I like the idea of being on the cutting edge of ministry, it sounds a tad heroic. In my experience the reality is somewhat different. It is easy to romanticize the process of helping others experience “aha” moments. The downside to “aha” experiences is that they tend to require some form of repentance or admitting that one’s perspective was false.
I work for a program called DOOR whose tagline is “See the Face of God in the City.” From a certain perspective the message is inviting and nice. It also has the potential to be unsettling. Coming to the city to see the face of God implies that God is already present. To put it another way, God does not have to be brought to the city. This is a tagline which invites people to engage in service not because the city is a place of desperate need but because the city is a place where God is alive and well. The result is a new and potentially unsettling spin on why Christians engage in mission and service.
For years DOOR was primarily led by Anglos. This shaped how we understood the city. In 2004 DOOR began a journey of self-reflection and soul searching when it approved the creation of an “Urban Leadership Development Task Force.” This group was charged with looking at every part of the DOOR organization and asking how we might become authentically urban. This meant that some in leadership had to step away from positions of power so that others could assume leadership roles. This decision impacted every aspect of the organization – board recruitment, hiring practices, and programmatic priorities. There has been a power shift at DOOR, a good power shift, but the change has not always been easy or smooth. Giving up power and allowing emerging leaders to do things differently is challenging. Accepting the challenge is what has kept DOOR on the cutting edge.