the 21st Century, Christians are already established in every community
and every city all across America. So why has city-reaching and community
transformation become so popular in literature today; and at the same time,
a painstaking task? Perhaps it is not so much a problem with the Holy Spirit
as it is in our ability to develop the kind of relationships, which
ultimately lead to transformation.
Other factors that contribute to the success and/or failure of city-reaching
and community transformation are:
success in communicating a compelling vision for transformation that
is urgent, relevant, and anchored.
fertility of the culture's environment for the planting and growing
of new paradigm, ministry models.
realization in creating an accepted local coalition that guides the
ability to "connect" people in solid relationships that grow in depth
level of commitment, responsibility, and accountability of local community
people to common purposes and goals.
flexible and functional nature of effective organizational processes.
willingness of Christians to focus on God's will and bond together
in "relational synergism."
We believe the Church in the 21st Century must awaken to the reality of
its present mission and embrace all
of its foundational, biblical principles in contemporary form - new wineskins.
Christians must recapture their "state of innocence" in trusting
and obeying God. To do so means that we must be willing to allow God opportunity
to bring the needed changes to our lives that foster transformation according
to His design.
believe transformation is not all about copying ministry designs,
replicating formulas for success, or manipulating imbalanced attempts at
growth. Transformation is all about God helping people become "originals"
instead of "copycats."
This is grand opportunity for all of us to discover (or rediscover) the
inherent potentials and possibilities that lay docile or "untapped"
within our midst; a time to celebrate our own unique God-given lives, respecting
other's differences, and then capitalizing on personal strengths and pooled
resources. This is what makes transformation so inviting...exciting...and
is a journey into innovative thinking and creative
works. It is a "process" that requires that each step be taken with enthusiasm,
determination, and calculated risks. The results are always subject to God's
will and our willingness
to "connect" and
For the sake of simplicity, we believe that there are seven steps toward
transformation, especially as it relates to small or large groups of people
in congregations, organizations, or city-reaching initiatives. Each step
in the process takes us closer to God's will for our lives and His Church.
Transformation is simply the "metamorphosis" of ordinary people
into extraordinary ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Ambassadors refer to "agents"
of government in foreign lands. As Christians, we are "change agents" of
the Kingdom of God living in a world that is not our eternal home. We are
the people of God, and we are being transformed into the image of Christ.
We have applied the seven steps toward transformation within the context
of building authentic Christian community and synergistic city-reaching.
Always keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the power behind transformation,
and relationships are the "avenues" for transferring transformational power.
Steps Toward City-Reaching and Community Transformation:
Yourself for the Journey
Other People for the Journey
Coalition Forces that Empower Transformation
Vision and Strategy that Map-out the Journey
an Unobstructive, Wide Path for Transformation
Milestones and Check-points Along the Way
New Community Based Upon Transformational Values
many years Kim and I have been involved in city-reaching and community
transformation. For whatever reason, God has invested in us considerable
amount of passion, education, and experience in helping people create
a path toward transformation that impacts lives and communities. We
also believe that what we have experienced is only "scratching
the surface" as to what God will do in the days ahead.
The following information is simply meant to be an "overview"
or first steps toward city-reaching and community transformation.
This is a vision path that many have followed, some with minimal success;
others with success beyond their dreams. As to how this plays out
in different communities and cities across America, only God knows.
But one thing is quite certain, we as Christians can and must do our
part - whatever it is...whatever it takes to align ourselves in partnership
with God and His contemporary strategies in reaching people for Christ.
A wise old saint once said, "Pray as if everything depends on
God...work as if everything depends on you!" City-reaching and
community transformation are all about both - praying
depends on GOD.
Work as if
depends on YOU."
We are living in perhaps one of the greatest moments in our history.
According to biblical prophecy and people's expectation around the
world, Jesus Christ's imminent return is but moments away. God is
doing a great and mighty work all around the world in preparation
for Christ's return. He is preparing
and positioning Christians
and churches for the reaping of the last great harvest of souls. Many
have answered the call, but many are still asleep. The
mighty Church must be awaken to its mission to reach people...reach
communities...and reach cities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lives
are at stake, and time is short.
