COLLABORATION: For the City
In Austin, Texas there’s a great example of cityreaching and transformation collaboration called For the City. Following are portions of For the City’s web-introduction by their executive director, Justin Lopez.
“For the City started in January of 2009, after a group of Austin Stone Community Church leaders and I spent a year wrestling with the idea of biblically loving the poor, and what it means for a church to care for their city and be “for the city.” Our digging showed us a few things: 1) The clarity of the biblical mandate to love the broken, the poor, and the marginalized, 2) Great examples of success – churches and organizations accomplishing life change through their growing experiences & expertise, 3) The rarity, but exceptional value of collaboration, 4) The importance of developing relationships rather than simply serving people – because it’s not just physical brokenness that needs restoration, there’s social, emotional, and spiritual brokenness too.”
“While we set out to serve the city at-large, our particular heartbeat those first few years was for the St. John neighborhood. Several people from Austin Stone were taking steps to move their families into the neighborhood, and we wanted to establish a physical presence that would bless the community and serve as a gathering place for nonprofits who joined hands with us in the effort to renew our city. 500 E. St. John’s was originally a nursing home, but had been sitting mostly vacant for years prior to 2010. The For the City Center is now comprised of a combination of meeting, nonprofit tenant, and church space.”
“… we invested in infrastructure that would allow us to scale our nonprofit relationships to more than just a handful of organizations. We had 3,000 people that we hoped would find opportunities to faithfully love the poor, and we needed something better than a website with a couple of email addresses on it that you could reach out to if you wanted. Our solution was to partner with over 100 nonprofit organizations in Austin and build a searchable web tool through which the church could seamlessly connect and serve. We saw exciting involvement through the site. But something about the fact that people had to come to our website to get involved in their city bothered us. The Bible doesn’t mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization like For the City, but it does mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization called the church. It was from this desire to empower churches to be ‘for the city’ that we consolidated these efforts into Restore Strategies.”
“Restore empowers churches to transform their cities by leveraging the time and energy we’ve invested into our infrastructure. We believe wholeheartedly that this is how it’s supposed to be: the church loving the poor, the marginalized, and the broken. In the past few years, Doug and the team have helped churches in Austin, Waco, Temple and Oklahoma City mobilize their people to reach their cities. With Restore Strategies now positioned to empower God’s people to make the difference through the local church, some additional reimagining of our core values became necessary.” To read the entire For the City story, click the button below.