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Ministry of Presence (Nowen) – Urban Entry

March 9, 2011

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them.  It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.  Still, it is not as simple as it seems…”

A friend of mine, Scott Lundeen, runs a ministry called Urban Entry here in Denver. He creates media resources to help envision and equip people to engage in relationships and service among the poor and marginalized in our communities. I think they’re doing some cool stuff.

This video was just posted on his blog site. It is based on a quote from Henri Nowen and gets right to the heart of a struggle we often face. Those of us who are acculturated for performance and delivering measurable results as a way of measuring our worth do well to consider Jesus’ call to be in relationship first. It’s what Nowen refers to as a ‘ministry of presence.’ Check it out.

Do you feel the same struggle in your vocation or avocation to make a difference in peoples’ lives? Do you feel envious of programs that get media attention or that are better resourced. Do you feel pressure to ‘achieve’ in a way that ultimately takes you ‘off the streets’?

I sometimes whine about my sad lot – that it’s difficult to see how I can sustain what God has called me to do, that I feel pressure to jump on the social media train that demands I become ‘famous’ in order to become influential and effective. But I feel God’s correction when I really am with the people I want to serve: with my film students, on Skype calls with friends in Africa who teach me as much as I want to teach them, these are the moments of reality and clarity.

My prayer for you is that you have many of those moments, even in the midst of the “necessary” things that shadow the life-giving things.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 1:29 pm

    Good stuff, Tom. It takes deliberate effort to keep ourselves “out on the streets” though that may be what we like the best and where we make the biggest difference.

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