What would the late Donald A. McGavran, founder of the Church Growth School of Missions, say to today’s crop of church planters burgeoning around the world? The author imagines six kernels of advice McGavran would pass along.
Volume: Volume 1 - Issue 2
The hope of most urban missionaries is to see people living in urban poverty become leaders in their own community. Once equipped with education and opportunity, instead of moving out of town, we encourage them to stay and make a difference. However, these leaders are often considered a failure by their own community if they don’t relocate. Incarnational ministers receive accolades for their “sacrifice” of living in urban poverty, but community leaders do not.
Urban exegesis, a theological reading of the city, can be an insightful and effective lens for observing and interpreting any urban community. After considering some foundational elements of the Rainier Valley’s physical context, an examination of significant urban “cultural texts” in the community will explore cultural and theological meaning in the built environment of the neighborhood. This approach to observing and interpreting an urban community is essential not only for prospective church planters, but also for anyone who is seeking to embody an incarnational presence in the city.
Hundreds of churches are being planted within relatively few years and tens of thousands are coming to know Christ, in places and among people groups that most of us have never heard of. David Garrison calls these occurrences Church Planting Movements, and within the pages of his book by the same name he provides their stories and lessons the Church as a whole can learn from them.
How does the Western Church proclaim the gospel to a post-Christian world that does not care about its message? The Church must speak with confidence the authority of Christian scripture, despite the temptation for scriptural relativism. As an alternative to the idolatrous individualism perpetuated in the West, the Church must provide a visible testimony of authentic community. And the Church must adopt a missional identity in which every church member is recognized as an agent of gospel mission. The world is changing, but the Church can make a difference with a renewed, gospel-centered heart.