Steps Toward City-Reaching
and Community Transformation
#1 - Prepare Yourself for the Journey
Make sure YOU
are ready and committed to personal transformation (change).
be like those who say, "We need change so desperately, and let it
begin in my spouse...my boss...my church." For transformation to
become a reality in the lives of people, it must start somewhere with
someone. The most likely candidate is probably the one who senses the
greatest need. But think of it this way. Since transformation is divinely
orchestrated by the Lord, the people He starts with are usually in for
a great adventure and great blessings. So go ahead and seize the moment!
Let the journey begin, and say "Let it start with me."
Before we can invite others to journey with you in transformation, you
must be willing to walk the path first...and alone if need be for a season.
Once transformation becomes a deeply entrenched passion within your heart,
it then become transferable to others.
much time in personal prayer and bible-study regarding God's will
for your life...mission...and family.
testimonies (books, tapes, videos, etc.) of those who have made the
the realities of transformation with family and close friends - seeking
a solid decision to commit personal time, energy, and resources to
the transformational process - a journey that could involve months
or even years to travel.
your conversation, attitude, and behavior with God's personal transformation
for you; get ready for change, progress, and growth.
#2 - Prepare Other People for the Journey
the passionate fires of transformation that now burn within your heart to
help light the way for others to follow.
Now is the time to create a real sense of urgency that inspires and motivates
people to decisive action. This urgency should paint a vivid picture of
current realities in contrast with God's contemporary ideals (paradigm shifts)
for His Church. Issues to be dealt with are obstacles to transformation,
outdated man-made traditions, trite solutions to people's problems, complacency,
and resistance to change.
a variety of means communicate your personal passion and research
regarding transformation to potential fellow travelers.
others to view the same testimonies that inspired your passion.
a wide array of relationships (family, friends, co-workers, etc.)
engage conversations about the urgent need for transformation.
people for their honest opinion regarding the current state of affairs
of their church or ministry.
upon the size and complexity of your transformational process, consider
getting help from outside sources such as: church growth consultants,
ministry facilitators, or seasoned "change-agents."
community...every city...and every nation has fully devoted disciples
of Jesus Christ waiting for "marching orders." Some are active;
some are inactive; and some have never acted at all. These Christians
must be awakened to the reality of God's contemporary strategies in bringing
people to Christ.
They must be awakened to the urgent need in reaping the last great harvest
of souls before Christ's return, which is imminent upon history's horizon.
Time is running out. We
must act, and we must do it now! Call upon all who will pray for renewal,
revival, and reformation for the Church. Along with prayer, some practical
tips for awakening the Church (the "sleeping
giant") may include:
a "communicate strategy" that casts a compelling vision for city-reaching
and community transformation that motivates, challenges, and inspires
people to get busy about God's business, right now! This communications
strategy must be able to culturally speak language that people will
listen to, contemplate, and understand. This should include facts,
statistics, credible reports, and personal testimonies.
the audience who will be targeted with this communications strategy.
We must ask ourselves certain questions. Who are we trying to reach?
What exactly are we trying to say? How will they best receive our
challenge? How to we provide opportunities for feedback? How do we
deal with conflict associated with challenges to status quo?
what forms of communications are needed, at what frequency, and for
how long. This will require a substantial amount of planning, coupled
with a flexible process that must be customized to the geographical
location and culture. We must be prepared to experiment with various
means of communication (print, media, public speaking, etc.)
a customized communications strategy has been defined, now is the time to
who have already been stirred in their hearts by the Lord about change.
This is the first stage in the development of coalition forces that will
Remember, relationships require a considerable amount of invested time and
trust-building. Never shortcut this effort or hurry the process by forsaking
people for the sake of the program. Also keep in mind that the Lord orchestrates
personal relationships for divine purposes. Never underestimate any relationship.
