There once was a popular church in Seattle with lots of people and they built a digital platform called The City to engage churchgoers. That was 2006. And it was a beautiful vision—
The City is driven by a compelling vision emanating from Matthew 5:14.
Having recently left his job at Amazon.com to become a pastor in his church, Zack Hubert was wrestling with ways of harnessing technology to facilitate the growth of a rapidly self-organizing and expanding church. He was inspired to create the original concept for The City after this passage in the Bible that says, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Since inception, we at The City have been driven to make it easier for churches to connect newcomers, build deeper community, equip leaders and unleash people to serve and make a lasting impact on their world with the Gospel.
The City has grown and is now being used by churches and organizations all over the world. As The City continues to grow, so does the vision, and we feel blessed to be along for the ride.
The City Grew Larger and Larger
In November 2008, The City was bought up by Zondervan and grew its user base. A blog post briefly described the sale—
Zondervan, a world leader in Christian communications, has acquired The City, a propriety online community-building software program created by Seattle-based Mars Hill Church. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Developed over the past two years by Mars Hill pastor of technology, Zack Hubert, who spent eight years in management at Amazon.com, The City was created in response to the church’s need to improve communication, better engage with members, support small groups, build a stronger church community and free up administrative resources. Mars Hill launched The City earlier this year to create a dynamic, engaging interactive online community for its more than 7,000 members. Within two months of launch more than 85% of the church’s members had signed up and more than 75% visit the site every single day.
The City digital platform went from serving one church to hundreds of churches using the subscription cloud+based service. An article described its growth from 7,000 to 165,000 people using The City.
The City by Zondervan Enables Churches to Achieve their Mission through Robust Web Platform (Christian Newswire, October 2010)
Thousands of pastors today are seeking new engagement and organizational tools to further grow their ministries and build discipleship within their membership. Zondervan is helping churches of all sizes realize these goals by creating safe, open and fulfilling online environments through The City.
The City by Zondervan is an innovative web-based platform that is revolutionizing how churches communicate, organize ministries, build connections with members, and simplify organization, outreach and worship. The City’s comprehensive approach brings together everything from email, Facebook and Twitter to finance and administration all in one place.
The City is currently used by more than 165,000 people and is effectively enabling church attendees to reach out to each other. During the month of September, more than 3.2 million emails were sent among members of The City, all without the risk of spam, phishing scams or email viruses.
The City brings church to members beyond Sunday service by creating an online environment for church leadership and its congregation. It offers tools that help drive small-group management, empowering a church to achieve more effective discipleship among church attendees. It also helps leaders organize their ministries to enhance our communities and local culture.
The City is now used in 12 countries around the world and has proven to be a valuable platform for both small and large churches. …
About The City
The City is a division of Zondervan and is located in Seattle. This innovative web-based platform is focused on empowering churches to realize their mission. The City enables churches to connect newcomers and regular congregants to meaningful community and discipleship, and uses social networking technology to help keep everyone in touch throughout the week, serving each other’s needs and sharing life together. The City also gives leaders powerful new ways to communicate to congregants and brings fresh insight to church administration, children’s ministry, and operational management.
3 Years Later, The City Gets a New Owner
In May 2011, Zondervan sold The City to ACS Technologies—
Last Wednesday, ACS Technologies announced its acquisition of The City from Zondervan. This acquisition will allow ACS Technologies to combine The City’s innovative community and communication engagement tools with its vast portfolio of church office solutions.
The City is one of the most widely used church-focused social community with over 600 churches and over 200,000 people engaged nationwide. It was birthed by one of the country’s leading megachurches with an innovative spirit to serve the local church and to encourage community transformation from within a local church. The City allows churchgoers to engage with one another on their own terms, whether they’re scheduling events, sharing prayer requests or information, connecting for outreach, using a community calendar, giving, or keeping contact information accurate. The City has led the way in social community and communications innovation since 2008.
The City ran for years, a long run with ACS, from 2011 to 2018… it’s home page had several designs, like—
When The City’s Technology Was Obsolete and Replaced
By February 2019, with ACS’ help, everyone had moved out of The City into something called Realm. This FAQ explained the why—
Words of Farewell: “Thank you for your long-time commitment to authentic church community and The City. It has been an honor to support your ministry with these communication and relationship tools. We have been helping churches using The City move to Realm®, our next-generation solution that not only includes tools for engagement like The City had, but also offers full administration functionality and much more. …”