Reaching the World through the City

George Reitz

 Thinking strategically is hard work. It means broadening our perspective to study the whole of how interrelated things operate. Decisions with our goals in mind are then made on the basis of the functional system.

Our Lord Jesus handed us a challenge: Reach the world with the gospel. For 2,000 years now the Church has made an effort, although quite feeble at times, by apostolically taking the Word to other cultures. Could that Great Commission paradigm of “going” be complimented with the specific location as to where?

As our world has continuously grown smaller through communication development, and rural economics die from famine and imports, cities have taken on a new frontier role. In Third World countries, the rural poor pour into cities to find jobs and food. By the year 2000, more than half of the world's population, for the first time, will be urban. At the United Nations' Habitat II Conference in Istanbul (June 1996), it was projected that by the year 2015, metropolitan Bombay will have 27 million people; Lagos, 24 million; Shanghai, 23.5 million; Jakarta, 21 million and Mexico City, 18.7 million. Wally N'Dow from Gambia suggested that many of these cities will drift from their national mooring, establishing themselves as the political, economic and diplomatic power centers.1 Since the beginning of history the city has played a strategic role. Now more than ever it may hold the key to human development and world evangelization.

Since the early 1980s, a small group of evangelical urban criers have been appealing to conscience, calling denominations to stop their white flight from the cities and see it as a worthy home mission field. This has produced a quiet, dribbly movement of young “mantle carriers” who invest themselves in passionate service for Christ in our inner cities. However, the American church has been slow to hear the spiritual marines' cry for help and reinforcements. Slowly the sleeping giant is waking to the city as a significant mission field.

 With the weakening of rural economies, ethnic wars and famine and the ease of modern travel, most world class cities have become the home to a global population.2 Add to this, here in the U.S., a critical change in immigration policy in 1965, from a discriminating quotas pro-cess, to a less selective 20,000 per countries per year. Whereas pre-1965 the majority of immigrants were of European extraction, afterward eighty-five percent have come from Asia and the western hemisphere, the top contributors being Mexico, the Philippines, Cuba, Korea and China.3 This has resulted in some of our cities being called “foreign cities” as their foreign-born population has risen—New York (twenty-eight percent), Los Angeles (thirty-eight percent) and Miami (fifty-nine percent).4 The growth in diversity and in the immigration rate has drastically changed the composition and therefore the global influence of these cities.

The New York City caption, “See the World on the No. 7 Train” is not far-fetched. City planners are projecting that by the year 2000, New York City's white population will drop to thirty-five percent, with rises in populations of Hispanic to twenty-nine percent, Blacks to twenty-six percent and Asian to ten percent. Demographics portray New York as a drastically different city in the year 2000 than the 1970 version.5

With the world coming to our cities, a kingdom strategist must consider the unique position of our cities for world evangelization. Could our Lord have a broader plan which would include a new, complementary paradigm to our “going to the earth's ends,” namely that the world could be reached by discipling our cities? This would move us one step beyond the present tendency to focus on the city as a mission field, to one of a strategic discipling center with the capability of evangelizing the globe.

Cities As Strategy Centers

 The important role of the city-states of the Old Testament times needs consideration as we try to lay aside our more contemporary American anti-urban bias. City-building began, as the biblical account states, as a human endeavor to establish a place of rest and protection (Genesis 4). Yes, its creation stems from man's rebellion against God. But a measure of good has come out of evil rebellion. To suggest the city, rather than man's heart, is evil misses the point.

Righteous Lot chose the cities for their apparent beauty. The plained cities of Sodom and Gomorrah appear to have been a gardened oasis fed by the Jordan River. Its comparison to Eden and Zoar of Egypt supports the fact that it was a lush, beautiful place to live. Lot's urban inclinations do not speak against his sanity or his spirituality (2 Peter 2:6-10; Genesis 13:10-13).

City-states were early neighborhoods where business could be transacted and community life enjoyed within its walled protection. They were refuges from crime and the uncertainties of the countryside. It was not uncommon for confederacies of city-states to develop in order to fight a common enemy threat (Genesis 14:1-3). Cities were safe havens!

