These ministries are reaching urban children, families,
Where is Jesus? He is with the most needy of all of us-and he
invites us to minister to him through these needy people. Jesus
said in Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave
me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and
you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison
and you came to visit me.”
Children’s Ministry Magazine searched for ministries that
are doing just that, and we found three outreaches we want you to
Inner City Outreach
Urban ministries have unique challenges, especially when it comes
to reaching children. In Denver, Colorado, The Third Story meets
those challenges in reaching out to at-risk inner city youth. The
Third Story desires that an urban church be a refuge and sanctuary
in the true sense of the word. For that purpose, they have three
branches: the Third Story Press, West Side Ministries, and the
Third Story Sound Lot.
Kids LOVE these Sunday School resources!
The Third Story Press is a print-media ministry that was founded
with “West Side Stories,” a series of vignettes focusing on urban
life and issues facing children growing up in inner city
neighborhoods. By presenting thoughtful insights in story form six
times a year, the Press spreads awareness of issues that face
individuals on a daily basis. Its goal is to advocate justice for
West Side Ministries (WSM) is an umbrella for many smaller
programs that meet the physical and academic needs of children
while giving spiritual guidance.
Street Church, Whiz Kids Tutoring, the Concrete Conservatory, The
EDGGe, and more were all individually conceived but tie in to the
urban needs of the community. Many children must be fed before they
can learn about Jesus.
Street Church is a neighborhood outreach. This weekly after-school
club focuses on elementary-aged children. Each group is run by six
to eight volunteers who build relationships with the children
through a club setting of active Bible learning, memory verses,
games, crafts, and group-building activities. Every staff member
participates in the kids’ assembly time. After assembly everyone
moves into small groups. Many children aren’t able to participate
in traditional Sunday school, yet through this ministry they learn
from God’s Word. This year they’re studying Micah 6:8 and what it means to actively follow
For those who need help with their schoolwork, Whiz Kids Tutoring
is an everyday blessing. As a citywide ministry with more than 40
sites and close to 700 volunteer tutors, it’s Denver Public
School’s largest after-school study hall. A Denver Public School
teacher and an onsite coordinator staff each site. Tutoring is an
opportunity for a volunteer to focus on the needs of one child,
first grade through fifth grade, with weekly sessions throughout
the school year. The tutor’s goal is to challenge his or her
student both spiritually and academically. Tutors and students
participate together in a Bible assembly after tutoring.
WSM’s latest addition is the Concrete Conservatory. When Denver
Public Schools were forced to end all in-school music programs due
to budget cuts, this outreach was founded to make up for the hole
left in local kids’ education. Basically a music camp for
neighborhood children, the Concrete Conservatory teaches everything
from theory to notation and gives instruction on the Recorder. It
was named for their meeting location on front stoops, back
porches…anywhere! This community is about much more than music
and has proven to be a special opportunity for individuals who are
chosen to participate. Presently the Concrete Conservatory runs
throughout the summer at different neighborhood locations.
The EDGGe (Everything Done to the Glory of God) is a threefold
program for discipleship, mentoring, and service. Seventh- through
12th-graders are empowered to not only serve in their communities
but also to become spiritual leaders. The long-term vision is to
encourage young men and women to become adult men and women who
choose to live their lives for the glory of God. Adult leaders in
EDGGe must have one previous year of urban service and be involved
in an urban ministry where the program is in place. Volunteers have
a responsibility to nurture the students and in return enforce
standards that kids must meet.
Through all these outreaches, WSM’s intent and primary hope is to
bring at-risk urban children and their families into a healing
relationship with Jesus Christ. Volunteers are equipped to assist
the urban church in implementing these important programs.
The Third Story Sound Lot is based on the songwriting and stories
of Amy Beth Augustin Barlow, composer and pianist. Like the Press,
one of Sound Lot’s goals is to educate listeners about the
realities and needs in the inner-city neighborhoods by sharing
their stories. Sound Lot also uses story and song to invite
listeners to consider the call of the gospel.
To learn more about these ministries, visit www.thethirdstory.org.