The research revealed that the relational influence and the spiritual/moral programs drew the young person forward in their spiritual growth.
But what about the other domains City Life’s Holistic Community Development Model? How do Economic Literacy, Education, Civic Literacy and Basic Health and Safety effect the spiritual growth of a young urban leader?
We discovered that these other domains housed significant life obstacles that then had to be overcome. The interviews revealed that whether the young person was failing school, had no food in their cupboards or was homeless and moving house to house the impact was similar: negative circumstances in the holistic domain can be barriers to spiritual development and even leadership. When they faced these crises they were confronted two options: obey the Lord and follow His Biblical instructions or rely on their feelings and the laws of the streets. This negative crisis, if turned to a positive can catapult a young person toward life and well-being.
We discovered that holistic programming was not identified by the interviewees as pivotal to them in becoming a leader for Christ, but holistic issues were often mentioned as obstacles to overcome on their leadership journey.
Questions to Consider:
- Are you putting too much faith in holistic programming? If you want to raise life-long followers of Jesus who become leaders in their community for Christ, the research shows that holistic programming alone won’t cut it. While tutoring programs and economic literacy classes can be important to proving tools for urban youth, what truly draws a person forward into Christian growth and leadership are relationships with trustworthy adults.
- Have you ignored the holistic domain? If your City Life ministry only has spiritual programming, many kids will fall through the cracks when it comes to longer term spiritual development. The research shows that holistic issues are stumbling blocks to urban youth and they need Christian guidance and support in order to make it.
- What are you intentionally doing to equip staff and volunteers to support urban youth in these holistic areas, but not to believe that social programs are the answers to all the problems? Many of us are guilty of believing that if our youth just had “better” or just had “more” than they would want to follow Jesus. We wish they had better schools. We wish they had more income in their family. We wish they had a better place to live. The research shows that these obstacles can point a young person to Christ, but these programs won’t guarantee a young person will follow Christ. Train volunteers to help with these issues, but don’t substitute the importance of strong relational ties and teaching a young person how to engage in the word, in prayer and to serve others.
What do you think?