URBANIZATION:: A GIFT TO THE CHURCH
Today in our generation, the rate of urbanization far surpasses anything we have ever seen in human history. Never before have people been moving to cities at such a rate. According to National Geographic we are encountering a “world crisis” due to the mass amount of urbanization. By the end of this century about 90% of the world will be urbanized. Currently, over 700 cities in the world have a population of at least one million. Several of these have more then 36 million. Due to urbanization we are seeing levels of poverty and brokenness of humanity like we have never seen before. All of this is evolving in an environment that has an infrastructure that can’t develop fast enough to keep up with the rate of urbanization.
A close friend of mine has worked in Chicago for the past 20 years. He shared with me a few statistics relating to the rapid growth rate of that city. Chicago has a population of nine million people, with over 200 nationalities represented! Within a five-mile radius of my friend’s place there are over 350,000 people; one out of three is foreign-born. In the nearest public high school more than 53 languages are spoken. This is diversity like we have never seen before! Chicago acquires 170 immigrants a day—that’s over 44,000 a year! Out of those 170 immigrants, 80 are from unreached nations, or some of the least evangelized nations in the world.
After listening to my friend share about Chicago, I got excited. Why? Because we have a missionary God, and urbanization is literally bringing the nations, even the unreached nations, to a reachable location. When immigrants come to our cities, they are doing half the work for us! They come ready to learn the language and culture. This is a gift to the Church…if we can see it.
People move to the city seeking education and advancement because this is where they can be equipped. People come open to change. Who is there to meet them? Will they be greeted by the Church, or by the world? While these people are in a place of making a fresh start are we (the Church) going to allow them to be influenced by drunkenness, pornography, martialism, and humanism? Or are we willing to step out into the streets we call home and greet this global phenomenon with the love and truth of Christ? With such a rapid growth of ethnic communities in the cities, are we willing to engage them with the same energy we would for foreign missions? Do we find the nations represented in the city equally valuable as those across a body of water or a geographical border? I can’t answer these questions for the whole body of Christ, but I know the eyes of a missionary God see these cities with excitement, and heartbreak. I believe God is glorified in the cIties of the world. His character is expressed through the magnitude of diversity of the cultures represented. I find it incredibly exciting that God is inviting us to partner with Him in what He is doing in the nations, which includes the rapid growth of cities around the world. Urbanization is bringing the world to our doorstep. I hear God asking our generation if we will engage, or if we will continue to turn our backs on the cities as they influence every sphere of our culture.