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#FridayReads: “Thriving in the City: A Guide to Sustainable Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor” By T. Aaron Smith

August 25, 2016

T. Aaron Smith is not only the author of two books but has also led the Servant Partners team in the Philippines, directed the Transformational Urban Leadership Program at Asia Theological Seminary in Manila, and served as an instructor in the Servant Partners Global Urban Training School. Smith earned a Masters of Divinity from Asian Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Bakke Graduate School in Seattle. Today he and his family have dedicated their lives to serving among the urban poor in Manila, Philippines.

In His book, Thriving in the City: A Guide to Sustainable Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor, Smith helps answer the questions “what does it mean to live in an urban poor slum or inner city for twenty years” and “What does it take to raise a family there?” He uses his own history of 12 years living in Manila, Philippines, as well as that of 100 other leaders who have devoted their lives to work, live and raise families within urban poor communities. If you have a desire to learn more about these unique challenges, pick up Smith’s book today.

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#FridayReads: "Thriving in the City: A Guide to Sustainable Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor" By T. Aaron Smith

August 25, 2016

T. Aaron Smith is not only the author of two books but has also led the Servant Partners team in the Philippines, directed the Transformational Urban Leadership Program at Asia Theological Seminary in Manila, and served as an instructor in the Servant Partners Global Urban Training School. Smith earned a Masters of Divinity from Asian Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Bakke Graduate School in Seattle. Today he and his family have dedicated their lives to serving among the urban poor in Manila, Philippines.

In His book, Thriving in the City: A Guide to Sustainable Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor, Smith helps answer the questions “what does it mean to live in an urban poor slum or inner city for twenty years” and “What does it take to raise a family there?” He uses his own history of 12 years living in Manila, Philippines, as well as that of 100 other leaders who have devoted their lives to work, live and raise families within urban poor communities. If you have a desire to learn more about these unique challenges, pick up Smith’s book today.

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MDGC Speaker Profile: Alan Platt

August 23, 2016

Each year, Movement Day features speakers who come to educate, inspire, challenge, and encourage city leaders. Learn more about the world-renowned speakers, topic experts and practitioners scheduled to share about global issues and key urban population groups at Movement Day Global Cities 2016.

This month, we caught up with Alan Platt, Founder of Doxa Deo, an organization committed to advancing gospel movement and establishing churches and educational institutions in South Africa primarily, though they have also established three churches internationally in the cities of London, Auckland, and Stuttgart. Alan has worked in ministry since 1983 and is a sought after speaker who also brings significant influence to the broader business and educational structures at large. Alan has also recently authored his first book titled ‘We Start At Finish’, which is fast becoming a life changing instrument for many ministries.

Q: You are the founder, Doxa Deo, a ministry that serves 30,000 people in over 12 different campuses as one integrated church in the city. Would you be willing to share a little bit about what led you to found Doxa Deo?
We had the privilege of leading a church out of a crisis situation, and in a short time it became a church with incredible momentum where many people were coming for the exciting program of excellent worship and good word. However, in 1994, we had a deep experience that challenged us to no longer be a ‘church for the church’ but rather a ‘church for the city’. It took us two years to figure out the strategy that we would want to implement, and thereafter we launched as Doxa Deo with a new vision to engage City, Society and Culture at large.

Q: How would you describe the current gospel landscape of South Africa?
Over the last 20 years we have seen incredible opportunity for the church to become relevant to society. As a new democracy was formed in South Africa, there were obvious challenges in the different spheres of South African society that became opportunities to engage with grace and truth. Right now there is great political instability, economic challenges, and renewed racial tensions in our country. Corruption and crime are at some of the highest rates ever in the history of our nation. This is an opportunity for the church as we can never ‘waste a good crisis’!

