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E-zine ARTICLE     #049


    --->NPPNote: This article is a preview of some of our focus at the City Impact Roundtable gathering in Dallas, October 23-25, 2002. It is not too late to register for, what some consider to be, the most diverse meeting of city reachers in North America. Join us and judge for yourself!  (Registration information at the bottom of this emessage)

 

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#049
    
TO THE WHOLE “CITY”
    by Adam Shields adam@cbcdc.com
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…To the Whole City
 
Language and the Word “City” in the City Reaching Movement

 
Problem
 

   City Impact Roundtable has used “The whole Church bringing the whole Gospel to the whole City” as a shorthand version of our purpose.  Traditionally the “whole Church” has been very difficult to understand and actualize because of differences in theology, practical problems with understanding of what the church is and is about, and political problems within the “Church” that prevents parts of the church from acknowledging other parts of the church.  The “whole Gospel” has a bit more clarity.  

    Recent statements and historical creeds have affirmed that the “Gospel” is all encompassing in scope.  The Lausanne Covenant and the Manila Manifesto speak of salvation not only of individuals but of institutions and regeneration not only in the next world but also in this world.  The specifics of this “whole Gospel” are as difficult as the “whole Church” but theoretically there is a basic agreement as to the fact that there is a “whole Gospel.”

    The “whole City” is similarly difficult for CIR and others to conceive.  There are three basic problems with understanding the “whole City.”  The first is a geographical problem.  In common usage the word city has specific boundaries.  You can point to a spot on the ground that divides one city from another or “the city” from “not the city.”  If we use the actual word “City” are we alienating the suburbs?  

    This is complicated by the second problem; the fact that the church in general and the Evangelical church in particular has turned its back on “the City.”  The second problem is a mission problem.  With the rise of Protestantism, especially the American volunteerism style of Protestantism, the church began concentrating on holding itself up not against the world or as a light to a specific area, but against the other “Churches” that were around it and as a light to the “Church.”  With the loss of the conception of the parish the local church began to look to people that were like themselves, in theological understanding, in socioeconomic status, and in race and culture.  

    This has been accentuated by the increasing diversity of the world.  As cities grew and travel increased people became more aware differences between themselves and the “other.”  A traditional conception of the parish required that all people within a specific geography be acknowledge and ministered to by the local church.  While this has likely never been practiced completely, the modern church is as far from the idea of a parish as it has likely ever been.  Without a conception of a parish, the whole church can not comprehend the “whole City” because most local churches do not feel responsible for a specific group of people let alone a specific area.

    The third problem of understanding the “whole City” is a very practical one.  Many of our cities have populations that number in the millions or at least the hundreds of thousands.  The complexity of the city and the diversity of its peoples, churches, ministries and needs boggles the mind.  All people have a limit to the number of people that they can personally know and relate to.  If this is the case, then how can we as Christians love and minister to the “whole City?”  Using Chicago as an example, the city of Chicago has approximately 3 million people, with approximately 2900 churches.  The surrounding area has more than 250 separate municipalities with more then 7000 additional churches and an additional 5.5 million people.  These people live in an area that is approximately 3600 square miles.  The area is a single economic and media unit.  However it is unlikely that a pastor and congregation in Zion, IL (far northeast) will ever closely relate to a pastor and congregation in Chicago Heights (far southeast).  Many other areas of the country have similar problems that vary only in scale, but not in difficulty.  

 

Possible Uses of the word City
 

   CIR members and others interested in “City ministry” use the word “City” in a variety of ways.  Paul Dozeman uses “City” in the following way for his newsletter City View, “City is used as a generic term to define an area with a natural boundary. ZIP codes, school districts, city limits, wards, neighborhood associations, or rural routes can all be considered “cities” in this context.”  By this definition, any area or group of areas can be called a “City.”  The strengths of this usage is its flexibility.  The definition is self-imposed and can be edited with any need.  Unfortunately this is also its weakness.  Outsiders will usually not understand the definition without education.  It will also be a cause for debate among the members of the group, wanting to include one area and exclude another.  

    Denis Fuqua has written several articles about theChurch of the City.”  In his article The Third Paradigm of Ministry he has the following quote, “Geography was the only boundary the New Testament writers allowed in the Church.  When the Church of the New Testament took any steps to be identified on a foundation other than that of geography, Paul slapped them on the wrist and told them to stop it!  (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-9; 12:12-26).”

    Fuqua continue in this article to describe the three possible options for the use of Church in the New Testament.  The first option is the “City” church, i.e. the church of Jerusalem .  The second option is the regional option, i.e. the church of Asia or Judea.   The final option for describing a church is a household, i.e. the church at the home of Nympha.   This final option is most like our current usage of church.  However, it is the first two uses of the word "church" that are the most prevalent in the New Testament.

    If we rediscover the use of the word church as Fuqua posits then we would also be require to rediscover the geographical references as well.  The advantages of this “Biblical” language choice are is the variety of language used to describe different sizes of geography.  While it is not specific (Is Chicago a region or city? Should Chicago’s city reaching movement change its name to “One Great Region”?), it gives the ability for organizing the church into three realms of work while still keeping a clear view of each of the others.  The problem with this variety of language is that education is still required to help newcomers to understand our definitions.

    At some point we have to look at the dictionary to decide the “official” meaning of the word “city.”  According to Webster’s  there are three definitions for city: 1) A large town, 2) A corporate town; in the United States, a town or collective body of inhabitants, incorporated and governed by a mayor and aldermen or a city council consisting of a board of aldermen and a common council ; 3) The collective body of citizens, or inhabitants of a city.  

