Spiritual Growth in Ghetto Communities

Every city kid knows where to buy a gun or get drugs. However, where do urban youth go to learn how to grow in the faith when there's so much around them encouraging them to do otherwise?

Every city kid knows where to buy a gun or get drugs. However, where do urban youth go to learn how to grow in the faith when there's so much around them encouraging them to do otherwise?

I remember when the song came out. It was the year 1997 and I was in high school, and the highly anticipated sophomore album of The Notorious B.I.G. had just released. The album was an instant classic with a dazzling distribution of bangers throughout the double disc album. But it was that one song that seemed to really resonate with kids for around the way. The song? "Ten Crack Commandments." It was an immediate hit.

Now rest assure, I was raised by a christian mother, went to church regularly, and I had even spent a couple years in Adventist school, but I'd have a hard time reciting the Ten Commandments. On the other hand, I had no problem reciting the 10 Crack Commandments. As a matter of fact I can still spit a few of them to this day. 

Biggie systematized selling crack for the masses. Can't the church come up with a system for spiritual growth that works in the urban center?

Biggie systematized selling crack for the masses. Can't the church come up with a system for spiritual growth that works in the urban center?

We would cite them when discussing people we knew who were in the drug game and note whenever we recognized that they were breaking one of the "commandments."  We cited them when someone we knew who got locked up saying, "Everybody knows that you 'never sell crack where you rest at.' That's the commandment #5." These were sacred rules. Ghetto kids studied them. Hustlas lived by them. 

I never sold drugs. I knew my mom would kill me if I did. Nevertheless, if I was ever crazy enough to try it, I knew exactly who talk to. I knew exactly where to get drugs, alcohol, and even guns if I wanted to. As a matter of fact, I had an older cousin who made the gun offer right in front of my mom. And get this, I lived in a relatively safe neighborhood. And herein lies the challenge. With all of these dangerous tools at arms length, how easy is it for kids to access resources that can be utilized for positive, fruitful, spiritual development?

 My cousin offered me a gun. Another cousin offered me cigarettes. A friend offered me hard liquor. And ironically, the first person to offer me weed was a kid from church. However, I can't ever remember anybody offering to teach me how to fast for spiritual breakthrough. Nobody ever offered to teach me how to intercede for others. I don't recall anyone offering to teach me how to study the bible for understanding. 

What are our frameworks, tools, processes, and systems for spiritual growth? If Biggie can systematize selling crack, surely there can be some sort of system for growing in the faith. Now, after we identify those frameworks, are they accessible to urban youth? Can they access and utilize the tools we recommend? Can they possibly apply the processes that we use, and will it work in their context? Are the things we do and the tools we use only relevant in the safe and sound, secluded sanctuaries of the sanctified, or will they work in the gritty and grimy gutters of the ghetto?

We need to be able to teach people how to grow with language that is familiar, resources that are accessible, with tools that are applicable, and with processes that are practical.