Archive for the category “Cities”

A hope-filled future for our cities

In the latest episode of our God’s Revolution podcast, we’re talking with Glenn Barth, president and CEO of Good Cities, about how we can help cities experience a future filled with hope.

Good Cities is a community development initiative that advances the gospel of the Kingdom by working with local leaders toward the common good of the city. The mission of Good Cities is to discover, support, and serve vibrant city movements by building processes that create good cities.

Our good friend Reggie McNeal works alongside Glenn in helping community leaders discover the power and collective impact of collaboration. Using the Good City tools, church leaders can help their communities experience God’s common grace in the redemptive features a city has to offer, which in turn leads to the opportunity for people to experience God’s salvation and a future filled with hope.

To listen to the episode, click here.

At-risk children central to church’s Gospel task

city lifeTobin Perry writes at Baptist Press about City Life Church in Wichita, Kansas, which pursues a vision of seeing the gospel “transform everything — ourselves, our church, our city and the world.”

… It begins in Wichita, where more than 600,000 people live in the metro area. [The church’s website says] “We believe church-planting can reach the darkest corners of our city for Christ. City Life is committed to … send out gospel-driven, city-focused people to declare and demonstrate the gospel to the people of our city.”

At-risk children are a key part of that commitment, with at least 50 City Life members involved in various aspects of outreach to families in crisis; 15 families are either licensed for foster care or in the process of being licensed.

Whether bringing children from troubled families into their homes or mentoring broken families toward healing, church planter Casey Casamento acknowledged it’s tough and often messy work.

Some parents want little to do with mentoring. Others struggle to make changes that will lead to their children’s return.

“We care for their children, but we also share the love of Christ with their families and extended families,” Casamento said. Referencing a 19-year-old man whose child was put into the care of a church family, Casamento said both the man and his mother now attend City Life Church.

“Ultimately, we do this for the sake of the Gospel,” said Casamento, a Wichita native. “We exist to bring glory to God and for the good of our city.”

Casamento started City Life Church in 2011 after 12 years in youth ministry, the last six in Wichita. His involvement in local community groups opened his eyes to the city’s physical and spiritual needs.

“I didn’t know what that burden meant back then, but I just knew that I had a huge burden for Wichita,” Casamento said. “So when I felt led to plant a church, I knew that it was in this city.”

Wichita, which has grown by nearly 12 percent since 2000, isn’t hostile to the Gospel. But with more than half of the residents uninvolved in any religious group, Casamento sees a high level of spiritual apathy.

“We have to go to them and build relationships with people in the city,” he said. “It takes time to reach someone for Christ. They need to trust you and see that you love them.”

In planting the church, Casamento developed a core team with weekly vision meetings and Bible studies. City Life now averages between 400 and 500 in attendance and has baptized 100 in two years.

The church now meets in the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita. Casamento believes the iconic location has been a draw for people who wouldn’t normally attend church. But the church’s main focus isn’t where it meets but mobilizing members to become missionaries where they live.

“Our vision is for those in our church to understand that we have the Gospel and now we have a responsibility to carry that Gospel out into our city — to exemplify the Gospel through good deeds, to be — as it says in Matthew 6 – ‘a city on the hill,'” Casamento said. “But it’s also to communicate the Gospel, to know that God is leading us and calling us to present His good news to everyone.”

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Read the full text of this article by clicking here.

Learn how to help neglected neighbors, communities and children through the North American Mission Board by clicking here.

Stronger families for a transformed community

trentonA 43-year-old pastor in Trenton, N.J., has a bold vision for transforming his congregation’s neighborhood — a blighted section of the city plagued by abandoned houses, boarded-up buildings and empty lots. Darrell L. Armstrong wants to create a nexus of homes, businesses and life-skills initiatives to tackle the problem of broken families and ruined community.

Wendy Plump writes for The Times of Trenton:

“We bought that piece of property, we bought a property on this street, we bought what used to be a bar along the greenway,” says Armstrong, pointing out the parcels. “I want to create a campus environment that says, ‘We’re gonna’ change this community house by house, block by block.’

“And if we change this little part of the world and another mosque or church or synagogue changes that part, it multiplies itself. And then you have communities that are not gun-infested, that are not drug-trafficked. If I can create healthier communities by addressing it family by family, and create good housing stock and job opportunities, well, that’s one of the ways you fix it.

“But if I live in a community that’s full of abandoned houses and broken down cars, then that’s going to shape how I think about my community and myself.” …

darrell armstrongArmstrong was born in 1968 in South Central Los Angeles to a 15-year-old single mother who later became addicted to drugs and was unable to raise him. After witnessing the brutal scalding of a younger brother at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, the young Darrell was taken into the foster care system for three years. Eventually he lived with his maternal grandfather. …

I’m an example of someone else’s investment. And if we can look at the fact that, here’s what true authentic investment can bring if we all do it, then the question is, why don’t we all do it? Can we all do more of it?”

To that end Armstrong is shepherding a new program through his congregation based on baby blessings. Similar to christenings and bar mitzvahs, blessings take place when a child is about a year old and welcomes them formally into the church fold. Prior to those occasions, Armstrong is enrolling parents in an eight-session program designed to focus attention on the scale of their responsibility.

It will begin with a pastoral visit to the home of the new parents followed by sessions on baby and young child development, and strengthened through connections with other young mothers in the congregation who can provide companionship and support.

“Our society doesn’t value prevention,” says Armstrong. “I want to address the problems that children face before they become tragedies. That’s my hope. That’s what I’m driving towards. How do I keep families intact? How do I keep babies from being dropped in a tub of scalding water?

“The only way I can do that is by making families stronger. And the only way you can make them stronger is to give them the resources they need so they can be stronger.

“Every family is going to meet crises and stress. It is how we meet those points of stress before they become crises. So I am evangelical now about prevention. The only way you can prevent something is by strengthening something.”

Read the full text of this interesting article by clicking here.

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