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Finding the Mosaic in the Mess The Reality of Urban Ministry

Written by Ed Stetzer Feed on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Doing ministry in the city can be messy, but there's beauty in the mess. Know and love your cities.

In my work at LifeWay Research and through my blog, I regularly attempt to call the Church’s attention to cultural trends that affect the ways in which we share the gospel and accomplish the Great Commission in our local churches and our personal walks with Christ. I am a missiologist so, well, that’s what we are supposed to help people do.

Whether I’m pointing people to the usefulness of social media or explaining the importance of welcoming other cultures and backgrounds, I serve the Church by helping it better understand and interact with the world around it. One of the most recent trends missiologists have been keeping an eye on is the urbanization of the world and how such migration affects the ways in which we plant churches and do mission.

“The city” is an emerging phrase that seems to be embraced by a growing number of Christians. I intentionally say they are embracing the phrase, because I do not think that all are actually embracing the city. Rather most are simply embracing the idea of embracing the city.

Whatever it is that we say about the city, the truth is the church is often absent from the urban context. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and one who is at the forefront of this renewed call to reach the cities, says that people are moving into the cities faster than the church is.

Part of the reason is that urban ministry is complex ministry. A diversity of cultures, races, and socioeconomic statuses make for a beautiful mosaic of the people of God, but working among the diversity of Miami can be more complicated than ministering among a more homogenous group in rural Nebraska.

When cultural differences collide, things can ...

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