In our last post Mission Field: The North American Urban Context Part I,, we discussed what defines the Urban Context in NA. Today, we will transition from the numbers and definitions to focus more upon strategy and application.
Strategy and Application
With the populations growing, demographics constantly in flux, and the urban influence expanding in NA, attempting to nail down an effective strategy to reduce lostness is something that remains a challenge. Here are a few things to consider when seeking to reach the peoples in the North American context:
1. See People More Than Numbers—When I consider the mission field that is NA, I try to remember the specific people that God has allowed me to engage with the gospel in cities over the last several years—Paul and Sam in Chicago, Cynthia and Wilson in Boston, Mommodou in New York City, Davud in Toronto, Saed in Nashville, as well as Curtis and Mohammed in Detroit. Make the mission personal, not theoretical.
2. See Cities as Hubs for Transnational Evangelism—Learn who the peoples are that God has placed in your context, get to know them, serve them, and share the gospel with them. Remember that we can be part of God’s global mission wherever we are by connecting the dots with diaspora peoples.
3. Find Ways to Live the Gospel While Sharing It—Learn and understand your people and context. Engage the public square in all of its spheres of influence (work, school, marketplace, sports, etc.). Find as many ways to serve and be hospitable as you can.
4. Be Willing to Plant Your Life While Planting the Gospel—We need to see God raise up people who are willing to be sent into this mission field and people who arise from within it. That means we need to see church planters and team members joining together to go, teach & proclaim, and bring healing in order to see lives transformed with the gospel as new kingdom expressions of the local church are started.
Let’s conclude this section by connecting back to how we set the stage. Why did Jesus go, teach & proclaim the gospel, and heal? First, that was the mission He was given by His Father. Second, it flowed out of seeing the people and having compassion for them. Third, He desired to see a workforce of people going and doing the same things. He was setting the example. That’s why He said this to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38).
In the next part of this series, we will take a closer look at the North American rural context and related demographics, needs, and potential approaches in regard to church planting.
Mike is an Assistant Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism, the Associate Director for North American Church Planting for the Center for Great Commission Studies, and a National Missionary of the North American Mission Board (D.Miss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div., Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary)