25 Biblical Strategies for Urban Ministry
How did God's servants in Scripture minister to the city? What strategies and methods did they use that proved effective? This is a very brief overview giving you a smorgasbord of biblical models of urban ministry to choose from. You will then be asked to select an appropriate strategy and do some very basic planning. Of course the method you choose will depend on your calling, your resources and on the spiritual character of the city you are ministering to.
- Intercession - as Abraham did for Sodom in Genesis 18 and Esther's fast in Susa..
- Prophetic declaration - as Jonah ministered to Nineveh.
- Political Involvement - as Daniel had a "wisdom ministry" in the city of Babylon. See also the article "A Biblical Perspective On Politics" later in this book.
- Ministering to the city in a time of crisis when people are open to spiritual encouragement. Isaiah 37-39.
- Ministering to the city at key moments in its history e.g during its foundation (David after taking Jerusalem), its reconstruction (post-exilic prophets), or times of drastic change and turmoil (Jeremiah).
- Building religious buildings of such scale and grandeur that they become a point of renown, an attraction and a centre of community life e.g the construction of the temple and the cathedrals of Europe.
- Involving the city in a large scale project for its own benefit but which needs God's help to be achieved e.g. Nehemiah building the walls of Jerusalem and the unity, sense of purpose, and joy in the Lord that resulted.
- Creating songs that are sung in the cultural life of the city and become teaching instruments. David and the Psalms. Martin Luther, Charles Wesley.
- Religious renewal and restoration of worship in the city by a converted city leadership as in Hezekiah's revival.
- Short-term ministry teams going in to a large number of cities with power ministry "heal the sick, raise the dead & preach the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9&10). This prepares the way for a more thorough preaching of the gospel - Jesus later followed up and came to the cities.
- Taking advantage of major community events as a point of proclamation as Jesus did with the Jewish festivals. Needless to say great wisdom is required in the employment of this strategy though successful ministry at the Olympics and Expo trade fairs has been accomplished without giving undue offense.
- Social action - feeding the widows, helping the poor, healing the sick as the early Church did. (Acts 2-4)
- Open worship that non-believers can see and take note of as when the early church worshipped in the Temple. Street worship teams and teams on beaches with guitars have a magnetism that draws inquiring people to the gospel.
- Creation of a Spirit-filled community where there is evident love, wisdom and power. (Acts 2-8).
- Preaching in the synagogues, places of prayer, and the local Aeropagus or place of discussion as Paul did in Acts.
- Starting with those who were culturally closest to the speaker and had the best chance of understanding the message e.g. Paul and the Jews.
- Moving into those networks that are most responsive to the gospel. When the Jews refused the message Paul then went to the Gentiles in the city. Paul seemed to have a quite pragmatic view and did not waste much time on resistant areas but instead went where there was "an open door for effective ministry" ( 1 Corinthians 16:9)
- Deliverance ministry and dealing with magic and the occult as a way of demonstrating the superior power of the gospel. (Acts 19:11-20)
- Founding a teaching institution. Teaching from a central and accessible point in the city such as when Paul taught from the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9,10). or from his own rented quarters in Rome.(Acts 28)
- Creating networks of churches fed from a central city so that the surrounding rural area is completely evangelised as Ephesus and its surrounding area was (Acts 19:9,10).
- Appointing well-discipled "circuit preacher" pastors over the network as Paul did with Timothy in Ephesus.
- Training urban leadership such as the Ephesian elders (Acts 20)
- Hospitality to the network such as Philemon seems to have practiced. (Philemon 1:5,22)
- Books and literature ministry - keeping information and encouragement flowing along the inter-city network. Dealing with specific issues in writing e.g. Paul's epistles.
- Empowering house churches and networking them together so they did not become inward and isolated. Keeping the Christians in the cities in touch with each other and the Christians in other cities and networks. (See article on networks later in this book) This is part of the purpose of the greetings in Paul's epistles.
Selecting Your Strategies
- Go through the above list and cross off those strategies that simply do not apply to your situation.
- Go through the remainder and group them as you see fit.
- Reflect on your own callings and gifting.
- Select a group of strategies that you can start to work with.
- Taking them one at a time list "Who, What, When, Where, How and Why" as in the example below.
Strategy- Training urban leadership
Who - are the leaders I want to train?
What - will I teach them? What resources do I need to do the training?
When - will I run the training?
Where - will I hold the training?
How - will I conduct the training? Educational methods etc.
Why - am I doing this? Is God really in it?
After you have done this the optimal strategies for your ministry should become clear to you and you should have a few good plans that you can implement.