Our Greatest Mission Challenge

The world’s urban areas are our greatest mission challenge for at least three reasons.

Sheer numbers. In Stockholm, Sweden, 410 Adventists live among a population of 1.25 million—a ratio of more than 3,000 people for every Seventh-day Adventist. In Kolkata, India, there are 558 church members among a population of 15 million. That’s one Adventist for more than 26,000 people.

In the United States 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas1—but only one in three Adventist churches is located in an urban area. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—a metropolitan area with 2.4 million—there are fewer Adventists today than there were in 1948 when George Vandeman held evangelistic meetings in that city.2 

Urban areas thrive and grow everywhere—Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. Mainland China has nearly 40 cities with more than 2 million people. Cities contain most people in the 10/40 Window and in the secular West. They’re the world’s future—a rapidly growing future.

Unique urban issues. In many parts of the world, a Global Mission pioneer running an outreach effort is the biggest show in town, bringing out almost the entire village. Try the same thing in downtown Sydney, Australia, and you’re competing with theaters, cinemas, restaurants, concert halls, clubs, and numerous other places of entertainment—along with the sheer busyness of people’s lives. For many, church is a quaint curiosity, a relic of another era. 

Adventist dislocation from cities. While most people live in urban areas, most Seventh-day Adventists, churches, and institutions are located away from this mission field. In many cases, urban churches are commuter churches—with many or most of their members driving to church from the suburbs. Without proximity to the mission field, the church is distant, an observer, at best an occasional visitor. 

  1. Stone and Wolfteich, Sabbath in the City, p. 2.
  2. Monte Sahlin, Mission in Metropolis: The Adventist Movement in an Urban World (Lincoln, Nebr.: Center for Creative Ministry, 2007). p. 156.

Our Mission Fields

The largest cities (arranged alphabetically) in the world are:

Beijing, China
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cairo, Egypt
Delhi, India
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Guangzhou, China
Istanbul, Turkey
Jakarta, Indonesia
Karachi, Pakistan
Kolkata, India
Los Angeles, United States
Manila, Philippines
Mexico City, Mexico
Moscow, Russia
Mumbai, India
New York, United States
Osaka-Kobe, Japan
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Shanghai, China
Tokyo, Japan

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