There are several ways of "connecting" relationships such as:
visits by passionate "change-agents" to certain people who
will provide a list of promising coalition candidates. Reinforce these
visits with periodic phone calls, cards, and letters.
group gatherings should be orchestrated to present the vision for
transformation. These small gatherings should flow together along
different parallels such as: small gatherings for youth, parents,
singles, older adults, special interest groups, etc. These gatherings
could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner gatherings. They may be guest
speaker engagements at certain formal or informal gatherings. They
may be simple impromptu meetings in coffee shops, local parks, or
you are involved in city-reaching, small gathering should be scheduled
where pastors are present and small gatherings where church leaders
are present. Other small group gatherings might include Christian
business leaders; other gatherings may be for civic leaders. Do not
limit these gatherings just for church-attenders. Many "displaced"
Christians are among the ranks of people in the community. Many of
these "displaced" Christians are disillusioned with static, traditional
church structures and are anxiously awaiting opportunities to serve
goal in all of this is to "connect" people with others who are passionate
about community transformation and/or city-reaching . Eventually,
out of all these intentional, relationship-building efforts, will
emerge a coalition of people who will lead and manage the transformation
#3 - Build Coalition Forces that Empower Transformation
Identify and align the
right people with enough power and influence to lead and manage the transformational
Coalition forces are needed to build consensus, credibility, and synergistic
is a very important step in the success of implanting and anchoring transformation
paradigms within the community. This will require much prayer concerning
who will be part of the initial phases of coalition development.
The ultimate goal is to build "relational
synergism" - people working together for greater purposes
realized only through concerted efforts.
the coalition with Christians who people trust and have confidence
in. Look for those who are extremely passionate about serving the
Lord and people's needs.
those who have lots of time and energy to invest in promoting the
cause for community transformation. And don't be surprised where these
Christians might come from. Some might be very visible church or community
leaders; other may be waiting in the wings for just the right moment
to serve. Some may be pastors; others may be business leaders. Some
will be men; others will be women. Some will be young; others old.
If possible, find the Christian "statesmen" in the church or community;
those who can "champion the cause" and communicate vision in clear,
team(s) of influential people who can go the distance in the transformational
process and can encourage other people to do the same. As to the
size of the coalition, keep it small (no more than 12-15 individuals)
enough to serve opportunity for relational building. If more people
to participate, then initiate more small groups; and then, network
them together. Coalition forces may be established all across the
city in different geographic locations. There will be times to "rally"
all of these forces for strategic planning and celebration.
coalition allies have been identified, now is the time to formalize
their commitments. Written covenants or pledges are an excellent way
to establish public commitments; but we all know, words without deeds
will paralyze needed actions. Perhaps the strongest way to formalize
commitment is to regularly pray together and intentionally build solid
relationships with other coalition members. This will be the glue
that holds the transformation process together.
the purpose of this coalition is not focused on leadership status
or roles, but upon team tasks, high performance, and synergistic results.
There will be much "talking" at first, but don't let rhetoric rule
the day. "Doing" is the bottom line.
word of wisdom. Don't be surprised by "early adopters" who eventually
fall out of ranks over time. This is not unusual and may be the Lord's
way of positioning and displacing certain individuals. Also don't
be surprised if initial advocates latter become skeptical critics.
The enemy will most assuredly attempt to destroy relationships and
bring conflict; however, don't treat all conflict as enemy-inspired.
Oftentimes, conflict is a "red flag" brought about by misunderstanding
or bad communications. Staying close to people in relationships will
soothe conflict in many cases.
#4 - Develop Vision and Strategy that Map-out the Journey
a clear, comprehensive, and compelling picture of the future that most
people will desire and immediately work towards.
people can see it; they can be it. The real power behind vision is unleashed
when others catch a glimpse of the future and are willing to do whatever
it takes to get there. If you give people opportunity to participate in
paving the way for transformation, they will gain "ownership"
in the project and invite others to participate as well. This is a powerful
motivating factor in getting people involved.
coalition forces and supporting groups spend much time in prayer concerning
God's specific desires for transformation within your church, ministry,
or city-reaching initiative.
rich intelligence. Before stepping foot on any foreign soils, armies
gather rich intelligence about the people in the land. This includes:
geography, culture, politics, centers of influence, power sources,
etc. In similar manner you must gather rich intelligence about your
people, their needs, and their communities. Don't hurry this important
effort. Take time to gather all the information that you need. Ask
the Lord to open specific doors to specific information.
