Urban Ministry Chronicles Vol. 1, Chapter 2 – Why Cities Matter

Here is the forward by Tim Keller from Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard’s Book, Why Cities Matter:

“Christians, particularly in America, are generally negative toward cities. Several mission executives have told me over the years that we need to send missionaries to the fast growing cities of the world (as well as to the regenerating cores of Western cities), but very few American Christians have lived in urban centers or even like them.

We need churches everywhere there are people, but the people of the world are moving into the great cities of the world much faster than the church is. And therefore we must call Christians to better understand and care for cities, and we must call more Christians to consider living and ministering in cities.”

This is worth considering when defining missions, especially when many Christians still qualify and quantify missionaries by how remote or different the culture is from their own.  

Here are a few other points from Keller on analysing Paul’s missionary journeys and key benefits of the cities. 

The Apostle Paul :

1. Went ot the cities to preach and only planted churches in the cities

2. He was urban-centric in his mission

3. Paul left the country ministry for the churches he planted to reach with the Gospel

Key benefits of mission in the city: 

1. People are constantly going through changes, which causes the city to be less conservative and open to new ideas.  If you want to reach the world you try to reach cities. The world is in the cities where people are more open to the gospel than they would be in the country.

2.  The ministry worker can win not just individual people, but win the world. The missionary can  go to Morroco for ten years and do mission or go to London and reach the world. Because Christians concentrated on cities, a high percentage of cities were Christian by AD 300.

3. You need to reach the city in order to reach the culture. Chruches in cities are the only hope that the things coming out of the culture will change the culture and ministers must reach the whole city to reach the world. We need multi-ethnic churches and we need to reach the elites of the city for the benefit of the  culture.

4. My overused and favourite quote of Tim Keller:  As the cities go so goes the culture.

These are a few more thoughts of the mission going to the city. Not at the expense of the country ministry, but for the future of the Gosepl work in the culture and for the world.

Just a few thoughts, what are yours? 

A few prayer points:

1. New sermon series at Rouse Hill Bible Church

2. New series and season at City Bible Forum

3. Kids heading back to school

4. Bible Study Fellowship begins soon

Thanks for your prayers and support and the adventure continues…

The Matthews

Written by Russell Matthews for Matthews Down Under

Urban Ministry Chronicles Vol 1, Chapter 2- Why focus on cities?

Many people may not want to admit it, but one of the biggest fears  in considering missions is having to live in a hut in a remote area of the world. It does define living the missionary life for some, but it does not have to be for all.

Cathy had voiced this concern when we were evaluating mission fields. A good friend who was a missionary in Hungary said, ‘ Cathy let me show you my hut.’ As he pulled out his laptop and showed her their home in Budapest. A nice humble suburban house in Eastern Europe. It was a key turning point for Cathy, a calming effect on her that we did not have to live in a hut.

When it comes to choosing a mission field. I believe that The Lord directs. When we came to the realisation that Sydney would be our mission home. Many were fascinated, some questioned and a few discouraged us.

Tough culture & too modern’
‘It is the missionaries graveyard’
‘Why not go where it is easier and less expensive?’
‘Australia: They don’t need missionaries!’ (97% of the population does not know Christ)

I appreciate people’s concerns, but I think the problem was their perspective of missions. For most, it is not in cities or in modern countries. Also, just because it is ‘easy’ for some, does not mean it is where all should go to minister.

It was not too long ago the push for missions was Eastern Europe, China and then the 10/40 Window. In 2014, boundaries and cultures are blurred.

In the study of urban ministry, I found a great article that was composed from the emails that Tim Svoboda had put forward To his mission organisation. I will add the link below.

A few quotes for consideration:

“East is moving West and South is moving North. Amsterdam is home to 180 nations. The whole former British empire lives in London. Paris is quickly become African and Germany is becoming Turkish while Toronto is becoming Chinese. San Francisco is now 38% Asian.”

“Bangalore operates in Urdu, Hindi, Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, English and more. The world has moved to the cities. Mission is no longer geographical distant. It is now cultural distant while being located just across the street in our own cities around the world. In the past missions was primarily about going over the ocean, through the jungle, across the desert to reach the remote. Today it is quickly becoming about crossing the street in the cities where we live.”

We need to focus on the whole city…

That means ministry to the powerful and powerless, to the middle class, to the migrants, to the poor, to the business community, neighbourhoods, to the upper class, unreached people groups, the seven spheres of society, the university campus, issues of injustice, mercy ministries, evangelism and all that the city gives us opportunity to serve.”

There is so much more to the article, but the primary thrust is in modern missions we are not limited by borders. We need to consider the mix of the city. The opportunities of the city and the challenges of the city.

I think the more people begin to challenge the perspective of missions. The more people would consider doing missions work.

To stress, this is not an anti-rural missions message, but a pro-missions message. Last time I looked at the great commission, the message was to go into the whole world to reach people for Christ. Not just the remote tribes in India or Africa (they need missionaries, too), but to all of the world.

Have you thought of the cities of the world as mission fields?

Push back, I love the discussion.

Thanks for reading,

Russell Matthews


Urban Ministry Chronicles Vol. 1 – Is the city a mission field?

I am heading into the city of Sydney on the train. It is packed. People getting ready to get back to work and I am surrounded by a multitude of cultures. European, Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian and many others and all would probably consider themselves Australian.

It reminds me of a quote from a missionary friend who said, “Sydney is the city where the mission comes to you.”

I will concur with this statement. Sydney is not a mission field, but multiple mission fields. If  I think about it a bit, that statement  would be true all of over the world in all of the major cities. In missions, it should give us pause to think of going where the people are living, working, worshipping and experiencing life.

Based on the latest World Health Organisation, there are more people in 2014 living in urban (cities) settings than in rural settings. Based on the trends, by 2030, 6 out of 10 people will live in an urban area. The trend has been growth in city populations by 1.2 million every week.

Looking at these statistics, mission organisations need to evaluate where they are sending their workers. Churches need to begin to consider the paradigm for missions work is not only in rural centres, but in urban centres. This is not at the expense of the rural missionary, but with the view of growing mission opportunities. People who would not consider doing work in the remote tribes of Asia or Africa, but would see the urban setting as an opportunity to reach more people for Christ. If 6 out of 10 people will live in a city, for the greatest impact for Christ, why not consider the urban setting?

I am going to share a few things over the coming months to open the discussion for Urban Ministry in Missions. It is not a new idea, but I think it is one that needs to be revisited for the future of missions.

Question for our readers: When you think of missions, do you think of the city? Why or why not?

Prayer points:

The Forum: Pray for people to come along to the upcoming series and panel discussions.

-What is so great about Christianity?

-The Bible on Trial

-Does God have freedom of speech?

-Guest speaker: David Murrow – Why do men hate going to church?

Urban Ministry Summit: I will be going to Bangkok in February to meet up with other missionaries looking to do work in the Urban centres of Southeast Asia.

Family: Everyone coming off the summer holidays – Work, School and new church opportunities

Rouse Hill Bible Church: New series, New bible studies and new visitors at the church


Thanks for your prayers and support,

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Josh and Caroline