My good friend Bradley Cochran and a colleague of his Aaron Skinner are in the process of developing an innovative website dedicated to the awareness and advancement of God’s kingdom. One role of interest to me that URBAN GLORY has is reporting and giving attention to first hand accounts of God’s work among the common people of God. In other words rather than giving special attention to some of the more high profile leaders among evangelicalism and the work that is being accomplished in their ministry Brad and Aaron hope and seek to highlight some of the work that God is doing among the average church member and ministry.
God is doing a magnificent work around the world and is effectively bringing about his kingdom. Within the scope of redemptive history there have been individuals and churches that have contributed to the expansion of God’s kingdom that we have never known about, which could be for a number of reason. URBAN GLORY hopes to capture and spotlight the faithfulness of some of these individuals and churches in hopes to encourage and spur others along for the cause of Christ. This is just one aspect of URBAN GLORY’s purpose.
Brad is a dear friend and close brother in Christ who thinks through things very carefully. He is one of the most articulate and lucid Christian thinkers that I know of when it comes to the things of God and I am very excited about this project.
I have recently asked Brad and Aaron to introduce URBAN GLORY in the format of an interview as seen below. The actually website is due to be up and running January 5, 2009. I will hopefully be posting more information about URBAN GLORY when it gets closer to January.
What is the vision for U R B A N G L O R Y?
Bradley: The vision is in the tagline: Illuminating the city of God in the cities of man.
What is the mission statement?
Bradley: The mission is very simple: To draw attention to the kingdom of God wherever it may be found.
Aaron: Daily, perhaps even by the minute, God is at work producing and directing a story He wrote before time began. Too often, we don’t do a great job telling that story…at least telling the whole story. In addition the world competes so aggressively for our attention that, while most Christians can recite the original Gospel story, we are often unaware of how that Gospel is transforming lives and culture on a daily basis sometimes right down the street from where we live. Henry Blackaby once said that our responsibility is to find out where God is working and join Him. Urban Glory wants to be a catalyst to that effect by magnifying the thousands upon thousands of subplots that comprise the great story of the kingdom of God. Our aim is to accomplish three goals:
1. To alert current believers and churches to the fact that God IS working mightily in churches besides their own and cities across the globe despite the statistics we often here that younger generations hate God and the American church is dying.
2. To inspire those who are not involved in expanding the kingdom to find a story that excites them and join it. This includes providing resources to church planters and believer who are about to move to a new community.
3. To reveal the activity of God to unbelievers that they might know the Church is more than religion, Christians are more than hypocrites, and ultimately that Christ is more than a role model.
Let me just say this to tie all of this into the name U R B A N G L O R Y – The glory of God is not simply the gospel, but the gospel at work in lives both individually and corporately. That Work throughout history emanates like radiant light from urban centers we call cities.
How will U R B A N G L O R Y carry out its mission?
Bradley: Drawing attention to the kingdom of God can be done in many ways, and as of right now we are hoping to do this mainly through capturing the stories of God’s people and crafting them for podcasts. The “what” is clear, but I suspect the “how” will expand over the years as technology continues to evolve and we expand our resources.
We don’t intend to simply broadcast the stories of high profile Christian leaders. Those stories tend to get press on their own. We want to capture how God is working every day among the common Kingdom people. Their stories are just as important, although they are often overlooked. Hopefully this will give the city of God more visibility in the cities of man.
Aaron: I’ll add that we also don’t plan to limit the stories we broadcast to the circles we currently run in (First Baptist Woodstock, Southern Seminary) or to traditional church functions (Worship Service, Youth Groups, Small Groups, Missions). God is working mightily among Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Non-Denom’s, and out side the church building in schools, government, business, non-profits, etc. We want as much as possible to tell the WHOLE story. This will destroy a paradigm that teaches people who aren’t “called” to professional Christian ministry, that they have less-significant roles in the story of God’s advancing Kingdom. To continue the theater metaphor, we all have “speaking parts” in the Kingdom Story. There are no extras.
Who have you interviewed so far?
Bradley: The most recent interviews were done while I was in Chicago. I interviewed Gerald Hiestand, president of the SAET society and author of Raising Purity, Matthew Elliot, president of Oasis International and author of Faithful Feelings and Feel, and Owen Strachan, the managing director for the Carl F. H. Henry Center. I hope to broadcast their stories creatively, as opposed to just making the entire interview available in one 50-minute podcast. I hope to break the material up into bite sized chunks in order to make it more manageable for the average Christian who doesn’t exactly have the free time to just sit down for an hour and listen to an interview.
Aaron: We are in the processes of negotiating interviews with several Atlanta area church planters, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the CEO of Surgance, Inc – a strategically secular non-profit out of Las Vegas that is engaging Christians to serve communities in venues where they aren’t often invited.
Bradley: Also, once UG is launched in January 09, T h e o • p h i l o g u e will be hosted through UG and will broadcast material more theological and philosophical in nature. Whereas UG will focus on sharing stories, T h e o • p h i l o g u e will go deeper by asking tough questions about the theologies and philosophies that are relevant to the Christian faith. God’s kingdom is definitely at work through books, audio, and preaching that embody and promote various theological convictions and philosophical thought. The kingdom of God is not advancing in a vacuum, but is empowered by and grounded in deep theological/philosophical convictions.
What do you hope this will accomplish?
Bradley: In addition to the material being interesting and informing, I hope that broadcasting God’s kingdom at work will inspire others, confirm others in their own kingdom work, edify and encourage them to press on with their calling in life to love God and love people.
Aaron: We believe God is absolutely unequivocally IMPRESSIVE. He’s amazing, all powerful, all creative, awe – inspiring. John Piper once said that there are two ways to magnify something. With a microscope you blow something small up out of all proportion to reality. But with a telescope you take something very large but distant from consciousness and bring it close enough for people to see its true beauty. In the telescope sort of way, we want to magnify Jesus.
Bradley Cochran lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is scheduled to graduate with a masters degree in divinity at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also directs a local church-based outreach program for at-risk inner-city youth at Walnut Street Baptist Church. He also manages T h e o • p h i l o g u e , a blog dedicated to theological and philosophical dialogue. You can find out more about T h e o • p h i l o g u e @ theophilogue.wordpress.com.
Aaron Skinner live in Woodstock Georgia with his wife Jennifer Skinner. They are both graduates of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. After working for several years as 1st Baptist Woodstock’s Graphic Designer, Aaron developed his passion to see his marketing gift serve the cause of The Church. Working from his design studio in Woodstock, Aaron is now the president of Kairos Creative, a branding agency that services (mainly) churches and Christians with cutting edge, Madison Avenue quality branding development and graphic design at affordable prices. You can find out more about Kairos Creative @ kairoscreative.com.