“Urban Disciples,” written by Janell Paris and Margot Eyring, is a wonderfully thoughtful workbook designed to build urban mission teams. Janell and Margot have years of experience in serving the inner city and share their knowledge and insights in this step-by-step guide to developing, growing, and maintaining a productive urban ministry. Each of the 24 lessons is comprised of Bible study, prayer, and specific application suggestions. All of this material is adaptable to small groups planning an urban mission experience, whole church short-term mission projects, colleges, or those planning their first long-term mission experience.
The lessons are designed to engage each individual participant, stimulate meaningful discussion, build relationships, plan, organize, and evaluate the progress of both the mission and the growth of those serving. An important point that is emphasized in this work is the simple fact that often mission volunteers report that they felt they have personally gained more than they gave. Sometimes, those going into a less fortunate neighborhood have the impression that they are in some way superior to those being served. The truth is we are all the same. It’s far more important to meet each individual as a partner rather than someone who is blessed by your service. In so doing, you will develop respect and open yourself up to growing personally as you serve.
If you’re not quite sure how you want to serve a particular community, this book is the perfect tool to gather a group together to explore the possibilities. Suggestions are offered as to how to engage a community, build relationships, and evaluate the needs you may be able to assist with. While this book is primarily directed to urban outreach, I see no reason why it could not be adapted to a suburban community outreach mission.
The book encourages discovery within yourself, within your group, and within in the community and people being served. Serving God by serving others is the absolute best way to move closer to God and “Urban Disciples” is an indispensable tool for achieving that goal in a major way.