Urban Evangelism

.. W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) going into urban areas and preaching a Caucasian Christ who, to them, knows nothing of being a minority who feel frustration with the current political system when in actuality Christ can more easily be identified with those minority outcasts than with mainstream religion. As. Ellison put it The Christian church has tended to maintain society’s fantasies by presenting a false picture of Christ of the Bible.

It has tended to portray Jesus as Anglo-Saxon, blue-eyed, blond, Protestant (and, some add Republican). As William E Pannell writes in My Friend the Enemy ‘this conservative brand of Christianity perpetuates the myth of white supremacy (Ellison 58). One of the greatest stumbling blocks to the gospel can be the struggle associated with race. Both historical accounts and contemporary research data give a sobering picture of the Christian community’s mirroring – and at times leading – American racial prejudice (Ellison 51). One of the first steps in reaching the city for Christ is a time of racial reconciliation and healing.

Those of all creed and color must be able to stand together. 1 John 2:10 says that He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. There is one final paradigm that shapes urban culture as a whole. Although this paradigm is the youngest in the series it can, at times, have the loudest voice. It touches not some or even most but all of those in urban and non-urban areas.

The paradigm is that of the media portrayal of the urban lifestyle. On any given night, one can turn on the television and, if all that one sees is taken to be true, learn that all those living in urban areas and either drug dealers or drug users. You will find out that most of the children do not have fathers and the one who do are abused by them. You will find out everyone is promiscuous and no good can be found within the city limits. It is no wonder so many people buy into this view, including many of those living in the urban areas. Although the city can be rough, it is dangerous to make it sound even worse than it really is. There is hope for the city and those within its limits. The urban dweller has enough to face without the bombarding of negative stereotypes that often turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Benjamin Tonna say’s that The process of secularization takes place in the city; in fact urbanization and secularization go hand in hand as parallel processes, even with a certain degree of interdependence. But this does not mean that religion is no longer viewed as the solution to human problems .. (Tonna 91). It is in fact, the only viable solution the world has left. With so many boundaries and obstacles to urban ministry it would be easy to become discouraged and give up. This should not be the reaction to the previous paragraphs.

That intended reaction is a renewed sense of urgency and purpose with a willingness to reevaluate the current methods being employed in urban areas today. In time of rapid change, says J. Paul Getty, our experience becomes our worst enemy (Shultz 273). An effective urban ministry will begin with a fresh look into the ways we preach and teach the gospel. A group of Christian educators were asked: If you found a curriculum that you believed was superior, that would result in greater learning among your people, would you be inclined to switch from what you are using now? Only 29% said yes (Shults 54).

Tradition, when abused or blindly followed, can do immeasurable amounts of harm. We must think of new ways to reach the lost. The idea a cultural relevancy must be applied to all aspects of urban ministry. In the book, Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Sunday School: And How to Fix It, Thom Shults recalled the story of a graduating seminary senior, asked to evaluate his theological education. The student responded that he felt well prepared to meet the needs of the nineteenth century church (Shults 114).

Many of the current trends in Evangelical circles are doing just that, teaching nineteenth century methods in a twenty-first century world. A call to a new work of the Holy Spirit is essential. One of the ways the church can practice cultural relevancy is to move away from the lofty sermons and haughty experiences of the past and focus the church into a body of believers meeting the physical, mental, and social needs of any and all it comes in contact with. The task of urban missions .. will be that of ushering Christians, not as in the past, into merely judicial and impersonal structures, but into the vital experiences of the local church (Tonna 173).

With out the continuous support of a local body of believers most endeavors in the inner-city will fail. The lofty heights of the pulpit are for feeding the sheep, not for gathering new sheep into the fold. Personal, one on one friendships will be the evangelism tool of the future. It is through the daily, often uneventful, demonstration of love, purer than anything found on earth, that will lead to lost into a relationship with Christ. In John 13:35 we find that By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. The Jesus people see in you may be the only Jesus they will ever see.

Your light must be evident. It is a sobering thought to that you only love Jesus as much as the person you love the least, and yet, it is an inescapable principle. The task at hand – evangelizing the cities and urban areas of the world – seems overwhelming at times We can, however, make a difference when equipped properly. The cities of the world are growing a record rates so the it is with great urgency that the church must decend onto the cities. There is a clear call the take the city for Christ and a clear burden in the heart of God for those within the city. Almost in line with contemporary urbanization, says Tonna, the scriptures begin in a garden and end in a city (Tonna 121).

The scripture as our guide, there is not city too vast and great it cannot be penetrated with the gospel. In the end, the church of today is in uncharted territory within the city. Tonna concludes his thoughts this way: At the empirical, experimental level, no way our of this situation has been charted for us. We can only maintain a attitude of openness to the transcendent level – not immediately experiential – of divine intervention into the entirety of human history and therefor into contemporary urban history (Tonna 193). These words echo basic truths in the previous pages.

Psalms 37:25 says I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. The nature of God and history itself bares out this premise of divine intervention into the entirety of human history. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost (Matthew 18:14). It is the will of God that all people be reached with the message of salvation. Through urbanization the church is not only faced with great opposition but also great opportunity to reach many people in a short time and area.

.. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 Religion Essays.

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