Q: What urban issues are the people of South Africa facing on a daily basis?
Urbanization is taking place at a rapid pace in the nation, and the infrastructure and unavailability of jobs is creating a challenging situation for our communities to contend with. We have an official unemployment rate of 25% though some would believe it is closer to 40% which is the percentage that young “school leavers” contend with in terms of being able to find work. There is also the challenge of illegal immigration which causes xenophobic outbursts as people are convinced the jobs are being taken from South African nationals by people that have arrived in our country by illegal means.

Q: Your role has extended beyond the ministry sphere to influence the business sector, education and society at large. Can you share about how you approach the work of gospel movement in these spheres of society?
We have worked for years on a very simple strategy which engages eight spheres of society at three different levels.

Mobilization – This aspect of the strategy involves the equipping and commissioning of our members who we refer to as ‘partners’ of the dream. They are equipped through our ministry and then commissioned to engage society in the spheres in which they function for most of their life. We also refer to these partners as “City Changers,” and celebrate what God is doing through them as it becomes an extension of our ministry.

Engagement – This aspect of the strategy involves the identification of a particular area in which we want to engage because we believe that we could make a distinct difference as a ministry in that particular sphere. Education is one example of a desired sphere of engagement in which we set up an office called TREE – Transforming Educational Environments. Currently, we are active in 90 schools with 60 full time youth workers deployed to engage those educational environments through this program in Pretoria.

Modeling – This aspect of the strategy involves the establishment of an institution that addresses the felt need within the community. An example of the implementation of this portion of the strategy is POPUP – The People Upliftment Program. This is a vocational skills training program that is currently working to equip people with 18 different skills in three different training bases in the city. The students in this program are also supported by a Medical, Dental and Eye Care Center, as well as provided with childcare support. This process has served more than 6,000 people, of which over 70% have been successfully placed into a permanent occupation. We also celebrate that over 70% of participants in this program make a commitment to Jesus Christ during the course of their training.

Q: How can the broader Movement Day community support those working to bring about gospel movement in South Africa and your partner cities in the UK, New Zealand, and Germany?
When more people become aware of our work, God stirs their hearts to consider partnership, which can happen at various levels, supporting us to make greater impact in the different areas where we are involved. We have had various short-term teams coming to serve from different areas of the globe, which is a blessing. We are always grateful when institutions, ministries or foundations choose to invest financially to empower us to do what we are doing.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for Movement Day Global Cities 2016?
There is a global move of God bringing the church together for greater strategic collaboration, which will definitely lead to greater Kingdom impact. I do believe that the global Movement Day is one of the key catalytic moments that God will use to stir and galvanize this unified engagement of his people worldwide.

Q: What do you hope to share with leaders at Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC) this fall?
We have seen some amazing initiatives for unity and kingdom engagement in various cities across the globe. However, many of them are driven by parachurch organizations and the church has not come to engage as I believe it could. My contribution – as someone who has seen God facilitate unity and city transformation through the local church – would be to stir up pastors and leaders of local churches with a challenge to become more relevant to their communities at this very important time in world history. We will be sharing a strategy that would not result in the establishment of yet another program in the church, but rather stimulate a culture that releases the people of the church to be transformational agents in their communities!

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Prayer Summits in Mumbai

August 19, 2016

 

Touted as the financial and entertainment capital of India, Mumbai is a dynamic city that also shapes the tone of gospel movement within the nation of India. To learn a little more about the gospel landscape of city of Mumbai and nation of India, we recently connected with Rev. Arthur Thangiah, MDGC champion and key leader within the Mumbai Transformation Network, an organization committed to advancing gospel movement.

Mumbai is a city defined by a dynamic energy and the parallel existence of affluence and poverty. Described by Rev. Thangiah as “a city that never sleeps,” Mumbai also features food stalls for every taste and budget, local trains packed to bursting, and even a refreshing seaside stroll. Mumbai serves as the base for the National Stock Exchange, the Reserve Bank of India, and Bollywood, thereby securing its role as a leading city within the nation of India.

