You’ve got to love your city.
In my previous post “Campus Pastor Awareness” I mentioned that several years ago, I was tasked with launching a new kind of a campus “venue” …a new sort of hybrid venue/campus for Saddleback Church.
One thing we know is that you need to have a heart for the city in which you are going lead a multi-site campus or plant a church.
That love can exist prior or it can be developed. I was fortunate. In my case Saddleback decided to put me in the city where I was born and raised…Fullerton, California.
I was born in Fullerton.
I went to preschool, elementary, junior high, and high school in Fullerton
When I went to college I went to…Cal-State Fullerton.
At Cal-State Fullerton I help start a fraternity, worked on campus, was in student government, and played for the Fullerton Rugby team.
My first 3 jobs were in Fullerton.
My mom still manages the Fullerton CostCo where I worked at while in college.
I lived in 6 different places in Fullerton.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was treated at St. Jude in Fullerton.
Eventually I went to work for the Fullerton School District and worked at 3 different schools in the city.
I knew people on the school board, the city council, and in the Rotary.
I still take my son to the Fullerton train station to see the trains on my day off.
I loved my city. It was natural for me. But I also believe you can love any city that your multi-site role or church plant takes you.
The campus I currently serve at is located on the sprawling 170 acre Rancho Capistrano in the city of San Juan Capistrano.
I lived in San Juan Capistrano for three and half years when I was first married. So I know the neighborhoods and the surrounding cities well.
Regardless of the city, you’ve got to dive into it. Embrace it. Pray about it. Embrace them. Pray for them.
Know their issues. Know the culture of the city. Know what makes it tick.
Know the different neighborhoods and nuances of each.
Know where the city has been and where it sees itself going.
Study it’s history. Study it’s future.
One feature of Orange County is that cities blend from one into the next. You should have enough love to spill over into your neighboring cities. When I live in Fullerton, I was very familiar with the surrounding cities of Buena Park, La Habra, Brea, Placentia, Yorba Linda, and Anaheim.
One note: There are limits to this. My current campus Saddleback Rancho Capistrano draws people from 45 different cities. It would be impossible to be able to know a great deal about all those cities…but you can have some knowledge about what is happening in region as a whole…what are needs, what trials are people facing, what issues are on their minds, etc.
When you understand the “felt needs” of your city and your region, then you help get people to their “true need”…Jesus.
But you got to love it. You got to commit to its community and to the people who make up that community.
While the Fullerton experiment didn’t last…I think the lesson holds true about having a love for your community.
You got to love your city. I loved mine, even if it was for just one Christmas Eve. I was honored to serve my church in my city.