As Jewish Old Testament history develops, it's not long before a theology of place begins to take shape. Jerusalem becomes the focus and staging ground of God's redemptive activity. After Abraham's daring rescue of Lot's family from Sodom, Melchizedek, a priest of God from Salem (thought to be Jerusalem), responded by feeding and blessing him.

After the establishment of the monarchy, from its spiritual theocratic roots, David brought his newly reunited kingdom together at Jerusalem. It became the spiritual capital of Israel. The Ark of God was secured and placed within the city. Out of his covenant relationship with Yahweh God, David aspired to construct a temple center, later built by his son Solomon (2 Samuel 5-7).

As Israel's worship traditions were established, Jerusalem continued to be the center. All annual festival pilgrimages were made to Jerusalem. When the division of the nation occurred after Solomon, Jeroboam, out of fear that loyalty to him would be sabotaged by the cyclical calendar journeys to Jerusalem, established his own idolatrous city worship centers at the cities of Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:25-33).

Jerusalem was often called Zion, the City of the Lord, because it was foretold in Jewish prophecy that the nations and their kings would come there to experience and worship Yahweh God. God's glory rested there. Jerusalem's peace would be her governor, righteousness her ruler. Her walls would be called salvation, her gates praise. The Lord Himself would be her light (Isaiah 60).

The strategic importance of Jerusalem grows with her history. The restored temple within its gates became the religious hub during Jesus' day. Much of Jesus' last days of ministry focused on the city. His donkey ride into the city symbolized His kingly coronation. His betrayal, the illegal court proceedings, cross carrying and death all occurred in metro Jerusalem.

After the establishment of the Church in Jerusalem, it became the staging area for the global evangelization pro-cess. A beginning that continues and will one day conclude in the New Jerusalem.

Even a cursory reading of the early Church's expansion shows the critical value of urban centers to the spread of the gospel. Roman highways facilitated travel between the capitals of the provinces. The Roman system of government made these city centers vital communication links. Paul and other early apostles made full use of a city strategy for province saturation and empire evangelization.

The American city has its roots in the colonial expansionism of the Dutch, English, French and Spanish. San Antonio, Detroit, Saint Augustine and New Amsterdam were commercial centers that, being fortified, protected the interests of the major power. During these colonial days, the major cities were the East Coast ports of Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Newport and Charleston, hubs of growing trade. The growing farm frontier to the west spurred the development of the market towns of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis. Manifest Destiny, our own young nation's expansionist effort, led to the formation of cities like Santa Fe, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Carson City and Tucson. With the coming of the industrial period, the city-building process continued in the Great Lakes region with the emergence of cities like Chicago, Buffalo, Milwaukee and Cleveland developed on key water and railway routes.6 Historically, the development of cities was the development of strategic centers.

Today, cities remain one of the keys to completing the Great Commission because of their strategic position in our global society. Despite the fact that our main intention here is to give the rationale for a city focus strategy, it is critical to have a core understanding of the city's characteristics, for in them is seen the logic of the city's strategic nature. I will list six general characteristics that summarize the city's character.

First, cities are cities because of their size. They are big, often overwhelming centers that seem to defy the imagination and definition. With the usual building-to-building density, the sheer numbers of people living in cities seem mind-boggling. To the outsider, this “overload” is unmanageable. But to the city dweller, this urban sprawl is nicely packaged into definable communities each with its own personality and resources, making living not only comfortable, but also stimulating.

Second, diversity has been an urban characteristic since our country's early beginnings. New Netherlands (now New York City) was a multicultural community in the middle 1600s. This diversity has become more pronounced or identifiable recently with a shift in host countries and growth in numbers. Our city foreign-born rates have skyrocketed. The cultural complexions of our cities are enriching our American mix.

A third characteristic of cities is change. Stores come and go. Neighbors move in and out. Neighborhoods seem always in transition. Yet it's this seeming continuous change that brings the ebb and flow of disintegration and revitalization, renewing the cities with some historic regularity.

