FOR THE CITY

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For the City started in January of 2009, after a group of Austin Stone Community Church leaders and I spent a year wrestling with the idea of biblically loving the poor, and what it means for a church to care for their city and be “for the city.”

For the City isn't an organization anymore. It's a family of organizations.

Our digging showed us a few things:

  • The rarity, but exceptional value of collaboration
  • The importance of developing relationships rather than simply serving people – because it’s not just physical brokenness that needs restoration, there’s social, emotional, and spiritual brokenness too

I left my career with supply chain logistics. Then, guided by the team from Austin Stone and the Nonprofit Kit for Dummies my sister had just given me for Christmas, I began to determine the best possible solution for us, given our gifts, our calling, and our city.

They needed solid equipping and resources to help them take healthy, sustainable steps in their walk of faithfulness.

While we set out to serve the city at-large, our particular heartbeat those first few years was for the St. John neighborhood (a lot of this part of our history and motivation is laid out by Matt Carter's book penned in our namesake). Several people from Austin Stone were taking steps to move their families into the neighborhood, and we wanted to establish a physical presence that would bless the community and serve as a gathering place for nonprofits who joined hands with us in the effort to renew our city. 500 E. St. John’s was originally a nursing home, but had been sitting mostly vacant for years prior to 2010. The For the City Center is now comprised of a combination of meeting, nonprofit tenant, and church space. The FTCC is a physical representation of our mission to maximize and catalyze restoration efforts. Alongside the physical build-out, we considered starting a local missions department but quickly learned from those who had gone ahead of us that some more creative options existed that could give us more flexibility and potentially, a greater reach. So many people gave us so much wisdom - we’re so grateful for their leadership.

From then on, we invested in infrastructure that would allow us to scale our nonprofit relationships to more than just a handful of organizations. We had 3,000 people that we hoped would find opportunities to faithfully love the poor, and we needed something better than a website with a couple of email addresses on it that you could reach out to if you wanted. Our solution was to partner with over 100 nonprofit organizations in Austin and build a searchable web tool through which the church could seamlessly connect and serve. We saw exciting involvement through the site. But something about the fact that people had to come to our website to get involved in their city bothered us. The Bible doesn’t mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization like For the City, but it does mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization called the church. It was from this desire to empower churches to be “for the city” that we consolidated these efforts into Restore Strategies. Restore empowers churches to transform their cities by leveraging the time and energy we’ve invested into our infrastructure. We believe wholeheartedly that this is how it’s supposed to be: the church loving the poor, the marginalized, and the broken. In the past few years, Doug and the team have helped churches in Austin, Waco, Temple and Oklahoma City mobilize their people to reach their cities.

The Bible doesn’t mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization like For the City, but it does mention God’s people making a difference in their city through an organization called the church.

With Restore Strategies now positioned to empower God’s people to make the difference through the local church, some additional reimagining of our core values became necessary. At the start of For the City, we focused on leveraging what already existed. We didn’t want to waste anything, and we didn’t start anything new. But as it turned out, sometimes God opens doors for things like TCS Volleyball, Crossfit Renew, RBI Austin, Restore Foster Care, and Vessel Coworking – so our value changed from never starting anything new, to ensuring that we’re not reinventing the wheel. We realized that if there’s a need that isn’t being addressed in our city, we should do something about it. With these current and future needs in mind, we’ve decided to put some processes and structures in place to support current and future, gospel-centered leaders with great ideas, and to help those ideas come to life, sustain, and grow. We’re calling this Launch Ventures. Elizabeth and the team are going to be busy – and they’re going to need your help.

Our value changed from never starting anything new, to ensuring that we’re not reinventing the wheel.

And lastly, as God stretched and grew all of these projects, the people that engaged in them needed support. They needed solid equipping and resources to help them take healthy, sustainable steps in their walk of faithfulness, living out their calling within God’s mission. That’s not easy stuff. So, God graciously orchestrated a set of circumstances for Verge Network to join our fold. We believe God intentionally pieced this together. We hope to equip hundreds of thousands of leaders for mission through our Verge Regional events and the content Stew and the Verge team develop and distribute digitally.

That’s where we’ve landed.

For the City isn't an organization anymore. It's a family of organizations.

It’s a way of doing ministry. We see churches all over the country with “For the City” departments. We didn’t do that, but being "for the city” is a culture now, not a nonprofit.

We didn’t invent those words, but it has been our rallying cry and it is representative of our heart. For the City is the heartbeat of our family of organizations and the heartbeat of the churches we hope to continue to serve for years to come.

To get to know the family better, click on their logo in the footer or in the body of the text above.

Humbly and sincerely,

Justin Lopez

Justin Lopez & the For the City Family