Mumbai also faces significant urban challenges as a city. These include but are not limited to a lack of open green areas, poor road conditions, and an ongoing housing challenge as 60% of Mumbai’s residents live in slums. In addition, India as a nation continues to grapple with the rise of fundamentalism, poverty, and the very real threat of terrorism. Despite these municipal and national challenges, Rev. Thangiah’s love for Mumbai is infectious. He exclaims, “The 22 million people of Mumbai are such a wide contrast. Yet God loves each one of them and has a plan for each one of them.”

The city of Mumbai’s gospel movement journey is thought to have begun in the 17th century with the arrival of the Portuguese, and the beginning of India’s gospel movement has been attributed to the Jesus’ disciple Thomas. Mumbai currently contains a wide variety of denominations, which are committed to continuing a journey towards unity that began in the 1970’s and 1980’s. India’s latest census cites 2.3% of the nation’s population as Christian, though local church leaders believe this number does not reflect the fullness of the community committed to the gospel.

Rev. Thangiah works with the Mumbai Transformation Network (MTN), an organization that has partnered with approximately 100 other churches to share the task of bringing the gospel in a deeper way to the city of Mumbai. Led by Pastor Viju Abraham and facilitated by city movement leader Tom White, Mumbai’s first Prayer Summit began in February 2003. This Prayer Summit was so dynamic that a second Prayer Summit was held within the same year. The Prayer Summit has been held every year since. The increase in relational strength between pastors and leaders from different churches and organizations has been directly attributed to these Prayer Summits. Reflects Rev. Thangiah, “We realized that praying together was a start but we needed to work together to see the process of transformation come through. We have conducted Prayer Summits every year and each Prayer Summit has seen a unique demonstration of the presence and power of God.” In 2008, Mumbai hosted The Global Day of Prayer and subsequent smaller prayer gatherings have unfolded across Mumbai, supported by the Mumbai Transformation Network. Rev. Thangiah states, “We believe that there has to be an undergirding of prayer in all our actions”. This undergirding of prayer is recognized and sought for by the Body of Christ in Mumbai.”

Different organizations have taken up the charge to advance gospel movement in a strategic and effective way. These efforts are organized according to different spheres of need or influence within the city of Mumbai. For example, Mumbai’s Arts Conclave has organized two conferences and is engaging in ongoing collaborative relationship with pastors for the purpose of creating a space for artists and the arts within the church. A conference has been organized to equip and empower pastors and leaders to utilize media effectively in the journey towards gospel movement. A legal cell is training Christians with knowledge regarding their rights in times of religious opposition or persecution. Yet another conference on the topic of the ‘International Call to Compassion’ has been organized for over 300 delegates. While other partners are working in gospel movement seek to work in collaboration with the government authorities to address the need for family unity, seeking therefore to enact a major initiative to stem the rising divorce rates in Mumbai.

Ultimately, Rev. Thangiah reported that “the strategy adopted to advance gospel movement in Mumbai has been to divide the city into 18 zones and have a leadership team in each zone that would consist of pastors, organization leaders and influential leaders in the eight spheres of influence.” Rev. Thangiah does not however, credit one key individuals or organization as being responsible for the current gospel movement occurring within Mumbai. Rather, he attributes Mumbai’s gospel movement to “an army of individuals and organizations from the different spheres of influence carrying out what God has put on their hearts.”

Rev. Thangiah sees Mumbai’s gospel landscape and Movement Day Global Cities’ mission as connected. He states, “We can learn much from the broader Movement Day community on how God is working in other cities and how to best apply its’ strategies to our own background and implement it in Mumbai.”

Will you join us in lifting up, in prayer, the city of Mumbai and all those working to advance gospel movement there? Rev. Thangiah has asked that we pray specifically that “each individual in the Mumbai Transformation Network would function in their God-given role to transform Mumbai.” Thank you for your prayers!

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Younger Leaders Gathering & Movement Day Global Cities

August 19, 2016

From Monday, August 1st through Thursday, August 11th founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC), Dr. Mac Pier, and Director of Movement Day & Events at The NYCLC, Ebony Small, attended The Lausanne Movement Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG). This gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 150 countries in Jakarta, Indonesia takes place once every decade. The goal of YLG is to mobilize and connect emerging evangelical influencers for global mission.

Mac and Ebony served as co-catalysts for the Lausanne Cities issue network group. They co-presented two workshops on city movements with a primary emphasis on transformational leadership, which accelerates collaborative partnerships in service of the city. Ebony mentored daily a connect group of six leaders, and both Mac and Ebony held numerous 1-on-1 mentoring meetings with leaders passionate about city transformation.

Leaders were introduced to Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC), and expressed a strong desire to join us in October. Global leaders from 74 countries are building teams to gather at MDGC. “It is hard to put in words the great sign of hope that MDGC is for these leaders coming from around the world, says Dr. Pier. It is more than many leaders had dreamed possible in their lifetime, to be able to participate in a gathering of this magnitude.”

YLG opened the eyes of Ebony and Dr. Pier to the enormous urgency of need possessed by the international leaders coming to MDGC. The New York City Leadership Center is honored to host such influential people, and we pray this event makes an impact in their lives. From Jakarta to New York City, God is on the move!

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Younger Leaders Gathering & Movement Day Global Cities

August 19, 2016

From Monday, August 1st through Thursday, August 11th founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC), Dr. Mac Pier, and Director of Movement Day & Events at The NYCLC, Ebony Small, attended The Lausanne Movement Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG). This gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 150 countries in Jakarta, Indonesia takes place once every decade. The goal of YLG is to mobilize and connect emerging evangelical influencers for global mission.

Mac and Ebony served as co-catalysts for the Lausanne Cities issue network group. They co-presented two workshops on city movements with a primary emphasis on transformational leadership, which accelerates collaborative partnerships in service of the city. Ebony mentored daily a connect group of six leaders, and both Mac and Ebony held numerous 1-on-1 mentoring meetings with leaders passionate about city transformation.

Leaders were introduced to Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC), and expressed a strong desire to join us in October. Global leaders from 74 countries are building teams to gather at MDGC. “It is hard to put in words the great sign of hope that MDGC is for these leaders coming from around the world, says Dr. Pier. It is more than many leaders had dreamed possible in their lifetime, to be able to participate in a gathering of this magnitude.”

YLG opened the eyes of Ebony and Dr. Pier to the enormous urgency of need possessed by the international leaders coming to MDGC. The New York City Leadership Center is honored to host such influential people, and we pray this event makes an impact in their lives. From Jakarta to New York City, God is on the move!

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#FridayReads: “Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence” By Bryan Stone & Claire E. Wolfteich 

August 10, 2016

Bryan Stone, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Boston University School of Theology, comes from a background in urban social ministry and faith- based non- profit. Claire E. Wolfteich is Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Spiritual Formation and Co-Director of the Center for Practical Theology at Boston University School of Theology and helped co-write the book Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence.

Compiling their research based on urban pastors from across the United States, Stone and Wolfteich identify and examine spiritual practices that create excellence in urban ministry. In this book, they discuss challenges that urban pastors face while putting up with the pressure of trying to reach excellence. Stone and Wolfteich dive into several practices that help sustain ministers working in urban contexts. Some of these include, cultivating holy friendships, practicing Sabbath, maintaining lives of prayer and study, and setting appropriate boundaries. If you are a pastor in the urban context this is a must read for you.

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#FridayReads: "Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence" By Bryan Stone & Claire E. Wolfteich 

August 10, 2016

Bryan Stone, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Boston University School of Theology, comes from a background in urban social ministry and faith- based non- profit. Claire E. Wolfteich is Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Spiritual Formation and Co-Director of the Center for Practical Theology at Boston University School of Theology and helped co-write the book Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence.

Compiling their research based on urban pastors from across the United States, Stone and Wolfteich identify and examine spiritual practices that create excellence in urban ministry. In this book, they discuss challenges that urban pastors face while putting up with the pressure of trying to reach excellence. Stone and Wolfteich dive into several practices that help sustain ministers working in urban contexts. Some of these include, cultivating holy friendships, practicing Sabbath, maintaining lives of prayer and study, and setting appropriate boundaries. If you are a pastor in the urban context this is a must read for you.