A fourth and most frustrating urban characteristic is the ambiguity experienced. Our common labeling systems don't fit all, often proving inadequate. Urban definitions are sometimes fuzzy, making it almost impossible to track things down. Measurements seem to be in a state of continuous estimation. There is a sense of ambiguity that makes the city sometimes hard to cope with.

Fifth, loneliness has long described the schizophrenic nature of the city. Massive numbers of people crowding the streets. Apartment building upon apartment building lining avenues. How could anyone possibly feel alone? Yet the mass of humanity fosters an impersonal protectiveness that cries out for privacy, which sometimes degenerates into loneliness.

Sixth, the city is generally out in front of society on issues, fads and other cultural trends. This pioneering mentality promotes an unpredictability. In addition, many of the new city residents from countries around the globe find their early days difficult. Low-paying jobs force many to share apartments with friends and family to survive. Life on the edge, as illustrated by these two examples, breeds insecurity, another urban characteristic.

Urbanologists define cities by their function in society. Ray Bakke provides a helpful short list of functions that best describe city group classifications. Culture centers, such as cities like Paris, are trendsetters in fashion. Others like Washington, D.C. are political and administrative cities. Chicago-Gary act as industrial cities driven by their factories. Commercial cities like New York function as giant markets, selling wares to their millions of tourist shoppers. Belfast and Jerusalem are symbolic cities that mark the internal difficulty of their nations.7 A careful study of a specific city's history will reveal its function, heart and character, which, of course, is critical to understanding how a particular city is strategic.

The Paradigm Defined

Jesus pointed the kingdom army to the goal of global evangelization. It was to be done through discipling of all people groups by going to where they are, baptizing them into the faith and teaching a follow-through of His message. Because the emphasis has been upon “going” instead of “discipling” all these years, most of us acquired the idea that going geographically overseas was the critical piece. But the focus must be on the discipling of people groups. Sending apostle-types overseas in cross-cultural environments will occupy a large part of our efforts. But has there been a movement of God that would help us in a complimentary way accomplish the goal of world evangelization?

 In Acts 2, Dr. Luke tells the fabulous story of the creation of the Church. It was Pentecost, A.D. 33. Jerusalem, under normal circumstances, had a population of slightly over a quarter of a million. However, during the festival pilgrimage times, the city bulged and overflowed with people. All the inns were full. Upper-room hospitality stretched family comfort. The hillside surrounding the entire city was strewn with tents full of religious families. Hundreds of thousands had traveled days to participate in the celebrations. They were ready for the party to begin.

This part of the Jewish calendar, from Passover through Pentecost, was a time when the people were really pumped because it commemorated the mighty works of Yahweh God within their history. The two events were inseparably woven together. Passover became a victory celebration, recalling God's deliverance of Israel from their Egyptian slavery. An oppressed people were given their freedom. Free, free at last! Yahweh God personally intervened on their behalf. Fifty days later, having traveled to Mt. Sinai where leader Moses first met Yahweh God, commandments, ten in number, were given as living instructions. God does not deliver people to wander gropingly in the dark. He provides direction. This Torah (law) became their cherished document. And Israel celebrated this great event, the giving of the Torah, annually at the Pentecost Feast.

There is another event of significance. It's prophetic! The weeping man of God named Jeremiah delivered a verse of divine hope within the bulk of his diatribe. Promising a New Covenant, Yahweh God went on record that in a future day He would put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Among the masses of hundreds of thousands, 120 spent ten days together praying and waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. They were the kingdom's core group, the loyalists anticipating their assignment and the authority to perform it. On the very day of Pentecost, strange things began to happen. Unusual sounds, like violent wind blowing, filled the house. A fire flame covered each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Can you believe the timing? On the very day that Israel was celebrating the giving of the Torah to Moses, God wrote His Torah on the hearts and minds of His people! Leaving the house, they all spoke in languages unknown to them.

