Developing Partnerships

This led me to reach out to parachurch urban youth workers, the part-time and volunteer youth ministers in local churches, and Christians working at the local YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs. A small group of us formed an organization called Urban RECLAIM: a non-profit organization providing training, resources, and events through collaborative projects all designed to strengthen urban youth ministry in the Twin Cities. Urban RECLAIM hosts an annual leadership retreat for urban youth and provides monthly luncheons for urban youth workers to help build community and professional development.

Partnerships through RECLAIM and VisionYouth (a program of World Vision) have developed between local churches and parachurch organizations, money has been raised for full-time youth ministry positions, and more unchurched youth are being reached.

More recently, the Evangelical Covenant Church and two large suburban churches have partnered to plant a new church that I pastor: Sanctuary Covenant Church.

A New Vision

We’re an African American-led, multiethnic church in the city, and we hope to provide holistic ministries that reach out to the emerging hip-hop, multicultural, urban community of the Twin Cities.

In one year we’ve grown to a weekly attendance of over 350 adults and kids. We’re in the process of launching the Sanctuary Community Development Corporation, which will focus on youth development, healthcare, and economic development in the inner city of North Minneapolis.

We’re hoping that through networking, collaborative projects, and the planting of ethnic indigenous churches, we can, for lack of a better term, level the playing field and address the disparities between urban and suburban youth ministry.


Efrem Smith is the senior pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota as well as an Itinerant Speaker with Kingdom Building Ministries. He also is the author of the book Raising Up Young Heroes, and an advisory board member for Youthworker. The above author bio was current as of the date this article was published.