Cityreaching 101: Essentials of Community Transformation
“I’m excited to announce the publication of my new book Transformation: What is God doing and how do we join in? about what I see God doing through his church to transform communities, cities and countries.” Matt Bird
Community, city and country transformation is led by people who pioneer rather than people who settle. As the Apple advert said, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
The kind of faith that brings about transformation is not safe and domesticated it is wild and adventurous. Abraham, even at his ripe age, was called by God to pack up his home and set off on an adventure. God promised him great things but didn’t tell him where he was going or how he was going to get there (Genesis 12). It was a massive faith adventure. Whilst we might feel settled and comfortable right now there is always the possibility that God may call us, whatever our age, to make changes that change our world and change the world.
There is always the temptation to domesticate our faith, to make it safe and comfortable, by constantly reducing and removing risks. Our faith can become de-risked by living within what we know we can do, by setting goals we know we can achieve and by living within the resources we know we have. The danger is then that our faith reaches a point where it is no longer faith at all because we have removed any uncertainly about what might happen and therefore the need for reliance on God. It’s when we step beyond our own knowledge, our own experience and our own ability that we know that what is happening is God!
In this book I wanted to ask a double barrelled question, “What is God doing and how do we join in?” In each chapter I have highlighted something that I think God is doing to bring about transformation and asked questions about how we can get involved:
1. De-privatising faith – Where is God moving his people to engage in civic life?
2. God’s transformation strategy – Where is God leading his people to unconditionally and sacrificially love others?
3. Stronger together – Where is God helping his Church to find one another and recognise the strength they have as one rather than as many?
4. Prayer rising – Where is God growing the volume and intensity of prayer for transformation?
5. Social action – Where is God increasing his people’s social consciousness and social action to help those people most at need?
6. Cultural change – Where is God leading his people to view their work as worship, and their workplace as the context for his transformation?
7. Talking Jesus – Where is God growing his people’s confidence to be bold and courageous to talk about Jesus to others?
8. Good community – Where is God developing a vision for what change and transformation look like?
9. Participative society – Where is God building nations of people with a great commitment to social responsibility?
10. Numbers speak louder than words – Where is God helping his Church speak in numbers as well as stories in order to communicate the value of what it does?
11. Salt and pepper – Where is God building multi-ethnic relationships to increase diversity?
12. Distinctive faiths – Where is God building true and honest relationships between followers of Jesus and people of other faiths?
13. Outrageous generosity – Where is God leading people to be ultra-generous with their finances and resources?
14. Unlikely relationships – Where is God connecting unlikely people in order to do something new?
All pioneers and adventurers need to understand the times they are living in and have a sense of their direction of travel. I pray that these fourteen indicators, where I sense there is holy energy, will help you understand the times and provide a sense of direction. They are like the sensitive needle of a compass, which is constantly changing and adjusting to point you in the direction of true north.
There are a number of ways that you can use these fourteen indicators, they could include:
- Personal reflection
- Small group discussion
- Leadership team study
- Sunday talks
- Marketplace groups
What single step could you take today to use this book to help yourself and others take a further step to join what God is doing? Exercise adventurous faith rather than a domesticated faith and see what more God may do in you, through you, and because of you.