Drug Addiction: Disease or Moral Failure?

          My work with drug addicts in a prison setting has allowed me to think and study more about addiction, its causes and its remedies. Daily I have the opportunity to interview and work with scores of men who have been incarcerated due to drug-related criminal activity. One of the questions often asked, both by drug abusers and Read more

One Night in the Trauma Bay

No, not as a patient but as a chaplain. One night a month I am on-call where I stay at the hospital from 4:30 pm until 8:30 the next morning. In addition to carrying a pager which nurses call when there are patient or family requests for a chaplain (usually end of life issues), I Read more

Church Planting: Suburban vs Urban

Urban church planting is a focus, a needed and neglected emphasis. It is not a more spiritual work than suburban church planting. In some settings urban church planting might be more challenging where there is little gospel presence, where there are fewer Christians to constitute a core group, where there are more livability issues due Read more

Are You In Ministry or Do You Have Ministry?

Someone asked me recently how it feels not to be in full-time ministry. I had to smile. In all my years in full-time ministry I have rarely if ever had more opportunities to make Christ known than in the last 5 months working in prison. Don’t get me wrong. Full-time ministry as I’ve known it these past Read more

Back in Prison – But I Go Home Every Day

          For the past few months I have been in prison 5-6 hours a day Monday to Friday. No, I'm not serving time but serving the Lord in prison. Is it a job or ministry? It's both. It helps pay the bills while working with a team to plant Grace Church in West Philadelphia. It Read more

Christmas Dinner with a Black Man

We had a most unusual Christmas dinner yesterday. Last Sunday at our worship service people were talking about Christmas plans. A single middle-aged black man who has been attending mentioned that he didn’t have anywhere to go on Christmas. We met him several months ago during one of our homeless outreaches. I don’t know his Read more

Hassles of City Life

Living in the city will cost you in many ways. One item I had not figured into my budget was parking tickets and red light fines from cameras placed at intersections. I lived ten years in the suburbs and can’t remember paying a parking ticket. I’m making up for it now. I am guilty of Read more

Urban Church – Suburban People

Here in Philadelphia we have been blessed with several families and individuals who live in the suburbs and serve in the city. Ideally we would like to see some of them make the decision to move into the city in order to be fully incarnational in their witness. They are wonderful assets to the ministry Read more

Gritty City Life

For the last few years I‘ve had the opportunity to teach in Beirut, Lebanon. I was on my way there in July 2006 when the Israeli-Hezbollah War broke out. The runways at the Beirut Airport were bombed and I was stuck in Paris for a week. There could be worse places to be stuck! When Read more

Missional Ministry to the “Least of these”

Ask yourself this question? How many homeless people do you know personally? I'm not talking about the ones you ignore on your commute or see on occasional forays into the city. How many do you know by name? With how many have you had a conversation lasting more than the 5 seconds it took to Read more

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