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 email@example.com. To connect about leadership development email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Third in the series on 30 Actions and Ideas that Create Good Cities)
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 would be in the evangelism cup and two would be in the discipleship cup.”
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.
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.
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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- They bring the “whole Church” together – – all denominations, races, sizes, socio-economic levels, professions are a clear expression of Christian unity.
- They tell the “whole Church, whole Gospel, whole city” story.
- They create new levels of relationships
- They expose the masses to the real needs of the city and connect those needs to our Christian faith.
- They coordinate the work of the body of Christ.
- They build a collaborative spirit that can lead to collective impact.
- They create a shared vision for the city and give everyone a common language.
- They uncover additional resources that you might not have otherwise known about.
- They encourage diligent servants; they let them know that there are others who care…that they’re not the only ones.
- They spark relationships between diverse people who care about the same things leading to shared best practices, coordination, and/or collaboration.
- They can be used to equip people with best practices, training, or other resources.
- They can be used to develop shared measurements for impact by finding out what everyone’s already doing, collecting stories, etc.
- They raise awareness of what you’re doing and your organizations values.
- They make an almost incomprehensibly big vision and mission very tangible.
- 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!
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.
A Place Where Collaboration is Born
Catalyst is a monthly gathering of leaders and influencers in the Modesto area who believe they can make the biggest difference in their community by collaborating and working together! This Christian faith-based group is an outgrowth of the City Ministry Network (CMN) and meets monthly with about a hundred leaders at CrossPoint Church.
Marvin Jacobo, the CMN Executive Director says “We welcome anyone to come and contribute. Our primary audiences are leaders, team members and volunteers in Nonprofits and Churches. There is also a focus on leaders in Education, Business, Media, Government, Neighborhoods & the Arts (many of whom are active in nonprofits and churches).” These collaborations often result in collective impact in key areas of city life.
I recently visited Modesto to evaluate the impact of the 2011 GoodCities Engagement/Exploration Process known as the Community Leadership Survey. I interviewed twenty leaders who were either interviewed or were interviewers in this process. Most reported that following this work, the Christian Ministry Network was strengthened as a leadership organization that gives birth to collaborative work in Modesto around critical issues. Catalyst Modesto has become one of their primary monthly meetings where Christian Collaborations are birthed or accelerated. Below is a list of some of the organizations/movements that have taken hold.
- Love Modesto
- Love Your Neighborhood
- Pray Modesto
- Recovery Modesto
- The Jobs Cohort
CMN has become known as a leadership group that is in touch with the people and issues of Modesto. The regular meetings of Catalyst let people know that they are commited to facilitating collaborations that will further the peace and prosperity of people in the city (Jer. 29:7) while pursuing a John 17 vision for Christian unity. This can happen in your city, too! Download our Top Ten Books List on City Transformation and to learn more about the movement. Contact Glenn@goodcities.net for more information about how GoodCities can help you take the next steps on this journey.
On April 30 and May 1, I was a speaker at the Gather Global Conference in London at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity founded by John Stott. My presentation was on the expansion of Christian city movements internationally. What interested me, however, was what I was hearing in the many presentations from gospel movement leaders involved with purposeful church unity movements in cities and communities throughout England.
The opening report came from Roger Sutton (in photo at the right), the leader of Gather UK, who hails from Manchester and works with the Evangelical Alliance. He told of the growth of Christian unity movements in England to the point where there are over 100 such movements today including over 20 in London.
There has been keen interest in these movements since the economic crash of 2008 and the British government’s decision to institute austerity measures rather than expand their currency as we have done in the U.S. The austerity plan meant that the British welfare system would be cut back substantially. For instance, the city government of Manchester has announced a second straight year of £80 million cuts.
At the same time, local church leaders have boldly stepped forward after years of developing a sense of church unity in pastors’ prayer groups to offer the volunteers of their church to serve their communities. Roger said that as they offered to serve the poor in cities, their focused collaboration was helped along by local governments that asked for one phone number to call when they have a need.
The church is inherently decentralized and, in many cases, this has made it hard for congregations to serve together. However, in England, once the government and pastors confronted the new reality, they recognized that decentralized missional congregations were a strength offering many points of service in neighborhoods throughout cities and communities.
The government went two steps further to assist in the transition. First, they began to offer congregations micro-grants of £500-£1,500 through intermediary groups like the Cinnamon Network. This network offers motivational videos and concrete plans for churches to initate and strengthen volunteer mobilization to serve people in their city or community. (Pictured left: Musician Andy Flannagan led worship at the Gather Global Conference.)
Second, local governments have been transferring assets to community organizations at greatly reduced prices. The Localism Act of 2011 recognized that local “…councils are facing intense financial pressure, resulting in the need to maximise the use of publicly-owned land and buildings, or dispose of them and their associated costs, wherever possible.” This has opened the door to community groups such as church coalitions being able to purchase or in some cases being given community centers, libraries, and other community assets provided that they will engage volunteers or staff to provide enhanced services to the community.
This combination of the willingness of missional churches to engage their members in service and the ownership of facilities to serve their communities more effectively is contributing to a revival of faith in churches across England. The stories are numerous and many can be accessed through articles and videos on the www.wegather.co.uk web site.
I was greatly encouraged by the stories I heard in London. In the next several blogs, I’ll share more stories and videos from my trip to England. Also, some of you will be happy to know that we are working to bring some these leaders to our City Advance Meetings in New York City October 21-22 including Andy Flannagan to lead worship. I hope to see you there!
(Pictured below: the sign outside the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where the Gather Global Conference was held.)
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.
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.
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.