The best way to capture the urgency, hope, and call of urban ministry is perhaps by quoting the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 10:2:
“Therefore said he unto them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.’ (KJV)”
Nowhere is the potential harvest of souls into the Kingdom of Heaven greater than in cities. This is not because suburban and rural areas are less in need of the gospel. Instead, the need is greatest in cities simply because the people are in the greatest numbers in cities.
Cities are full of opportunities to reach lost, isolated, and divided people and offer them help and healing through a community built around Christ. This is what drives your sense of calling to urban ministry.
Yet the idea of going into places outside of your experience – either parts of cities you’ve never lived in or cities themselves – may feel intimidating.
This is why higher education and training in urban Christian ministries are invaluable. It gives you the knowledge you need to see how the Lord can use your unique gifts in the urban mission field and the skills you need to meet this exciting opportunity.
What a Degree in Urban Ministry Prepares You For
Meeting the diverse needs of people in cities requires a diversity of gifts. Many different skillsets must come together to bring people into the body of Christ and offer hope, both of eternal life and a more fulfilling earthly life.
These individuals may be teachers, pastors, counselors, youth ministers, administrators, coordinators, church planters, chaplains, organizers, and more. These ministers may work with any number of specialized professionals who can provide healthcare, financial assistance, etc.
According to Zip Recruiter, the national average annual income in urban ministry roles is over $44,000, with nearly $95,000 on the upper end. Some specific examples of job titles in demand here in the Charlotte, NC area include:
- Women’s Ministry Director
- Youth Ministry Coordinator
- Social Ministry
- Church Ministry
- Student Ministry Director
- Urban Ministry Center Coordinator
- Campus Ministry
- Teen Ministry
- College Ministry
- Ministry Leaders
- After School Camp Site Director
- Many more
These jobs are in great demand not only here but across the nation. This is why understanding that a degree in urban ministry will be helpful to you is just the beginning. The next step is to determine what kind of urban ministry degree you need to help you fulfill your purpose.
What Do You Feel Called to Do?
Here are five examples of career paths you might take within urban Christian ministries. This is just a partial list, of course. But it may give you an idea of where to direct your educational journey.
As the one responsible for establishing the church that will serve as a central hub of a new ministry, the church planter is often the one to launch an urban ministry effectively.
If you feel called to do this, you’re someone who’s wired to launch things. Maybe you’ve created some kind of organization or started a small business. Or, perhaps you just sense that God has put a seed of desire in you to do this sort of thing.
For this role, you will need to either attain or sharpen your skills in:
- Empowering others to take on leadership roles.
- Creating a vision for your church.
- Maintaining a strong relationship with your sponsoring church (the one sending you out).
- Recruiting volunteers.
- Managing limited resources.
- Preaching the Word.
These will be some of your focus areas in an urban ministry degree program with a concentration in church planting.
Educating Families and Children
Teachers are an integral part of any successful urban ministry. In everything from the tenets of the Christian faith to life skills and core academics, education frees both the mind and the heart.
If you feel called to this, you have a talent for instilling ideas and values in others. You’re interested in learning about different backgrounds and patiently seek to communicate effectively across differences. You may have teaching or tutoring experience.
For this role, you’ll need strong skills in:
- Theological study and interpretation (exegesis).
- Classroom or group management.
- Curriculum design and lesson planning.
- Conflict management among families and children.
- Teaching diverse learners effectively (pedagogy).
These are some focus areas in an urban ministry program with a concentration in Christian education.
Urban ministries often serve people who live in highly stressful environments. As a counselor, your focus would be on providing mental health services to people with nowhere else to turn for this kind of help.
If you feel called to this, you have a strong desire to help people who are hurting. You are sensitive to their pain, possibly drawing from personal experience, and you want to help them experience healing. You recognize the person of value underneath his or her addictions.
For this, you’ll need skills in:
- Identifying mental health disorders.
- Applying biblical truth to mental health therapies.
- Teaching skills to cope with grief and loss.
- Helping couples build healthy relationships.
- Diagnosing and treating addiction.
These will be areas of focus in your urban ministry degree program with a concentration in counseling.
Pastoring Young People
Programs for teenagers and young adults are often the most visible and vibrant of any urban ministry. As a youth pastor (or youth minister), you can make a powerful impact on young lives.
If you’re called to this, you likely have a youthful spirit yourself. You recall what it was like to be a teenager and empathize with their struggles, but you humbly recognize that the pain and trauma in the lives of some urban youth are far outside your experience. You want to learn and help.
To be an influential youth minister, your skillset should include:
- Recognizing the signs of child abuse and neglect.
- Interventions to protect and nurture young people.,
- Curriculum design and lesson planning.
- Conflict management among youth.
- Introducing young people to biblical truth.
- Respectful cross-cultural dialogue.
You’ll focus on these areas in any urban ministry program with a concentration in youth ministry.
Ministering to Students, Workers, or Patients
While the church is the central hub of any urban ministry, workers will integrate into the community in many ways. As a chaplain, you could join the staff of a separate organization to provide spiritual counseling.
If you’re called to be a chaplain, you have a strong faith in your heart that sustains you wherever you go. You see yourself sharing that faith in a hospital, prison, industrial workplace, or perhaps on a military base. You may have experience providing pastoral care outside the church.
To become a chaplain, you will need an advanced skillset:
- Exercising your faith in secular environments.
- Providing pastoral care for people in extraordinary circumstances.
- Presenting a biblical view of common ethical concerns (e.g., euthanasia, the death penalty, etc.).
These are some of the focus areas in a chaplaincy training program, generally at the Master of Divinity level.
Explore Urban Ministry Programs at CCCTS
Any degree program at Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary could help prepare you for any type of ministry setting, whether urban, suburban, or rural.
But as the harvest is so plentiful in cities, where the majority of the world’s population and the vast majority of the U.S. population live, loving and redeeming cities is our core passion.
The vision of CCCTS is a simple but profound one. We believe that as we focus on preaching Christ in the cities, Christ is reaching all the world through our urban ministry.
If that is a vision that speaks to your soul, we invite you to meet with us.
Let’s discuss how you might find your place with us. Then, go change the world for HIM.
Featured image by SeanPavonePhoto via Adobe Stock