You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 1

“The city” is an emerging phrase that seems to be embraced by a growing number of Christians. I intentionally say they are embracing the phrase, because I do not think that all are actually embracing the city, but rather they are embracing the idea of embracing the city.

I think that the song “God of this City” by Bluetree (sung here by Chris Tomlin) is a great powerful song that gets at the longing– Christians want to embrace, engage, serve, and reach cities. Fair enough. It is a good thing.

As one who grew up on Long Island outside NYC and planted my first church in Buffalo among the urban poor, I love the concept of “city reaching.” Yet, I am convinced that you cannot love a city if you do not know a city.

Now, full disclosure, I am biased. I run a research firm and we do city research, so you should be aware of that. I run a research firm because I believe that we need to know so we can engage.

Over the next few weeks I plan to do a series on city KNOWING related to city REACHING. I will draw from several sources (and feel free to suggest other models as well). First, I will use some examples from the study we did in Austin, TX for the pastors and churches there. Second, I will draw some on some research I’ve done on San Diego and Baltimore. Third, I will point to some ethno-linguistic research on people groups in cities. Finally, I will actually walk through a report on church planting in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore corridor. These will be done concurrently rather than consequentially, because the church planting study is going to be released here at the blog for you to consider and discuss and I will have more posts about that than the others.

My hope is that this will generate some ideas about how you might do city research AND encourage you to learn more about your context to be faithful in God’s mission there.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

Read more from Ed here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.