Wednesday, July 21, 2010

casting shadows on the city

I remember saying it as I stood atop the World Trade Center in New York City (obviously pre-9/11), breathless at the massive  "towers of steel," and the masses of people in my cinemascope view.

I remember thinking it as I stood on a hill overlooking Asuncion, Paraguay
(overshadowed by a satanic statue, see that story: "You too can pastor the city").

I can't forget praying it in downtown Lima, Peru, where (after two harrowing taxi rides across endless urban landscape),we were invited to co-host a meeting with a senator on urban awakenings, and into an AIDs victims home to pray for his healing (video).

I recall proclaiming it from the literal Mt.Zion, as I took in the hushed and holy city of Jerusalem on Yom Kippur

The phrase seems to involuntarily arise within me until I have to make it official by vocalizing it:

"I love the city!"

More importantly, God loves the city.

Whether you imagine your future ministry in a city of millions, or in an unincorporated village...there is untold value in learning all you can about
God's heart for the city, and building a theology of the city, and of urban ministry.

This photo of me was taken in my own city of half a million: Fresno, California.
The cityscape behind me is fake, but the shadow you see me casting on the city is a symbol of something quite real.

We all cast shadows of the Spirit's influence on our city.
(see this post and video: "City Shadows".)

But we don't always take time to work out a theology of how we do so.

Thus this weekend class, and website :
"Theology of the City/Theology of Urban Ministry.

About that title...don't worry: It won't be all theological/theoretical.
We will have a time interacting with practical practitioners and prophetic pioneers of urban ministry.
We might even venture deeper into the city than our rather rural campus allows us.

Actually, all theology is practical..if done well.
Or, as someone has said,
"Nothing is more practical than theory, and nothing is more theoretical than practice."

Congratulations on those of you who are taking this as their last class before graduation!
This is also a good course to take as your first LABI class, or to invite your fiends to audit.

I invite you be inspired by reading/watching here about one exciting urban ministry I love to visit, Bethlehem Bible College
(yes, that Bethlehem, that's why--as you can see here, they have bullet holes in their sign).

I will be adding resources to this website soon, but for now, see the
pre-class assignments at right, and be praying for God to use our class...and our cities...for Kingdom purposes.

In the meantime here is video of our textbook author, making his case for
the importance of cities.  Ray Bakke is a prophetic pioneer  in urban ministry...he casts a large shadow, in other words.
Rest in its shade for  ten minutes, and you'll be ready for class:

Casting shadows,