“In every earthly city, there are two cities vying for control
- the City of Man and the City of God.” - Augustine
RECENT POSTS UNDER "CITY"
Have you ever thought about what it would look like to geographically integrate the major spheres of your life (work, home, church)? I didn’t give it much thought until our family moved downtown roughly three years ago. We downsized to one car (and one car insurance premium). We saw our gas bills decline sharply. We started walking to get groceries. Walking to the bank. Walking to the doctor. Walking to meetings. We began to actually know our neighbors, local baristas, clerks, and Real Change sellers. We were more readily available to help. More opportunities for the gospel naturally opened up because there were more opportunities (and time) for relationship building. I got more time with my family – time that otherwise would be spent commuting.
RESOURCES ON CITIES
Center Church, Tim Keller
A Theology as Big as a City, Ray Bakke
Urban Christians, Ray Bakke
To Change the World, James Davison Hunter
Generous Justice, Tim Keller
Sidewalks in the Kingdom, Eric Jacobsen
The First Urban Christians, Wayne Meeks
Urban Ministry in a New Millennium, David Claerbaut
Cities are strategic centers of spiritual, social and cultural influence. As the city goes, so goes the world. In fact, the entire trajectory of human history will culminate in an urban environment (see Rev 21-22). Nowhere else on the planet is such diversity of people found in one place; young and old, black and white, rich and poor, known and unknown. As a church, we should embrace cities, learn from cities and seek the welfare of our cities.
“Cities should not be seen as monsters...but communities of people with need.”
- J.N. Manokaran, Christ and Cities
WHAT IS A CITY?
A city is not merely a geography, but a collection of people. In fact, it is the dynamics of people in a given location that make up a city. Five dynamics of cities are normally cited: civic politics (government), commercial business (economy), cultural leaders (art, press, education), class (lower, middle, upper), and color (racial diversity). At times these are summarized as density, diversity and cultural energy.
WHY ARE CITIES IMPORTANT?
Cities are culturally important. Cities serve as important cultural centers of the arts, education, entertainment, music, law and government. Cities are hubs of commerce and ideas. As the cities go, so goes the culture. A recent article in Foreign Policy magazine articulates the importance of cities this way:
“The 21st century will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by the city. In an age that appears increasingly unmanageable, cities rather than states are becoming the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built. This new world is not -- and will not be -- one global village, so much as a network of different ones. Time, technology, and population growth have massively accelerated the advent of this new urbanized era. Already, more than half the world lives in cities, and the percentage is growing rapidly. But just 100 cities account for 30 percent of the world's economy, and almost all its innovation.”
- Foreign Policy, “Beyond City Limits” Sept/Oct 2010
Cities are missiologically important. First, there are more human beings per square inch than anywhere else in the world. God loves people. There are a lot of people in cities. Therefore it is safe to assume that God loves cities. 300 years ago less than 3% of the world lived in cities. Today it is over 50% and growing rapidly. The United Nations reports that 70% of the world population will be living in urban contexts by 2050. It is estimated that 8 million people move into the cities of the world every two months (i.e. a new Lima every two months). To give you some perspective, the US only has one city in the top 10 biggest cities in the world and only four in top 50. We often loose sight of how urban the world is becoming. So, if we ask the question, “How do get the good news of the gospel to people?” we will increasingly have to deal with the city.
“Christianity began primarily as an urban movement.”
- Rodney Stark, Discovering God