You wanna talk about city restoration?
I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing a strong, passionate leader in Christ’s Kingdom. Patty Sodmont is the CEO and Founder of an amazing organization called City Plan.
One thing I can say about Patty is that she is full of life. A driven, focused woman. And she has a plan for changing the world one city at a time.
I’d say she is an inspiring person, but the works of her organization should speak for themselves.
Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.
The Birth of City Plan and a New Wave of City Restoration
Interestingly enough, the vision for City Plan actually came to Patty through a series of dreams.
The foundational concepts for unity were seemingly laid out for her through a close look at the Scriptures, a keen eye for culture and organization, as well as these dreams.
What she began to learn was that unity in a city requires three important components:
1. Divine Grace – This is what connects the headship of Christ to His Body, the church. Obviously, without Christ as the head, and the Holy Spirit moving through us, we cannot expect unity in a city. And we cannot expect to make any significant strides in city restoration.
2. Looking for Commonalities – This is moving past the things which divide the church, and rather, spending time finding what we have in common. Most divisive arguments have to do with secondary doctrinal issues, so they shouldn’t be the focus anyway.
3. Compartmentalizing – This is when you identify what resources are available and begin to solve problems accordingly. Rather than seeking out a vague, nebulous “unity”, be intentional about finding specific things you can actually accomplish together based on the gifts of the Spirit, community resources, cultural contexts, etc.
So Patty said she attended Pastors Network Meetings for years and saw them attempt to help the city, but they didn’t have a plan. They only knew how to do the National Day of Prayer or invite each other to special events. She saw churches agree that problems exist, but weren’t able to work boldly and find solutions unitedly.
When she saw these problems, City Plan was an obvious next step.
City Restoration: What City Plan Actually Does
The primary way that the organization fosters city restoration is by providing systematic plans to change the city landscape. To see what I’m talking about, check out this link to their resources.
You’ll notice that their charts are highly organized, have a logical flow of thought, and can be applied in any cultural context. The process, of course, results in a changed city.
Keeping in line with the systematic approach, Patty explains that city restoration should include measurable results. It should be gauged.
I completely agree.
Thankfully, Patty was able to describe to me many situations where City Plan has helped in the area of affordable housing, drug traffic, the arts, education reformation, and more. The organization focuses on revitalizing the seven primary spheres of society: family, religion, education, government, business, media, and arts & entertainment.
Another primary aspect of City Plan is that they do not just provide resources, which in theory should create reproducible results in any city (even though they do this really well!). They also go on the ground and get their hands dirty.
If we didn’t already have it in our hearts to change our cities for good and for God’s Kingdom, we wouldn’t be Christians. But City Plan comes in and helps make our dreams reality.
They come to a group of churches in a city who want help changing their community.
They pray with the local people who want to enact change.
They assist in identifying key leaders and organizing executive teams.
They help in the planning of highly individualized strategies (and of course, this includes a ton of prayer).
And then they assist where needed in the execution.
It’s really a beautiful thing!
Important Things to Understand about City Restoration
Obviously, as an expert in city restoration, Patty had a wealth of wisdom which she was able to share with me about the ups and downs of the process. It was truly enlightening to hear her advice.
In my opinion, the first and most important thing she explained is always to remember that change is gradual. You should not expect everything to change over night when you’re talking about culture and societal systems. It is important to stay encouraged with every small victory.
This is so important because when I asked her what the primary struggle will be for Christians trying to restore cities, she said that usually it is one person who is working to unite the clans, so to speak. And it is often grueling work, because there are so many naysayers, so many obstacles. Even from within the church, you will face opposition.
Do not be discouraged, because if you give up, who else will do it?
She told me that when she was starting the organization, she would say to herself, “You’re talking about changing a city, but you’re just a little girl.” And when you are one person, you can’t make much of a change. That’s why it’s so important to develop a team with mutual trust, and a fervent drive to do good.
When you have a team, you can increase in influence and impact. You can multiply.
When you’ve struggled through discouragement, and you begin to see important results, the goal is not to stop there. You want to multiply your work by developing new teams, gathering more churches and unifying more people in the cause of Christ.
Another important piece of advice which will stick with me personally is that as the catalyst of a movement like this in your city, you have to think like a builder. You aren’t just trying to change a bunch of random problems. You’re working to build new systems which replace the faulty ones. You have to be strategic and you have to lay good foundations.
As I said earlier, City Plan is making great strides in restoring communities. It is through Patty’s leadership, and more importantly, the work of the Holy Spirit which forge change in spiritually dark urban landscapes.
Patty’s dedication and organizational talent is clear. City Plan is moving mountains. We ought to look to them for inspiration, guidance, and possibly even direct assistance in changing our own cities.
For more information, check out City Plan’s promo video below.
City Plan can be found online at www.cityplan.tv. City Plan is part of a larger international network called The Statesmen Project, which deals with enacting justice through large societal structures, such as banking, public policy, and citizen education. You can find them at http://thestatesmenproject.org/.The Borough did not receive any financial restitution from City Plan to publish this article. We just like their mission that much!
Also published on Medium.