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Why the Church needs to understand the city

I recently wrote a review on Philip Jenkins' book, The Next Christendom. As someone who clearly understands the recent and future trends in Christianity, Jenkins has some insights as to why we, the sent people of God, must understand the city. I commented on the implication of the growth of cities and how the church should respond:

"Jenkins states that “most of the global population growth in the coming decades will be urban” (p. 93). In another major shift, these urban areas will mainly be Southern (p. 93). In fact, “the very concept of ‘belonging’ to a particular state will probably erode” (p. 11). As God’s people we are strategically placed and uniquely positioned to deal with this trend. Urbanization is not just a trend – it is a fact. If by 2050 up to 3 of 4 people will live in cities, then the people of God must be prepared to get ahead of this trend by positioning new churches and church planting resource centers for this future growth. In the mega-cities, cities with populations of potentially more than 30 or 40 million people, there will be “next to nothing in working government services” (p. 93). This has huge implications for the church in regards to community development. Churches should be adept at the strategies and success criteria for effective community development. And the fact that millions of people will in effect be “living and working totally outside the legal economy” (p. 93) brings unbelievable risk, but also provides unbelievable opportunities for churches in regards to social justice. If churches, new and old, can be an advocate for the poor and oppressed, for compassion, for justice, they will invariably align themselves with prevailing success. Jenkins is so convinced that this is a key to growth that he goes on to state that “rich pickings await any religious groups who can meet these needs of these new urbanites” (p. 94)." [ read more ]

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