By Dennae Pierre
In October, at The Gospel & Our Cities conference, City to City announced the beginning of City to City North America. Since 2001, City to City has worked around the globe to help cities on six different continents plant gospel-centered churches. At a time when North America faces a rapidly changing landscape, the question emerged as to how City to City might take what we have learned from our sister churches around the world and help strengthen and equip North American cities to proclaim and faithfully live out the gospel in our cities.
The Spirit has been at work using many denominations, church-planting networks, pastors from various traditions, seminaries and nonprofits to help sanctify, strengthen and equip the church in North America. As City to City has begun to convene leaders from across North America, we have asked what we might do together. How might we pray and ask God to work in each of our cities to continue to draw pastors and leaders across traditions around a common vision to see the good news of Jesus as central to all that we do? How does this not remain simply a vision but become an embodied reality so that the churches across our cities flourish and God’s people actively contribute to the flourishing of our cities?
Speakers at the conference cast a vision for that type of movement. Tim Keller laid out the beginning of what he called his “manifesto” for the North American church and challenged us to do the work together to flesh out what it means in our context. Here are just a few quotes from other speakers to give you a taste of the conference:
“When we die, our plans, our policies, and our panaceas die with us. We humans are beset by a disease of temporality. We are timed-bound creatures. Death-eligible persons. Perishable beings. And yet people everywhere and every language and every ethnicity and of all cultures are all groping and grasping in the darkness for something that lasts forever.”
“Love is evidence of the work of the Spirit in our lives. It has eternal significance. The way we love is evidence of whether or not we know God.”
“We believe when the gospel detonates, lives are transformed, communities are transformed, cultures are renewed. So what we do at City to City, we follow the thread of where the gospel is exploding in our cities, and we want to join that, and we want to bring the part of our story that enriches your story. And that thread has led us to discover incredible gospel-empowered ministries throughout the cities. And that’s what we do at City to City. We discover them. We’re not the heroes.”
This vision is not a vision that any single pastor, leader, nonprofit or denomination can bring about. It is something that only God can do. We believe that if God moves in North America, it will be through his entire body, his entire church. Our prayer is that the Spirit might humble each of us and give us wisdom to know how best to serve one another and partner together so that the church might be strengthened and our witness to the good news of Jesus will shine brighter. Please join us in praying.
Dennae is the executive director of Surge, a movement of local churches in Phoenix, and serves on the leadership team of City to City North America. She helped plant Roosevelt Community Church with her husband, Vermon, who is the lead pastor. They have four children.