Tom Avey, fellowship coordinator for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, today sat down with urban church planter Jim Brown in Philadelphia and posted this summary of the conversation on his Facebook page.
Jim Brown (pictured) has been married to Lisa since 1980. They have three adult children: Jason, Jared, and Jennifer. In 1991, Jim and Lisa helped begin Crossroads Grace Brethren Church, now located in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Frankford. Since 1999, Jim has served as director of MetroGrace Philadelphia, an urban church-planting ministry and he has also served as pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Northeast Philadelphia since 2004. Jim holds a BS in Bible from Philadelphia Biblical University, an MDiv from Grace Theological Seminary and a DMin from Westminster Theological Seminary.
Here is an edited version of Tom’s conversation with Jim:
Jim has a deep commitment to the city and many years of experience. Jim and I sat in the auditorium of Crossroads Community Church- Northeast as he shared his philosophy of urban church planting. Before the meeting, I asked my Facebook “friends” if they had any questions for Jim. Here are two questions and Jim’s answer…
“What kind of challenges does he face with inner city missions with the tanking economy?”
The economic downturn has impacted the city. Construction has slowed significantly. So, many in that field are looking for work. This particularly affects immigrant groups. The Brazilian church that meets in our building saw many of its members return to Brazil as things slowed down. Some are struggling to keep their homes. Since January, three families on the block next to our church have been evicted from the houses they were renting. City government has been affected, too. Less tax revenue means reduction of city services. Some firehouses and libraries were closed. Churches have generally seen lower offerings as families try to wait out the recession. But, God provides! And, when people face big challenges they look for new answers. We want to help them find the truth by sharing God’s grace!
“What is the single most important piece of advice Jim would give anyone about inner-city ministry in general, not necessarily church planting?”
It’s kind of tough to narrow down urban ministry to one statement, but here goes:
Urban ministry requires an attitude like Jesus where servants are willing to leave behind personal glory in order to become like those they serve, building relationships of trust that are characterized by humility, obedience and personal sacrifice.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross! “
For more information on the Philadelphia ministry, log onto www.crossroadsnortheast.org