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Christian Witness to Large Cities

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Editor's Note

Report of the Consultation on World Evangelization
Mini-Consultation on Reaching Large Cities
Held in Pattaya, Thailand from 16-27 June 1980

Copyright © 1980
Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

Prefatory Note

This report, Christian Witness to Large Cities, is one of a series of Lausanne Occasional Papers (LOPs) emerging from the historic Consultation on World Evangelization (COWE) held in Pattaya, Thailand, in June 1980. The report was drafted by members of the "Mini-Consultation on Reaching Large Cities," under the chairmanship of Dr. Raymond J. Bakke, who also served as International Co-ordinator of the pre-COWE study groups on Reaching Large Cities.

The major part of this report went through a draft and a revised draft, which involved all members of the mini-consultation. It was also submitted to a wider "sub-plenary" group for comment, but the responsibility for the final text rests with the mini-consultation and its chairman.

The report is released with the prayer and hope that it will stimulate the church and individual members in reaching this large segment of the population.


Realistic strategies for world evangelization must inevitably confront the awesome urbanization of the world. The Consultation on World Evangelization, therefore, recognized that challenge in designating “Christian Witness to Large Cities” as one of its 17 mini-consultations.

Our initial goal was to study 135 “world-class cities” (cities over one million and/or of international significance) on six continents outside the Soviet Union and mainland China. Local study groups met in those cities during the year prior to the consultation. The international convenor of the pre-consultation study groups and of the mini-consultation received reports from about half of those local groups. Varying in length from 5 to 75 pages, they formed the basis for the summary position paper received by participants prior to the consultation.

At the consultation, 110 conferees spent most of the working sessions in six continental groups which developed section three of the report, identifying specific objectives, strategies, and resources for evangelization of urban dwellers in their respective regions.

We felt keenly the challenge of evangelization of large cities, the diversity evident in those sprawling centres, and the constraints of time which prevented us from devoting more time to goals and strategies.

This report is sent out, however, in the hope that it will assist the church and especially those involved in reaching large cities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May it also stimulate further analysis, and result in new strategies.

1. The Urbanisation of the World

Contemporary urbanologists define cities by physical characteristics and by functions or roles in the culture or regions in which they are found. Wirth defined cities according to size, density, and heterogeneity; Mumford suggested the unique office of the city is to increase the variety, velocity, extent, and continuity of human intercourse.

Some urban anthropologists classify cities according to their dominant roles: i.e., cultural (Boston or Benares), economic (Buenos Aires or Chicago), or administrative (Brasilia or New Delhi). Moreover, some cities have symbolic and sometimes even prophetic significance (Soweto or Berlin). Obviously, some cities (Cairo or London) have multiple roles. Increasingly, another important function has emerged—that of port-of-entry for huge, diverse migrant or immigrant populations. Virtually every world-class city fulfills this international function with enormous consequences for life, and especially for ministry.

The contemporary twin phenomena—expanding cities and a shrinking global village—have increased the already significant communications role of cities everywhere. Because media are nearly omnipresent, cities increasingly function as amplifiers both for government and guerillas. All these functions shape urban life in many ways so that the ethos of every city (and every neighborhood or institution within it) is conditioned thereby.

It is imperative, therefore, that urban evangelization strategists learn to analyse and discern the essential forms and functions of their own city. Not only do these factors combine to attract certain kinds of groups into cities; but, in addition, they shape the values, expectations, and world view of those already there. The appropriate mission strategies can hardly be overestimated. We urge our ministering colleagues to develop a working knowledge of, and appreciation for, their respective large cities and to sharpen their skills at contextual analysis.

The 1976 Habitat Conference of the United Nations meeting in Vancouver, Canada, placed the world-wide urban growth rate at 7.2 percent per year. Furthermore, since urbanisation is inextricably tied to industrialisation, cities in post-industrial societies tend to decentralise, while those countries which are industrialising tend to produce huge urban populations at an incredible rate. Contemporary cities can be viewed as both places and processes, dynamic and always turbulent. These factors have strategic consequences for the mission of the church.

Mexico City, for example, has been shown by several studies to be the world’s largest city. It currently has a population approaching 15 million and is growing at over 6 percent, or nearly a million persons, per year. Over half of this growth represents the birth rate; the balance is immigration from all 30 states of Mexico. Moreover, Mexico City points to another important phenomenon characteristic of world-class cities, i.e., while the cities may be old, the populations within them are getting younger. The median age of Mexico City (meaning half the population is under and half is over) is 14.2. In contrast, the median age of populations in U.S. cities is said to be 29.4 and rising in 1979. Can anyone fail to see the social consequences of such data if significant numbers are not reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

African cities, among the world’s fastest growing, are said to contain some 60 million unemployed male adults and many other millions who are underemployed. This is nearly one-fourth of the African male work force (Statistics of the International Labor Organization). The president of Kenya, Mr. Daniel Arap Moi, has called this situation “a social time bomb.” Can anyone fail to see the consequences if the church fails to evangelize these massive cities, or to multiply disciples within these complex urban systems, which have been compared to monsters without heads?

Cities present both advantages and disadvantages to evangelization. For 2,000 years we have possessed the commission to make disciples of every nation or people. In our own day, nearly 45 percent of the world’s 4.3 billion persons live in cities, and that percentage is rising rapidly.

Yet while cities themselves are easy to find, the people groups within them are not so easily discovered. Study and strategy are required, and these skills, as this consultation reveals, may be found in short supply. Furthermore, costs of urban ministry are high—both financially and emotionally. Many Christians and mission organisations have abandoned cities at the time of their greatest need and opportunity.

