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.
The largest cities (arranged alphabetically) in the world are:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Los Angeles, United States
Mexico City, Mexico
New York, United States
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Let’s take a look at some of the challenging areas that have been selected for wholistic outreach.
Mission 360° features inspiring stories about mission work.
One day while Rajah was holding a Bible study, a mob approached his house, brandishing sticks and swords.