• Ross Chapman

Human Flourishing in Cities with Guest Eric Swanson

What does a renewed city look like?

When God has the chance to build a city from scratch—the new Jerusalem (Isaiah 65:17-25) what kind of city does he build? What is his blueprint? What kind of city promotes the well-being of all people? What is God’s view of human flourishing? The city is a place of:

  • Forward looking people (v. 17)

  • Gladness, delight, joy and well-being (vv. 18-19)

  • Physical health and longevity (v. 20)

  • Housing and food security (v. 21)

  • Meaningful, enjoyable and rewarding work (v. 22)

  • Upward generational mobility (v.23)

  • Strong, intergenerational family structure (v. 23)

  • Child welfare (v. 23)

  • Spiritual community (v.24)

  • Reconciliation (v.25)

  • Absence of violence and peace (v. 25)

What if Isaiah 65 served as the metrics and outcomes in Evansville or your city? In Evansville, we as a city movement are focusing on five of the ones that we think are most important for 2020. We imagine the other ones will follow.

  • Housing

  • Child welfare

  • Racial unity

  • Mental wellness

  • Economic capacity

What can the church of Evansville do?


In 2016 Harvard University founded their Human Flourishing Program to discover and promote the factors that lead to human flourishing. Led by Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, they discovered human flourishing consists of six characteristics:

  • Happiness and life satisfaction

  • Physical and mental health

  • Meaning and purpose

  • Character and virtue

  • Close social relationships

  • Financial and material stability

They look a bit like Isaiah 65, don’t they?


VanderWeele defines flourishing as “A state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good.” He and his colleagues discovered the “prominent pathways to human flourishing” are:

  • Family

  • Work

  • Education

  • Religious Community

VanderWeele notes that “if efforts to support, improve, and promote participation in these pathways, the consequences for human flourishing would be substantial.”




VanderWeele’s diagram suggests, and his research verifies, that your church can greatly influence at least five of the flourishing outcomes of people in your city and people in your congregation (Although there has not been enough extensive research to see how “Family” and “Religious Community” positively affect “Financial and Material Security,” we all know faith and family have a huge influence on our view or work and money).


There is more research to be done but what might your church offer to the other pathways?


What could your church do in the “Family” pathway? VanderWeele’s study concludes that marriage is associated with “higher levels of positive relationships with others, higher levels of perceived social support … lower levels of loneliness … [and] happier children.” He concludes, “The effects of marriage on health, happiness and life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, close social relationships, and financial stability are thus profound.” How could your church influence the work place?


Could business owners learn to “pastor” their work force? Could 10 percent of new jobs be reserved for the most vulnerable?


Could your church be engaged in education through improving 3rd grade reading levels?


We encourage you to follow Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program to learn more about the role you and your church can play in creating a thriving community. Nothing changes until the scorecard changes.


0 comments