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Boston – A City Radical In The Best Way

July 26, 2016

 

Recently hailed as one of the best cities in America, Boston serves as the home to leaders of one of Movement Day’s global city partners. We recently spoke with Boston resident, MDGC champion, and director of Applied Research & Consulting at the Emmanuel Gospel Center, Nika Elugardo. She shared about the current state of the gospel movement in her city.

Nika has been an integral part of the team designing one of the MDGC afternoon tracks entitled Researching Your City for Ministry Impact. This session is devoted to unpacking how “research can make ministry more effective and even more Christ-centered.” Nika’s own research and experience in Boston reveals that the church in this city is experiencing growth. According to Nika, “the number of churches in Boston has doubled in the last 50 years, with around 600 churches” operating at present to serve a population of approximately 670,000 residents. In addition, “a growing diversity of Christian organizations and ministries, ranging from public-private partnerships in education, to rehab programs, to street outreaches, to end-of-life planning and care” has emerged as an extension of the Christian community in Boston. Nika reflects, “Boston’s churches are vibrant and diverse, with many dozens of languages, nationalities and ethnic groups represented.” She also notes that “Anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the major cities across New England are experiencing similar vitality in churches and Christian communities and organizations.”

Nika reflects on the leadership-centric nature of Boston, reporting that “part of the excitement of being a Christ-centered believer in Boston, is that there are dozens of solid gospel movements, churches and organizations providing leadership to God’s works of salvation and justice across the city.” A city shaped by its “renegade” history, Bostonians apply this same “cutting edge” to their approach to ministry. She notes, “Boston’s Christians are radical in the best way. The political and cultural environment in the Northeast can be as frigid toward Christianity as a midwinter blizzard. This seems to produce a high level of commitment and dedication in people of faith.”

This cutting edge approach and sense of dedication is accompanied by a commitment to unity in an age where collaboration and togetherness is more important than ever. Nika reports that this commitment to unity has manifested itself in the way that “many of Boston’s denominational and church leaders are passionate about unity and are sharing life and discipleship across orthodox, pentecostal, catholic and evangelical congregations. In fact, many churches blend the best from various church traditions. This is a trend that is taking traction in other cities, and Boston will surely provide fascinating models for unity.”

Indeed, this past May, 100 people from over 24 New England cities gathered together for a time of collaboration, networking, and prayer at the New England City Forum which was connected to the Go Conference, and co-sponsored by the Emmanuel Gospel Center, Vision New England, Greater Things for Greater Boston, and the Luis Palau Association. Representatives from the cities of Worcester, Hartford, Cambridge and Manchester took time to share about how “God was at work in their setting” and where they see God at work within their own respective cities and spheres. Nika reports that there is a strong desire to make this an annual event, with plans already in the works to bring New England leaders together again in February 2017.

Will you join us in lifting up the city of Boston and all those working to advance gospel movement in prayer?

In the area? Our partners at Emmanuel Gospel Center have invited members of the Movement Day community to reach out or even give them a visit! Learn more about how to connect more by clicking this link!

 

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#FridayReads: “Loving the City” By Tim Keller

July 25, 2016

Dr. Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He and his wife, Kathy, have grown the church to over 5,000 in weekly attendance.  Dr. Keller also is Chairman of Redeemer City to City which helps launch new churches, and he has written over 20 books. Two of his books have been on the New York Times best sellers list and have sold more than 1 million copies. His heart for cities shines through in his book Loving the City: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City.

In this book, Keller writes about how we can communicate to the current culture in a way that is both respectful and challenging. He shows how vital cities are by displaying them as a theme throughout the Bible. Whether or not your ministry is in a city, you will need to think about the city when creating a theological vision that engages the people you are trying to reach. This book will help you to minister to your culture, wherever you are.

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