By: Rachel Witkovsky
June 05, 2013
(Click sound clip above to listen to Phil Jackson’s keynote message.)
In a city like Chicago, it’s easy to find amazing people doing outrageously awesome ministry if you look in the right places. The people of Chicago are out in the streets “doin’ life together,” as Phil Jackson, pastor of the Lawndale Community Church, put it. They have learned what it really means to live in community.
We, the participants of VEV’s national conference, were privileged to hear Phil Jackson speak in Chicago this past May. His stories alone were inspirational, but his passion and excitement for what he’s doing moved me. From the hip-hop youth ministry he’s working with to the Firehouse Community Arts Center, his message was enough to get all of us volunteers fired up.
“To live as Christ taught us, to be modern disciples, we can’t wait for anyone to come to us — we have to go to them.”
It was clear through Phil’s talk that burnout was a factor when living with that kind of conviction day in, day out. However, there’s a need to be filled and if you are called to fill that need, nothing can stop you. Phil is out on the streets with his youth teaching and helping them to “fill legitimate needs legitimately”— something that’s a lot harder to do than the normal route some youth are forced to take because of their circumstances.
Phil repeatedly said the key to this kind of ministry is to “see what others don’t see, so you can do what others won’t.” It’s a revolution by observation. It’s helping people move from “churchianity” to followers of Christ. It’s teaching church folk to use real talk and not cover up Christ’s message with big words and fine phrases. It’s about telling it like it is, calling it like you see it, and sharing your own testimony without sugarcoating it or making excuses.
There’s nothing all that wrong with the way we do church on a weekly basis but there’s always more we can do. Phil’s challenge—and mine as well—to all of us is to do “church PLUS” if we really want to do as Jesus did. To live as Christ taught us, to be modern disciples, we can’t wait for anyone to come to us — we have to go to them. Meet them where they are.
We need to “see what others don’t see, so [we] can do what others won’t do.” That’s what Jesus did, that’s what the community in Lawndale is doing, and that’s what we all need a little more of on Sunday morning—PLUS.
Some resources Phil recommends: