Reggie McNeal Joins GoodCities

GoodCities is pleased to welcome Reggie McNeal as City Coach. He joins Glenn Barth who continues to serve as President. Through GoodCities, Reggie and Glenn offer leadership development through the City Impact Accelerator, City Convene, and City Coach. To welcome Reggie, email him at reggie@goodcities.net. To connect about leadership development email info@goodcities.net.

City Transformation through Christian Unity in Houston

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.

City Convene

Tweet this! “The complex web of factors that present as needs in people’s lives are so much bigger than one pastor, one church, or one ministry.”


My key take away from Marilyn Lee: Sin and brokeness are complex and create dysfuntional relationships between people and within institutions. It will take govenrment officials, economic experts, business strategists, nonprofit service providers, and people of faith and good will in all types of institutions working collaboratively; using collective impactmodels, with a common agenda to solve each complex problem. Only together will we see cities be transformed into places of shalom and wholeness where people flourish and experience God’s grace.

15 Ways Catalytic Events Benefit Gospel Movements

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.

We’ve done 3 big events in Unite’s history (www.unitethechurch.org):

  1. We launched Unite with a huge coordinated community service event called “Go & Be.”  On May 1-2, 2010, 50+ churches across Greater Dallas mobilized almost 20,000 volunteers who collected food, painted houses, planted gardens, and more.
  2. In January, 2013, around 600 diverse Christians joined together for the launch of our city-wide prayer initiative called “A Prayed 4 City” (www.ap4c.org). This marked the beginning of a monthly prayer effort of 80+ churches and organizations who have adopted one day per month to pray through a common guide focused on the real needs of Greater Dallas.
  3. Then in January, 2014, Movement Day Greater Dallas(www.movementdaygreaterdallas.com) convened nearly 1,400 diverse Christian leaders to hear a common vision and to develop specific, measurable goals related to transformation in several areas of great need.

What do those 3 very different events have in common? They were catalytic. Why? Here are 15 key ways these events benefit gospel movements:

  1. They bring the “whole Church” together – – all denominations, races, sizes, socio-economic levels, professions are a clear expression of Christian unity.
  2. They tell the “whole Church, whole Gospel, whole city” story.
  3. They create new levels of relationships
  4. They expose the masses to the real needs of the city and connect those needs to our Christian faith.
  5. They coordinate the work of the body of Christ.
  6. They build a collaborative spirit that can lead to collective impact.
  7. They create a shared vision for the city and give everyone a common language.
  8. They uncover additional resources that you might not have otherwise known about.
  9. They encourage diligent servants; they let them know that there are others who care…that they’re not the only ones.
  10. They spark relationships between diverse people who care about the same things leading to shared best practices, coordination, and/or collaboration.
  11. They can be used to equip people with best practices, training, or other resources.
  12. They can be used to develop shared measurements for impact by finding out what everyone’s already doing, collecting stories, etc.
  13. They raise awareness of what you’re doing and your organizations values.
  14. They make an almost incomprehensibly big vision and mission very tangible.
  15. And because of those 2 things, they can increase funding.

Each type of event can provide it’s own unique benefit. For example, community service events provide low-level engagement opportunities that will hopefully lead to long-term, relational, empowering service. On the flip side, prayer events provide a way for intercessors to engage the city transformation work in a way that matches their passions while also providing the supernatural power for the transformation itself.

But the most important benefit of big events is that they can bring glory to God. With that comes great responsibility to represent His heart well, but if you’re doing that, I encourage you not to be ashamed to make the most of every PR opportunity.

My prayer for every city is that the Church will become known for praying for, serving, and loving our neighbors and communities in their areas of greatest need: poverty, hunger, education, injustice, or whatever that might be for your city. I’m so grateful to be living in a time in history when He’s bringing His Church together to do just that and am excited to be walking alongside you!

A Culture of Honor in City Transformation

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.

 

City Transformation Begins with Personal Transformation

 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.

The Arts, Job Creation, and Community Transformation in Italy

Tonight on All Things Considered, a story that demonstrates how Christians involved in the arts in the second, third, and fourth centuries were brought together with impoverished youth by a visionary priest to restore both the artistic creations and prosperity of this younger generation. Christopher Livesay in his story, “Under the Streets of Naples, A Way Out for Local Kids”, reports on how Don Antonio Loffredo arrived in the rough and tumble Sanita neighborhood of Naples ten years ago and “…found three levels of frescoes, chapels, and cubicles beneath the neighborhood’s trash-strewn streets.”

Don Loffredo began to engage the youth in their teens to help him clean out these early Christian catacombs and reveal the artistic treasures within. In the process, the youth created a thriving business that today employs forty. “Before the the full-scale makeover, roughly 5,000 visitors came per year. Now it’s up to 40,000.”

This is a prime example of how community transformation occurs through asset based community development. This is the missional church at its best. The outcomes in work like this move the social indicators and create good cities.The 5 minute story of community transformation combines an appreciation for the arts and job creation. Click here to listen to this compelling story.

Emerging Leaders Launch "Initiative" A Gospel Movement in Dallas

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. This meeting engages one of several channels of influence that emarging leaders are engaged with for community transformation. Grant and Edwin discuss Initiative and their commitment to multicultural partnerships through Initiative in the following video.

Engaging the Next Generation of Leaders in City Transformation

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.

Jimmy Siebert, the Sr. Pastor at Antioch, realized that with his plate already filled with responsibilities at the church and around the world, he needed help in connecting with other community leaders of churches, in nonprofits, government, and marketplace. Josh has a great collaborative heart and wants to see a purposeful John 17 unity between Christians in Waco so that the gospel is expressed holistically. In this clip, Josh talks about the growing fellowship of church leaders. Together they are providing mentors to the public schools in Waco at the Superintendent’s request.

Evangelicals and Catholics Practice Christian Unity in Phoenix

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.) At a Friday evening worship service on February 21, hosted by Living Streams Church, an encouraging letter from Pope Francis was read by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

Pope Francis wrote, “I hope this meeting will draw down the Lord’s blessings so that we can perservere along the path to unity. We who have received the one baptism long for full communion; this is a grace of the Lord that we must fervently implore.” These are hopeful words and bode well for the unity of Christ’s church for the good of every city where this occurs.

Auxillary Bishop Eduardo Nevares shared a vision that 20,000 Catholics and Evangelicals will have a public worship service on Pentecost 2015 as an expression of church unity. That will be a sight to behold.

Unlikely Partnerships: Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Ben Sanders and his wife Sarah serve as Co-Directors of the Campus Christian Center (3C) at ASU in Tempe, AZ. The Campus Chrisian Center is a large converted 1920’s era house that 3C is leasing from the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church denomination. 3C also has a book store across the parking lot that served as their on campus office until they began leasing this new larger facility about a year ago.

Today, the two buildings represent a significant resource for seven ministries and churches that work closely with 3C as a Christian witness and worshiping presence on the Arizona State University campus. Ben and Sarah have a clear Christian focus both in their campus ministry and in the community. They have spent their lives seeking the purposeful unity of the church in Tempe and Phoenix. (See 4 minute interview video below).

During the two hours I spent with Ben touring their facilities, I met the leaders of a new church plant who were holding their first service ever in 3C that evening, two young women from the Gila River Indian Community who had come to see a Christian Movie premier release, and Ben Joseph, who for twenty years has been doing ministry among the many international students at the University.

The President’s Interfaith and Community Campus Challenge

In 2011, President Obama announced The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which offered students and community leaders the opportunity to work and serve their community together. Ben and Sarah took the opportunity to bring students of faith together with students of good will to serve in a variety of initiatives that would benefit Tempe and Phoenix and to gain exposure to the significant work of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership centers in each of the thirteen federal departments where they exist.

So far, this has given Ben and the University opportunities to work on issues of sustainability with leaders from the EPA. They are taking a leadership role in the Global Institute of Sustainability Festival in February which will be held on campus. A representative from the EPA Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center will participate in this event.

3C has also tapped into the Department of Education’s initiative “Together for Tomorrow.” This initiative encourages churches and faith-based organizations to partner with schools in a variety of ways that includes tutoring and mentoring.

Ben encourages students to step into the front lines of fighting poverty and homelessness. Eleven small groups of students and faculty are working with the Open Table to come alongside the homeless and the poor.

These shared initiatives that fall under The President’s Interfaith and Community Campus Challenge are engaging community and campus in what Ben calls, “Shared Solutions for the Common Good.” Here’s a short (3:45 minutes) video where Ben tells about this important work that contributes to community transformation.