In 1975 I was considering a position with Young Life in the Pittsburgh area. All potential staff met with Reid Carpenter (pictured below), the Young Life Regional Director. Reid began that day with the big vision for the region, the nation, and the world as he shared the newly minted vision of the Lausanne Movement: "The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world." Riffing off his friend and Lausanne Cities Associate, Ray Bakke, he quickly refined the statement to: "The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole city."
Reid identified Young Life as a part of this larger international evangelism movement and said, "Our vision is to make Pittsburgh as famous for God as for steel." In doing so he interpreted Lausanne's mission for the local context in order to land tangible results. He and others in Pittsburgh took this worldwide missional vision and made it their own.
Reid took it down one step further. He applied the vision to the youth ministry work we were considering as he said, "Young Life believes in an approach that values evangelism and discipleship with youth. If you had two tea cups and five eggs, three eggs
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach to community transformation in which those who work for community change do so by working with local leaders rather than delivering services to them or for them. I first learned about this approach while leading a city movement in Muncie, IN in the early 1990’s. Simply defined, ABCD is a way to find and mobilize resources a community already has. This approach is central to transforming communities and became an important part of my DMin at Bakke Graduate University in Transformational Leadership in the Global City. At the end of this post is a 4 minute video of Rev. Andy Sytsma explaining ABCD principles.
Asset Based Community Development is always rooted in a local community and draws on the assets within the community. In this way local knowledge, understanding, gifting and calling is strengthened, so that people are empowered and the community is strengthened. Below is the story of how ABCD principles are being applied through the Old Town Spring Heights Task Force in Spring, TX.
Rev. Andy Sytsma is the pastor of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Spring, TX, a city of 53,000 about 30 miles north of Houston. The older part of Spring grew up along the railroad that still runs through town. The newer portions of this fast growing small city are much more upscale than the older portions of town.
Marilyn Lee has an MBA. She has all the skills a growing business would want. She has chosen to work with one of the world's largest enterprises, the church. She is investing her time in the work of the whole church taking the whole gospel to all of Houston through Loving Houston, a Christian nonprofit focused transforming Houston by helping churches serve local public schools. In the video below, Marilyn tells her story and how she has learned to follow Jesus' example of meeting people's real and felt needs and calling them to follow Him.
This 13 minute story was a part of GoodCities' City Convene Conference in Houston, TX in April, 2015. Our next City Convene Conference will be held in Cincinnati on September 21-22. Click the button below for registration information.
Today I leave to speak at the Gather Global Conference in London and to meet with national catalysts for city transformation movements from around the world. Before I go, I thought it would be good to share one more presentation from our recent South Central GoodCities Leadership Gathering. Below is a guest blog and video from Rebecca Walls, the Executive Director of Unite, which serves Greater Dallas. The 9 minute video below was recorded in one of our break out sessions.
Whole Church. Whole Gospel. Whole City. That's a big scope! What role do events play in that?
To be honest, while convening key leaders is one of the main functions of Unite, I don’t generally like big events. Since my mind is constantly spinning with thoughts about on-going collaboration and impact, taking time out to plan a big event feels like a distraction. But I've learned that they can play a very strategic part in our work - especially when they have a few specific components.
In our recent GoodCities Leadership Gathering in Phoenix, Eric Swanson introduced a creative approach when he gave a 20 minute presentation titled "City Transformation as a Platform" (his full presentation is available at the end of this post). His belief is that the real power of a decentralized network in a city is found in the many ways that people live out their callings and yet, unify under a city transformation vision.
Swanson notes that people will find their place within a common vision if it serves their own self interest. He distinguishes between self interest and selfish interests by stating that self interest is a belief from those involved that they will get more out of being involved with the movement than through non-involvement. Selfish interest is a viewpoint that only engages because of a self-promoting ulterior motive (i.e. a sales rep who gets involved in a volunteer organization to make sales instead of to accomplish the goals of the volunteer organization.)
At our recent GoodCities Leadership Gathering in Phoenix, Pastor David Drum shared about the importance of developing a culture of honor among pastors in Tucson. This important aspect of church unity has its roots among leaders of primarily African American and Hispanic churches. In the 2:48 minute video below, Dave talks about what he's learned and how this can be helpful in other cities as well as we pursue city transformation.
