Friday, 24 February 2012

The Urban mission and evangelism in the light of the New Testament

1.      Introduction

2.      What does it mean to live a holy life? How does someone know if he or she has  been filled with the Holy Spirit?

3.      Why we need a Urban Evangelization
4.       Wisdom of Christian Tradition

5.      Methods for Urban Evangelism

6.      Urban Evangelism

7.      Conclusion

8.   Bibliography

“The first service of a Holy Ghost-baptized church is to the poor; As the spirit was upon Jesus to preach the gospel to the poor, so His Spirit is upon His servants for the same purpose[1]we have fashioned the following mission statement to direct our efforts: Urban Ministries exists to develop strategies and provide resources to assist churches and districts in the task of holistic evangelism in the urban areas through starting, strengthening and stimulating congregations that seek to transform broken lives and impoverished communities.
What does it mean to live a holy life? How does someone know if he or she has been filled with the Holy Spirit?
Some theological traditions in the Christian faith place an emphasis on the work of
The Third Person of the Holy Trinity. One tradition believes that to be filled with the Spirit involves having extraordinary power and demonstration of special abilities called charismas, or spiritual gifts. The scriptural witness to gifts of the Spirit, but understands that the sign or evidence of being filled with the Spirit is not any one or more of the gifts. It is a life bearing the fruit of the Spirit; the first of which the Apostle Paul lists is love[2]

