In addition to my responsibilities as a youth pastor, I lead "The Hub," a 10-month internship designed to disciple young leaders through urban ministry and outreach. We live together in a low-rent apartment complex, and work to build relationships with other residents. We also serve locally, including at a rescue mission, an interdenominational refugee outreach, and the High-way City Thrift Store, a ministry that supports ongoing community education and development.
We have two afterschool programs that serve underprivileged elementary students. We work with our interns to ensure our program is effective and gospel-centered. Before each session, we give our students a snack and tell them a Bible story. Our goal is to show kids who Jesus is and how he can transform our lives. We work to share the gospel, and to create a culture where our kids can live it out. One small example is our "Hug or Handshake Rule." We ask each student to express a form of gratitude to their tutors for helping with their homework. This is often a significant step for them. Through our relationships, they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom.
My work at Hub has greatly extended my pastoral influence in the community. The relationships I share with the families of my neighborhood and church make it easier for me to connect my community to our body of believers.
As a resident of my apartment complex, I organize monthly neighborhood meetings. These are a platform for neighbors to share their concerns. When we're gathered as a community, our personal issues always come up. We end up discussing parking issues, children's safety, and even Bible studies! We're often surprised at the opportunities for sharing Jesus that arise as we live out the Christian life in the midst of our neighbors. We really never know what God is up to when he is transforming a culture.
—LJ Mariano Youth Pastor, Central Community Church, director of HUB internship, Fresno, California.
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here for reprint information on Leadership Journal.