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There is a television show called “What Would You Do?” The host puts unsuspecting individuals in various predicaments to see how they would respond, then interviews them afterward. It is intriguing to see how people ignore or engage based on their feelings about what is happening. It is easy to see something and walk past it several times without doing anything about it. Ask my wife about me and my shoes in the living room.

Yet, selective seeing should be different in urban ministry. The pull of who you are in Christ should draw you to do more than be aware of your surroundings and to take an active role in your community. We are called to do life with others and not just observe. This month our nation celebrates Black History Month, September 15th – October 15th we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and in May we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Cultural awareness is crucial in urban ministry as it helps bridge gaps and foster understanding among diverse communities. Being attuned to different cultures in urban ministry can lead to more effective outreach and impactful service. However, we should take cultural awareness one step further into cultural responsiveness – the action that leads to a better world.

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” —Desmond Tutu.

This month, we celebrate love and have the opportunity to spread love by growing in our understanding of Black history, being aware of the diverse ethnic makeup of our nation, and taking part in conscious actions that lead to positive change.

Drawing inspiration from 1 Corinthians 9:22, which states, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some,” we see the importance of adapting and understanding various cultures to communicate the message of faith effectively. Paul wanted to do more than know the people and their problems; he wanted to lead them into the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Cultural awareness can enhance urban ministry efforts, create meaningful connections with individuals from different backgrounds, and fulfill the mission of spreading love and hope within urban communities. Cultural responsiveness turns potential into reality and will lead you to be the change you want to see. 

Take time this month to lean into your community, become more aware of the history of your streets, and take action in areas where you can make a difference. Remember, ministry is not meant to be done alone. We are better, and the world is better through collaborative efforts for change.

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