Taking It to the Streets

Taking It to the Streets

By: Phillip Roth and Mary Ann Strombitski   |   Posted: February 19, 2003

Compassion Program Trains Workers for Urban Ministry
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - A unique conference focused on urban youth ministry is bringing inspiration, encouragement and practical knowledge to workers who may be facing burnout.

Nearly 2,000 people are expected to attend CompassionWorks 2003, a weekend-long conference to be held in Philadelphia Feb. 28 - March 2 and in Chicago March 20 - 22.

Dean Cowles, director of Compassion International's USA Ministry, says many inner-city youth and children's workers feel they have the heart for urban ministry. But they often don't have the resources, guidance or support they need.

"Many of these workers will arrive at this conference burned out, feeling as if no one else understands them," Cowles said. "But here, they get renewed, they get recharged and they get equipped to do God's work in America's cities."

Experts with experience in working with urban children and youth will lead seminars and share practical tips to help in reaching inner-city kids.

The Rev. Phil Jackson, who works with Compassion's USA Ministry in Baltimore, Maryland, said urban youth work is not an extension of a church's youth group.

"You can't mimic what the church is like," he said. "You have to do a lot of listening to the kids before they're going to start listening to you.

'Kids' needs must be met holistically, providing support for every part of their lives - not just Sunday church," he said.

Youth experts leading sessions at the CompassionWorks conference include Philadelphia's Making Urban Disciples (MUD), Boston's Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, New York's Greater Allen Cathedral, Dallas' UrbNet, South Florida's Liderazgo Juvenil, Black Entertainment Television's "Lift Every Voice," Chicago's Love and Care Ministries, Miami's Urban Training Network, and Compassion's USA ministry.

Topics at the conference include:

  • Rebuilding the identity of the urban teen
  • Expanding the worldview of young people growing up in a Hip-Hop Culture
  • Preserving chastity in dress and conduct in a society that encourages the opposite
  • Teaching entrepreneurship skills to youth
But even more important than the shared knowledge is the encouragement that these youth workers receive. "They leave with a lot more energy and determination than they had when they came in," Jackson adds.

For more information about the conference or to register, go to www.compassionworks.compassion.com.

Compassion International works with more than 65 denominations and scores of indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and with churches and youth workers in the United States. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than a million children through its long-term, holistic child development program. Compassion currently serves nearly 500,000 children around the world.