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.

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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.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

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