loren Eric Swanson: Los Angeles with Ray Bakke

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Los Angeles with Ray Bakke

Today I was in the historic Angeles Temple, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920's, for a city consultation planning session with Ray Bakke. Ray is most likely the best urban missiologist and is the acting dean of Bakke Graduate School. For the past three years I have been in BGU's DMin program--just one class and a dissertation to go. Ray was in classic form. 'We come to the city to learn...not to teach. Cities are on the heart of God. The virgin birth is mentioned twice in the Scriptures, the phrase "born-again" was said only once and was only heard by one person. It was so unimportant that the other gospel writers failed to record the phrase. By contrast the Jesus' invitation to "Follow me" was recorded 30 times, the kingdom 120 times and the city, 1250 times!

When I was in Chicago and all the churches fled the Catholic Church did not flee. I read the Black Rage literature and Catholic literature. The contribution of the Old Testament was that God lives in community. The New Testament's gift is the doctine of the individual. We need both. (I have better relationships with dead peope than live people)

Chicago has enough streets that if they wer made into one long street they would stretch from Boston to San Diego. To know the city, Ray took a different route around the city. Ray visited Catholic priests and other ministry leaders and said "I'm a new pastor in town. Can you please tell me the most important lesson you've learned in the city?" You can learn a lot when you don't have to run a program. During Ray's time in Chicago all the "Billys" came to enlist the leaders of Chicago--Billy Graham, Billy Bright, Billy Gothard and Billy McCartney each wanting to bring their program to Chicago. How different it would have been to come and say, "What do you know? versus "Would you support our campaign?"

The nations are in the neighborhoods. We need to recognize that 87% of the world is non-white. The greatest bargain in missions is they came here! There are 439 cities over one million people. It's not just what you are doing but what you are learning from what you're doing. I want to turn cities into laboratories and practitioners into professors.

Crusades are event-driven
Conferences are product-driven
Consultations are process-driven--What, how, and why we are doing what we do.

Philippians and Colossians Models
The Colossian model presents Jesus as lifted up to take on the principalities and powers. Jesus is Lord of the city. In the Philippian's model Jesus takes up residence in the human heart. Which model is right? The church split over this--private Christianity versus public Christianity. We need a vision not just of the city but for the city.


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