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Pastoring our cities together

Pastoring our cities together

Pastoring our cities together

27 August 2019

Photo: Adi Goldstein

By Greig Whittaker

God is always doing a new thing. His Kingdom is always gloriously advancing into new ways of being, expressing and reaching out. Are we open to God’s changes? Do we want to be involved?

Amazing things are happening all over the world through citywide gospel movements of unity. God is working beyond our wildest dreams through ordinary people. It’s a change from flock-focused ministry to serving a city.

What is clear is that no one person has the skills, the resources or the vision to see and engage with all that God is doing.

We cannot live in isolation, with ‘go it alone’ thinking. We must look to become one body functioning together, expressing our gifting, resources and capacity.

What is critical is relational unity of trust, love and prayer. The strategic implementation of a citywide movement happens at the speed of trust that exists between the leaders.

It is a critical focus for church pastors (officers) to take responsibility for being unified relationally in genuine care and trust. This is not a ‘fit in if I can’.

It must be a clear and committed intention that is desired, scheduled and honoured. In this move the pastors are no longer only responsible for the doing.

It’s not up to them to carry the weight of citywide transformation. They are responsible to lay the unity foundation of trust.

Pastors are responsible to release, resource, keep accountable to outcomes and encourage outreach from their churches into various spheres of community life.

Unity, trust and prayer are the foundation stones. First is the release of a citywide prayer movement. Then those who are passionate in streams of engagement – business, youth, social justice, arts – need to be released.

It is through the release of the body of Christ into these streams of engagement that the city begins to be influenced by Kingdom people living out and expressing their faith.

Only through a unified effort will the Church be able to influence the culture. Alone there is no possibility to be the shaping influence of God’s design. This is no sprint.

This move of God requires a generational approach. It is not a fad for today; it is a restructuring of how we engage in ministry. It’s actually what The Salvation Army is all about.

Maybe watch and share this video, which I think captures a big part of the story.

A few of the key learnings that may help you include:

1. God would prefer that we do it together and in humility. It’s bigger (the issues) than me; we need to be a we. The challenges can unify us, but a vision of unity is the first step. Don’t unite to deal with the issues; have a vision of unity and then deal with the issues.

2. Unity is not a professional conversation; it’s a personal conversation. You can only proceed at the speed of trust. Complex problems are sometimes solved by simple answers – relationships and space of being together. There is nothing more important than being together, often, regularly.

3. Ownership is critical. It is owned by all – it’s nobody’s thing, it’s everybody’s thing. What people design together they own together.

4. It’s not only shared activities but shared outcomes. How can we see increased faith, hope and love in our city? We must measure what we do.

5. What is the condition of the city? Understanding your city becomes key when unity has been established. It must be a critical conversation, not a felt story. It starts with you. Don’t leave this for someone else. Make a start today by beginning the conversation in your corps, your town, your city.

Greig Whittaker is a Team Leader at Ryde Corps in Sydney.


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