In March, 1994, a friend of mine from Dallas, the president of a large corporation, wanted to make a difference in urban ministry in his city. He told me about a new project his company had just completed to identify the key corporate players in his field by mapping out all the ego-information patterns to show the connections between the various industries. He wondered if such a system could have any applications to urban ministry.
I worked with Lawton Higgs, whose twelve years as a Birmingham pastor had given him vast experience in urban ministry, and with computer expert, David Young, to create a ministries map of Birmingham.
Through the device of symbology (the use of geometric figures)we pictured judicatories/denominations, agencies, public/private partnered ministries, and grassroots movements, with a particularcolor code and geometric shape for each type of entity.
With a computer-generated design of inter-connecting lines between the various symbols, we were able to see the city in a completely new way. Further, the mapping of people, programs, processes, and projects, and the points of intersection of all these yielded for us immediate insights about where and to whom to turn for almost any kind of resource needed. Interestingly, the map also showed that most of Birmingham's public-partnered ministries were outgrowths of the civil rights movement.
Bill O'Brien,Samford University, Birmingham Alabama USA