In the U.S. and Canada, we have often unintentionally burdened David with
Saulís armor by importing middle-class ways of doing church into low-income
communities. Our middle-class model of church requires:
Lots of funds for buildings and professional staff.
- Organizational abilities.
Experience in managing institutions and large programs.
- Academic skills.
Ability to teach and learn using primarily an academic (reading/writing-based)
resources are abundant in middle-class culture. Most low-income
churches following this model, though, will either suffer constant shortages
of these resources, or else have to depend on subsidies of money and
skills from more affluent churches, forever on life support. Supporting
all the institutional infrastructure that was designed for a different
culture is like David trying to fight on Saulís armor, making it hard
for these churches to grow and multiply.
"Cities on Hilltops consulting service for urban ministry was very insightful, relevant and encouraging. Eddy and Dennis were both passionate, knowledgable and easy to work with. I recommend their services to any congregation looking to become more relevant, effective and empowering to their community." |
Assistant to the Bishop/
Director of Discipleship
Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA
Cities on Hilltops partners with urban and other low-income churches in the
U.S. and Canada that are learning to do church in culturally appropriate
ways that empower them to be healthy, effective, self-supporting, and
reproducing. This calls for:
- Low overhead.
A culturally appropriate approach to doing church in low-income communities
is far less dependent on owning buildings and on full-time professional
- Local leadership.
For local leaders to provide most of the leadership
in a low-income church, the church must adopt ministry strategies that
are less dependent on complex organizational skills and that build on
the relational and life experience strengths of local leaders.
Intentional, culturally-appropriate leadership development must be woven
into every part of the churchís life.
- Relational and hands-on learning.
Rather than relying on the print culture*
methods of reading, writing, and classes as the primary way to make
disciples and equip leadership, oral culture* churches make disciples
and grow leaders best through coaching, peer mentoring, teamwork, and
Our most effective missionaries donít impose Western institutional forms
on the churches they serve in Africa or Asia or Latin America. In the
same way, here in North America we are cross-cultural ministry is most
effective when we let go of many of our middle-class assumptions and
adopt ways of doing church that grow out of the culture of the host
* By print culture we mean a culture in which reading and
writing are central to the learning process. Oral culture refers to a
culture in which the preferred methods of communicating and learning are
oral, even if many members of the culture read and