Where applicable, the uniqueness of large cities can be explained in a standardized way by gathering information for evangelism in relation to three different types of urban groupings:

A. Homogeneous Zones in Geographic Social Space

These are usually discernable by income, family structure, and/or ethnicity. One strategy flowing from this might be to establish an evangelical church in each of these relatively homogeneous social areas.

B. Homogeneous Groups in Non-geographic Social Space

These are homogeneous, but not geographically localized (e.g., occupational groups, students, gangs, some ethnic groups). A strategy here might seek to reach people in these respective groups, but subsequently channel them into geographically-based churches.

C. Heterogeneous Zones

These are urban units with little or no sense of community beyond immediate family members (e.g., high-rise apartment dwellers, hospitals, etc.). A strategy here might be “narrow casting” (broadcasting to a very specific target audience), in order to reach those one cannot contact personally.

We reaffirm our commitment to the cause of urban evangelization world wide, and we pledge ourselves to be involved and to promote that cause in every appropriate forum until Christ comes or calls for us.

2. Biblical Mandates and Resources for Large City Evangelization

The progression of the Bible is from a garden to an eternal city. We are said to have an urban future. The Bible includes over 1,200 references to cities and the biblical rationale and resources for the urban mission of the church are drawn from both Testaments. Briefly, we summarize this biblical data under three headings: places, persons, and principles. What follows is not intended to be complete but suggestive of the breadth of biblical resources available to us.

A. Biblical Places

At least 119 cities can be found in the biblical record. Case studies of major cities in various contexts suggest a biblical theology of “place” should be included in our theological understanding, alongside that of programmes and persons. Consider, for example, the record of God’s dealing with these four cities briefly summarized:

(i) Sodom—Gen. 18,19: Ezek. 16:48 ff.

(a) God sees the behaviour of cities

(b) There is a godly motive for urban concern (e.g., Abraham’s prayer)

(c) There is a relationship between the presence of the godly and preservation of the city (ten righteous could have saved it).

(d) God can distinguish the one from the many—he can distinguish Lot from the rest (as Rahab in Jericho).

(e) An escape theology is not enough to guide those who flee the city. The primary evil is not environmental. It is personal, within us. (cf. Gen. 19 & Mark 7)

(f) One biblically stated reason for Sodom’s destruction is given in Ezekiel 16:48-50. In addition to being haughty, Sodom was wealthy and did not take sufficient care of her urban poor, and God says he hates that. Is there a city today without the disparity between the haves and have-nots?

(ii) Nineveh – cf. Jonah and Nahum

(a) Note God’s struggle to get a message and messenger to an ancient capital city.

(b) Observe God’s concern in this case for the city as a place—no namesare mentioned.

(c) Given the record of Assyrian conquest and destruction in Israel’s history, Jonah is a missionary story of grace for the chief of sinful urban systems.

(d) God accepts the repentance of Nineveh, graciously forgiving those who sought him, in spite of Jonah’s motives and conduct.

(e) Notice that Nahum later reports God’s judgement and woe on Nineveh, perhaps because the repentance was only temporary and to “save their own necks.” One can only speculate about what might have happened if Jonah’s revival had been followed up with discipleship training and national reconciliation with Israel.

(iii) Babylon – cf. Daniel, plus many other passages

(a) This city functions as a corporate Judas, cutting off the temple, destroying Jerusalem, and ending the monarchy.

(b) God provides choice Hebrew sons who function within the structures (if not the life-style) of the palace, and who master the pagan culture of the urban captives, yet meanwhile carefully separating their own faith from their culture, their convictions from their opinions (Daniel 1:8,17 ff.).

(c) While in Babylon, Daniel received the God-given vision of protecting angels which stand behind the government official and his service.

(d) Was it not in urban captivity that diaspora Judaism developed (in Babylon and in Alexandria)? This eventually led to translation of the Old Testament and the commentaries, and the development of the synagogue, which in turn influenced the rapid spread of Christianity amid the Greek-speaking cities of the Roman world after Pentecost.

(e) Was it not the Lord who instructed the Israelites residing in Babylon? He, in fact, had sent them into the city and, as urban dwellers, they were to live in that culture with their families and “seek the welfare of the city and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer. 29:7). Thus God’s grace was not denied to this city, which was so evil in fact and reputation that it could serve as a code name for Rome in the Revelation of the New Testament.

(iv) Jerusalem – Literally hundreds of texts in both Testaments refer to this city

(a) There is a 1,100-year biblical record of God’s grace shown the city from its capture by David to its destruction by Titus in 70 AD.

(b) The list of the range of ministries performed by faithful (and unfaithful) servants is a lengthy one and is found in both Testaments.

(c) Jerusalem and other cities are reviewed by God and judged according to their behaviour (Lam. I:I ff); but even amid the post-discipline ruins of the city, the prophet can see the merciful hand of God (Lam. 3:21 ff), giving hope to the godly.

(d) Jesus is recorded to have wept out of compassion for this city (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44), whose destruction he so dramatically described.

(e) The Holy Spirit came to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 2), giving his witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in many languages, thus reversing forever the curse of Babel (Gen. 11) and proving the gospel can transcend urban heterogeneity and linguistic pluralism.

(f) The earthly city Jerusalem was a city set on a hill and was expected to witness of God’s salvation to all nations both by the character of her inhabitants and the quality of her institutions. Although this city’s witness fell short of that which was expected, the earthly Jerusalem points to a heavenly city which embodies in an urban place the cumulative aspirations of all peoples everywhere. Among other implications, we can assume that while urban systems and structures are under sin’s curse, they are not inherently evil per se, or beyond ultimate redemption.

B. Biblical Persons

(i) Consider Joseph, the Egyptian economist, who in two seven-year plans (one for budget surpluses; one for budget deficits) moved populations into cities and fed them, including God’s people, by means of direct government action (Gen. 37-50).

