Taking Church Planting to the Cities
530 cities have a population of more than 1 million people and of these cities, 31 have not even one Seventh-day Adventist congregation, and 119 have fewer than 125 Adventists.
Jesus loves cities because He loves people, and cities are where most people now live. More than 100 years ago Ellen White challenged the Adventist movement to reach the cities using innovative methods: “There is means now tied up that should be in use for the unworked cities. . . . These cities have been neglected for years.”1 Let’s use creativity and persistence to follow God’s call to reach the cities.
Waiting, Waiting: If you were to watch a line of Cairo residents walking past the Great Pyramid at the rate of one person every five seconds, it would take six days before you would see one Seventh-day Adventist.
The Urban Challenge: 530 cities have a population of more than 1 million people. Of these cities, 31 have not even one Seventh-day Adventist congregation, and 119 have fewer than 125 Adventists. Ellen White wrote: “The work in the cities is the essential work for this time.”2 Today the world’s urban population is 13 times greater than when she wrote.
Starting in New York
The NY13 project launched New York City as the first of some 650 cities chosen for special focus in the Mission to the Cities initiative. During 2013, 53 new congregations were started in New York City, and more than 5,000 people joined the church. Each world division is currently focusing on at least one city in their territory, and union conferences, conferences, and missions are also selecting cities for special attention.
For all division- and union-selected cities, see www.missiontothecities.org/cities.
Urban Centers of Influence
Healthy Eating: Huldah Karlsson (pictured with her Bible worker husband, Jonathan) is the founder and manager of Vegana Vasa, a restaurant and center of influence that opened in July 2013 in the city of Vaasa, Finland. Vegana Vasa provides a springboard for a range of wholistic mission activities including lifestyle expos, vegetarian cooking classes, health lectures, and Bible seminars. Huldah’s dream is to see a network of these centers of influence across Scandinavia. During the past few years Adventist Mission has helped fund urban centers of influence such as Vegana Vasa to put Christ’s method of ministry into practice, providing opportunities to mingle, show sympathy, minister to needs, win confidence, and bid people to follow Jesus. More than 300 centers have been established, with many more to come.
Planning for the Cities
October 2011: The General Conference Executive Committee voted the “Mission to the Cities” document. Entitled “Modeling Christ’s Caring Compassion in the 21st Century,” this document outlined the challenge of urban mission, divine counsel, and a plan of action for the church. (The document is available at missiontothecities.org.)October 2012: The It’s Time conference held at the Adventist world headquarters brought together church leaders around the world to further pray and plan for urban mission. They voted a document entitled “It’s Time: The Urgency of Urban Mission,” which specifies establishing or growing an Adventist presence and “needs-based” ministries in cities with populations of more than 1 million. It also urges greater urban mission work in all cities throughout the world through wholistic ministry. (The document is available at missiontothecities.org.)
Successful Mission to the Cities requires total participation of all church departments, institutions, pastors, and members. It must be a long-term initiative that involves a variety of ministries and approaches, including church planting, Life Hope centers (centers of influence), comprehensive health evangelism, seminars, small groups, public evangelism reaping meetings, and literature distribution.