warren Hoffman, is married to a former member of FBC El Paso, Laura McMurry Hoffman. Laura’s father, Rhine McMurry, pastored several Baptist churches in Arkansas and Florida before moving to El Paso where he served as an administrator at the Lee & Beulah Moor Children’s Home until his untimely death. Rhine’s wife, Lillian, married my father after my mother had passed away. You would really enjoy meeting both Warren and Laura — your kind of people!
    Dan

  2. kennaco

    David, I have the privilege of being a member of a vibrant, growing (11% this past year) downtown church, FBC San Antonio. This historic (150 years old) church has had a rebirth and now shares five morning worship services, three in English and two in international languages. With more than 400 Burmese refugees now in our midst, and more on the way, we have learned first-hand what it means to be on mission. Tomorrow night we will vote to purchase from the city the last street that divides our property, making room for much needed expansion. About fifty of our peole will go on a mission trip sometime this year and all Sunday school classes have a mission project. Our street min istryt p[rogramk is legendary (one of the first and oldest in the SBC) and our community ministries, called Yes Lord, is far reaching in the city. Because our pastor chooses to invest himself completely in te church and not in thye denomoination, our church receives little regonition, and that’s the way we like it. I have watched this rebirth take place over the past thirteen years and it has been thrilling.

  3. Hey guys, Thank you for the updates. It is good to see God does have a heart for the city. It is interesting that the Bible story begins in the garden and ends in a city–the New Jerusalem. In some ways city life prepares us for glory.

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