Related Verses: Acts 18-1-28; Ex 2:23-25; Matt 13:3-9; Matt 13:18-23;John 15:12, 13; 2 Pet 3:9
The lesson this week has as its focus the topic of urban ministry and, to focus it even more, urban ministry in the time of the end. In order to engage this subject, we need to talk about a couple of things. First, what is this “End Time” idea? Briefly stated, it is a phrase that is best understood as being descriptive of the biblical idea that time as we know it will not continue forever. In a lot of places, the Bible speaks of another age that is to come, an age that will be quite different from the present one in that evil and wrong will not exist in the new age. The transition from the present age to the future one is something that will be done by God who will, at some point, interrupt the flow of earth’s history to institute the new age. And the transition period between the ages is predicted to be very tumultuous, even cataclysmic. The lesson this week asks us to think about how urban people can be evangelized in the era leading up to this tumultuous period that will mark the transition between the ages.
A major passage from Acts is to be used as a guide here – Acts 18:1-28. Read this over before continuing. Glean from it some methodologies used by the Apostle Paul and others to impact the cities of their age with the news of the gospel.
Also included here should be consideration of Jeremiah 29:7, a text in which the ancient prophet, speaking to his own people who were going into exile, said the following: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
- Think about what it would mean if Christian were known for praying for the prosperity of the cities and communities in which they live.
- How are cities today different from the cities in Paul’s day? What might that do to the strategies for reaching out with the Christian message?
- One of the major features of cities is that they bring together all kinds of people who have very different life-styles and very different ideas, who then have to live in close proximity. When is close proximity, it is very difficult to be constantly hostile. What then do urban people do in order to live peaceably? How would that affect the propagation of the Christian message?
- Another feature of cities is the existence of obvious poverty and great need. What might Christians and their churches do to address such things? And what would the effect of such actions be?
- How effective would urban ministry be if left up to official clergy only?
- One of the major features of the way the Apostle Paul worked was his personal interaction with people, particularly influential people. How might that be done today?
- Is it best to work for people in the cities by setting up outposts outside the urban area or is it better to move right into the neighborhoods and become known?
- What do you think would make Christianity attractive to urban city dwellers?
It is certainly true that cities present Christians (or anyone who wants to affect their citizens) with an enormous challenge. It is one thing to visit and speak with people in rural areas. Certainly, rural people have their ways. But it is an entirely different thing to try to speak to the vast masses of the cities. Further, cities are growing very rapidly compared to rural populations. What to do with such a challenge?