    These definitions do not allow for the crossing of incorporated boundaries.  While this is clear, it does separate.  One problem in the US Church is the geographic split between racial and ethnic groups.  If this definition of city is used it may give license to discrimination, overt or not.

 

Toward a ‘Solution’
 

   There are no easy solutions in language problems.  The beauty and horror of postmodernism and the English language is that there is no final and complete solutions.  The solution for your area will likely be different from the solution of another area.  The first step is to have a discussion with your constituents to determine if there is a language gap.  This will be important not only for the naming of city reaching projects but also the language that is used to communicate these projects.  If there is a language gap then grace needs to be used.  What groups are feeling alienated by the variety of language?  What groups have traditionally held the “power” in the area?  Should these “powerful” groups be allowed to make the decision because of their ability to bring others to their understanding?  Or should the “weaker” groups be held up with more care in order to bring about reconciliation?  When there is a language gap there will likely be more than just two different language understandings and these understandings often will not split down according to easily understood lines of difference.

___________________

    I would love to hear your thoughts about the language that we use to describe geography within city reaching movement.  Please email me at adam@cbcdc.com


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City Impact Roundtable  brings together citywide leadership from metros and towns across the nation. Prayer mobilizers. Pastors with a vision for the Church in their community. Network facilitators. Associational executives ... To pray for our cities, seek the mind of Christ for wisdom and strategy, and to find new relationships and begin kingdom partnerships.

CIR begins Wednesday at 1:00pm (October 23, 2002):

    € Roundtable response to research on strategic issues facing our city reaching movements

    * City Stories of how God is guiding and growing our city transformation efforts

    € Working Group reports & updates:
       Transformation Process - theology, communication process, and story collection of city transformation basis
        Social Action - Making poverty and injustice a high value of the city-reaching process.
        Theology/Definition - Constructing a working, practical theology /vocabulary  of city reaching.
       Prayer
        Expanding the Roundtable - Seeking  comprehensive representation of the Body of Christ; expanding especially ethnic and gender participation
        Outcomes and Measurements -What outcomes are important to city reaching and how can they be measured?
        New Generations: -Researching youth movements in city reaching and inviting them to the table.
 
   €.A special Reception for those new to City Impact Roundtable plus Friday morning breakouts for veterans, rookies, and national leaders.

City Impact Roundtable  also participates in the Mission America Annual Meeting which allows us to build relationships and partnerships with leadership from 80+ denominations, 75 ministry networks and over 300 servant-ministries.  The Mission America Annual Meeting keynote addresses include:

    *State of Our Coalition by Paul Cedar – What are the signs of our working together for the Gospel?
    *State of Our Culture by Leith Anderson – What must we know about our society and communities?
    *State of Our Church by George Otis – What is God doing in and through the Church?
    *State of Our Collaboration by the participants – What is God calling us to do? In and through our ministries? Our partnerships?

Discussion and prayer follow each major address ... Except for the final session, which will be completely devoted to the feedback of those present. Together, we set direction for the future.

You will also participate in a new wave of the Lighthouse Movement at a delicious and entertaining Banquet!

City Impact Roundtable  -  building on a strong Spring, 2002 meeting, promises to take you and the city reaching movement several steps forward.  Register through the Mission America website (also see below):
    http://www.missionamerica.org


Mission America
invites its coalition partners to Dallas, Texas for its 7th Annual Meeting, October 23-25, 2002.
The Annual Meeting begins on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:00 pm with the opening plenary session, and concludes on Friday, October 25 at 12 noon. Some networks/groups may schedule meetings before or following Annual Meeting sessions.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel offers a superb meeting venue situated in beautiful North Dallas, just 12 miles from Love Field and 15 miles from DFW International Airport. Spacious ballroom and meeting rooms are centrally located on the 2nd floor convention level. Enjoy wonderful dining, exercise room, outdoor pool with Texas-size jacuzzi, gift shop and room service.

Freshly appointed guest rooms include work desks and data port computer connections. Special Mission America rate of $109 per night. Located just one mile from the Galleria, one of Dallas' favorite shopping malls - enjoy shuttle service from the hotel's front door.

REGISTER IN 2 EASY STEPS!

1) Register
for the Annual Meeting by calling 760/ 200-2707 or return your completed registration form. Early-bird rate of $150 is available until September 30, 2002.  Regular rate after 9/30 is $185.  Includes lunch & dinner Thursday. Nonrefundable registration fees are transferable within your organization.

2) Reserve your lodging at the Crowne Plaza North Dallas Hotel by calling 972-980-8877. Ask for the the special Mission America rate of $109 per night single occupancy.
Title ________  Name _____________________________________________________________
Ministry Name ___________________________________________________________________
Mailing Address _________________________________________________________________
City _______________________________________  State __________  Zip _________________
Phone ____________________  Fax ____________________ Email _______________________

 __  I plan to participate in the City Impact Roundtable (CIR) sessions.

Early-bird registration fee of $150 due by September 30,  $185 after 9/30.  Does not include lodging.
   ____ I have enclosed my check payment payable to Mission America.
    ____ Please bill my credit card for registration amount:   ___ Visa       ___ M C       ___ Am Ex
               Card Number ____________________________________________  Exp Date ______________
               Signature Authorization ___________________________________________________________

Please mail completed form & payment to Mission America, PO Box 13930, Palm Desert, CA 92255
or fax completed form (with credit card payment) to 760/ 200-8837  Questions? Call 760/ 200-2707




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