I was asked by the Gazette to write a column for the Dream City 2020 campaign describing how Colorado Springs could become a better city in the next 20 years. The following column was my response and will be in the paper soon.
I am new to Colorado Springs but already feel like it is my home. In 20 years, I will be in my early 60’s, nearing the end of my career as a pastor at New Life Church. I have spent a great deal of thought and prayed many prayers for our city trying to discover the untapped potential of our community. I believe the best days are still in front of us, and the challenges that are facing us as a city can be overcome if we make the choice now to stand together, work together and to see the best in each other.
The first challenge is finding common ground within a very diverse population. I have never lived in a community that is woven together from such diverse cultures and perspectives. The mix of military families from around the globe, evangelical leaders and groups, very passionate liberal and conservative political groups that hold fast to their ideology is both an opportunity and a challenge. I love passion and I appreciate people of conviction. That is the strength of our country and certainly the strength of our city. However, we must choose grace over animosity and kindness over accusations. This does not mean we have to compromise our absolute beliefs just to get along, it means we must value relationships as much as being right or winning a debate. Too often, we win the argument but lose friends in the process. I believe both are equally important if we are to have a Dream City. I choose to build bridges instead of burning them because we will need every bridge possible if we are to survive and thrive as a community in the divided 21st Century. So let’s choose to meet and discuss ideas, not to debate or argue, but to find common ground and build friendships. Let’s be secure in our beliefs and kind in our words toward those who believe differently and diffuse division and strife as aggressively as we defend our ideas.
The second challenge is taking care of the poor and needy in our city. This is a real burden to me as a pastor, but I am convinced that partnerships between government, social and religious teams can do more together than when separated. We have the resources to radically change neglected neighborhoods, equip struggling schools and to house, feed and clothe every person in our city. When we combine our monies and the human capital of ideas and innovation there will be no limits to our ability to meet the most desperate needs of our time. Our church is willing to partner with people with better ideas and to give our resources to meet the urgent needs that are facing all of us. Let’s come to the table, agree on effective strategy, and then work together without a need for personal or group recognition. Let’s do the right thing for our city for the right reasons. This past November, state government, local non-profits and the church community partnered together to begin a campaign we are calling, “Wait No More” that is designed to find families for the more than 700 orphans in our state foster system. This kind of partnership can happen on many different fronts to address the long list of issues we are facing.
Colorado Springs is a great city that is destined to become greater and I am grateful to be a small part of the discussion, but I am even more grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside each of you to make Colorado Springs a Dream City. God bless Colorado Springs and God bless our unity as we move forward.