Dr. Luke gives us an interesting description of the population at the Pentecost Festival in Jerusalem. He meticulously lists fifteen distinct people groups who heard the gospel praise in their particular language—this, after he made an astounding statement, that “the world was there”! (“There were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven,” Acts 2:5). Representation from every nation of the world heard the gospel in a culturally sensitive way. Their question, “What does this mean?” led to a full, clear explanation. The world was in the city of Jerusalem (a movement of God) and God's people could reach the world (in a sense) by reaching the city. Could God be bringing the world to our cities today? And if so, could we reach the world by seeing beyond our cities as a mission field to seeing them as a strategic center where we can disciple the nations?

A Look at New York

Favorably called “the Big Apple,” New York City is home to 7.32 million people. Despite the trend of population loss in some of our aging American cities, during the decade of the '70s nearly 800,000 immigrants arrived; and in the '80s, 969,000 immigrants repeopled New York, revitalizing both neighborhood and city! The 321.8 square miles that constitute the five boroughs has become a truly international city, a place where the world takes up residence.8

In 1965 a patched, old system of U.S. immigration policy was amended and, in essence, was replaced by a new immigration act (the Hart-Cellar Act). The old system based on the injustice of preference for certain national origins gave way to a revolutionary, open annual limit of 170,000 immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere (with a 20,000 per country limit) and 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere. Whereas Europe had historically been the main source, Asia and Latin America have become the dominant providers of our immigration flow. And because cities tend to embrace the immigrant, most newcomers settle there. This has radically changed the demographic complexion of our cities, especially New York.9

During the years of 1982-1989, the top ten source countries of immigration were the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, China, Guyana, Haiti, Colombia, Korea, India, Ecuador and the Philippines. Two of these groups, the Dominicans and Guyanese, have more than sixty percent of their total number coming to New York. Forty-four percent of all Jamaicans immigrating to the U.S. make New York their home. Meanwhile, forty-nine percent of all Ecuadorian and thirty-seven percent of all Haitians join their friends and family there.10

New York is the second largest Dominican city in the world after Santo Domingo, with over 400,000. After Kingston, it is the second largest Jamaican city, with over 250,000. Boasting five different Chinatowns, New York is comprised of nearly 400,000 Chinese. Nearly a seventh (over 110,000) of the entire population of Guyana has immigrated to New York. Nearly 200,000 Haitians, Colombians and Koreans reside here. New York remains the largest Jewish city in the world with 1.5 million (larger than the combined Israeli cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa). It remains the world's largest Puerto Rican city with over 980,000. Approximately 35,000 Native Americans from sixty different nations live in New York, making its metropolitan area the third largest in the nation. In the last twenty years, nearly 250,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived and established their own Little Odessa.11

This is only part of the story. Asian Indians, Pakistanis, Bangledeshis, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans, Poles, Croatians, Bosnian, Serbs, Irish and many more have come. It is believed that more than 222 people groups live in New York City.12 The world has come to us!

Along with them, the immigrants have brought not only their culture, but also their religion. Hindu and Buddhist temples and Muslim mosques have been springing up throughout the city. Before a city council meeting in early 1992, Muslim leaders made a claim of 700,000 adherents to Islam in the city. Don't the populations represented by these religions remind us of the 10/40 Window? I wonder how many of the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window are represented right here in our metropolitan centers like New York and Los Angeles?

Why do individuals embark on this immigration journey? What does it do to them? The immigrant story has seemingly always fascinated us, because each of us has immigrant forefathers; we are a nation of immigrants. Oscar Handlin, in his classic entitled The Uprooted, powerfully describes the immigrant experience:

My theme is emigration as the central experience of a great many human beings. I shall touch upon broken homes, interruptions of a familiar life, separation from known surroundings, the becoming a foreigner and ceasing to belong. These are the aspects of alienation; and seen from the perspective of the individual received rather than of the receiving society, the history of immigration is a history of alienation and its consequences.13

Torn between a love for the homeland and a hope for a brighter future here, the immigrant struggles for a sense of reality. There are two obvious realities. First, the possible upside of alienation from the gospel's point of view is that a person outside of his or her own cultural straightjacket is less bound by the social pressure to measure up to the normal expectations of the group. Secondly, because the immigrant's focus is future oriented, change is an expected ingredient. Both of these factors suggest an openness to new things, ideas and dreams. What an open door to a culturally sensitive presentation of the gospel!

