by E. Kenneth Martin
Whether meeting in storefronts, public schools, libraries, hotels, coffee shops, theaters, warehouses or traditional sanctuaries, the urban church is as complex and creative as the city it is called to serve.
As we look at today’s urban church, we must look at God’s Word for His direction to reach diverse neighborhoods and people. The message is the same, but reaching the city takes multiple methods — not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Look at Jerusalem where Jesus wept over the city (Luke 13:34, 19:41). He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jerusalem — besieged, captured or destroyed, in whole or part — is the type of city to which the urban church has been called.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” King David wrote (Psalm 122:6).
“Pray for the peace of our urban center” is the cry of our city congregations as they toil together day and night by the grace and wisdom of God to carry the light to dark places.
The urban church must have a three-legged approach to ministering to the city. One leg is deeply rooted in message and purpose. Another leg stands for social holiness and is the community’s moral compass. The third leg is in the marketplace. The urban church must bring the light of Christ to corporate America.
An effective, rapidly expanding and successful urban church works collaboratively as the body of Christ. An urban church member should be a doer (James 2:24) until every resident of every neighborhood hears and sees the wonderful works of God.
E. Kenneth Martin, the pastor of New Vision Fellowship in Forestville, Md., serves the Free Methodist Church – USA as a Board of Administration member and as the denomination’s representative to the National Association of Evangelicals.