Chuck Proudfit and the Origins of At Work on Purpose in Cincinnati
This five minute overview was recorded at our recent City Advance Conference in New York City. There is much we can learn from the stages of development of At Work On Purpose of Cincinnati. What Chuck talks
Steve Capper (pictured below and featured in a 2:40 minute video below) is a GoodCities Community Leadership Coach and serves as the Executive Director of For Houston's Kids. He will be a contributing blogger for our blog site. This article introduces the missional thrust of how this unique collaboration between people of faith and people of good will works together for the good of Houston's children. For Houston's Kids goes beyond church and public school partnerships by forming unlikely partnerships to accomplish their goals.
In 2004, a healing of many in the Church of Houston who were blind began. Like the story told in Mark 8, the restoration of sight was both partially immediate and largely progressive. This miracle followed a simple question, a group conversation, and a massive investigation in search of an accurate picture of our city’s condition.
Dave Peterson, then the Senior Pastor of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, had attended a one-day conference featuring a stirring story of one man’s efforts to replace isolation and hopelessness among Baltimore’s inner city youth with caring mentors and a path to a hopeful future.
Christian unity for the purpose of serving among the poor and city transformation is reviving the church and awakening people to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Personal transformation is at the heart of shaping good cities and it is the good news of Jesus Christ that transforms the hearts of persons. God's calling is central to gospel movements and church leadership.
Earlier this month, I was in London for the Gather Global Conference. Graham Hutchinson and I met in preparation for an interview he would be be conducting with me on stage. Graham is the founder and leader of One Voice York, a weekly pastors' prayer gathering that has been meeting for the past 15 years in York. He also serves as the pastor of Elim Pentecostal Church. However, before he engaged in either of these leadership roles, Graham was a successful chef who one day had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ and from that moment forward, he hasbeen living life with vision, hope, faith, and purpose. Most of all, I found Graham to be a man who exudes the love and light of Jesus Christ. Here's a six minute video in which he shares his story.
(This blog is guest written by my friend and colleague, Jim Herrington, co-founder of Faithwalking. The 9.5 minute video below was recorded at the SouthCentral GoodCities Leadership Gathering in Waco earlier this month.)
The entire church world today is talking about "missional." Missional has become a buzzword whose use has become so pervasive that it means everything and nothing.
In the Faithwalking community missional has a precise meaning. It is rarely an individual activity. It is done together. For us, people are living missionally when they are journeying together in authentic community and working to see the Kingdom of God expressed in a specific place and/or among a specific people. This missional definition informs how we live.
Alexis Christensen and Ryn Farmer both received their Masters in Social Work from Baylor University in 2012. That year they both went to work for the Waco Community Development Corporation as Community Organizers. Ryn works in the neighborhoods of East Waco and Alexis works in North Waco.
Grant Skeldon and Edwin Robinson are two emerging generation leaders in Dallas who are working to engage folks in their late teens and early twenties in a gospel movement. Their shared goal is city transformation. Grant serves as the director of Initiative: a network of young Christians supporting a local church movement that is a part of the umbrella leadership of Unite. Initiative seeks to "connect passions, expose needs, and empower young Christians to transform Dallas with the gospel through their gifting." There are approximately 4,800 churches in Dallas. Grant and the 24 member staff of Initiative are dreaming big. They hope to engage many young Christians from these churches in their monthly citywide meetings. (Grant and Rebbecca Walls, Executive Director of Unite are pictured on the left.)
With Grant in the 4.5 minute video below is Edwin Robinson, the Young Adults and Singles Pastor at Concord Church. They are connecting to Christian young adults with an emphasis on strengthening their various giftings and callings. Initiative is not only young, but multicultural. Their April 28th meeting will focus on Creatives: For the City and Gospel and is being held at Concord Church in South Dallas where there is a concentration of Black and Hispanic young adults.
Earlier this week, March 31-April 1, I had the privilege of leading the South Central GoodCities Leadership Gathering. This year it was an all Texas affair held at Antioch Community Church in Waco. We had city teams represented from Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Waco. One of the great joys for me was that over half of the leaders there were in their twenties and thirties and they were eager to learn and grow in their abilities to build effective, purposeful coalitions in their cities.
