What is the cultural narrative of your city?

I’ve always been encouraged by Tim Keller, and my heart has been growing for the city and the movement of God among the (sub)urban poor. I was reading the most recent  Redeemer City to City e-newsletter, and a headline asked, “What are some ways that one can learn the cultural narrative of his city in order to further the Gospel?” The thought intrigued me.

A Cultural Narrative.

It’s the idea that every place, every city, every neighborhood, has a story that has shaped, motivated, even caused its existence. That’s the narrative part. The idea of a Cultural Narrative is that the culture of your locale is shaped and formed by this story. For example, my church just celebrated its 18th year of existence. There’s a narrative in multiple chapters that has shaped the culture and raison d’etre of our community. This narrative includes characters, obstacles, failures, and victories. All of these things have together shaped who we are and where we are going. Our cultural narrative has shaped what we do and how the Gospel is contextualized.

I need to think more about the Cultural Narrative of my town, Glendale Heights, and the town I minister in, West Chicago. What are the cultural narratives there? What about the lower-income apartments that surround my neighborhood and the virtual United Nations that occupy them? How did these neighborhoods come to be? How does it shape what is going on now? Most importantly, how might it provide an in-road for the Gospel?

Tim Keller gave some answers to the question, but I found his answer too New York-ish, trendy, intellectual, and not all that helpful. What are your ideas? How could I learn about the cultural narrative of my neighborhood (or how about yours)?

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