Ministries are as unique as the communities they serve. No two have the same personality or same needs. This is especially true for inner city ministries. One-size-fits-all is not in the vocabulary.
I served a church in inner city Houston for 13 years. We were fortunate to have a large number of active older adults in the congregation. As a result we were blessed with more volunteers and dollars than most of the churches around us, but we still had needs that were hard to meet. While every church in the area had needs unique to them, there were at least four we all had in common.
Need 1: People. Inner city ministries have a desperate need for trained and passionate workers who are willing to make long-term commitments. Too often mission teams and individuals sweep in for a week or season of ministry only to sweep right back out. While a blessing that brings an infusion of needed and appreciated workers, resources, and encouragement, ministry becomes a series of starts and stops that confuses the kids and disheartens the congregation. Inner city ministries are thankful for short-term help, but what they truly need is workers who commit to the long haul.
Need 2: Out-of-the-box thinking. Inner city ministries have a tremendous need for people who can and will think beyond what worked for them at a church in the suburbs. Comparing inner city and suburbs is like comparing basketball and soccer. The only similarity is both games utilize a ball. Inner city ministries need people who are willing to experiment, admit when something doesn’t work, and keep on experimenting until they find what works for today. I say today, because chances are good everything will change tomorrow.
Need 3: Flexibility. Because of the first two needs, inner city ministries require leaders, programs, and curricula that are flexible. Since attendance and resources are in constant flux, workers must quickly access the moment and adapt plans to meet the situation. The only constant for inner city ministries is the message.
Need 4: Prayer. The greatest need of every inner city ministry and leader is your prayers. You may never be called to an inner city ministry yourself, but you are called to prayer. Adopt a ministry and commit to praying without ceasing.