What is God’s (and your) vision for the city? This question perhaps sums up the Urban Nation conference (hosted by Tearfund, IBI and iMAP)a couple of weeks ago. Over the course of the day various speakers explored what this looks like in different contexts – from creating community by developing a theology of hope based on children, justice, community and beauty (Joe Donnelly) to making the most of our relational networks to influence the influencers.
It was inspiring and encouraging to be united with people from churches across the city, coming together to wrestle with how we can ‘seek the good of the city’. Keynote speaker Joel Edwards of the Micah Network left us with plenty of questions to ponder such as:
How do our church budgets reflect the social needs of our area?
What is the difference between a church coexisting with a community and a church penetrating and transforming a community?
Do we have a theology of well-being that goes beyond Jesus sorting out your problems?
For me the lasting challenge was his comment that
“inner city mission can only happen through partnership.”
My experience of church has always been that of tending to go it alone but if we truly want to seek the good of the community God has placed us in – who do we need to partner with to make an impact? Is there any point starting something new when another voluntary organisation is doing the same thing?