There are two ways Christians tend to see the city and God in the city. The first peers through a lens that sees primarily what is wrong with it. It can miss seeing the city as God’s good gift, and the church already active in the city. Because it often moves quickly into problem-solving, like a missions trip to “save” or “bring God to” New York, it can overlook what many churches are already doing and the dynamic ways that cities work.
The second way is to try to see the city through the eyes of God. Listening to the Holy Spirit, it seeks to build on what is already happening, working within existing structures and relationships. Change comes from the inside out, through people who know and live there. They can make a longer commitment and deeper difference than those who stop in and just as quickly leave.
Many forces can prevent outsiders from seeing what God is doing in New York. The city’s booming media industry, from television to film, to fashion and music, has reinforced for many non”“New Yorkers an image of sophistication on one hand or urban grit on the other. But rarely does pop culture capture the religious ferment going on underneath.