For many years the sense of being called to a city was not part of my rationale. As a pastor, I had only a vague comprehension of any accountability beyond that of caring for my congregation. Like many others, this was the paradigm I had been taught and mentored in. Around 1990 I began to see things a little differently. There came the realisation that I had been first called to a city and then to pastor a congregation in that city or town. I began to see that I was called not just to pastor a congregation but to also join with other pastors in that locality and seek the welfare of the wider community. God wanted me to identify with His heart for the city. I thank God for enabling me to understand this and those who helped me in this process.
When Jesus commissioned the eleven disciples He charged them with discipling nations. For these disciples and those who who eventually joined them, notably Paul, their target then became cities. Changed cities (and towns) change nations. The book of Acts, like the book of Joshua, is a city by city story. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment cities became the key to reaching nations.
Despite persecution the early church continued to be light and salt to the nations. According to Prof. Rodney Stark in his book The Rise of Christianity, the gospel had brought radical change to the 30 major cities of the Roman Empire, prior to Constantine’s reign.
Today the ‘city’ message is being heard around the world. There are an increasing number of books, websites and conferences all with a Christ-centred city focus. For example, in October 2014 a gathering with a citywide – church transformation focus was held in New York under the banner of Movement Day. 300 cities from the U.S. and around the world were represented. Every city or town is loved and cared for by God.
It is a joy to interact with leaders and others who are identifying with God’s heart for their city or town. To all the many of you who are now joining with others to pray, to be light and salt in your city or town – ‘go for it!’ Despite the many challenges ahead, the best is yet to come, all by Jesus, for whom and through whom are all things.
Until next time.