How do you bless your city on a personal level. Many might have read Tim Keller’s advance paper for Cape Town 2010 and been really convicted by the approach to urban ministry he sets out, but you’re left wondering how you live consistently with those principles on an individual level. Here are some thoughts, and things I’ve tried out in my city, Cape Town:
1. Be Regular
I made a point at some stage to make sure I frequented the same establishments with some sort of regularity building relationships with the staff and the regular customers. So have coffee at the same coffee shop often, use the same restaurants often, shop for groceries in the same place. In Cape Town there is so much choice in terms of restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets that it would be (and is) really easy to not be a regular and to simply dip into hundreds of different establishments never building any lasting relationships where you can be a blessing. To make any sort of difference you need to choose to be regular.
2. Use Public Transport
Okay so not all cities have the same type of transport setup so you’ll have to figure this one out for your own city. In saying that, there are many cities that have more of a car culture than a public transport culture. Often in car culture cities poorer folk are encountered on public transport whilst the wealthy use their cars. Cape Town, with the exception of the down town area, is definitely a car culture city amongst the middle-class and the wealthy(although things are slowly changing in this area – for the better I think). Shortly after my wife and I moved into the central city I made a commitment to travelling the way the majority of our city travels. I’m happy to say that my car sees very little daylight nowadays. We have a minibus taxi system that I utilize most days for going to work. The benefit? I rub shoulders with the city, hear their stories, again build relationships and contribute to the livelihood of the industry. It beats sitting in traffic.
3. Buy Local
If you’re in a global city you’ve probably got limitless options in terms of buying goods. Depending upon the local industry of your country many of those goods are probably imports. Now this is an area I need to get better at but on occasion I’ve tended to look out for the smaller industries in my city and try and bless them by giving them my business. Again you’ll find that this will open up relationship and will also allow you to add to the economic development of your city.
4. Serve in Local Social Development Projects
Chances are your city has a number of social development projects on the go. Find out what they are, role up your sleeves and get involved. We’re at an early stage of developing relationships with feeding and rehabilitation schemes for the destitute in our city as well as networking with people who work against human trafficking. This is probably the most obvious way to serve and bless the city.
5. Celebrate the Festivals (and invite your friends)
This one’s a little selfish but it is missional and can add, in a small way, to a better ethos. It’s been a whole lot of fun celebrating the Soccer World Cup with the city over the past few months. As I write this people are making their way to the stadium to watch Spain vs. Portugal. I’ll be downtown at kick-off with a bunch of people celebrating this once off sporting festival. I’ll be going to a regular spot, using public transport and buying local and in the process I’ll meet many people, some will know Jesus others won’t. My prayer is to be something of a blessing to those people and to the city in the process.