Thursday, January 26, 2006

Urban (Prayer) Agenda

So what exactly went down at the 15th annual Pastors' Prayer Summit?
First of all, COPGNY saw a record turn-out from youth leaders, with approximately 30 attending this year. This represents a 500-600% increase over past years! Then on Monday night, Dimas and I facilitated a one-hour prayer focus for young people and those who serve them. Our first segment introduced the scope of the potential harvest:
  • 2 million young people 18 and under in New York City, or 25% of the population.
  • Jesus says they're most ripe for harvest. Who's more "like a child" (Christ's prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven) than a child?
  • Having been an at-risk youth, Jesus identifies with their needs. Can we begin to get his heart for them by praying specifically for three at-risk kids in our communities? The incorrigible one; the nondescript one who blends into the background; and the weak one who's always the target of bullies.
Helping to put a face to the mission was a photo slideshow featuring 300 pictures of urban children and youth, and a devotional from Psalm 27:4-5 that encouraged us to "gaze upon the beauty of the Lord." The next three segments prayed for personal struggles, including sexuality and HIV/AIDS; community struggles such as family disintegration and gangs; and systemic struggles such as a failed public education (60% of elementaary school students don't read at grade level, yet we spend $12 billion educating them) system and economic injustices (nearly 30% of NYC children live below poverty line). The last two segments focused on redefining and commissioning laborers into the harvestfield, including "professional" youth ministers, as well as those who influence young people such as teachers, paraprofessionals, business managers, health professionals, and, most importantly, students themselves. The evening ended when COPGNY asked members of The Coalition to receive Communion.
So many were moved that the aptly titled, Tuesday afternoon "Intergenerational conversation about strategically engaging youth and youth culture for Christ" was packed. A standing room only crowd overflowed into the hallway, as 50 or so gathered to ask hard questions and begin a dialogue about:
  • What God is saying concerning emerging generations
  • Challenges in reaching them
  • The importance of trusting relationships and meeting felt needs
  • What it means to be like Christ within a public education context
  • Cultural shifts and role of internet and media in shaping values and encouraging kids to find their voice
Those in attendance left with an apparent resolve to continue the conversation in their local contexts and incarnate Christ within the culture. Both the Monday night prayer time and the Tuesday afternoon conversation were in themselves major answers to years of prayer. Praying in concert with 300 pastors for these issues and then engaging them in dialogue about the very same issues represent significant steps for our city and region. We have a long way to go, but the hearts of the fathers are returning back to the children and the children to the fathers! (Malachi 4:6)


At 1/27/2006 12:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

go christians

At 1/27/2006 10:24:00 AM, Blogger latinaliz said...

They would see more women come out if they had more than "tea" offered for them. They don't really acknowledge what women have done, are doing and will continue to do in society...they still relegate women to a "pastor's wife" role. Most of my sisters over there don't even like 'tea'! It would be great to have them more involved just as they reached out to the youth leaders of the city but they don't because most of the pastors that show up don't believe in women in ministry roles outside of pastors wife, sunday school teacher and children's leader.

At 1/28/2006 08:00:00 PM, Blogger DreamDeveloper said...

I can totally understand your comment, LatinLiz. It was one of the reasons I went, although unsure the invitation was really for me. I resigned myself to the fact that an opportunity to pray is always an invitation – especially for our youth. It was awesome. However the last session really awed me – and my prayer circle would agree. My personal conviction is that ministry is a product of prayer. Prayer is the real work and all things flow from there. As we repented for the presumption of placing ministry before prayer (at least that was my personal confession) many of us came into corporate agreement to pray and fast for the City every Monday. It was. . .humbling. Excited to see what God is gonna do . . .

At 1/29/2006 04:19:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Del Rio said...

Liz and Sonya,

I've heard similar comments from many of the people who attended this year. To COPGNY's credit, they have walked the fine line between creating a place where lots of different Christians from diverse traditions can come under together for common purposes (which usually requires a more conservative, "find the one thing we all agree on and focus there," kind of agenda) and at the same time pushing the Church collectively towards a "new thing" agenda (which can cause more traditional groups to get uncomfortable when that agenda involves "progressive" issues like global poverty, HIV/AIDS, youth ministry, cross-cultural missions, and, for some, women in ministry). Just like this year's focus on youth and youth leaders was a long time coming, I'm guessing the women in leadership issue will have its day in the COPGNY circle soon. There was definitely a buzz this year that I think may have been emboldened by the youth conversation.

At 1/29/2006 09:28:00 PM, Blogger latinaliz said...

The thing is I am not even asking for that and neither do I think the women who used to go in NY. I think its about the way they "do" focus on women again the "tea" thing. I don't think they have to say we believe in women in ministry at all. It would be nice if they just allowed women to come and gather in the groups they do have. The common thing is the need/want for prayer in the city. But then again, I am not known for my political correctness. Never been good at that. :-) I take a stand and that's that.

At 1/30/2006 03:59:00 PM, Blogger SWK 254 Understanding Diversity said...

Liz you're right,

We can't have women or any other group "just happy to be here" in any circle, particularly when we're talking about fully representing the kingdom in our God-given fullness,as men and women. this is what makes the gospel alive, as it continues to challenge the ethos of the church when it comes to equality in God's eyes. i think the lack of attentiveness to this issue needs to grieve us too (as men).


At 2/22/2006 11:50:00 AM, Anonymous Katie Sweeting said...

I just peeked at Jeremy's blog and saw the comments below. I need to respond to the comments about 'tea' as the tea was originally my idea. For the record, I enjoy tea and enjoy gathering women for tea. It's a way to create a setting for intimacy and sharing things with other women. It's not sexist and it's not about the tea in and of itself. It is the setting created, the ambience, the ability to let our hair down and be women - without men around. Women are invited and encouraged to come to the Summit. They are encouraged to attend the Monday afternoon regional meetings - there are several women pastors and women in ministry that attend - more this year than ever before. That's why we also have the tea on Tuesday - acknowledging that many women will not be able to attend on Monday afternoon. Do we need to make progress regarding women in ministry? Yes. Have we made progress? Yes. The women on our staff are, for the most part, not support staff but directors of various initiatives.
Liz, next time you're in New York, I'd love to take you out for high tea! I'm not joking.

At 2/22/2006 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Del Rio said...


Feel free to do more than "peek" in every once in a while! You're comments are always welcome here. Thanks so much for your leadership and friendship and willingness to push the envelope.



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