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3 Amazing Outreaches

These ministries are reaching urban children, families, and ex-inmates...

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 know about.

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.

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 social causes.

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 Jesus.

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.

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