John Wesley understood the importance of not just going to places and converting people to Christianity, but of a theology of place – empowering local groups to minister not only in the place where the people were located physically, but also in the place where they were spiritually, historically, and culturally. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. Our cities need to hear this good news, and they need to see it lived out in their specific “place.”
One place where the good news is being proclaimed and lived out is Grand Rapids, Michigan, at The Edge Urban Fellowship. The hip-hop context of Grand Rapids is contrasted by the urban landscape of Calgary, Canada. This urban environment is a true melting pot, hosting a mix of ethnicities from around the world. Only 7% of the million people attend an evangelical church. Manna Church was planted this year to help them to find their place.
Transformation City in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, knows that to transform a city, you have to find your place in that city. Short-term mission trips to the inner-city have short-term results – urban environments need long-term focus, with people who are willing to make the city their place of ministry.
In Chapel Hill, NC there is a place where university professors and homeless people can hear the good news proclaimed. Pastor Matt LeRoy and team moved to Chapel Hill and spent a year learning the city before launching Love Chapel Hill. Before they could minister in the physical place, they needed to discover the cultural and spiritual “place” of the urban environment.
Detroit, Michigan is a food desert, a place without a chain grocery store within its borders. You may see empty factories and broken lives. But Mark Judkins and The Wesley Center see a place full of hope. Dr. Lawrence VanHook is a scholar with a place in academia. He is also an Oakland resident, who made a choice to love his community in the place where they are: giving them a place to share a meal, recover from addictions, and develop into followers of Christ.
With their new physical place located in the heart of Grand Rapids, City Life Church is able to proclaim the good news to the poor, those imprisoned by addiction and oppressed by human trafficking, giving them a place in the kingdom. And the city of Buffalo, New York will never be the same place, as a multicultural, multi-generation movement sweeps through established churches.
God is in these places. He is calling us to partner with Him to live out the good news, spreading hope and holiness to urban places.More information.