Top leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently endorsed a plan to evangelize the world’s cities, beginning in 2013 with New York City. The vote came as a practical response to world church President Ted N. C. Wilson’s call to prioritize outreach to large urban centers, where half of the world’s population now lives.
“Historically, rural areas have responded to the Adventist Church’s message of hope more than cities,” said world church Secretary G. T. Ng. “We are a church of islands and villages” he added.
Even today, “most of the church’s resources are going outside the cities, even though most of the needs are now inside cities,” said Gary Krause, director of the church’s Office of Adventist Mission.
The plan hinges on both corporate and personal evangelism. Between 2012 and 2015, church leaders will equip pastors and lay members to launch outreach efforts in more than 650 of the world’s major cities. To better reflect the cultural diversity and unique character of the church’s thirteen world divisions, regional administrators will choose the outreach cities and craft an approach that will best connect with their respective communities.
By Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN
Ellen White envisioned putting Christ’s method into action in urban areas through holistic ministry centers that she called “centers of influence.” They would feature a variety of activities such as lifestyle education, small-group meetings, literature, restaurants, treatment rooms, public meetings, and “reaping” ministries.
The Office of Adventist Mission is working to help establish a network of Life Hope Centers in key urban areas around the world. These will be branded the same, be undergirded by the same theological/spiritual principles, but will vary in shape and size, depending on the city. Their look, style, and flavor will be shaped to local situations, but the philosophy and principles of operation will be consistent.
These centers will have a goal of becoming self-sustaining financially, and where possible, will be linked to some revenue-generating enterprise such as a medical or dental clinic. They’ll utilize local Adventist workers and volunteers, and partner with church departments, institutions, and lay organizations.
Although these centers are primarily seed sowing, they should connect to small groups and urban church planting initiatives. They must be long-term, on-the-ground projects.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenging areas that have been selected for wholistic outreach.
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