The city is strategic because the globe's people groups have a large representation of their average population here. A second key factor is the presence of world leadership, both present and future.

New York is the home of the largest diplomatic community in the world. The United Nations was originally formed in June of 1945 as an organization of nations established to maintain world peace. Today 185 nations consider themselves members of the U.N. and have consulate residences and staff here. Mayor Rudy Giuliani introduced the Register of Foreign Consulates and Associated Government Offices in New York by saying, “As part of our effort to enhance your New York City experience, the `Red Book' is published to help members of the consular community enjoy their stay as temporary New Yorkers.” The commissioner, recognizing the value of their presence, stated, “The consulates, staffed by many of the best and brightest of the sending countries, add greatly to the city's diversity and certify our stature as `the international capital of the world.' ”14 Present influential world leadership literally lives “down the street” from us.

Future global leadership of international students (452,635, the national total for the year 1994-1995) study in our ninety degree-granting institutions. New York University ranked fourth in the nation in 1994 with 3,832 foreign students.15 A good illustration is the complexion of an area sports team. “The soccer team from St. John's, in the Final Four for the first time in its history, is a melting pot, with players of African, Brazilian, Caribbean, English, Dutch, Italian, Polish and Spanish descent,” writes Times author Alex Yannis. “And if St. John's can somehow go all the way to the championship,” he continued, “there will be little celebrations popping up all over the globe.”16 This availability of large numbers of international students in our colleges and universities is a potent future force to be considered in our kingdom-building strategy.

As I mull this over in my mind, I wonder why we as God's kingdom people don't take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that are available right here in our backyard. It seems like the stage is set. New York City must be viewed as one of our prime strategic targets as well as a command center out of which we do global evangelization.

Our Modern Global Village: Four Models Demonstrating Our Interconnectedness

Earlier it was mentioned that New York City's Mayor Giuliani referred to the consulate community as “temporary New Yorkers.” The larger group of people immigrating there may have little intention of ever returning to their home country except for a visit. Yet the point is that those living there, temporarily or more long term, are in regular communication with and perhaps influencing the policy of their countries back home. The power of this interconnectedness for gospel purposes needs to be more clearly understood and utilized.

There are a number of elements that demonstrate this interconnectedness between a city like New York and the world of nations. One obvious example is the flow of the dollar. Experts suggest that there are between 6 and 7 million people of Mexican descent living in the U.S. Annually, $4 billion to $6 billion is transferred from the U.S., back to family and friends in Mexico.17 This is a very common practice.

It is not unusual to speak with a friend who is going back home for vacation. During these trips, which may be annual, the American green card holder or citizen renews acquaintances and does necessary business. They most likely would carry there gifts and some goods to sell, returning with gifts for family and acquaintances. In the fullest sense, they are personal message bearers between their two worlds.

In some situations these immigrants function as citizens in these two worlds. This past summer during the presidential elections in the Dominican Republic, hundreds of people returned home to work in the elections. Although unusual, this does happen. Somewhat different, but to the point, is the situation of the Puerto Rican living in the U.S. Because of their unique commonwealth privileges, people from Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. This means that they have free movement back and forth. They function with all the freedom of dual residency and citizenship.

Some American green card holders get to the end of their economically productive years with a yearning for the old or quiet ways of home. Their family and friends network is still in place. The kids are grown, living with their own family perhaps hundreds of miles away. The call of home enchantingly woos them to retire on their picturesque island or comfortable, quiet setting. They have gone full circle in their migration travels.

Facility of modern travel encourages a much more informal interaction between peoples of various nations. Annually, 25 million tourists from around the world visit New York City. This amazing mobility encourages interconnectedness and enlarges the impact that can be made.

Our world is a global village. Power centers like the city often become a microcosm of the world. The interplay between the ends of the earth and large cities like New York is frequent, necessary and dynamic. In light of this perspective, let's look at four models that might be of help in building a global kingdom strategy from the perspective of “reaching the world through the city.”