(ii) Consider Daniel, the Babylonian politician, who served through several coups and made much more just the otherwise harsh policies of an oppressive urban-based government (Daniel).

(iii) Consider Nehemiah, the Persian layman, who got a government grant and an official leave of absence to create a “model cities plan” for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. There he creatively used the tithe principle to recruit 10% of villages and families to repopulate Jerusalem at a time when most people would not live there (cf. especially Neh. 11: 1).

(iv) Consider Paul, the urban evangelist par excellence who “followed the contours of the urbanised Roman Empire” with a plethora of strategies and styles focused primarily on the central role of the local church.

C. Biblical Principles

(i) The principle of materialism. The Bible begins with creation and concludes with the re-creation of matter and centres on the resurrection of real bodies, Christ’s and ours. Moreover, the first gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible (arts and crafts design), were given to Bezaleel and Aholiab (Ex. 31:1 ff) for work on a physical worship centre among people who already had the fire and cloud of the Spirit’s presence. Among other things, we conclude from such passages that Christianity is the only religion that truly integrates matter and spirit in a coherent way. Only Christianity can seek effectively the holism of the city both structurally and spiritually, institutionally as well as individually.

(ii) The principle of corporate solidarity. In the Bible, people identified by families and places. People have identity in the land and often in the cities. Moreover, cities too have corporate solidarity with suburbs and towns, having responsibility and accountability for them (cf. Ezek. 16—where several cities are described in personal terms). Hence, the idea that a Christian can stay in one place (a city or a suburb) and not take responsibility for the other is denied by such passages.

(iii) The principle of Incarnation. The principle of Jesus was to “become flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). His life and ministry pattern, and implicit principles derived from that, suggest incarnational styles of urban presence and witness. His two-day stay with the newly forgiven Samaritan sinners (John 4:40) is further illustration of this. Impersonal media ministries are no substitute for physical presence in the city. This principle addresses the “user relationships” many Christian churches and organisations have to cities, wherein they locate in a city for convenience and use its services without any sense of responsibility for the well-being of that city and without any real witness or service to its people or its institutions. Even some who minister in the city have shown a tendency to exaggerate its problems for funding purposes.

(iv) The principle of hope. The gospel is “news” not advice; not some paternalistic announcement of something the urban multitudes must do in order to be saved, but news that something redemptive has been done for them by Jesus Christ on the cross. Such news transforms persons and environments with enormously powerful urban consequences (cf. Acts 17:6 ff), wherein those who have repented, experienced forgiveness and the Spirit’s indwelling, will work out that salvation on a wide-ranging urban agenda and with incredible spiritual and social consequences. Such hope reminds us that the salvation of the city is ultimately Christ’s return and intervention, but such hope also propels us into continuous urban mission.

In sum, then, we remind Christians dwelling in large cities everywhere, that God has not left us defenceless. He has given us an amazing array of biblical resources for the task of missions and evangelization in the large and growing urban centres of our day. Jesus himself displayed multiple strategies in his visiting, teaching, preaching, and healing ministry in the small cities of his day (Matt. 9:35-38).

Note: While it is not within the scope of this paper, Christians should be aware that the nearly 2,000-year history of the church’s life and ministry is likewise replete with outstanding examples (both positive and negative) of urban and cross-cultural evangelization models that give guidance and encouragement to our present task of reaching city dwellers in large cities.

3. Regional Strategies for the Evangelization of Large Cities

The following six sections contain the summaries of the consultations divided into six continental areas.

A. Africa (Sub-Sahara)

(i) Descriptions and assumptions about African cities

In certain places, cities are separated by legislation which stipulates that the labor force live in a city different from the city of their labor.

There are also some cities to which part of the labor force who live in them are forbidden to bring their families (especially true of South Africa).

Growth is not due to escape from the inner city but due to gravitation to it from the rural areas.

Growth rises faster than provision of infrastructure and amenities.

(ii) Descriptions of what has been done

It must be recognised that there has been an openness and hunger for God created by the Holy Spirit and not necessarily through any human technique or strategy. In all the cities where studies have been made, many kinds of evangelism were shown to have been used.

They include:

  • Evangelism of children—Reaching children has not been only through the traditional Sunday setting, but also through “backyard” Sunday Schools. These are so named because they are organized in non-church neighbourhoods and not only on Sundays, but also on weekdays.
  • Personal evangelism
  • Prison ministry
  • Women’s special programs
  • Couples’ fellowships
  • Radio ministry
  • Drama
  • Gospel teams
  • Retreats
  • Crusades, rallies, and other forms of mass evangelization

(iii) Issues

Receptivity to the gospel has been hindered by the church’s lack of credibility, as she is often identified with past colonial powers and/or present public injustice.

Leadership meetings and evangelization trips hindered by difficult mobility within city, due to traffic jams in some cases and lack of transport in others.

Insufficient funds due to the church’s different order of priorities.

Most church members lack necessary training to enable them to evangelize and disciple others.

Reduced effectiveness of programmes due to inadequate planning, dissipation of resources, and insufficient co-ordination of identical programmes.

In certain cases, ministers have not been able to effect transition from classroom to field, resulting in non-effectiveness in practical issues.

The “People’s Group” principle is not wholly true in African settings when defined only along tribal affinity. There are other factors—such as common beliefs, fortunes, ambitions, etc., which must be included. Tribal identity is changed by cities but ethnic groups are seldom totally detribalized.

Breaking of family bonds in some cases has necessitated other forms of outreach.

(iv) Objectives

To have a well-trained, mobilized, and motivated congregation in every evangelical church.