you are involved in a city-reaching initiative, gather information
about the number of churches in the city, the denominational and non-denominational
presence; the size of certain churches; the influence of certain churches
in the community. Other information would include the specific ministries
(churches and parachurches) involved in community outreach. What about
already established city-reaching associations? You would need to
identify the established prayer networks and prayer leaders. You need
to identify potential allies for community transformation. You would
also need to gather information about secular organizations that minister
to the needs of people. Many of these organizations have Christians
on board. Find certain Christian business and civic leaders who are
passionate about community outreach.
ways of gathering information can be used such as: telephone surveys,
research from census data and information directories, personal visits
to people's homes, places of employment, schools, etc. Once data is
collected, then it must be put into printed form for others to view
that a coalition has been established and rich intelligence gathered,
it is now time to empower the team that will "plan
Use team-based leadership to help formulate plans. You should consider
spending a few hours educating people in team-building and the power of
synergism. This team-building process must not be haphazard, but specifically
designed to produce high performance teams geared toward broad-based action
and synergistic results.
For an excellent resource on team-building, see Pat MacMillan's book entitled
"The Performance Factor, Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork."
Planning must be done by teams characterized by common purpose, crystal
clear roles, accepted leadership, effective processes, solid relationships,
and excellent communications.
The ten key principles of synergistic team development are:
and team development are about results.
what you are trying to build.
development is an ongoing process, not an event.
in time is the best time for training.
must be a felt need of the team.
development demands a safe environment.
the work of the team to build the team.
are no short cuts to team effectiveness.
leaders need a head start.
it comes time to actually plan, be succinct in answering the seven
(7) basic questions in
the "planning process." Don't minimize this process.
Shortcuts will eventually sabotage your long-term efforts.
do we want to be?
This is our vision, which helps us see where we are going.
is our purpose?
Vision helps us to see; unity of purpose helps us to do!
are we at now?
This will clearly define our strengths/weaknesses, our available resources,
and open and shut doors of opportunity. In terms of resources, don't
get dismayed. It's not the amount of resources you have, but how resourceful
are we going?
This is our goals/objectives. Make sure to develop s.m.a.r.t. (specific,
measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals. This will help
things flow smoothly, efficiently, and with successful outcomes.
will we get there?
This is your "effective processes" which balance individual responsibility
with team developmental tasks and mutual accountability that says,
"This is my part of our job."
long will it take?
This is the time frame for goals and objectives. Be realistic!
will we know we've arrived?
This is the much needed evaluation that provides opportunity to sharpen
our abilities and better serve people.
#5 - Clear an Unobstructive, Wide Path for Transformation
leaders and broad-based actions that keep the transformational process
in forward progress.
this path requires a great amount of wisdom and courage. Blazing
a new path is not easy. You must be ready to face certain challenges and
obstacles brought on by people's fears, resistance to change, and spiritual
warfare. Take heart, because you do not step out alone. You go in the strength
and power of God's Holy Spirit; in addition, you go out in strong, interdependent
relationships with other comrades in the Lord.
Once you have "planned your work,"
now is the time to "work the
is where the "rubber hits the road" or where "feet hit the path."
For some people this will be an awesome adventure; for others a great "wilderness
experience." Some people will thrive in this process; others will approach
it with cautious optimism. Some will be full speed ahead; others will lag
behind. But don't get discouraged and don't lose your focus. The ends
will most certainly justify the means.
Effective ministry does not happen without hard work and sometimes much
pain. When we step out on the playing field of the advancement of the Kingdom
of God, we do so as a mighty army ready for battle.
an honest assessment of all present structures, programs, activities,
etc. as to their alignment with future vision and strategies. Will
they help you move forward, backwards, or off the path?
any obstacles that undermine the transformational process and develop
effective conflict management.
good communications and education, initiate strategic "transitions"
that help people deal with the loss of certain sacred traditions that
hinder God's plan and the transformational process. Treat every move
as an experiment in change, progress, and growth. This will help to
not back people into a corner, forcing them to react instead of responding.
