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How about planting churches in the city?

How about planting churches in the city?

Efrem Smith poses a radical idea: Instead of abandoning the city or giving over the urban church scene to a variety of small established- and store-front congregations that don’t make a dent in their communities, how about planting churches among the urban poor?

Christianity Today:

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.

1. We need existing urban churches to stop doing ministry in isolation, which can create a culture of mini-empire building instead of Kingdom of God advancement.

Urban churches must collaborate because the social challenges are too massive for any one church to solve, no matter its size. We need urban church coalitions and associations which cross race, ethnicity, denomination, and doctrine in order to create the Kingdom army needed to defeat Satan’s strategy of evil, arrogance, pride, and division.

2. We need existing churches to embrace church planting over church splitting.

Church splitting comes about in part because of a lack of embracing the biblical mandate and framework for church planting and development. The urban church must develop a culture of raising up, releasing, and resourcing leaders as church planters and ministry developers.

3. Suburban churches, church planting movements, and urban missions organizations must partner with existing urban churches to plant urban churches.

People coming into the city must honor the church that is already in the city and, through that, recognize that Jesus Christ is already present in the city inviting others to join in on God’s strategy for urban revival.

We need the existing urban church to be missional and be passionate about the Kingdom of God, not empire building. We also need new urban church plants that honor the existing urban churches that came before them, treating them as revered elders. A united urban church army and movement can tackle the challenges facing cities across this nation.


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Wayne Sherrer

Efrem Smith is a graduate of St. John’s University and Luther Theological Seminary. He has served as the Superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The norm of parish fiscal self-sufficiency has never been universally achievable. Numerous examples of parish partnerships, clusters and other shared ministries within the Episcopal Church point toward ways Rev. Smith’s goal of vital urban ministry can be realized within our distinctive Anglican polity.

Paul Woodrum

First, I wish Café would identify the religious affiliation of those whose articles they post to give us readers some clue as to the direction from which they are coming.

Second, the Episcopal blended system of diocesan authority and congregational responsibility poses problems for ministry in poor areas that may never be self-supporting. If the local congregation can’t fully support itself and the diocese won’t (or can’t), we’re stuck with being middle class and above.

Third, the English Anglo Catholic movement moved from university to urban ministry, but in America tended to become a matter of aesthetics where our mindset tends to remain.

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