“God designed the city to be first a place of refuge and shelter for the weak.” Redeemer Magazine article, “City”
The city was not my first choice for ministry. To be blunt it was not even in my top 10 destinations to serve. Yet for whatever reason God placed me there and continues to draw me back to it like a moth to light. There are many other much more appealing locations to plop down and call home. If I close my eyes I imagine a white sandy beach and world championship golf courses. Alas, that has not been my ministry story. Instead, it has been raw, hardcore urban centers where there are real hurts, deep pain, and broken windows and lives. Yes, there was violence, danger, and drug addiction, but mixed in with that you find genuine, authentic people who desire more, hope for a different future, and want to make life better for the next generation. It is that backdrop that is often missed when you think of our major metropolitan communities. The sweet souls spoiled by the sinister sin around them.
Why Should the Church care about the City?
The easiest answer to the question is because God cares. In Israel’s time, God designed some special cities as a place of refuge. In a must-read book by John L. Thompson, “Urban Impact.” He quotes from RedeemerMagazine “Today the city is a place where minorities can cluster for support in an alien land, where new immigrants can work together for a foothold in a new world, where refugees can find shelter, and where the homeless and poor can better eke out an existence.” He then adds this compelling statement, “The weak and the powerless need the city because they cannot survive in the suburbs and small towns.” Imagine if you will the impact the Christian church could have if it embraced the kingdom opportunities the city affords them. Sadly, far too often the church has abandoned the city for those white sandy beaches of suburbia.
The City is the Center of all the Action
God designed the city to be the center of cultural and human development. That same RedeemerMagazinearticle, “City” points out, “The city brings you into contact with so many people with different abilities and skills, producing greater works of art, science, technology, and culture.” The city is the epicenter of life, culture, and it used to be, religion. Revelation 18, points out that there is a very present danger that the voice of God could be drowned out in the city.
“23The light of a lamp
will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world’s important people.
By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
What can the Church Do?
I know you are sitting at your computer going, “Duh!” Possibly even sarcastically asking “so what do we do Einstein?” Simple, you do what the church does best, discipleship. Discipleship is not more classes. We are creating spiritually obese Christians. We are stuffing them with the word of God but not sending them out to exercise the faith they have been ingesting. Discipleship involves us learning how to set a Christ-like example for others to follow. The church needs leaders who impact others for Christ and His kingdom. Imagine the power of leaders who come alongside others like Jesus did to encourage, to equip, to hold them accountable, and guide them through this maze of a post-Christian context, while along the way helping the body of Christ to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their urban community. This method of discipleship helps us create a presence in the city for God.
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