Move at a steady pace that everyone can possibly follow.
people and structures that are aligned with the new vision and transformation.
Giving people important responsibilities without the power to act
will stop transformation.
all aspects of the action plan in both private and public intercessory
the plan is all a matter of staying connected
in viable relationship with God, His divine purposes, and the people He
teams together. Doing this moves you forward in many strategic battles and
Please keep in mind that no matter whether you are working with paid staff
or volunteers, all people involved will work according to a strategic "alignment."
This alignment is a crucial part of team development and is obtained one
person at a time through the context of trust-building relationships. A
team is much more than a "fellowship" or a "committee."
A team is a group of people who voluntarily commit to common purpose; who
choose to cooperate in order to achieve synergistic results.
Synergism is a dynamic process in which the
output is much greater than the sum of all inputs. This happens only when
the team reaches their highest level of cooperation, which is a choice made
by each individual team member.
This alignment is based upon five criteria:
(I see it).
The benefits of moving forward with transformation must be clear and
understandable by all who are involved.
(I want it).
Forward progress is a self-motivated action by individuals with self-interests,
needs, and desires.
(It's worth it).
The price to be paid for transformation must be worth people's time,
energy, and personal investments.
(I believe it).
Transformation must become a personal passion and desire of all workers
or it will simply become rhetoric.
(I want it,...now!)
Without question, transformation must be seen as a powerful process
that will bring people closer to God and people - a process that is
non-negotiable and cannot wait until some later time. It must happen
now, or people will suffer consequences sooner or later.
As to some important items in "working the plan,"
particular attention to proper recruitment, interviewing, and placement
of ministry personnel. Tools are available to help with this process.
sure people are properly prepared and positioned for specific assignments.
Training may be essential for certain tasks.
and directly deal with any misunderstandings or conflicts. Don't let
them go unnoticed for periods of time. This may cause dissension in
the ranks and open a door for the enemy to muster opposition.
allow people to forsake family relationships and responsibilities
for the sake of the cause. Use flexibility in job assignments and
remember to delegate responsibilities as needed. It is o.k. to raise
levels of expectations in performance, but allow for mishaps and failures.
People will rise to levels of expectations, but only in a caring environment
- a place where failure is not fatal; a place where relationships
are built on trust; a place where people are free to be themselves.
#6 - Create Milestones and Check-points Along the Way
milestones (successes) along the long path of transformation that validate
change and celebrate the contribution of workers.
Milestones and check-points are a vital part of planning success. They serve
as "short-term wins" and times for much needed evaluation. These
important elements provide evidence that the sacrifices made were worth
it. They also help to "fine-tune" strategies and keep goals on
track. They are great at undermining cynics and change resisters. Milestones
and checkpoints help build momentum for next steps in the transformation
realistic goals that can be obtained within the first 12-18 months.
This will prevent most people from becoming disillusioned or side-tracked
with the process.
all progress and communicate short-term successes to all people involved.
Publish progress reports so people can see the results of transformation.
events that recognize and reward the contribution of workers.
changes as "experiments" in progress and growth and not
as "do or die" actions. Communicate these as "new chapters"
in the church's or organization's biography, and not as opportunities
to tear-out old pages in their significant history.
check-points as opportunities to check the progress of changes; and
if need be, change course direction, go back to the drawing board,
or make adjustments according to God's will for transformation.
is an extremely important aspect in strategic planning. It helps us to
avoid huge "pot-holes" in the path towards transformation. Planning
the work; working the plan always requires that we stop…look…and listen
at all times to how well we are doing. Take time to realistically evaluate
plans - their successes and failures. There may be times to tenaciously
move forward…put on the breaks…wait until a latter time, or simply scrap
the efforts in favor of new ones. Always remain obedient to the Lord's
guidance and stay flexible in your planning process to make changes, detours,
or blaze new paths at any moment.