To have well-equipped ministers, where they do not now exist, who will have sufficient academic background to enable them to relate more effectively in their academic environment.

By 1985, to develop an accurate resource profile on every city of 500,000or more in Africa, which will form the basis for developing a better city evangelization strategy.

(v) Strategies for Evangelization

Mobilize members of the congregation to evangelize, by training them to recognise their responsibility to evangelize, and motivating them to do so.

Utilize continuing education to broaden the background of members of the congregation who have had no formal theological training.

Encourage consistent and effective group Bible studies.

Assist urban ministers without adequate academic background to gain some training, which need not be formal, to enable them to counsel more ably in academic settings.

Maintain a consistent and effective follow-up and discipling of all believers.

Ensure a concerted and consistent prayer ministry.

Have some people with good background in urbanology to assist in developing resource profiles mentioned earlier.

Provide syllabus material for Bible colleges that will help provide pastors-in-training with adequate city evangelization orientation.

(vi) Resources for Evangelization

Human resources are available-members of the congregation.

Teaching materials are needed for clergy and laity. Appropriate media technology should be developed.

Trained manpower should be available to operate and maintain the appropriate media equipment.

(vii) Questions with Urban Implications

What can we do to evangelize urban university campuses effectively? How can the church in South Africa be helped to project and maintain a growing Christlike witness among her members of all races in that country and to the rest of the world?

How can the church in other parts of Africa project and maintain a credible witness before the world, in the midst of public corruption and injustice?

B. Asia

(i) Asian Cities—Some General Features

While Asian cities have some features in common with European and African cities, others are unique.

Christians form a small minority in most of them.

(a) Less than I % in the 34 world-class cities of China; ten such cities of Japan, Bangkok, and Moslem cities such as Dacca.
(b) 1%-7% in cities such as Hong Kong, Rangoon, Madras, and Bombay.
(c) As high as 20% in Seoul, Korea; and, of course, highest of all in Manila.

Most large cities in Asia have been highly resistant to the gospel, with 39 of the cities located in communist countries, 12 in Moslem lands, and 13 others in countries that are basically Buddhist.

The large cities of Asia are experiencing rapid and dramatic change in outlook and composition.

These cities are crowded beyond description, with vast numbers of people moving into the cities from the hinterland at an average rate of 7% per year and with biological growth averaging 2.4% annually.

Asian cities are, in many cases, pacesetters for their countries—being centres not only of government, but of education, business, industry, and culture.

Asian cities show uneven economic development—with contrasts between slums and suburbs, rich and poor, class and caste.

(ii) Some issues to be faced in Asian cities

We feel that we must address ourselves to the following issues:

The urgent need for spiritual renewal in the existing churches—for only warm, vibrant, Spirit-filled churches will be able to meet the overwhelming challenge of Asia’s cities.

The need to see Asian Christians move away from a minority complex toward a more positive attitude and aggressive evangelism and church planting.

The need for research to identify people groups in the cities, determine responsive and resistant groups, analyse message content for communication to city dwellers, and locate successful models of urban church planting.

The need to mobilize fully the resources (local and non-local, church and para-church, co-operative and individual) available to the churches in Asia’s cities for evangelism.

The need for churches in Asia’s cities to be warm, loving, concerned fellowships that will attract people from their resistant cultures, and environments and nurture them in spiritually alien surroundings.

The need for Asian seminaries and Bible Schools to train full-time workers in urban church planting and for the training of a new kind of lay worker in great numbers to multiply churches.

(iii) Some models of ministry

(a) Bangkok, Thailand: Three groups are aggressive and growing.

(1) “New Life Houses”—This group of Thai Christians, aided by some missionaries of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, is developing churches using Bible College students and other students in active witness.
(2) Pentecostals—Twodifferent groups are concentrating on establishing two large central churches and then developing cell groups in homes throughout the city under the leadership of the central church.
(3) Southern Baptists—They have developed an urban strategy, which has identified 1,000 neighbourhoods. The idea is to “climatize” the neighbourhood through visits, films, community events and distributing literature house to house. The goal is to have a church in the neighbourhood in one year. Coupled with witnessing are personal ministries such as cooking, dressmaking, mechanics, etc. There are 13 weeks of Bible Study followed by 13 weeks of discipleship classes. Each neighbourhood has 5-10 members on the team.

(b)Tokyo, Japan: Billy Graham Crusades will be held in 6 major cities in October 1980. Another approach is to have music-based crusades. Christian literature is being used effectively in the hands of Christians witnessing in the city areas. There are churches being started in the high-rise apartment complexes and suburbs.

(c) Taipei, Taiwan: English classes are conducted in factories, apartments, and dormitories as a witness. English-class tours are organised monthly to visit local spots of interest-parks, lakes, etc. Two churches now exist as a result of converts through this ministry.

(d)Seoul, Korea: This country has two of the largest Protestant churches in the world. The Assemblies of God church has over 100,000 members. The following things are worthy of note:

(1) All denominations are actively engaged in church planting.
(2) The largest Easter sunrise services in the world are held annually.
(3) There is an annual presidential prayer breakfast.
(4) 20% of the National Assembly meets monthly for prayer and fellowship.
(5) The following churches are specific groups:

(a) An entertainers’ church (actors and singers)
(b) An athletes’ church
(c) Harbor evangelism for sailors and sea captains. This is an international outreach.

(6) Five Christian newspapers
(7) There are 2,500 churches in Seoul alone
(8) Daily 5 a.m. prayer meeting in all churches
(9) Most churches use small cell groups or neighbourhood prayer and Bible studies as vehicles of evangelistic contact. Christian caring, pastoral oversight, Christian growth, and soil-testing for church planting. The Yoido Full Gospel church has 7,000 such groups, but even a small congregation of 200 may have 10-15 such groups.

