Reading Reflection – The Urban Face of Mission

Urban Face of MissionI’m reading this book for an upcoming weekend calss on Urban Church Planting. I’d like to from time to time offer some good quotes and some of my reflections on what I am reading. I welcome comments on this stuff, just know that most of is written in the form of journal-thoughts, not really completely formed, but in process. Here’s something that got my mind going from Raymond J. Bakke, “Urbanization and Evangelism: a Global View”, The Urban Face of Mission, ed. by Harvie Conn

“Today over 50 percent of this earth – over three billion people – lives in world-class cities. We aren’t prepared for that. Most of our mission industry, most of the ministries that many of us represent, are still thinking in terms of tribal world, a world where we cross oceans and deserts and jungles to get to the lost groups of people. There are, indeed, still about a billion people who are geographically distant from existing churches, so we will need traditional ministries on into the future. But far more than two billion of the world’s nonchurched people are no longer geographically distant from the church’ they are culturally distant. They live in the largest cities of the world.” p. 29

The way we should think about “missions” in this non-traditional sense, is less in terms of geography, and more in terms of culturally.

Categories of Thought:
Geographically Distant, Culturally Distant -> Traditional Missions
Geographically Distant, Culturally Close -> Traditional Missions
Geographically Close, Culturally Close -> Traditional Evangelism
Geographically Close, Culturally Distant -> Missional Intentionality

– Who are those people who are culturally outside the church and in need of the redeeming power of the gospel? I think, if we were to ask this question, our conversations about contextualization would be properly subsumed under the aim of missions, and that is to bring all of God’s creation into a right relationship with Him (God <–> Man <–> Creation).


5 thoughts on “Reading Reflection – The Urban Face of Mission

  1. Hey Greg – that book is great, tons of good info. I was just thinking – in my immediate church environment a lot of people are culturally distant from those around them because they seperate the sacred from the secular. They have church culture which they ‘turn on’ on Sundays and during other organised events and then they have a secular culture which they adopt for the rest of the week – thus completely nullifying their usefulness as missionaries. I think we have to shift in two ways – the church has to become more ‘worldly’ (in good way obviously) during its organised meetings and the Christians need to become more ‘other-wordly’ when they’re outside of the organised meetings – if that makes sense?


  2. Yeah, the whole “sacred” and “secular” dichotomy really messes things up, doesn’t it? I think you’re right in that some sort of “shift” is needed; but I would tend to think that the shift needs to move not from secular in the sacred and sacred in the secular so much as to the whole foundation of sacred vs. secular. In previous experiences, people I’ve known in the church (and outside of the church) have a misconception about what God “wants” and it usually falls somewhere into this chasm b/w sacred and secular. We have to remember and remind our brothers and sisters that the God of Redemption is the God of Creation, and even from the very beginning, everything He said or did was situated in a particular culture (God–> Adam in Eden; God –> Noah; God –> Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; God –> Moses and the Levites, Judges, Kings (Israel); God — Jesus–> Israel; Jesus –Apostles–> Gentiles and beyond!) – where is the dichotomoy between what the people of God were to do during their Mon.-Sat., 9-5, and what they were to do on their day of worship? Redemption falls into neither sacred or secular categories, but in “all-of-life” category (II Cor. 5:17-21). Now, I realize this is all the “theoretical” stuff.

    As to your comment – yeah, it makes total sense, and I even think that its the place to start practically speaking. At least, open up a “dialogue” of sorts and let the sacred and secular inform each other – both in the church (events, programs, etc…) and out of it (work, home, recreation, etc..). Thanks for the comment Stephen (and by the way – my name’s Chris, just for future reference – no harm though!)


  3. oh! I am just thinkink that the Church should adopt strategies to target each people in different classes, and people group is not just an ethnic ones but different classes in our modernand urban society , in general we always should think globally and start to act localy


  4. Hey Chris – sorry about the name thing – don’t know why I called you greg, I must have been reading about 4 blogs simulatenously when I commented – or maybe I was smokin something! (bizarre).


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