Strategies for Ministry in The City
Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Perhaps we might be tempted to think, “what difference can I make in this vast city?” Perhaps we are tempted to conclude that our little old church or that little old me can’t really do a whole lot for the gospel out in the big city around us. However, when viewing the Bible from the proper angle, one can see a great deal of concern for ministry in the city and some of the strategies that were used. Below is a little bit of a “smorgasbord” of thoughts regarding ministry in the city from a biblical perspective. Every urban believer should have his or her hand in ministry to the city—there are so many people to reach and so many needs. Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something! Here are some thoughts on ministry in the city, based on biblical precedents.
- Intercession—we can pray for the city as Abraham interceded for Sodom.
- Preaching—we can preach in the city as Jonah did in Nineveh. Yes, some people still preach on the streets and if you have the fire and boldness, why not?!
- We can use our large and significant building as a tool for ministry, as it fits the setting of the city and should always be as attractive and accessible as possible to those we seek to reach. We should always view our building as a ministry tool.
- As the Lord sent out his disciples two by two into the cities, we can prepare, train and go in groups to witness and minister in the city.
- As the Jews would come up to Jerusalem for festivals, we can use major community events as opportunities to share the gospel.
- We can plan for special occasions of public worship in venues open to the public—so the community can see the church at worship, in a park, school, or other location.
- As the early church did in Jerusalem, we can all work to create a loving, spirit-led community of believers which is attractive to all in the city.
- We can look for places of public discussion and interaction like Paul did in Athens.
- We can go out into the marketplace and speak to “whoever happens to be there” (Acts 17:17).
- We can begin our witness with those groups of people closest to ourselves in terms of culture, language, etc. This is what Paul did. However, he also moved on into the networks of those most responsive to the gospel. We can do the same—seeking out groups who are most open to the gospel.
- We can found a teaching or training institute for discipleship as Paul did in Ephesus.
- We can have programs and ministries of hospitality for those who can benefit from it.
- We can use our positions and places of work to share truth and godly wisdom from a divine perspective as Daniel did in the city of Babylon.
- We can actively minister during times of crisis in the city as did Jeremiah, offering hope and encouragement.
- We can interact with the arts, and put forth music and art reflecting the gospel and biblical truth, as did King David and many others in history.
Can you think of other ways of ministering in the city? Reflect on your own training and gifts. How can they be used to minister to others? Could you teach a class to non-English speakers? Could you help ex-offenders learn how to get a job and get their finances under control? Could you teach parenting from a Christian perspective to single mothers? Can you think of a creative way to minister the gospel in the community? Could you and would you give your time to an existing ministry that is active in the city and needs helpers? As we all give some thought to this perhaps the Lord will supply us with a few good strategies for ministry in the city!
Adapted from “25 Biblical Strategies for Urban Ministry” by John Edmiston, www.globalchristians.org/urban/25stratg.htm.