(e) Pusan, Korea: Evangelism is carried out primarily through the local congregations rather than agencies or city-wide crusades. As a result there are now (1980) 1,103 churches, and that number is increasing rapidly. The keys to evangelism:

(1) An annual Bible conference
(2) Weekly house visitation
(3) All-Assembly Sundays: every family in the church brings a non-Christian
(4) The government provides land for religious use. The Protestants take advantage of this.
(5) Education for young children is most unique. The church provides a program for young children, and even has a Wednesday prayer meeting for them.
(6) Hospital chaplains are supported by the local church.
(7) There is a ministry to approximately 20,000 sailors in Pusan.

(f) Hong Kong: The government will make property available for social and community welfare only. A church can use this property for a meeting place if it provides the necessary community social services that meet government requirements. Established churches are taking advantage of this opportunity for establishing new congregation centres.

(g) Delhi, India: 1.7% are Christians. New churches are growing significantly. They have a nucleus of 50- 100 people with both trained and untrained pastors. There are branch or spin-off congregations from para-church activities and denominational churches. There is a multiplication of para-church organizations, which are founded from outside the country, but manned by nationals.

(h) Bombay, India: (Approximately 6.9% are Christians)

(1) City-wide crusades have been used.
(2) A large number of house churches are springing up, especially among Pentecostals and charismatic Christians, because land and church buildings are so costly.
(3) Most denominations have churches and mission agencies here.
(4) Tamil and Telugu are the two responsive linguistic groups at the moment. (There are 15 languages spoken in the city.)

(i) Madras, India:

(1) In recent years the churches have conducted city-wide crusades and revival meetings.
(2) Special ministry has been launched for industrial workers.
(3) All-night prayer meetings are conducted in public halls and churches for evangelizing the city of Madras, and many new churches have been planted during this decade.

(j) Lahore, Pakistan:

(1) Lahore is a historic city of 3,500,000-95% Muslim, 2% Christian. Islam is the state religion; a resurgence is under way.
(2) Number of churches: 45 (Protestant and Catholic). Christians enjoy the constitutional right to preach, practise and propagate their faith, even under Islamization and Martial laws.
(3) In December 1978, a city-wide media campaign was conducted for three weeks to reach the large city for Christ. The results were as follows:

(a) 53,000 people were exposed to the gospel
(b) 1,100 prayed
(c) 1,798 inquirers needed more information

(4) City-wide outreach continues on a monthly basis to saturate target areas, and all-night prayer meetings are held in some churches. Pastors’ seminars continue.

(k) Manila, Philippines: There is a proliferation of hundreds of small Bible study groups, which are organised and conducted by laymen from the business community.

(iv) Goals

(a) To make all people in every world-class Asian city aware of the gospel and to confront them with the claims of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour within the next decade.

(b) To increase the membership of existing churches in Asian world-class cities by 100% by 1985, and to double again by 1990.

(c) To identify and describe all significant “people groups” in Asian world-class cities by 1985, with a view to starting a Christian cell among each group by 1990.

(d) To have each church multiply itself three times by 1990.

(e) That every Christian grow in grace and knowledge until he attains to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that every church experience spiritual renewal and mobilisation for evangelism; and that the whole people of God in each Asian city grow in Christian unity. (Col. 1:6; Eph. 4:13)

(v) Strategies

(a) That the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization establish a world-level working group on urban evangelism strategy to disseminate ideas, models, and guidelines for church planting in world-class cities.

(b) That returning COWE delegates encourage the formation of local continuing working groups in each world-class Asian city to share these goals, to initiate research, and to develop multiple strategies for evangelism and church planting (both homogeneous and cross-cultural).

(c) That local churches and para-church organisations develop and utilize literature and other mass- and micro-media for effective evangelism.

(d) That churches develop patterns of adequate ingathering to preserve the fruits of all evangelistic efforts and discipling strategies, to teach believers and train them for effective evangelism.

(e) That every COWE delegate dedicate himself to prayer and to seeking all spiritual means for bringing renewal in the churches of our cities.

(f) That systematic training of full-time and volunteer workers take place on a regular basis to assure continuity of growth and ministry.

(vi) Resources

(a) Primary: Spiritual

(b) Secondary: Human level

(1) The church in each city; manpower, gifts of the Spirit, stewardship of money, creativity, faith and commitment
(2) Church-planting missions
(3) Para-church organisations
(4) Research groups and resulting information
(5) Available media, including literature
(6) The experience we already have to be shared
(7) For Asia, the Korean church especially and other successful endeavours in evangelism and church planting.

C. Europe

(i) General description of European cities

From roots deep in the past, most large European cities have developed their own individual enduring characters. This stands in contrast to other continents. People in large European cities are extremely mobile. This is made necessary by such factors as job-location and entertainment centres. This mobility is facilitated by highly sophisticated transportation systems. Consequently, it is easy to gather at central points. Since the beginning of the century, the number of Christians in the large European cities has been rapidly decreasing. People have left their original church roots. Many Christians have also joined the evacuation of the inner cities to live in the suburbs, new cities, and the country. As a result, city structures have been secularized. The weekend flight from the cities for recreation, and the alternating influx of pleasure seekers, have also greatly reduced Christian visibility. And during the last twenty years, immigrant populations, mostly non-Christians and non-Western, have been growing rapidly also in Eastern European cities. In some cities the foreign residents have reached 1/6th to 1/7th of the city population.

The consequences of this secularization and increasing diversity to the European city dweller have been anonymity, neurosis, crime, immorality, violence, drug abuse, and family breakdown.

