Increasingly, in city movement conversations, the term “city transformation” comes up. Many city movements have steered away from using the term because it has been hard to define. We asked Mark Harris, CEO of 4Tucson, to explain how his city movement understands and applies the term.
“Many people use the term ‘City Transformation,’ but few can define it,” he said. “The word transformation is most commonly defined as a thorough or dramatic change in form and function. When they envision city transformation, most Christians think of positive change. However, there is such a thing as malignant transformation. When our physical body experiences a malignant transformation, it is usually some form of cancer. That type of transformation usually kills the host,” Harris explain. It is for that reason, 4Tucson makes a distinction between city transformation and biblical city transformation.
Harris said, “God always has our best interest at heart. Therefore, the principles taught in the Bible, when applied properly, both individually and collectively, always have a positive effect.”
In his book, You Are the Light of Your City, Harris states, “The city is God’s invention. I think His purpose for the city was to allow people to collectively utilize the resources of God’s creation to build a civilization that blesses people and ultimately glorifies Him. The root of most city problems is that they create barriers that make it difficult for people to use their God-given talents. Biblical City Transformation is restoring the city back to God’s original purpose and intent.”
4Tucson defines Biblical City Transformation as bringing all the structures and institutions of the city into alignment with biblical principles for the peace and prosperity of its citizens.
“Have you ever noticed how hard Christians work to create positive change in their cities, only to see those efforts shrivel and die over time? Harris asked us. “The changes they worked sacrificially to implement are seldom sustainable. But, why?”
“To create lasting positive change, the changes we hope for must be addressed systemically at the cause. Whether we realize it or not, most problems that Christians attempt to solve are rooted in a misaligned city policies or laws that actually created the problem in the first place. If we don’t address the root cause of the problem from a biblical perspective, the change is not sustainable,” Harris said.
We asked if biblical city transformation will ever be complete. “Not until Jesus comes,” he joked. “We are imperfect people living in imperfect cities. Our job is to continually encourage people, individually and collectively as a city, to align ourselves to the will of God. His ways work best!”
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”