Dream with Us About Taking Our City for God

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

That title is based on the name of a book we used at the staff planning retreat last week. The book is Taking Our Cities for God, by John Dawson, the director of Youth With A Mission in Los Angeles. He opens up for us a new way to look at our city.

He states the obvious first, then draws some surprising inferences. The obvious is this: “I believe God has participated in the creation of our cities…God anticipated the development of your city. He marked off a place for it.”

The surprising inferences go like this: “When we acknowledge the placement of our cities as a function of God’s sovereignty, we begin to see things we have never seen before.” He believes that each city is where it is for God’s purposes. Each city has a special redemptive gift for the world—a set of positive possibilities for righteousness and truth and the glory of God that Satan has taken, distorted, and used for evil. “Satan is not a creator. He cannot originate anything. He can only turn created things and people to his own purposes.”

He asks, “What is your city’s redemptive gift?” To think in this direction, the staff asked, “What is distinctive about our city? What do people think of when they think of Minneapolis/St. Paul? Here is the list we came up with in a few minutes. I am sure it is incomplete. But it’s a start.

  • Harsh winters
  • Scandinavian heritage
  • Music, art, theater
  • world class university
  • Many colleges and institutes
  • major league sports
  • Lutheran/Catholic dominance
  • parks, lakes, leisure
  • 3M
  • Pillsbury
  • General Mills
  • Cray
  • Control Data
  • Computer industry
  • IDS
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Politically liberal
  • clean city, no bad slums
  • Billy Graham Association
  • high taxes
  • New Age center: Eckankar
  • American Indian presence
  • World class hospitals
  • Midwest Challenge
  • Extensive gambling/lottery
  • Berean League
  • “the cabin” and “the lake”
  • liberal welfare system
  • Assembly of God headquarters
  • Evangelical Free Church headquarters
  • Concerts of Prayer headquarters
  • Upper Midwest Center for World Missions
  • Greater Minneapolis Association of Evangelicals
  • Greater St. Paul Association of Evangelicals
  • Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life
  • Over 1,000 evangelical churches
  • Large assertive homosexual group
  • Satan worship and occult publishing

Then we asked, “What are the unique things that our city would contribute to the cause of Christ if the Lordship of Jesus were to be established more fully in all these facets of the city?” Then we asked, “What are Bethlehem’s distinctives in the city?” And: “What might God be calling us to?”

I’ll save some answers for later. Maybe you would like to tell us some of your answers. We would love to hear.

Seeking for God’s purpose for the city,

Pastor John