It should be noted, however, that the inflow of immigrants and the flight of urban people to the suburbs and country are not characteristic of Eastern European cities. On the contrary, country people, including Christians, are moving into the cities seeking a more anonymous environment.

(ii) Description of encouraging evangelization and church trends

Signs of new life are appearing: small increases in congregations and large attendances for joint ventures are reported, even though insignificant in relation to the mass of people needing Christ. A number of cities report an exceptional openness among the youth, due likely to the pressure of city life, and many are being brought to Christ and discipled. Parallel to their entry into the church is a noticable increase in community or shared life-style.

In many cities inter-church co-operation is also on the increase. House groups are a universal feature adding mid-week activities to the Sunday services. Some of these home fellowships are for evangelism, others for prayer and fellowship. Particularly active in these are the women. Some inner-city churches have been bold enough to change their structures to serve the business houses through lunch-hour evangelism. Many churches and service groups have already developed immigrant ministries. More of these ministries are needed if the potential of these immigrants is to be realized in world evangelization.

(iii) Issues—For everyone in European cities to hear, we as European Christians must:

(a) Recover prayer in personal and corporate life.

(b) Clarify the goal and message of large-city evangelism.

(c) Promote biblical and practical inter-church co-operation, and co-operation between church and para-church groups.

(d) Reverse Christian defeatism by the renewal of stagnant churches and by calling Christians back to the cities.

(e) Restore a family koinonia atmosphere in the urban church.

(f) Regain credibility for the message through identification with, and response to, people’s social and intellectual needs.

(g) Research the city: hidden peoples, existing ministries, and the forces that shape it—historical and current, especially the place and role of mass media.

(h) Plan for awakening by training city workers, both for their own city and other regions; and by anticipating new church and service group forms, planting them where needed.

(i) Permeate all city structures, for the transformation of people and structures of society.

(iv) Some goals and strategiesrefer to issues a-i above.

Issue 1:

Goal: In three years vastly increase the time spent by Christians in prayer for their city, nation, and world.


a. COWE study group (or some other existing inter-church group) meet monthly for prayer for their city, nation, and world.
b. COWE study group commission research concerning amount of time being spent in each church and parachurch group on prayer for the city, etc.
c. Create a mobile team for heading “prayer workshops” in interested churches.

Issue 2:

Goal: Increase awareness among pastors and church leaders of need for evangelism during the next two years.

Strategies: Circulate a translation of Paragraph 5 of the Lausanne Covenant to each pastor and service group leader in the city, asking their comments. Gather together those interested in applying this definition to their city.

Issue 3:

Goal: A co-operative evangelistic effort by a variety of churches and para-church groups in three years.

Strategies: Gather together pastors and church leaders who have been praying together for the evangelization of their city. Research the current needs of the city in order to adopt a common evangelistic theme and plan simultaneous evangelization efforts.

Issue 4:

Goal: Restore among urban Christians within five years a biblical understanding of cities.

Strategies: Create a mobile teaching team to conduct weekend seminars in the city churches concerning Bible studies on cities, and vision for their city.

Issue 5:

Goal: See a 20% increase in home groups (either for evangelism, prayer, or fellowship) in three years.

Strategies: Make this goal a matter of prayer in an inter-church prayer group for three months. Invite a speaker who is knowledgeable in the subject, and inspiring, to conduct an evening meeting in each participating church, challenging people to home group evangelism (with prayer, Bible study, and fellowship). Gather interested people together into one or more groups to pray. Out of this nucleus create, after several months of prayer and training, several neighbourhood weekly home groups, retaining the original group meeting once a month for prayer, fellowship, encouragement, and evaluation.

Issue 6:

Goal: Raise awareness in the churches and service groups over a five-year period concerning suffering and need in the city and in the world, and the negative testimony of an affluent life-style.

Strategies: Select resources and resource persons in the COWE study group gathering. Present ideas to local churches and service groups. Decide on method of presentation: meetings or seminars, study book (e.g., Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, by Sider)

Issue 7:

Goal: Complete the following studies in five years: 10 Hidden Peoples surveys for the city; a survey of existing ministries in the city; a historical study; a study of major media channels, key media persons, which peoples reached.

Strategy: Commission members of COWE study group to carry out this research and send the Hidden Peoples reports to MARC.

Issue 8:

Goal: In five years, ten city workers trained, five for work in own city; five for sending to other regions of the world.

Strategies: Pre-COWE study group commission study of resources available: training institutes, capable people in the city who could be trained, sources of financing for such training. Pray and choose trainees. Support them in their training.

Issue 9:

Goal: In ten years, a 50% increase in Christian presence in ten key structures.

Strategies: Pre-COWE study group commissions research regarding key structures, and current Christian presence in those structures. Utilize prayer groups to pray regularly for conversion of persons in these structures, and for training of Christians to be placed in these structures.


  1. Are there ways in which these goals/strategies can be extended to wider areas of the city, the whole city and the region of influence of the city?
  2. What can be done to reach those missed in the above process (hidden peoples), and could a similar strategy be developed along with the first?
  3. Older cities have smaller administrations, etc. To what degree do city dwellers identify with these local units, and what are the implications for evangelization strategies?
  4. How does the unique context affect the above goals and strategies?

D. Latin American Issues in Urban Evangelization Strategy

(i) Descriptions and assumptions about Latin American Cities.

The Latin American large city has the following characteristics: belts of misery, internal migration, exploding population, increasing youth population, deficient services, increased violence, marked contrast between rich and poor, Catholic cultures and background, political ideologies which permeate the church structures, and lack of housing. The church must prepare itself theologically and methodologically to confront these crises-producing conditions, determined to share the eternal gospel with every remaining people-group. We cannot solve the increasing number of world problems. We are committed to alleviating the pain by caring as Christ cares for the whole man by more serious world evangelization. We want to hasten his return to claim his rightful righteous kingdom (2 Peter 3:13, Acts 17:3 1).

