Did you know that 133,000 people moved to a city today?

Well, not exactly. Pastor Tim Keller, speaking at a conference in Cape Town in 2010, stated that about 8 million people are moving to cities around the world every two months. I averaged that out to about 133,000 per day. That’s like three new downtown L.A.’s springing up EVERY DAY. Keller’s point is that since people are moving to cities (for various reasons that are good, bad and in-between) that Christians should consider prioritizing cities since that is where the world’s population is going. Churches and Christians are needed everywhere but he is making the case that Christians should be present wherever people are. Thus his emphasis on cities.

I spoke at Bel Air Presbyterian Church this month and shared about a Church For the City and what I’m doing in downtown L.A. God brought our family here because of the strategic nature of the city and the need for Christians to have a presence in cities like L.A. and especially in the growing and diverse city-centers. If you know people who have a heart to help churches have a presence in city-centers like downtown L.A., share with them this message and help me connect with them.

Come visit us at the Bridge a Union Church when you’re in town.


Best love story of 2012

With Valentine’s Day coming up I know if you are a couple then you’re making plans about what to do or where to eat or whether to celebrate on a different date to avoid the crowds (okay, so maybe I’m the only one who thinks of that). If you are single then you are making plans because you either want to be going out or at least busy doing something on this infamous day. At least that’s what I used to do for the many years that I had no valentine to celebrate with. I could have a lengthy post about the idea of Valentine’s Day itself and its worthiness or unworthiness as a holiday…but that is for another post.

Since everyone has love on their mind to at least a some degree this week, I want to share a real love story that I think should grab people’s attention and help us believe that love is real.

No, I’m not talking about the new movie, “The Vow” that retells how “a car accident puts Paige (McAdams) in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo (Tatum) works to win her heart again.” For sure my wife will want to see this, but this isn’t the love story I’m talking about.

I’m talking about a real story that highlights as aspect of true love in its simplest form. It involves a girl, her older brother and a stuffed penguin.

Hands down this story is going to compete with the best of them all year.  Enjoy.

Do you know of another great love story that you could share with others this Valentine’s Day?

Why would you sue somebody for helping the homeless?

That’s exactly what LA CAN is doing, an organization that opposes the work of Union Rescue Mision. URM’s CEO, Andy Bales, blogs about it here. Even though URM is one of the most efficient organizations when it comes to stretching each dollar to maximize the number of homeless men, women and children it serves, there are still service costs that are underwritten largely by generous private donors like you (not government money). But URM launched a bold and controversial Gateway program last April that has shown some great results in less than one year. I’m not saying every non-profit should follow URM’s lead in charging its guest to help underwrite services (some of which goes into the individuals own savings account, by the way) but I applaud ingenuity and experimentation that seeks to give dignity to those whom they serve. What URM is doing is adding to the conversation about how to end homelessness,  empower people to change their lives and launch people into independent lives free of addictions and destructive patterns. What they are doing is helping the neighborhood by working to get people who are homeless off the streets and into permanent housing. They do this tirelessly week in and week out.

But LA CAN doesn’t think what URM is doing is good and they certainly have a right to their own opinion and to advocate for what they think is in the best interests of the homeless population. I hope somehow all the different constituencies can sit with community leaders, activists, residents, artists and business owners and discuss how to create safe, healthy and generative communities that benefit everybody. Personally, I think organizations like URM are doing good and should be applauded for their experimentation and commitment to serve thousands of people who are homeless everyday. I personally have witnessed the dignity they try to instill in those they serve. I’m assuming LA CAN is doing good as well but hope they will see things differently and decide to focus their energies on eradicating homeless in Los Angeles instead of throwing stones at others who have the same goal.

As someone who’s church is adjacent to Skid Row and has homeless friends join us each week at the Bridge at Union Church, I know the importance of having safe, clean and healthy environments for people to find restoration and hope. Not every organization agrees as to how to do this but suing URM–an organization our church is partnering with–isn’t going to help anybody.  And it doesn’t promote helpful conversation between groups who are each trying to serve the homeless in their own ways.