There are significant innovations in how people are effectively addressing the problems of cities. BGU Dallas city immersion course October 4-13 that takes place before and after the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA.org) annual event will showcase many of these innovations.
This is an event for current students, as well as BGU graduates and friends who want to audit for on-going personal development. The online portion of the course starts in early September with reading, discussion and preparation. Students then arrive in Dallas on October 4 to visit top city officials such as the mayor, police chief, along with faithful urban ministers and leaders in the major zones of the city. Starting on October 9, students will participate in the CCDA conference. October 13 will close the immersion with debriefing and group reflection.
The CCDA annual event is the largest gathering of Christian urban leaders in the US each year. Last year’s event was the 30th anniversary of CCDA in Chicago and looked back on the progress that has been made since 1988. Dallas was chosen in 2019 because the focus is looking forward in a city that has an unusual amount of urban development innovation. The theme of this years conference is “FWD ____” to emphasize a forward looking approach to city transformation.
The focus will be on innovations in issues of poverty and injustice addressed in new ways:
- Marketplace solutions to urban issues: Evils such as human trafficking is a global big business which requires solutions with the scale of big business to counter it. These solutions require the heart of ministry – but the capital resources and globally connected leaders to tackle these problems at the scale that is required.
- Technology: Intentional social media and viral stories are able to mobilize volunteers and resources to address urban needs at speeds and levels unheard of in the recent past. Data research provides ways to discover and address strategic needs in new ways never seen before.
- Political Coordination: Christian communities are uniquely positioned to work in coordinated rhythms of prophetic voice and peacemaking presence in tension with each other, connected by mutual respect.
- Spiritual Health, Mental Health and Soul Care: Incarnational presence working with and for vulnerable people and places requires new ways to maintain spiritual health in such difficult circumstances. New “orders” are emerging across the globe to create rhythms of community and health before, during, and after the inevitable personal and family crises experienced by ministers in difficult areas.
- Strategic Partnerships: There is often confusion about the roles of the various groups that work in cities. There are big event groups that stir up vision, but seem to die off after a few years. There are organizations that have expertise to address specific areas such as housing, at-risk youth, health care for the underserved, hunger, refugee advocacy, etc. There are advocacy groups that focus on specific neighborhoods or regions in a city. Additionally there are government agencies, businesses, small and large non-profits, churches, and educational institutions often working with complementary strategies. Innovative new approaches are emerging to help organizations to collaborate in practical ways for much larger combined impact.
- Church Engagement: The majority of charitable dollars and volunteer hours in the US come through local churches. New models are emerging where local churches are focusing significant combined resources to realize practical transformation goals. Cities are seeing innovative new models for church planting that emphasize the church scattered in mission, the marketplace and serving the poor rather than the church gathered in big buildings focused around a weekly speaking and music event.
These innovative approaches have to be built upon the time-tested core foundational principles that include incarnational presence among the poor; Asset-Based Community Development and Appreciative Inquiry that empowers local leaders to make the key decisions about their own neighborhoods; and relational priorities before strategies and programs.
The Dallas City Immersion will allow students, auditors, and friends to not only study these innovative movements, but to meet the leaders face-to-face in the places where they are incarnationally serving Christ. The results is not just new ideas and knowledge, but contagious vision and on-going relationships to apply these innovations in each person’s own calling in their own city.
More information and registration for the October 2019 Dallas City Immersion can be found at: LINK