Why we need a Urban Evangelization
The Christian canon opens with humankind in a garden, but concludes with all the
nations of the world living in fellowship with God in a city.
The city in the New Testament:
• Jesus began his ministry in a small town, but fulfilled it in a city.
• The Church was born in the city
• Paul was an urbanite.
• A casual study of the New Testament canon reveals just how much the new Christian faith was truly an urban phenomenon. For example
 Paul’s missionary campaigns were to the significant cities of that time; his church planting efforts in these centers of global transportation, diverse
Cultures and peoples helped disburse the Gospel around the world. A good portion of the Epistles were directed to churches in urban centers,
The seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were city churches. From study and reflection on these references and other major themes of the Scriptures, a biblical theology of the city will emerge
Wisdom of Christian Tradition
The Christian Church begins in the city of Jerusalem on the Festival of Pentecost. It soon spread to the world’s major cities through the ministry of Paul. The concept of missionary is worked out in the life and ministry of Paul and his companions whom he describes as apostolic, and the particular kind of missionaries they are is urban missionaries! This means that the New Testament concept of missionary is closer to that of urban missionary than the current popular concept of missionary in our present day.” Orjala[3] argues that the term urban missionary can help the Church return to a balanced understanding of the usage of missionary, one more consistent with “the whole history of missions in these two millennia of the existence of the Church
Methods for Urban Evangelism
The Gospel evangelist-the speaker of the world's best news-is a dealer in the greatest intangible in the world! And like others who are interested in the promotion of intangibles, the preacher of the Gospel must be keen to ascertain the best and most effective ways by which to uphold his Lord and His kingdom. While there are no basic differences between the people who reside in our urban areas, and those whose homes are in the suburban sections, yet experience has taught us that we would do well to become careful students of both urban and suburban problems, and seek the most satisfactory methods of Gospel proclamation for each type of situation.
       A method of evangelism which seems to be most productive today, especially in the downtown areas, is that which has been termed, "Visitation Evangelism." We understand, of course, that all evangelism involves visitation of some kind, but this program lays a special emphasis upon a well coordinated and directed campaign which is designed to use the church membership in a most I effective way to win the unsaved. Three phases of this type of evangelism are worthy of passing note. First, let it be remembered at all times that evangelism is the extension of the Gospel of Christ by means of personal influence. It is a well-known fact that non-church people are attracted to the local church, not because of some personal ability of the local minister, but because someone has extended his influence to interest that person in the work of the local congregation. Here is the greatest argument in the world for making sure that every member of the congregation spends some time each week seeking to enlist friends for the church. We win people to Christ by exerting our influence in His behalf. Following acquaintanceship and fellowship comes a studied consideration of the claims of Christ on the part of the one brought into the circle of influence of the local congregation.
    Next, let it be considered that evangelism is the building of the church through decision. This is the definite commitment of people to the terms of the Gospel. In other words, the non-Christian is compelled to make a decision either for or against the Christ at a given time. It is at this point that we have so often failed. We do a splendid job in presenting the credentials of the Christ, and the blue-print of the church, and the terms of salvation, but when it comes to gaining the decision NOW-we lose our punch. This fact is clearly comprehended in the plan of visitation evangelism. As a result, the needed emphasis upon gaining decisions NOW, is made.
    The third phase of visitation evangelism, as such, has to do with the concept that evangelism is the extension of the Gospel message through growth in it. This implies that the person is not completely evangelized until he has been assimilated into the local congregation, and is made aware of his responsibilities and opportunities.
     When our Lord came teaching and preparing His followers to do His will in the sounding forth of His message and the building of His church, He emphasized the fact that the most important person to Him was the servant. In other words, Christ has a task for the person who is willing to be used. This is important to our thinking in this matter of evangelism for our cities. While some people in the church are too busy to serve Christ, yet there are always those wonderful spirits who are willing to do what they can for God! Give them a task! Carefully outline their work. Establish a system for their operation. Give them instruction and encouragement, and behold, they will move cities for Christ! And, having expended themselves in such a work once, they are all the more ready for further activity of like nature! Teach a man to become a fisher of men, and the more he works the works of Christ-the more enthused he will become. Many a person whose faith had worn thin, has been re-won to win! 
Urban Evangelism
Go you into the entire World
"…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 this commandment, given by Christ to his apostles, was one of action. First they were to go into their homes, or Jerusalem, then to their community, or Samaria, and then finally to the ends of the earth. The Christian church of today however has lost sight of that directive. For too many years now we have sent thousands of missionaries abroad while ignoring the mission field next door. While many may witness in our homes few move out into the community, especially when that community is in an urban area. Joshua 8:7 says "…take the city. The LORD your God will give it into your hand." Now more than ever this call to "take the city" must followed by believers.
The sheer numbers involved in urban evangelism should serve as all call to arms. The church must be involved in the cities of the world both physically and socially. Amos Hawley say’s that "Every social act in an exercise of power, every social relationship is a power equation" (Hurst 92) within that power equation, who better to serve at a catalyst for social action than the creator of power Himself. The Holy Spirit will enable the saint, but to effectively minister in the urban culture one must know the history, understand the lifestyle, and apply cultural relevancy to each and every action.
First, a definition of exactly what the term urban means is essential. Benjamin Tonnna in his book Gospel for the Cities gives a definition of urban that encompasses many of the far reaching aspects of this illusive term. "Urban…here covers all the ‘things’ that characterize the fact of the metropolis…The central interest is in the process of urbanization, which can be defined as the phenomenon by which millions of men and women move en masse from rural to metropolitan areas, and - more importantly - which transforms the lifestyle" (Tonnna 5). It is difficult if not impossible to characterize an urban area strictly in term of numbers or density. It requires far more than quantitative analysis but also qualitative analysis to understand the culture and lifestyle as well as the pure data. With this definition in mind, the history of the migration to cities must also be more fully understood. 
"Cities such as Madras and Calcutta, Hong Kong and Singapore were born as support bases for imperialist interests; they exercised commercial, administrative, and military function. These cities, and many others, in Latin America and Africa as well, sprang up from the concerns of the European population residing in them and the interests of the overseas metropolitan centers - mot from the needs of the local population"
There are many paradigms that make up the culture of the urban area. Traditionally cities have been recognized by poverty, racial tension, and a generally lower quality of life. Of all the negative aspects of city life the one, steady, underlying current is a low socioeconomic status. Hurst tells us that "…socioeconomic status is (1) a continuum of inequality between classes, (2) partly the result of subsectors as well as objective conditions, (3) multidimensional, and (4) non-conflictive in nature" (Hurst 10). It is this low SES, however, that leads many urban dwellers into a state of conflict with many of the white, middle class, evangelicals who venture out to minister to them. One of the first fallacies in urban ministry is a lack of understanding of the conflict that exists between what the messenger unwittingly represents. The church is comfortable accepting the expenditure of vast sums for war and larger police forces, even though this drains away resources that might have been used for the needs of people right next door to the church (Ellison 67). To misunderstand the culture of poverty is much like driving blindfolded. You may get a few feet but eventually you’ll hit something. Many Protestants have historically felt, as Durkheim put it, "if individuals do not engage in their occupations, but rather remain idle, poverty will befall them. Riches are the result of industry, and poverty is the result of laziness" (Hurst 303). This idea of self sufficiency forms a gap between those who desire to save the lost from hell and those who are forced to listen to the gospel by someone who won’t back social policy designed to get them out of the only hell they can comprehend. The simplest way to ensure an unsuccessful urban ministry is to buy into the feeling that "those who are poor should expect no help from others since it is their own behavior that has resulted in their dismal situation" (Hurst 303). 
As if the class struggle is not enough to overcome, race is still a major factor in the evangelizing of the urban community. William Julius Wilson has said that "the social problems of urban life in the United States are, in large measure, the problems of racial inequality" (Hurst 62). With a high minority population living in the cities, understanding race difficulties and differences is essential. There is a basis fallacy in the W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) going into urban areas and preaching a Caucasian Christ who, to them, knows nothing of being...
Ellison, Craig W. Urban Mission Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co, 1974.

Findley, James F. Church People in the Struggle New York: Oxford University Press,

Giradet, Herbert the Giai Atlas of Cities

Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes and Consequences Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1992

Hunter, Mark the Changing Family Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1998

Shultz, Thom and Joani Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church: And How to  and How to Fix It Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 1996

The Holy Bible the New International Version Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Publishing, 1994.

Tonna, Benjamin A Gospel for the Cities: A Socio-Theology of Urban Ministry New
York: Orbis Books, 1988
Vandermeulen, Arnold J. Skid Row Life Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1956

Wooden, Wayne S. Renegade Kids, Suburban Outlaws: From Youth Culture to Delinquency New York: Wadsworth Publishing, 1995

U.S. Census Bureau World POP Clock Projection
bin/ipc/popclock 1999

[1] Phineas F. Bresee, Nazarene Messenger, October, 1901
[2] Advent Sermon, Jerry Porter. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Theological Seminary, 5 December 2003
[3] Paul R. Orjala, “The Urban Missionary”

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