Jeremiah 29:7, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
Our hope is for churches and Christians to seek the flourishing of our city. We want to see the Kingdom of God impact individuals, families, businesses, schools, and our entire city.
In order for us to see impact in the areas of education, justice, and family in Atlanta, it's going to take partnerships and multi-sector collaboration across the 3 primary sectors of society: public, private and social. Our dream and vision is to be initiators, in our communities and city, for partnerships between these sectors of society: Public sector (i.e. goods and services provided by the government), Private sector (i.e. "for profit" businesses), and Social sector (i.e. non-profit organizations).
"CHANNELS OF CULTURAL INFLUENCE"
Within each of these 3 sectors, there are at least 8 primary "Channels of Cultural Influence," or places of employment, commerce, and social service in which most every citizen finds their interest and employment. These channels include: Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Government, Healthcare, Legal/Judicial, Media, and Non-Profits. You may notice that Church is not listed as one of the channels, and that's because Christians (i.e. the Church) exist throughout every channel. Our hope is that each of these channels that span the private, public, and social sectors, would undergo renewal. As one author puts it, "We urge the restoration of all the nouns - not only the persons, but also places and things - in that channel."
This "renewal" should not be confused with "taking over" cities and communities. Rather, in a posture of service that involves our vocations, we want to bless the communities where we live, work, and play. Part of our calling as churches, is to equip and empower Christians to use their passions, gifts, creative energy and skills, within their particular channel of cultural influence, to glorify God and help communities throughout Atlanta flourish.
We believe there is a correlation between the health of each channel and the health of the city and its communities. When different channels of cultural influence cooperate together towards a shared goal, then you have multi-sector collaboration that benefits everyone. This kind of collaboration can work toward the renewal and restoration of cities like Atlanta.
A great way to engage the city and collaborate among multiple churches and sectors is to observe together - with compassionate eyes and listening ears - the city and community around you. This involves research. One of the best ways to know how to serve a city is to study a city, in community with others. City and community research, or City Inquiry, requires great patience, passionate engagement, and a steadfast willingness to learn everything there is to know about the city or community in which you live, work, and play, so that you can better love and serve that community.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to community research. And by research, we do not mean complicated, academic, armchair analysis. Rather, what is needed is a practical, learn-as-you-go approach that is flexible and adaptable to your context. Additionally, a good approach to city and community research should help the Church to cultivate relationships and involve the community's residents and stakeholders in the process.
Click here for a few ways to get started on researching your city or community. For more information about how your church and churches in your particular municipality can participate in a community research study, please contact Travis Vaughn via email or at 678.405.2148.
For additional resources on this subject, click here.