Tucson is a city of diverse culture, with small degrees of separation between each individual. New residents commonly meet a local who knows somebody who knows them. It's a town as much as it is a metropolis; a city loved for its character, history and natural beauty and known for its hospitable, easy-going personality. When it comes to community, there's a sense of ownership shared by everyone living here.
So why does Tucson remain broken?
Tucson has the 6th highest poverty rate, compared to cities of similar size (US Census Bureau). It's ranked in the bottom 15% of America’s Most Business Friendly Cities (MarketWatch Survey 2015), and it is the 7th worst city in the U.S. across a number of educational indicators including graduation rates, test scores and per-pupil spending (Parenting.com).
Brokenness in a city, like personal brokenness, comes as the result of a culmination of problems, not a single problem and not by coincidence. Even though the community is deeply impacted by the city's problems, they're viewed as isolated issues and treated apart from the wisdom of God.
It seems as though there's a foul spirit at work to make the problems plaguing our city feel sufferable, cast a fog around vision, maintain the status quo; a spirit of familiarity set against addressing the city's chronic problems with biblical solutions for fear that this will come at the cost of Tucson's identity. This spirit is known to every believer.
Tucson's issues are chronic, pointing to a systemic problem, which can only be solved with transformation.
City transformation means aligning all of the structures and institutions with biblical principles. In order to make that happen, Christian churches across the city need to unify as one Body and engage with the city; not only in annual events or inside the church buildings, but daily integrating, relating and serving their communities' ongoing needs.
City transformation, like personal transformation, is spiritual. It will happen through the servant leadership of Ambassadors of Christ who are equipped with a strategy, unified in vision, driven by love, with roots deeply established in their community.
The Church can address Tucson's systemic issues, but it needs to be supported by a network and a strategy that cultivates unity and catalyzes engagement. Like the inner transformation every believer experiences, city transformation requires fellowship and open lines of communication. 4Tucson does this through 12 spheres of influence, or Domains, which train and mobilize Christians.
Once believers have been trained and mobilized by a domain, they are engaged in one of 22 Focus Areas, each designed to address a specific city problem. A Taskforce is assigned to each Focus Area to research the systemic problem, examine the scriptures for sustainable solutions, create an action plan to finally address the systemic problems and bless the people of Tucson. These Taskforces recruit volunteers looking for opportunities to serve Tucson.
Meet the Need, a Christian Charity, has developed a software that 4Tucson along with its partner churches and nonprofits, will be able to use to share their volunteer needs with the whole city. When an organization shares it's ministry needs, they become visible on every organization’s website connected to the network. That means church members can visit their church's website and see the ministry needs of every church connected to the network. This network is currently being integrated with 4Tucson's website, as a hub where ministry needs are posted and volunteers can find a place to exercise their gifts and passions.
Soon, 4Tucson's Taskforces will be able to share their needs on this network so they can recruit volunteers from all over the city. Once volunteers have been recruited, they are trained and placed in a fellowship with believers who have complimentary skills and shared passions. These teams can strategically address Tucson's systemic problems with biblical solutions.
The whole, unified Body of Christ can be engaged with Tucson in an unprecedented way.
What will it look like when the Church in Tucson is unified and actively working toward God's vision for the city? It will look like an answer to Jesus' prayer in John 17. It will look like the Church catching fire in the book of Acts. It will look like the Bride of Christ bringing the Kingdom of God to a broken city for restoration and hope and a secured future.
These practical tools – a strategy and a network – can play an instrumental role in healing Tucson. But they are useless to do so, they are disembodied, without you.
You, looking and praying for God's direction, for some reason compelled to read this blog post.
City transformation, like personal transformation means confronting the spirit of familiarity. As believers, we know this. Jesus' transformation of our self does not end with us; to cover our light is to stifle our calling and that spirit of familiarity is working tirelessly to make transformation seem insurmountable.
The truth is nothing can hold back the power of God working through the Church, when His sons and daughters are courageous to let their light shine. And when we do, the personal reward is so rich and so deep, it becomes an essential part of our own, continued transformation.
I celebrated my second Father's Day with my family this year. I'm new to fatherhood, but the common theme of all the lessons I've been learning is that God continually breathes life into my heart as I draw on His strength and wisdom to love my family as well as I am able.
It seems counter-intuitive, that giving of self – of dreams, inner strength and energy – would become the primary vehicle for God's infinite supply of love, joy, peace and utter contentment. The outer life looks like messy food trays, searching for extra hours of work, tired mornings and last-second trips to the grocery store.
But the inner life becomes filled through shared laughter at the dinner table, breathtaking vulnerability, life-changing conversations with the deepest, most rewarding life attainable.
As we let His life fill us and overflow to servant leadership, to our community, we will experience the life of the Church as it was always intended. Jesus' life radiates, that is its nature; His life doesn't stop once it has filled us, it must overflow.
Personal transformation, like city transformation goes hand-in-hand with letting the life of Jesus within us shine. Not for the praise of men, but for the joy of being an earthen vessel overflowing with the Life.
Systemic problems can finally be healed. Transformation is possible and you can be a part of it. Visit: https://www.4tucson.com/the-problem/