Youth for Christ approaches inner city with holistic ministry

By March 29, 2010

USA (MNN) — While much of the ministry of Youth for Christ is club-based and focused on school campuses, for the last decade they have been more intentional about their inner city ministry, called City Life.

Scott Arnold, the executive director of the Central Ohio YFC branch, said in the next twenty years the majority of the United States youth will live in or around a city.

So, YFC asked themselves how they could best adapt their ministry to serve urban needs.

"How do we take what we've learned and then begin to add to it things that we don't know about what it takes to be effective in a city?" Arnold said.

Through this questioning, they discovered a holistic approach was best, which includes social and spiritual emphases.

"We just recognize [the] reality that social needs and spiritual needs both have to happen in a really broken community for you to get traction in moving kids toward becoming life-long followers of Jesus," he said. From there, they have identified the most prevalent social needs, such as drug addicts, school dropouts and kids from broken homes.

YFC also learned that when people approach urban ministry, they often make a mistake.

"We tend to think of inner cities as places where there's poverty or there's teen pregnancy or there are lots of singles parent families; and that can be true. But we think the number one core issue in the inner city is broken relationships," Arnold said.

YFC hopes to mend these broken relationships with each of their programs and ultimately see lives restored and serving Christ. So far, they have already seen Christ work.

Arnold said in Columbus, where the Central Ohio branch is based, 57 percent of kids usually dropout of high school. However, of the kids involved in their ministry, 93 percent are still in school. Also, nearly 76 percent of females face teen pregnancy throughout the city. Yet, 90 percent of the girls coming to City Life do not get pregnant.

City Life is seeing God work, and Arnold said he is excited to see what else God has in store for the ministry in the future.

Visit coyfc.org if you are interested in becoming involved in Columbus. Or if you do not live close by, visit yfc.net to find a ministry where you can get connected near you.

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