The first model focuses on second generation leadership returning home. The U.S. and the cities in particular have served as a magnet. Due to perceived opportunity, millions have come. They and their children are educated here in our colleges and universities. The acquired skills and understandings, as well as influential ties with “back home,” position them for key roles in their nation's development. Milan Panic, a chief executive of ICN Pharmaceuticals, a California-based manufacturer, became involved in 1992 in his native Yugoslavia's changing political climate. For a brief period of time, Panic served as its prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu, recently elected prime minister of Israel, was raised and educated in the U.S. Hussein Mohammed Farah, son of General Mohammed Farah Aidid, the Somali faction leader and a naturalized American citizen raised in Southern California, recently replaced his father as leader of his Somalian clan.18

Leonel Fernandez Reyna as a child was brought to New York City by his mother from the Dominican Republic. Growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Fernandez attended the New York City public school system. Running for the presidency of the Dominican Republic this past summer, he proudly declared, “I am a product of New York City . . . molded by New York. . . .” Fernandez went on to victory and now serves as the president of that country. As an interesting sidelight, during the campaign both Fernandez and his opponent took stances favoring “legislation that would permit Dominican nationals residing abroad to vote wherever they live. . . .”19

A second model showing our modern global village's interconnectedness is that of a growing number of business people returning to their homeland to get ahead. Immigrants often come here for economic reasons. Yet with time, the conditions in their home countries change. Especially in the Far East, countries like India, Taiwan and Korea have of late become manufacturing and high-tech powerhouses. This has caused many, especially educated and often second-generation types, to reevaluate returning. In 1987, at the peak of the Korean immigration to the U.S., one in every ten of more than 30,000 immigrants would move back home. During the year of 1994, one of every two were returning home.20

There are three dominant reasons for this trend. One already mentioned is the very healthy economic conditions “back home.” The push side of this pull is the glass ceiling many educated immigrants and their children are experiencing in corporate America. They are advancing only so far. One second-generation Korean astutely noted, “A Harvard law degree goes much further in Korea than it does in America.” A third and very emotional reason for returning is the deep concern for aging parents. These factors are stimulating some unexpected movements that should be studied for strategy purposes in fulfilling our mandate for world evangelization.21

A third model of the modern global village's interconnectedness is the Japanese business expansion into world markets. New York metropolitan area has a Japanese population of over 55,000. This group could be broken down into two subgroups: the business man with his family and alternative oriented youth escaping their cultural straight-jacket. The majority by far is the business family. The uniqueness of this model is the temporariness of the Japanese business family's time here, and therefore the transience of this group. A guess-timate is that the average Japanese businessman with his family lives in metro New York five to seven years. This constant migration taxes the creativity of the kingdom strategists.

The fourth model relates to the political transformation that occurs in countries around the globe. These often volatile changes cause migration and world demographic restructuring. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge raped a generation of Cambodians, stripping from their memories the quiet agrarian lifestyle. The hopeful remains of the carnage was a displaced population of several hundred thousand people scattered throughout the world.

 Cambodia, up until the beginning of that war, had been very resistant to the gospel. However, with war and displacement, many Cambodians have become believers in Jesus, the Messiah. Now, with the political climate changing, Cambodians in exile have been returning home for visits and on short-term mission trips. Tremendous kingdom opportunities are available as political change occurs over the global landscape! With the reality of this modern global village, interconnectedness becomes a powerful tool to be studied and used in propagating the good news.

Reading the Signs of the Times

In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus chides the religious leaders of His day for knowing how to read the sky, but not having the discernment to understand the signs of the times. Perhaps we fail in this area today. Sure, the evangelical world has George Barna, its “what's happening” guru. Yet it seems we are often reacting or responding to trends that are already getting old.

Researching, or what I like to term “insatiable snooping,” must become part of our spiritual organizational process. Without it, we grope in the dark, doing a piecemeal job at best.

In looking at cities, our research must scope out four key areas that will contribute to an accurate reading of each city's nature within its particular setting. The first area is the city's history. What makes this particular city what it is has a lot to do with “why” and “how” it has developed. One's investigation will turn up dominant factors that arise from its historical development. As one goes into the search process, a comprehensive list of questions is helpful for depth and coverage.

