Look at the statistics:

Ray Bakke reminds us in A Theology as Big as the City, “The frontier of missions has shifted to the cities. The greatest number of unreached people is no longer geographically distant but rather culturally distant. You must realize that the nations of the world are coming to the city.“  Today in a new millennium, missions has dramatically shifted in many ways, including from safe to dangerous, from receptive to hostile people groups, from villages and jungles to urban/city jungles.  The 2000 U.S. Census revealed: 55-80% of the country’s population lives and will be living by 2050 in metro/urban areas. U.S. now reports, as of 2017, 75-85% of families with children are living in the largest US cities and urban metro areas.

Look at the trends:

Everything from music to fashion, language and politics is dominated by urban trends, says Bob Bufford of Leadership Networks. Sociologists, market analysis, and government officials pay close attention to what happens in urban America. What happens there will influence what happens everywhere.

Look at the task:

There is no easy, painless or inexpensive way to minister in the city today. Urban ministry is nearly always cross-cultural and calls us beyond ourselves into uncharted territory (Psalm 107:23-24). But city ministry is critical! D.L. Moody said, “Water runs downhill, and the highest hills are the great cities. If we can stir them, we shall stir the whole country.”

Look at the Word:

To practice obedience to the Word of God and participate in contemporary missions, we must go inside the city. We must cross, not only an ocean and a continent, but the street with the changeless Gospel.  The entire Scriptures, including Jesus earthly ministry, demonstrates this imperative.

Look at the Church:

Where is the Church in regard to this mission field?  Do our methods, ideas, and attitudes really impact today’s urban kids?  Do they produce devoted disciples for Christ?  In Dare to Love the Ghetto, Keith Phillips tells about one particular church, “They took five or ten black boys from the inner-city for a week of camping experience, stuffed them full of the gospel, meticulously recorded each decision and then pitched them back into the ghetto with these words of comfort: God bless you! We’ll send follow-up materials by mail. Hope everything works out.”

How would you respond to the above question: What do you see…? In the next part of Developing a Heart for the City, to be published, consider your responses by these questions:

1. Can you see the Heart of the Father?

2. What does the Bible say about reaching cities?

3. How deeply do you see and is your heart moved for city kids?

John E. Blake