Before joining SCUPE, Roger worked with International Urban Associates and was the editor of City Voices newsletter. Roger is SCUPE alum, a graduate of Wheaton College, North Park Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing studies in Evangelism & Leadership at Wheaton College Graduate School.
Category Archives: Roger Johnson
Hosting out-of-town ministry tour groups has become one of my side-lines here in Chicago. While ministry tours involve a good bit of scheduling and patience, they also provide me with great discoveries! I get to see how God and his people are meeting the needs of many Chicagoans. Here’s a sample of my “discoveries” during summer 2010.
- The Greater Chicago Food Depository distributes food items to more than 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters serving 678,000 people. From its enormous warehouse on Chicago’s southwest side, the Food Depository distributed enough food last year to serve 135,000 meals every day!
- While some local churches have closed or moved away, Chicago’s Holy Family Lutheran Church continues to carry on a heroic ministry in the city’s former Cabrini Green Community. Rev. Leslie Hunter, youth director and assistant minister at Holy Family Church, carries on an intensive ministry through preaching, teaching, community involvement and spoken-word poetry.
- When 25 teenagers and sponsors are hungry in the middle of a busy day of urban discovery, there’s no food better than the “dogs and polish” at Jim’s Original Hot Dogs on Maxwell Street (actual location is 1250 S. Union Avenue, but who’s counting street numbers!) You get the most and best dogs and fries in Chicago for $3.50!
- Chicago’s Lawndale Christian Health Center provides optometric, dental, fitness and general medical care for over 119,000 patients each year at three sites in the city’s Lawndale neighborhood. Lawndale Health Center maintains a staff of over 50 healthcare personnel who provide the comprehensive, quality care.
- Breakthrough Urban Ministries conducts an intensive array of ministries in Chicago’s challenging East Garfield Park Community. Founded in the 1990’s by Dr. Arloa Sutter (http://arloasutter.blogspot.com/), Breakthrough is now serving men, women and children in areas of job training and readiness, tutoring, child care, food distribution, Christian counseling and Bible studies. Their two west side shelters meet housing needs for nearly 1,000 Chicagoans annually.
Want to be surprised by what God is doing in your city, or your neighborhood? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at: roger(at)scupe.com. I can lead or go along for the ride. Chances are that I’ll be able to suggest a few good places for you and your group to start!
– Roger Johnson
Church Relations Coordinator, SCUPE
I started out as a youth worker in Chicago’s Humboldt Park in 1973, so I’ve been in urban ministry for a long time. I’ve seen God do some great things during those years, but I’ve also seen too much tension between urban ministers who’ve worked for community development (social & racial justice, full employment, good housing, quality education) and urban ministers whose primary concern has been evangelism (preaching & proclaiming the gospel, teaching God’s word, reaching people with Jesus’ salvation and starting new churches).
I’m now 58 years of age (wow!), and it’s occurring to me that community development and evangelism actually inform and resource each other a lot more than they stand in competition for urban energy, time and dollars. They’re really partner ministries and with complementary skill sets. Let me explain.
Both community development and urban evangelism seem to work best at grassroots levels. Urban leaders serve most effectively as they talk and minister directly to their neighbors, friends, relatives, and people on the edges of community groups, churches, block clubs and service agencies. A good community developer is a busy person who knows lots of people and is constantly calling, visiting, and listening to their needs. A good urban evangelist is is also a busy person with lots of people contacts and is also actively listening to people’s needs. Even when you have important news for people’s lives, you still have to hear their questions and stories first!
Community developers and evangelists both work best when they care for and love the people they’re serving. Each worker may have a strong understanding of their own goals, strategies and tactics; but without some compassion for the people they work with, very little gets accomplished.
It also seems to me that both the community developer and the urban evangelist must have a sense of the large transcendent values if they are to succeed in their work — especially through discouragements that will inevitably occur. The community developer must know that the temporary victories and defeats in their work are laying the foundation for better lives (social, economic, spiritual) for families and individuals. By the same token, the urban evangelist must also have a larger confidence that God is taking the good news they proclaim and using it to build a strong footing in the hearts and minds of people.
Community developers and evangelists are active, people-focused, caring and transcendent urban servants. Both are high-impact and centered upon change in people’s lives. As the community developer and urban evangelist continue to work for change, they complement, teach and even transform each other.
– Roger Johnson