Help Students Engage Their Cities

Written by Mary Glenn for Fuller Youth Institute:

Youth long to make a difference and change the world, address injustices, and fight for freedom for the oppressed. God speaks to their passion by inviting them to journey with him in the city.  As the artist Propaganda urges:

“You can have a heart that breaks for a dying city, yet have nothing to offer them. Wait! There’s the problem: “Them!” There is no them. Them is us! Culture is you. It’s me. We. We’re our city. We’re the culture. So we too are the problem. And our Savior: He, he wasn’t a commuter. He moved in. He spoke the language of the broken. He spoke our language…. The culture is us. It’s you. We’re participants. How could we possibly be the solution? We need someone to move in! And, the Savior moved in. This is your city. He came and walked the streets of your soul. And you, in the same vein, must move in. You go. You pray that the gospel prospers. ‘Cause if it prospers, you will, too.”

Learning about the city helps us to be more attentive to God’s presence and creates a theology that is God-honoring, people-honoring, and place-honoring. In the city, there are countless opportunities to make a difference and seek God’s peace.

Young people are looking to the church to teach cultural discernment—ways to understand and translate culture as well as how they can make a difference.

Teenagers have passions, but sometimes don’t know how to connect their hearts with action that brings change. We can give voice to this, and provide students opportunities to engage their passions with the city in ways that will change them and their communities. 

When students engage their cities, they gain a greater sense of connection to their community and grow in their own sense of well-being. Many of the Search Institute’s 40 developmental assets are about a student’s connectedness to their neighbors and neighborhood. Students grow in understanding God’s heart for them as they see and experience God’s presence and heart for their cities.


Fuller Youth Institute