Evangelizing The Inner City

In an interview, Detroit pastor Christopher Brooks, author of the forthcoming Urban Apologetics, discusses how he tries to overcome the “disconnection” between typical arguments for Christianity and the realities faced by urban minorities:

Many people in our community are simply asking, “How do we make it in this country right now?” Unfortunately, traditional Protestant apologetics has rarely addressed questions of justice. Pick up a Catholic catechism, and you will find a section on social consciousness, social responsibility, and social justice. But in the average evangelical systematic theology, it’s not there. Sadly, in the black community, we have conceded these issues either to liberation theology or to black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam. There needs to be a strong evangelical voice in our urban areas that says, “Here is what the gospel has to say about justice.”

White evangelicals typically are drawn to the righteousness of God—the importance of right doctrine and right practices—whereas African Americans and minorities are drawn more to the justice of God. Yet Psalm 89 says the foundations of God’s throne are righteousness and justice. We can’t bifurcate the ethics of God into categories of righteousness—issues like abortion and human sexuality—or justice—issues like educational and economic equality.

One way his congregation is living that message:

Our church has embraced adoption and foster care in a huge way. The foster-care system is disproportionately populated by minority children. There has been an antagonistic relationship with the state because of the perception that the state somehow profits from pulling our children out of our homes.

But as we were studying Scripture, talking about the Father God, we encountered the language of adoption in Ephesians 1 and the orphan and the widow in James 1:27. We had to ask, “What is our obligation to the orphans in our community?”

We have a goal that there would be no children in our community waiting for a home. There are about 2,000 children waiting, and our goal is to be able to find 2,000 homes for them. We have 3,000 churches in Detroit. So if each church can get just one family to adopt, we can eliminate the need for children to wait. That is a matter of praxis and apologetics: showing how the gospel makes a difference.