(ii) Descriptions of existing successful ministries can be stated in five categories as follows:

(a) Communications which are carried out through radio, television, literature, newspapers, telephone (dial-a-message with follow-up), movies, audio-visuals, cassettes, drama-theatre, etc….

(b) Evangelization is carried out by open-air meetings, visitation, person-to-person, crusades, campaigns, evangelistic marches (involving a whole year’s program of discipleship, church planting)—all with a goal of opening new churches.

(c) Christian education includes correspondence courses, theological education by extension and residence Bible Institutes, Sunday School teacher training, youth camps, in-church training, etc….

(d) Social action includes hospitals, orphanages, drug rehabilitation, old-folk homes, prison visitation, and similar ministries.

(e) Para-church outreach includes Bible societies, distribution of Scriptures and training of colporteurs, child evangelism, university ministries.

A few models are shared under Section 4.

(iii) Seven Basic Issues (with statement of objectives, goals, strategies, and resources pointing to the target date of 1985)

(a) Christian Unity

(1) Objective – Overcome the lack of Christian unity in evangelization.
(2)Goal: Double the present united evangelistic efforts.
(3)Strategy: Form a consensus through prayer for revival, resulting in a fellowship of pastors united in evangelization.
(4)Resources: Prayer, crusades, leadership training, follow-up, etc.

(b) Unreached peoples

(1) Objective: Identify and reach the least-reached peoples (such as those isolated in condominiums, high-rise apartments, and ethnic groups).
(2)Goal: Begin a new church among each one of these still unreached people groups.
(3)Strategy: A census determining location and needs of these people groups, using the telephone and dial-a-message to penetrate high rise, along with radio, television, offering of correspondence courses, making visits as requested, taking advantage of special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries for special recognition; acquiring apartments for home Bible studies through revolving funds, and other fund-raising techniques.
(4) Resources: The family network and special groups such as professionals and para-professionals in the church, trained in interpersonal relations, social work, communications, the Bible.

(c) Church renewal

(1) Objective: The revitalization of the church. This may be done in various ways.
(2)Goals: Form a basic leadership nucleus of ten during the first year in the sponsoring church; it will be followed by the formation of ten satellite groups during the second year and 20 groups during the third year through the discovery and development of each believer’s spiritual gifts and dynamic body life. This should lead to the formation of a new congregation during the first two years. Each new congregation may set the goal of starting mission congregations within three or four years.
(3)Strategy: Convene pastoral seminars on discipleship and stewardship; develop church crusades and recruit, equip, and mobilize believers to start new congregations.
(4) Resources: Evangelization Institutes for the local leadership; other resources (depending upon the area), such as retreats, outstanding congregations, books, articles and texts with study guides which are available.

(d) Key groups

(1) Objective: Influence the power and vested interest groups, the “gatekeepers” who control the cities.
(2)Goal: Change the attitudes and ideologies of the city gatekeepers (i.e., politicians, economists, and union leaders, mass media communicators, etc.).
(3)Strategy: Gain knowledge of vested interest groups and structure, develop the related theology and ethics to produce action; publicly expose problem areas and pose possible Christian solutions to orient and change public opinion; use mass media, form leaders within the church who can impact city power structures; evangelize society’s leaders; deploy Christian professionals, teachers, businessmen, politicians, and military personnel to bring changes within their respective realms; intensify university student outreach under the direction of the local church; motivate Christian sportsmen, journalists, and artists to evangelize and disciple their own kind of people.
(4) Resources: Personnel within these groups should be encouraged to influence and reach their own; otherwise we will use E2 and E3 evangelisms creating new resources.

(e) Leadership training

(1) Objective: Train and equip local leadership to penetrate all social class levels.
(2)Goal: Quantify the present human resources (leaders) to double the quantity and quality within the next five years.
(3)Strategy: Develop workshops and seminars, in order that the total church membership may discover and develop its ministry; make available a study programme in each city capable of elevating the competence of the urban pastors and leaders; training centres and night schools should be available in local churches.
(4) Resources: Local church and extension materials produced by various denominations and UNILIT, Miami. Stedman’s Body Life and study guide are helpful in Spanish.

(f) Christian family:

(1) Objective: Revitalize the Christian family.
(2) Goal: Establish the family unit upon Ephesians 5 model so the church may reach out more authentically to the community in evangelization.
(3) Strategy: Biblical family orientation through home Bible studies reinforced by pulpit series on family ethics and conjugal responsibilities. This may be evaluated by means of weekend retreats for the application of biblical teaching, and by visible changes in family relationships and attitudes. Each family unit will introduce the family altar and possibly start an evangelistic home Bible study in harmony with the local church.
(4) Resources: Specialized personnel and didactic materials, prayer, stewardship; family clinics for consultation; and local church resources.

(g)Mass media

(1) Objective: Wider use of mass media communications
(2) Goal: Develop an interdenominational agency for the overall co-ordination; equip nationals for the best use of mass media communications; produce high calibre materials to compete on the secular market; these may also be used by the churches; distribute materials produced for the local efforts; form a financial search committee to locate necessary resources, and finally develop marketing and packaging programme format based upon a city profile of priority needs.
(3) Strategy: Develop necessary training in the best use of the mass media communications; conduct five training seminars per year in five regions of Latin America; form a production committee that will develop and co-ordinate materials used in mass media.
(4) Resources: Existing and projected local Christian radio stations, local newspapers, and other outreach projects.

