Obsession with Urban Church Planting
Last night I received a tweet and a re-tweet from a conference in Alabama on church planting. The tweet was from one of the sessions there on church planting and unfortunately tweets have no context in which to interpret them. So, I will discuss the tweet as it is. The tweet was about the speaker’s bewilderment over what he called ‘the urban obsession with church planting when half of the world’s population lives in rural areas.’
In response I tweeted: ‘Urban obsession counteracts a history of rural obsession that neglected half of the world’s peoples.’
My point and the point of any urban church planter is not that we should disregard rural and suburban church planting but that in recent history urban church planting has been a neglected focus of the church and a renewed emphasis on cities is needed.
No one should debate the need of people both in rural and urban areas to hear the gospel of God’s saving grace. We thank God for every church planter who seeks to invest his life in reaching the lost through church planting wherever that may be.
We make the appeal for urban church planting and are ‘obsessed’ with it only because it makes more sense to us , as I would hope that those in rural church planting have reasons that make sense to them.
Here are some reasons why urban church planting makes sense as a legitimate obsession.
- Urban church planting makes sense because this appears to be the priority of the first church planting movement under Paul.
- Urban church planting makes sense because the ‘cultural and intellectual flow’ is more often from cities outward.
- Urban church planting makes sense because there has been such an exodus of Christians from the cities.
- Urban church planting makes sense because established churches in the city are dying or have died.
- Urban church planting makes sense because immigrants from the nations of the world are more often attracted to cities, making ‘disciple the nations’ more accessible.
- Urban church planting makes sense because 70% of church planting already takes place outside of cities (churchplanting.com).
- Urban church planting makes sense because it provides a more diverse context to display the reconciling power of the gospel.
- Urban church planting makes sense because cities contain more of the neglected and disenfranchised people of the world.
- Urban church planting makes sense because disillusioned, ‘Christianized’ and ‘suburbanized,’ young people are seeking an idolatrous refuge in cities.
- Urban church planting makes sense because the sheer density and proximity of people makes more possible and pervasive the opportunity to practice the commands to ‘love your neighbor’ and ‘let your light shine among men.”
- Urban church planting makes sense because some of us simply love density and diversity and the absence of homogeneity.
Those of us doing urban church planting confess our obsession. We believe it is a good and God-honoring investment of lives and that it is so good that we want to persuade other to prayerfully consider the city.
For those of you doing rural and suburban church planting, I hope and pray that you will be so convinced of the value of what you are doing that you will have the kind of holy obsession that attracts others to join you in your worthwhile endeavor for the gospel.
 This is not to say we hold a ‘biblical trump card.’ We recognize that a pattern is not necessarily a prescription.
 This diversity is economic, racial and ethnic, educational, etc.
 I am aware that the growing urbanization of the rich is producing a growing suburbanization of the poor.