It gives me great pleasure to publish Journal of Urban Mission, Volume 3, Issue 1. We have had a long hiatus since the last issue–such is the reality of working at a project as a labor of love. Nevertheless, it is gratifying to finally share with you the fruit of our labor that has been long time in the making. We continue to pray that the thoughts and stories shared in this Journal will promote the mission of Christ’s kingdom in the great urban centers around the world.
In this issue, Celeste Chen reflects on her experience ministering to sex workers (“Rewriting the Story of the Exploited: The Gospel for Sex Workers”), a population much exploited and marginalized. What spiritual dynamics are involved and how does the gospel of Jesus Christ speak into this context and bring about healing?
Karen Angela Ellis (in “Identity Satisfaction in a World of Cultural Dissonance”) also explores the gospel dynamic that is at work within members of subdominant culture, especially women. She is concerned with equipping the church to lead the way towards identity satisfaction and a theology that takes seriously, and truly celebrates, our ethnic and cultural diversity.
From another vantage point, Randy Rowland offers the urban church lessons learned from his experience forming regional ministry clusters in the Seattle area. His Case Study, “Seeking Synergy: 8 Steps to Forming a Ministry Cluster,” will be a welcome practical help for those seeking guidance in partnering for the sake of kingdom ministry in an urban region.
Also hailing from the West Coast, U.S.A., is Sean Benesh, who is concerned that evangelicalism develop a more robust theology of place (“Pilgrims and Place: Reflections on Geography and Theology”). It has been a long realization on the part of missionary practitioners that the local context must deeply inform our theologies and therefore our ministry practices; we ignore our place to our theological and missiological peril.
Last but not least, Coz Crosscombe writes from his experience working in the inner city neighborhoods of Philadelphia and critiques the prevalent missionary model of Outsiders entering urban neighborhoods, and proposes another way forward, in his article, “The Outsiders and Their Role in Urban Mission.”
We offer this issue with the prayer that they will stimulate, edify, inspire, and encourage the great works going on in the cities around the world. May the Lord receive glory.
I would also like to express that much thanks are due Matt Lin and Andy Kim, fellow urban practitioners and friends to me here in Philadelphia. Without their collaboration and encouragement, this issue probably would not have come to being. I am deeply grateful to the Lord for their commitment to the kingdom and to me.
Please communicate with us regarding the way forward; we welcome your input, conversation, and mutual edification that leads to the kingdom of God advancing in the teeming cities around the world. And thank you for your partnership, interest, and service to the Lord.
Philadelphia, April 2013