I've been in the Bay Area for over five years now and in Northern California since 1995. The contrast from Modesto to the Bay has been start. Rick and the guys at YFC in Modesto had great success in creating a level of synergy and community amongst youth leaders in the area. Here in the Bay there seems to be a real disconnect between churches and ministries. We've seen it present in our little community of East Palo Alto (although things are getting better here through the work of Larry Moody and others).
So - sort of by default I've been involved in a couple of regional events, working with Larry Acosta on Reload (http://www.uywi.org) and Noel with the CCDA Institute (http://www.ccda.org). I've been surprised by a couple of things: 1) The amount of transition / burnout in urban leaders in the Bay and 2) How difficult it is to get folks to the table.
Now - I have a couple of working theories. The first is that we are a region of 'micro-climates'. The weather is freaky here! I can wear a parka in the morning in San Francisco and have a Hawaiian shirt on for lunch in San Jose. This I think is indicative of the spiritual climate also - each region has it's own 'climate' and situation. San Fran is a different world than East Palo Alto - it feels like we don't speak the same language. However - we do deal with many similar issues, drugs, gangs, violence, gentrification...
My second theory is that we live in area that is prone to the independent spirit. It is an area of phenomenal innovation and drive. There is much competition to get a product to market before anyone else. We work with others with suspicion - wondering if they will steal our 'glory'. Sadly - I think this spirit creeps into the church.
The result of these and other issues is that we are one of the least churched regions in the country - with (from what 'they' tell me) less that 7% of the population regular attending church.
So - what do we do? How do we create unity? What is my part? How do we build community in a fragmented world?
Larry Acosta is coming up in a couple of weeks to promote the Reload event - and talk about these issues. Here is the text for the invite:
You are cordially invited to attend a special gathering of Northern California urban youth ministers and pastors on Tuesday, December 13th, 2005 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Castro Valley, CA.
Our special guest is Dr. Larry Acosta of Urban Youth Workers Institute. Larry topic will be: Â“The Greater Bay Area: Creating Unity in a Fragmented RegionÂ”. He will be leading a discussion regarding the unique characteristics of urban leadership in the Bay Area, helping us to define strategies to decrease the fragmentation that exists in relationships and between local ministries. We will talk about ways to create and promote unity, accountability and partnerships. Larry and his team have identified proven strategies and best practices for training, networking and developing strong accountability relationships between leaders.
DrDr. Acostata is a nationally recognized urban leader. He is the founder / president of Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI). UYWI is the nation's leading urban youth leader training conference and equipping ministry based in Santa Ana, CA. UYWI regularly gathers over 1500 youth workers each May for a training event in Azusa, CA and will soon be expanding to the US East Coast for a second annual event. UYWI also hosts the Â‘ReloadÂ’ one day regional training events in over 20 cities nationally (coming to the Bay Area on 1/21!) and Â‘learning communitiesÂ’. Learning communities are small groups of leaders who gather for accountability and personal development. Local communities are currently in formation.
Larry will also be discussing the upcoming Reload training event on January 21st in Oakland.
Please plan on joining us for this important event.
Date and Time: Tuesday, December 13th, 2005.
10:00 am to 2:00 pm ( lunch will be provided)
Location: 17234 Cull Canyon Road
Castro Valley, CA 94552
To RSVP or for more information please contact: John Liotti
National Network of Youth Ministries
Urban Youth Workers Institute
Northern California Urban Development Corporation
Bayshore Christian Ministries
St. Samuel Church of God in Christ Â– East Palo Alto (Pastor Paul Bains)
Antioch Urban Fellowship of East Palo Alto
Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'