If you believe that a core identity of the Church is its “sent-ness” to the world, you will also believe learning to reach the world’s cities is a top priority for the leaders of the Church. The Church ignores the rapidly growing city to its detriment.
It would be impossible to complete whatever portion of the Great Commission God has ordained for our generation without giving increasing priority to cities.
This statement comes from Steve Moore of Missio Nexus. I think he’s right on. It’s estimated that by 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in urban centers. That’s 70% of 11 billion people. Yet Christians aren’t flowing to cities as quickly as the rest of the world. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the problem. Missions must increasingly become city focused in order to be faithful to the Great Commission.
Last Sunday more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called ‘Christian Europe.
My old history professor Mark Noll made this comment in the introduction to his book “The New Shape of World Christianity.” (You can read the intro and an excerpt of the book here.) To think that Europe is Christianized and has no need of missionaries is flat out wrong. Of all the places in the world, it may be the place of greatest need. Live sent!
It is possible to make the institution the end. But if it is dangerous to make souls of men our end, it is doubly dangerous to make an institution.
Source: Roland Allen, Essential Missionary Principles, p. 90-91. Allen’s warning is simple and clear. The end is Christ. Not soul winning. Not even the institution you serve. It’s Christ plus nothing. Christ plus something, even if it’s a good thing, is idolatry. If something other than Christ becomes the end for which we seek, rest assured, the missionary impulse of the individual or the institution will die or has already died. We lament not being missional enough and lament fossilized institutions. Instead, we should lament the fact that we’ve made the first and most important thing secondary or tertiary. That’s the only way to recover the missionary impulse. Live sent!
If the first contact with Christ is the reception of a missionary Spirit, the final hope set before us is dependent upon the expression and fulfillment of the work of that same Spirit. Hence Christianity is essentially a missionary religion. Its beginning is missionary; its end is missionary. What hope can he have who calls himself a Christian and is not missionary in heart and mind!
Roland Allen, Essential Missionary Principles, p.99.
The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.
Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People (Wheaton, 2003), page 66.
The evangelical church will not survive unless it aggressively pursues unchurched lost people outside its ‘four walls.’ It must adopt an ‘invasion’ or ‘penetration’ mentality. The days have long passed when the church could sit back and wait for lost people to come to it.
Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 117.
We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world…. The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, understand, and to receive the good news.
The Lausanne Covenant
It is surely a fact of inexhaustible significance that what our Lord left behind Him was not a book, nor a creed, nor a system of thought, nor a rule of life, but a visible community. He committed the entire work of salvation to that community. It was not that a community gathered round an idea, so that the idea was primary and the community secondary. It was that a community called together by the deliberate choice of the Lord Himself, and re-created in Him, gradually sought – and is seeking – to make explicit who He is and what He has done. The actual community is primary; the understanding of what it is comes second.
Mission is not primarily concerned with church growth. It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God.