 Ethnicity, with its cousin, assimilation, is the second area for research. American cities have been pluralistic from the beginning and therefore quite different from each other. Being up-to-date on a city's ethnic composition allows one to note change and develop critical, culturally sensitive strategies. American Demographics magazine and the City Planning Department are some key resources.

A third area, much like the second, is a study of immigration and migration. Here the emphasis is on movement. It is the drastic contributor to change. But the key questions to ask are: What is causing this movement? What are the source areas or countries? How is it happening? Who is involved? Migration World magazine is a good starting point for finding resources.

Fourthly, research ought to lead to the kind of information that allows for the discovery of trends and developments. This nurtures an environment where key influences are identified and a forecasting process develops. Weather forecasters study such weather makers as the effects of El Niño (or warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific) in their development of possible weather scenario models.22 Our research of trends leading to a forecasting process would be the joining of God's sovereign work in this particular urban world.

As this micro-setting is highlighted, a conscious effort needs to be made to keep the macro-global influence and interconnectedness in the equation. In contrast to the past, the modern city tends to have drifted away from its national moorings and has become more its own city-state. Today's city often establishes its own political, economic, trade and diplomatic identity. Its focus, due to various factors, has been redirected. For example, consider Seattle's Canadian and Pacific Rim influence and Miami's Latin American connection. Expert opinion is that the day is coming when “cities, and not nations, will once again define who we are and how we live.”23

City Focus Strategies

Military minds have for years studied war strategies. They have always done so to gain the upper hand against their own enemy. In a definitive work on war strategy, B.H. Liddell Hart concludes “strategy depends for success, first and most, on a sound calculation and co-ordination of the end and the means.”24 As the kingdom of God agenda is made operational, it becomes clear that strategy as the calculation and co-ordination of kingdom ends and means needs to be considered more carefully.

Our world evangelization paradigm of “reaching the world through the city” as a supplemental model to “going to the ends of the earth” must be given serious consideration for the above reasons. But the refinement of this paradigm, as to “where,” “how” and “when” will be in the hands of strategists and local practitioners.

Here are a few ideas to be considered in any strategy building situation. First, geographical positioning is always critical in the overall process. Where are the key vantage points? These hot targets might be a gate city or global city or a particular neighborhood or people group. Globally, one could pick out five to ten strategic urban centers that are a potential staging ground for world evangelization. My pick of the top three (outside of New York City) would be London (a global city with many old colonial empire networks), Istanbul (a gate city, where East and West meet) and Paris (a strategic city, influencing the European economies as well as a gate to most of Africa). Thinking local, one would probably target a receptive people group, like the Caribbeans, or might view a high profile area of the city as a priority. But certainly, positioning is a key part of strategy.

A second factor in strategy building is movement. If there is a seriousness about this enormous task, one wants to get the most out of his efforts. Viv Grigg states powerfully what an effective movement would be like.

The aim is not missions, nor is it the planting of churches. The aim is not multiplication of churches. The aim is to multiply fellowships in such harmony with the soul of a people that movements are established of disciples who know this movement is Christ's answer to the cries of this people's heart.25

Much more work must be done in this area. Certainly multiplication needs to be genetically coded into our ministry processes. But, perhaps just as important, is our having cultural ears to hear and a willing heart for cultural adaptations.

Recruitment is the significant piece in seeing a movement develop. People are key. Three basic areas need to be considered when factoring in personnel. First, what type of individuals do we need in order to accomplish the task? Those types under consideration must be apostles, pastor-disciplers, deacons, strategists and overseers. A second factor considers how they are included into the process. It's important that they all have ownership! And thirdly, care needs to be given that the team reflects a global representation. It needs to be a multi-national, multi-ethnic brotherhood of the kingdom.

God is doing a powerful work today in bringing global representation to our nearby cities. These are often the individuals who can best reach their own family and friends back home. Finding leaders in this harvest is paramount. For a year now, my prayer has been, “Lord, give me divine encounters like Philip had with the Ethiopian eunuch.” Once these men and women are identified, our partnership together will produce the kingdom results desired by the Lord of the Harvest! May God help us as we covenant to reach the world through the cities near us.


