Young Pastors Kenny Petty and co-pastor/rapper Kyle Hubbard are in their fourth year of planting the Gate church in University City, a poor neighbourhood in St. Louis, Missouri.
They are working hard to plant as many churches as possible in Missouri in order to draw people who have grown in hip-hop culture where rap music, gangs, urban clothing, art, poetry, hardship and violence have molded them.
Petty wanted to be part of a church (that was biblically sound and culturally relevant for people who had hip-hop background, who are absent from home, young pregnancies, women who are raising children alone, drugs, violence, and a sense of hopelessness) after he was released from prison for being a gang member at 19.
While he was in jail, a chaplain challenged him to read Psalm 51 three times a day—and he was moved, eventually leading to a personal transformation. "Against You and You only have I sinned ... It caused me to cry out for mercy," Petty said. He said he didn't know much about Christianity but after studying and growing, he began to understand that the church is God's plan for the world.
Hubbard said they saw an opportunity to bring the Gospel to people who are "disenfranchised, impoverished, in the hip-hop culture that has hoisted a generation of people living in hopelessness."
He (Hubbard) added, "We're in this together. We're better together. God wants His body to be united in the faith, and He does this by knitting our hearts together. The Gate is a story of God seeing the Kingdom mind of Southern Baptists."