#7 - Build New Community Based Upon Transformational Values
a cultural environment that anchors new transformational values and paves
the way for future paradigm shifts.
transformation to be successful, a new community must be established that
reflects the testimony of God's transformational process. The greatest
cries among people today are their longing to fellowship with genuine
Christians and be part of authentic
Christian community. Transformation can help make this
the benefits of change with public testimonies on a regular basis.
new cultural values by modeling transformation through changed attitudes,
behaviors, and actions.
transformation with planned activities and events that reinforce the
benefits of change.
let your guard down against the forces that seek to undermine transformation
such as: complacency, apathy, and discord.
transformation has had able time to take shape, keep pressing on.
Keep praying and keep doing!
focused upon God's will and stay open to new paradigm shifts in the
transformation process that impacts the lives of all people within
Working with People:
transformation is all about people
There will be times when working with people proves to be a tremendous challenge,
but keep in mind the following tips:
are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered - love them anyway!
you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives -
do good anyway!
you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies -
good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow - do good anyway!
and frankness make you vulnerable - be honest and frank anyway!
biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest
people with the smallest minds - think big anyway!
favor underdogs but follow only top dogs - fight for some underdogs
you spend years building may be destroyed overnight - build anyway!
the world the best you've got, and you'll get kicked in the teeth
- give the world the best you've got anyway!
things may sound negative, but they are really quite scriptural. Why are
we so surprised? The Scriptures and Jesus forewarned us that these things
would indeed happen. I'm not suggesting that we should be negative; but
in fact, be positive. Jesus encourages us to move full speed ahead in
our journey called "life" - knowing that these things will happen.
Not acting surprised, but acting in obedience to love, doing good, succeeding,
being honest and frank (yet not biting).
Think big! We serve a BIG
GOD! Fight for some underdogs (been there), build, give the
world the best you've got, because Jesus died for the world...for you...and
One of the greatest attributes of God is the ability (power) to LOVE and
not get it in RETURN. It seems that most of us can LOVE if we get it in
return. But the true mark of being a Christian is LOVING ANYWAY. Look
at the very core of our destruction (sin) that tears our lives apart and
you will see our problems with dysfunctional relationships. They are crumbling.
Help us God!
The whole foundation of the cross is the redemption of relationships.
The cross is the path paved to stop the vicious cycle of retaliation -
"You hurt me; I hurt you." The buck stops here - "You hurt
me; I love you." This is not easy stuff...but we have help. Jesus...the
Holy Spirit...and God. I don't want these to be just words and ideas but
actions and reality in my own life. I'm very sure that most Christians
When it comes to building relationships towards city-reaching and community
transformation, be sure to maintain a sane estimate of yourself and your
abilities. Don't overburden yourself or comrades with unrealistic expectations
or stress. Remember the Great Commission, "Therefore go and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded
you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew
We do not approach the mission of ministry alone. Jesus said that He would
never leave or forsake us. "For where two or three come together in my
name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20, NIV)." We
must hold fast to Jesus…no matter what. For
those of you who decide to invest your efforts in city-reaching and community
transformation, I pray that the Lord will truly empower your efforts,
open many relational doors, and bind many Christians together in love,
passion, and purpose.
you are considering transformation or blazing a path, we strongly encourage
you to not wait for certain things to happen.
Don't wait until "the great and wonderful revival that will change
our lives" (as promises by many preachers) hits your life or church.
God births revival first and foremost in the heart of an individual believer,
who catches on fire and ignites others.
Don't wait until you have all the resources that you believe are needed
to move forward in transformation. Perhaps the greatest resource that
God uses in any transformation process is a "willing heart."
Make sure you have plenty of this and transformation will certainly happen.
And don't wait until someone else you know walks the path first, especially
a spouse, a friend, or a respected leader. If you sense in any way that
God is tugging at the strings of your heart to follow Him in the journey
towards transformation, go for it! You'll never be the same, but
you will if you don't.
When opportunity for transformation knocks, be ready,
and be responsive. Be like
the famous Christian scientist, George Washington Carver, who once said,
"Use what you got...to the best of your ability...and do it now."
This pretty much sums it all up.
Do it, now!
May the Lord richly bless you in your journey towards transformation.
Mike and Kim Simon
The Powerlife Project