It is impossible to live in Berlin and not encounter diversity.
When I step into the hall of my apartment building, I am confronted by the realities of the urban world. I hear the languages of my neighbors who have family backgrounds outside of Germany. When I walk out the front door onto the sidewalk, I see business people and tourists. I see theaters and college students. I don’t have to go far to feel the diversity of Berlin.
A core element of the urban world is the diversity of the people.
What brought and keeps these people here? In ancient times, cities were founded for safety and stability through rule and order. Today, cities continue to provide stability and safety for all those who seek it – from the marginalized to the multimillionaire. About 5.5 million people make their way to the worlds’ cities each month.
Would this population influx continue if the city weren’t also a place of hope? Cities have been and continue to be a place of refuge for those seeking hope. Seeing cities as places of refuge is foundational to understanding a biblical view of the city.
But where do city dwellers find this hope? The city is composed of varied ethnicities, ideologies, social and economic classes and educational backgrounds. Globalization magnifies the international influences in cities and amplifies the existing diversity.
The means by which different people seek hope in the city is as diverse as the city itself. For some it may be found by living in community or in the freedom and diversity of expression. For others, it may be in the opportunity for financial security or education. For Christ-followers, hope is found in the Gospel, literally the “good news,” of Jesus Christ.
Our churches in cities today must be positioned to offer hope to the city dwellers seeking refuge in the construct of this vast diversity.
According to Tim Keller in his book “Center Church,” the basic definition of a city is a social form in which people live in close proximity to one another. This population density, mixed with diversity, catalyzes creativity.
Diverse people living in tight quarters have to work to craft a sense of social order amidst their differences. The result is innovative thinking and problem solving.
This same creativity and innovation is needed to develop diverse expressions of hope to the diverse people of the city. It will take many forms and unique expressions of hope to impact a city. There is no sense of one-size-fits-all in the urban world.
The urban church must have a diverse representation of expressing hope to the people of the city.
Charrette seeks to embrace this diversity. We foster a spirit of cooperation, not competition. We celebrate our differences and are not limited to one method or means when engaging in the city. We collectively embrace that the Gospel is good news and provides the basis for hope. We understand that positive change happens when this hope can be seen and heard by the wide array of people residing within the urban refuge.
Photo Credit: Benreis