There have long been countries that are “closed” to the gospel, which is to say that it is illegal to share the gospel there, but I recently learned of a new barrier to sending full-time missionaries into cities across the world. Essentially, countries are looking at a missionary’s visa that says that he or she wishes to go to a certain city to be a full-time missionary and rejecting it because that is not what they think they need. Imagine the scenario: you are a non-believer working in immigration. Your city is over-flowing with people, and you have a doctor, an English professor, and a proselytizer for a faith you do not believe in wishing to enter your country. Who would you pick? Hear me correctly. This is not some rant about being bi-vocational in ministry or sending missionaries, but simply the idea that cities want you to have a reason to be there.
Why Does Our City Need You?
This is a problem overseas, but it has echoes in America. People doing work in the city often won’t hear what you have to say until they see what you have to offer. Vintage is a perfect example. Those in the city who favor us don’t do it because of our message; they do it because we stand for things like family stability, community involvement, and release from addiction. We need to teach our children to be necessary pieces of our city. They need to stand up for the gospel, first and foremost, but they also need to be seen as champions of justice, peace, and hope in the city. The Church of the future will thrive best if the city can look at it and say, “Our city is better because that church is here.” This begins in how we train our children. To be vital parts of tomorrow’s city, our children must be:
1. Creative Problem Solvers
nevitably, tomorrow’s city will have a different set of problems than that of today. This is just the nature of time. Each generation will have its own challenges. Throughout the centuries the Bible, though not always as clearly or directly as we may wish, has given Christians insight into the way the Creator of the world says that it best operates. Our children must know biblical truth and how to apply it to contemporary situations. They must also be trained to use their God-given creativity to make decisions that harmonize with God’s story of redemption.
2. Champions of Sustainability
he film, The Human Scale, chronicles a dramatic shift in the landscape of New York City’s Times Square. If you visited this iconic place in 1990, you would see thousands of people crowded on little sidewalks as cabs zoomed by. In fact, 90% of the space was devoted to cars and 10% to people. Today, however, city planners have worked to reverse this. Now there are seating areas, bike lanes, a stage, and an actual square. This is part of a worldwide movement towards “walkable” cities. Because of the growth rate of cities, cars are simply not a sustainable solution. Cities become devoted to pollution, traffic, and parking garages rather than to people. Walkability is one small example, but our children must be taught to do a better job of keeping better watch over creation than generations before them.
3. Voices for the Voiceless
here is a great story in John’s gospel where religious people thought they were doing the right thing by bringing a woman to Jesus to be killed. She had quite a checkered past and had been caught doing something wrong. Jesus intervened in a wonderful way. He never compromised his position on sin, but stood up for someone who couldn’t do it for herself. The Church of the future must be known for what it stands for, not what it is against. Teach your children the radical creative love for all people that Jesus has, because that is the only thing that can save the world.