In the next few posts, I plan to highlight several of these younger leaders with videos so that others can get a sense of what is important to them and learn why they are involved in city movements. Below is a three minute video of Josh Lawson, Director of Community Engagement for Antioch Community Church.
Last week I visited with Rev. Richard Coleman, who serves as the Executive Director for Hope United CDC in North Minneapolis (featured in short video below). Rev. Coleman helped form the Northside Community Response Team (NCRT), a coalition of the leaders of 60 nonprofit organizations and philanthropists who came together shortly after a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis on May 22, 2011. The NCRT mobilized thousands of volunteers to clear debris and help residents. In addition they received and distributed over $677,000 to assist the area and its residents in its recovery.
This message was for a people who were forced to relocate against their will in the land of their enemy. Yet it is here that Jeremiah calls upon them to "seek the shalom of the city and pray to the Lord on its behalf..."
Geography is important within cities. People have a sense of place attached to their identity. It is never just a general sense of place as in "I'm from Cleveland."I may say this to someone I have just met, but the truth of the matter is that I am from Bay Village, a third ring western suburb of Cleveland with a 5 mile shoreline on the southern shore of Lake Erie. When I say that I am from Bay Village, I mean that I grew up there through the first 21 years of my life. My memories of this place and the people I knew there shaped my identity in powerful ways.
Today, I'm from the Twin Cities. I have lived here for 20 years. During that time I have lived in the same house in a second ring southwestern suburb, Eden Prairie. As an adult, my life and my identity have been developed in a far more intentional way through my marriage to Kathy, my choice of vocation, my interaction with my children, my neighbors, my church, and the leaders of the communities I choose to interact with here in the Twin Cities.
On Saturday, March 1, I spoke at Cincinnati's At Work On Purpose, Marketplace Mobilization 2014 Conference. Horizon Church was packed with over 700 leaders from all sectors and channels of influence. This ministry has grown over the past 10 years from a handful of marketplace leaders to over 6500 involved today who are each growing deeper in ways that they live out their calling at work. This is a replicable model that brings leaders together for city transformation. A kit has been developed for other cities to put together a similar model in their own city. It can be ordered using the contact form at http://atworkonpurpose.org.
Cities become good cities as people learn to live out their callings at work, home, and in places they server. CEO and Founder gives a quick overview in this short video.
I recently spent two days with Evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in Phoenix to explore ways that Evangelicals and Catholics could express their oneness in Christ for the good of their city. Mateo Calisi, President of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Communities and Fellowships, and his friend Giovanni Traettino, Leader of the Christian Community of Caserta came to Phoenix from Italy at the invitation of Joseph Tosini (see 3 minute video below.)
Last week, I visited with Gary Kinnaman during my visit to Phoenix, AZ as a part of preparing for our GoodCities Leadership Gathering February 18-20 at Christ's Church in the Valley. Gary and I stayed up late one evening talking about how ministry is often painful even when it is going well.
At one point, Gary said, "I've never been persecuted by a Muslim, an Atheist, a Mormon (I live in a largely Mormon community), but I have had lots of pain in the church." Immediately I knew that Gary and I had walked a similar path as a pastors and leaders. If we're honest with ourselves, we each know that the leadership journey involves betrayal and brokeness. (Video clip of Gary Kinnaman on next page).
In the last year, church and public school partnerships have really taken off in cities all over the U.S. With the creation of the documentary Undivided (www.beundivided.com) that tells the story of the five year old partnership between Southlake Church and Roosevelt High School in Portland, OR, both churches and underperforming public schools seem to have caught the bug.
Gather is the name of a church unity movement in the UK led by my friend, Roger Sutton. He recently said, "We have just entered the post secular age." God has quietly been bringing Christians together in unity in the UK over the last 10 years and until Roger began to look for these leadership groups in cities, each one thought they were unique.
Roger was sent out by the Evangelical Alliance to look and see what God was doing in cities throughout Great Britain. So far, in every city he has explored, he has found a church unity movement praying for and serving the people of their city. (3 minute video of Roger Sutton further down in article.)