Balancing humor, insight, energy and an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture, at Movement Day Global Cities, Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor to the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, shared his vision of a collaborative, proactive urban Christianity.
“You and I are critical to keep our cities on the map,” he told the crowd, sharing a real-life parable that applies to America today.
Lessons Learned in a Blackout
Dr. Evans tells a tale from August 2003. He and his wife were caught at LaGuardia Airport when the New York blackout began. “Nothing was working and we waited hours and hours. A power failure from Canada had worked its way down the east coast.”
Eventually it caused LaGuardia to close. “We were stuck because nothing was working. Our travel agent found that last room (at a hotel) near LaGuardia, but they could only hold it for 10 minutes,” he remembers. “So we had to walk into a candle-lit hotel and check in by hand and go up to our room with a flashlight.”
“All we could do was hope that tomorrow would be a better day. Before we turned in, my wife decided to pull back the curtain. What we saw was that across the street the Marriott Hotel was completely lit up,” Dr. Evans said.
“We were clearly in the wrong hotel. We went across the street. There was music playing and people outside eating.” To rub it in, TVs in the Marriott were running CNN coverage of how dark it was New York.
The Marriott’s secret: They had built the hotel with a gas generator. The power was coming from the inside. “We have power on the inside that’s not controlled by circumstances on the outside.”
Dr. Evans links Movement Day gatherings to that Marriott “miracle.” “Needless to say things are dark…In our country here in America, in the political conflict the darkness rages. It’s in the midst of this darkness that you and I gather with light.”
“They’re in Babylon, a very dark place.”
Quoting Jeremiah 29:11. “I have a plan for you sayeth the Lord, a plan for your wellbeing, not your calamity, to give you a future and to give you a hope,” Dr. Evans said.
“What is hope? Hope is joyful expectation about the future. Hope means your tomorrow is going to outpace your yesterday.”
Drawing a corollary to modern society, Dr. Evans quoted Abraham asking God, Why do anything if things are only going to get worse? “The same reason you jog even though you know you’re going to die. It doesn’t change your concern about healthcare.”
God says to people in a secular society: “Earth is better off when the people of God show up.” This opens up a great opportunity for the gospel.
“Seek the welfare of the city in which I have placed you…I want Pagan Babylon to be a better place because my people are there.”
The pastor believes the Church has become “siloed,” preaching rather than acting, standing alone rather than collaborating with other churches and Christian organizations for the greater good. “What has happened is, we’ve allowed the Church of Jesus Christ to exist for the Church of Jesus Christ…the goal of the church is the Kingdom of God.’
No Points for Style, Just Results
Comparing aspects of modern Christianity to bowling (which has grown much fancier through the years), Dr. Evans emphasized the importance of actions and results over words and style.
“Gods not looking for some style, he’s looking for some pins to be knocked over.” He admonished the leaders of Movement Day Global Cities: “In the midst of this decaying culture I want you to seek the good of that community,” emphasizing economic stability, family stability and social presence.
A culture has a window of opportunity, he says. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because the righteous couldn’t be located. If Abraham could have found 10 righteous men, it would have been saved.
His Mission in Dallas
Dr. Evans stresses that his Church provides meals to the hungry and toys for children at Christmas, but, in the process, never fails to share the word of God with the thousands of people who make use of its services. “The Gospel is thrown in.”
By providing social services, he believes his congregation is intensifying the impact of the Gospel, opening up an opportunity in a pagan world.
“When people see your good works and not merely hear your good words, they’re offered not just salvation for eternity, but a good life for history.”
He sites another example of proactive Christianity, the National Church Adopt a School Initiative. “There are 190,000 public schools in America and over 350,000 churches.” If you attach one church to one school, you create a service where you reach kids and their families—Dr. Evans emphasizes that churches can impact community without creating anything new and without interfering with the separation of church and state.
They also have situations where a black church and a white church come together to adopt the same school. “Racial reconciliation occurs not through seminars, but through service.”
God Doesn’t Cut Corners
“God is not going to skip the church house to fix the White House. God never skips his people to improve the culture. God looks to see what his people are doing to influence what he does or does not do.”
He stresses: “We are not the addendum, we are the whole show,” urging Christian leaders to find common ground “(Because) What Satan does is to create illegitimate disunity to keep God at bay.”
Dr. Evans is also founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a national organization dedicated to the proclamation and application of the Word of God. His Urban Alternative radio broadcast, “The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans” can be heard over 1,000 outlets daily throughout the U.S. and in over 100 countries worldwide. The broadcast can also be viewed on several television stations, as well as online at TonyEvans.org.