1 Barbara Crossette, “The Return of the City-State,” The New York Times, June 2, 1996.

2 Ray Bakke, The Urban Christian (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 32-34, 40.

3 Bernard A. Weisberger, “A Nation of Immigrants,” Race and Ethnic Relations (Guilford, CT: Dushkin Publishing, 1996), 49.

4 “Cities with 200,000 or More Population” from U.S. Department of Commerce , Bureau of the Census (U.S. Government Print Office, 1991 edition), Table 3.

5 David Firestone, “Major Ethnic Changes Under Way,” The New York Times, March 29, 1995.

6 Howard P. Chudacoff and Judith E. Smith, The Evolution of American Urban Society (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988), 5, 41-42.

7 Bakke, 37-38.

8 “Demographic Profiles & Community District Needs,” Department of City Planning, New York City, August 1992.

9 Bernard A. Weisberger, “A Nation of Immigrants,” Race and Ethnic Relations (Cuildford, CT: Dushkin, 1996), 49.

10 <M%1>“The Newest New Yorker: An Analysis of Immigration into New York City During the 1980s,” Department of City Planning, New York City, June 1992, 23-53; Nikhil Naik, <MI>New York City's Changing Immigrant Population: A Report<M> (New York: Amalgamated Life Insurance Company, 1994), 4.<D%0>

11 Frederick M. Binder and David M. Reimers, All the Nations Under Heaven: An Ethnic and Racial History of New York City (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 225-257; Jack Utter, American Indians: Answers to Today's Questions (Lake Ann, MI: National Woodlands Publishing, 1993), 21-22; “Puerto Rican New Yorkers in 1990,” Department of City Planning, City of New York, 1993, 1-11.

12 Joseph Dolman, “New York Is the Real Town Named Hope,” New York Newsday, April 6, 1995.

13 Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1951), 4.

14 “Register of Foreign Consulates and Associated Government Offices in New York,” Office of the Mayor, City of New York, 1996 edition, introduction and preface.

15 U.S. News & World Report, November 20, 1995.

16 Alex Yannis, “Red Storm Is Soccer's United Nations,” The New York Times, December 13, 1996.

17 Brendan M. Case, “Cashing in on Immigration,” The New York Times, September 14, 1996.

18 James C. McKinley Jr., “How a U.S. Marine Became Leader of Somalia,” The New York Times, August 12, 1996.

19 Larry Rohter, “New York Dominicans Strongly Back Candidates on Island,” The New York Times, June 29, 1996.

20 Pam Belluck, “Healthy Korean Economy Draws Immigrants Home,” The New York Times, August 22, 1995.

21 Ibid.

22 William K. Stevens, “Effects of El Niño Reach Across Ocean and Linger a Decade,” The New York Times, August 9, 1994.

23 Barbara Crossette, “The Return of the City-State,” The New York Times, June 2, 1996.

24 B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (New York: Frederick A Praeger, 1968), 336.

25 Viv Grigg, Cry of the Urban Poor (MARC, 1992).

Editorial: The Anatomy of Compromise


The Social Gospel vs Personal Salvation: A Late Nineteenth-Centuray Case Study- Walter Rauschenbusch and A.B. Simpson, Daniel J. Evearitt

The Seal of the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Security of the Believer, Eldon Woodcock

The Restoration of the Doctrine of Binding and Loosing, Paul L. King

Why Youth Groups Matter: A Social Science Research Perspective, Leonard Kageler

Reaching the World through the City, George Reitz

The Religious Celebrity Syndrome: A Contemporary Application of First Corinthians 3:1-9, Richard Brown

Christ and the Spirit: Fleshing Out the Vision of A.B. Simpson's Imitation of Christ, Craig J. Slane

Glossolalia and the Ruark Procedure: Distinguishing between True and False Utterances, K. Neill Foster

About the Authors

Elio Cuccaro, Ph. D., Editor

Home > 1997

©2006 by K. Neill Foster