Efrem Smith, president and CEO of an urban missions organization called World Impact, wrote an article for Christianity Today about church planting and leadership in inner cities. He notes the irony that high-crime areas “tend to be filled with churches.” These days, urban areas are considered the mission field. Smith says despite the number of churches in these areas, we still need more.
He has the right idea. CURE believes the greatest benefit to low-income Americans is a conservative agenda of faith, freedom, and personal responsibility. The more institutions that at least prioritize faith, the better. Smith believes urban churches should work together, rather than in isolation, to meet challenges and solve problems.
This is really about returning to the ministry strategy of Jesus. Jesus went into cities, towns, and villages with a Kingdom advancing approach that led to indigenous people not only being transformed by the Gospel, but also becoming Kingdom laborers and leaders within their own communities.
Consider the story of the Samaritan Woman in John 4 for an example of this. Though there are many churches in the cities of America, the reason our inner-cities still struggle is because of a lack of a comprehensive missional, community engaging, and leadership development approach. There are individual churches here and there that are attempting this ministry approach, but we need networks of urban churches and church planting movements committed to raising up an army of urban laborers transforming their own communities.
We don’t simply need more churches in our cities we need church planting and leadership development movements. These movements should specifically center on the empowerment of the urban poor. This will call urban church planting movements to connect evangelism, discipleship, and a liberating witness to the marginalized and outcast.
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