Did you know Jesus has a plan for you in the city He has sent you to? We see a great example of this in Luke 8:26-38. This once demon-possessed man is ready to follow Jesus after this miraculous life change. But Jesus commands him to, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” Go back to the city I have called you to. Go back to your home. Go to your city. Go to your people. Jesus was smart. He knew this city would know this once demon-possessed man. They would recognize something had changed in him. Something miraculous had to have happened to make this once crazy man, sane again. Here we have the first missionary sent to his own zip code. God has a plan for you in the city He has sent you to as well.
If you want to make a difference in your city you must first love your city. Loving your city opens ears to hear the gospel, unlocks heart to be loved, and unleashes Kingdom influence. You can’t fake love. You can’t love behind your church walls. You can’t love behind judgment. You can only “speak” love so much before you have to “show” it in order for others to believe it. Opening up your heart, your arms, your finances, your resources, your building to others with a ridiculous love for the people in your city will catapult you into God’s purposes like nothing else.
Loving your city starts with knowing your city. You have to notice, understand, listen, and pay attention to the culture, the rhythms, the condition, the seasons, and the story of your city. Being with the people will create a love for the people. Simply researching your city, only creates a data connection. What you need is a heart connection with the people in your city. Jesus was always among the people. He bridged the gap between physical need and spiritual need, because He could see what type of bridge needed to be built to connect with them. Knowing your city will help you determine how to truly love your city, minister to your city, and provide for your city.
Once you know your city, you act. Do whatever you can to meet the needs of your city. Know the need, see what you have to offer, and act. Not too long ago we noticed that cancer patients receiving chemotherapy in local hospitals were not receiving the nutritional snacks they really needed. A lady in our church started with 5 volunteers and went once a week to bring a healthy snack to a cancer patient. One year later we are in 5 hospitals, 5 days a weeks, and have served thousands of snacks. We have been able to share the love of Christ with thousands through a simple healthy snack.
When you know your city and act on the true needs within the city, there will be impact. Know, act, and impact will follow. You will be blown away by the access, opportunity, influence, and visibility that opens wider than you imagined possible. The government starts calling you to solve problems in the city. They know your name. Road blocks and red tape are no longer blockades to ministry. Door after door begins to open. You set the example for others. People start thinking, “Maybe the church does know how to solve some of these issues in our community for the cause of Christ.” You are advertising without even having to advertise because serving creates chatter. Let’s create lots of chatter!
You want people pulling up on your property saying, “I heard from someone that this church would help me.” Be necessary. Be seen as a solution. Is your church necessary to your city? Does it matter that you are here? As churches we often ask ourselves if the poor matter to us, but the real question is, “Do we matter to the poor?” Does your city need you? I believe they do because they need Christ. Let us be found faithful with the piece of earth God destined for us to serve on. Love your city.