Christ Is Still Renewing Cities Through His People

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 04/16/2014

We’ve been posting about a lot of bad news lately, but that isn’t the whole story of what God is doing in this world. Lest you forget that, here’s some good news from Peter Leithart at First Things:

Years ago, members of a Boulder, Colorado, ministers’ association determined that they were responsible for Boulder’s civic health. Taking a cue from the early chapters of John’s Apocalypse, they resolved to serve as the guardian angels of the city.

They began to invite civil officials to address the pastoral association. Heads of city bureaus, the district attorney and police chief, and officials at the University of Colorado all visited. Each time, the pastors made the same offer: “Tell us,” they would say, “the problems you face for which there are no human solutions. We want to pray for solutions.” A pastor friend of mine who has been intimately involved with the group says that no one ever refused. No matter how secular or post-Christian, the politician sat tight as the pastors scrummed round to lay hands and pray.

My friend has countless accounts of answered prayer. Out of the meetings, the pastors developed close personal relationships with Boulder’s leaders. When crises hit, as they always do, city officials turned to the pastors for guidance, advice, prayer, encouragement, and friendship. Some of these officials converted or recommitted to their earlier faith. The pastors became, as my friend likes to put it, “advisors to the king,” prophet-pastors like Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar—and this in one of the most secular cities in the U.S.

At a conference in Florida a few years ago, my friend demonstrated how easy it is to replicate his work in Boulder. Before the end of the conference week, he had made contact with several local pastors, met city officials, and had a friendly chat with the mayor.

Every time I tell my friend’s story, someone comes back with a similar story about another part of the country.

During the 1990s, the murder rate in Aurora, Illinois, was higher than in Chicago. There was a murder every month in Aurora as recently as 2007. In 2012, there were no murders in the city. Police crackdowns on gangs have played an important role, as have efforts by community groups that work with troubled youth, but churches have also been a visible player.

We deal with worldview ideas here at Stand to Reason, so we’re usually far upstream from how those ideas play out in the lives and communities of the people we help. Everything starts with knowing and trusting Christ, and this is what we’re working towards here. Sometimes the battle of ideas isn’t pretty; sometimes there’s frustration, anguish, or even fear. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that even in our losses, we’re never losing; for what God wants most for us is to make us like Christ, and this He will do. Not in spite of the difficulties, but through the difficulties.

So we all need to hear news like Peter Leithart’s. As I said last week, goodness, truth, and beauty follow Christ wherever He goes because that is who He is. Seeing this happen always fuels my love and labor for Him by reminding me He’s worthy of it, and I hope it will do the same for you.