(iv) Models of ministry and missionary outreach

(a) Young People have been used to saturate cities, resulting in the establishment of churches; seminary students have been used in one-year internships to plant churches. One church association is having each congregation establish a new one each year among Aymaras in Bolivia.

(b) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: This inner-city model offers various attractive activities: daily noon-day services; becoming missionaries for a day; evangelizing other towns systematically using literature in block-by-block visitation, establishing a new congregation; an electronic billboard with a moving Bible verse in a public square where 300,000 go by each day. Evangelization saturation is realized by organising continuous services from two until seven P.M., utilizing 35 preachers, soloists, and testimonials; using all-night vigils to discuss doctrine, how to evangelize, pray, give and go. Special services on the Ten Commandments, using ten preachers, choirs, and a full congregation for 12 hours; youth hour, the adolescent hour, and the presence of all the mass media communications systems; the reading of the Bible in 80 hours, using ten groups of ten people each.

(c) Rosario, Argentina: The “Rosario plan” demonstrates how to plant daughter churches in three steps:

(1) Prayer gestation: prayer cells meet with at least three leaders, one to read the Bible, another to lead in prayer, and the third to record the petitions and the answers to prayers. This process lasts from three to four months; no unbelievers are present, nor is there any preaching; unbelievers’ prayer requests and answers are discovered and shared through visitation; the results are that local leaders are prepared, discipleship is practiced, and geographical place is established for a future congregation.
(2) Mini-crusade: “the new birth”—preparation goes on for particular dates over the three-day crusade period. An evangelist or pastor preaches. At the end of the crusade, people are asked if they want to start a daughter church; the mini-congregation decides if it wants to go it alone, or have the pastor appoint a previously prepared couple to care for the new congregation.
(3)The daughter church: “the new baby”—a definite place and hour for meetings is established. The believers are led by their own leaders; the new group has its own life, depending upon its own members for ministries, and not upon volunteers from the mother church.

(d) Lima, Peru: To reach the upper-level people of Lima, something new and daring was done. Until 1973, the Lima Christian and Missionary Alliance church averaged 180 people. The highly effective Lima’s “Encounter with God” began by using two weeks of campaign followed by two weeks of biblical follow-up. Within two years, the first church grew to over 1,000, requiring a 1,000-seat sanctuary to be built. Now double Sunday morning services are held. A 36-people nucleus went into “Pueblo Libre” neighbourhoods with the same constant evangelism and discipleship process. By 1978 a 2,000-seat sanctuary was built to minister to these new crowds. By 1977, another “hive-off” began in a third district of Miraflores which now averages over 200. They expect to build a 1,000-seat sanctuary. Another group has begun a German school, which now has over 200. By 1979, property was purchased in a fifth Lima district called “Rimac.” A portable chapel was moved into action for the new nucleus. They also expect to build a 1,000-seat sanctuary. A Bible institute and evening school was born, with over 100 enrolled preparing for full-time leadership. In summary, the Alliance churches in Lima have grown from one to five, and from 180 to over 6,000 members in seven years with a forty percent conservation record.

(e) Lima, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia: A Missions Model: Thirty-four years ago, the Evangelical Missionary Association to the Nations (AMEN) was born. It now enjoys the co-operation of 15 other local missions and denominational groups in preparing nationals for missions. Since 1977, the influx of university students committed as national workers has been doubling AMEN’s outreach and annual budget. This year the number of members is expected to double again. Last year they locally raised $17,308 from appreciative co-operating churches. AMEN mobilized 1,250 young people in a co-operative missionary effort with these local churches during three separate two-month practical work periods. They reached into 347 villages along the coast, in the mountains, and in the jungle, turning over 15 new daughter churches to the mother church participating with them. To give further cross-cultural-missiological training, participating groups in Peru and in Bolivia are beginning the Latin American School of Missions this October and November. One couple from AMEN is already working in Europe on their way to Morocco, North Africa. Other contacts made at COWE are opening the way for Latin Americans called to the Muslims, Hindus, and Chinese least-reached peoples concentrated in the Orient, to be trained in the local languages and culture of these countries on a reciprocal basis. Latin America awaits a new burst of Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Indian nationals as missionaries that may be trained in the Spanish language and culture at the new Latin American School of Missions beginning in Lima, Peru.

(v) Recommendations to LCWE from Latin America

(a) Produce a Lausanne Occasional Paper on successful models of Latin American Urban Evangelization that may be edited in Spanish for the different regions. Secure the commitment of the Spanish-speaking COWE participants to share their models of ministry with the Church Growth Bulletin in Spanish, after subscribing here at COWE.

(b) LCWE news releases should be made directly to the religious sections of national newspapers.

(c) Produce a manual on the varied alternative church planting methods.

(d) Create six continental urban strategy working groups committed to continuing this goal setting and evaluation process locally until we meet again in 1985. On a continental basis, we should evaluate the progress toward the goals that are being set by continuing this exercise throughout the world-class cities in Latin America. The infrastructure is already in place with the pre-COWE study groups. All we need is the consensus and commitment of this gathering to continue stimulating each other “to love and good works” in world evangelization, until the return of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

E. North America

(i) Uniqueness of our North American cities

North American cities find the context in nations of immigrants; thus many world-class cities often have great ethnic diversity. This, combined with the potential for upward mobility among second and third generation peoples particularly, often created an inner-city zone of people of poorer classes who sought entrance into the more established middle-class industrialized society.

Our east coast cities were designed before mass transportation, some as walking cities. Mass transportation, however, has created more sprawling cities, the most extreme of these being Los Angeles on the West Coast. The older cities have demonstrated a cycle of birth, decline, and now, in some cases, revival. The revival often involves a gentrification process of the rich displacing the poor and the spreading of formerly urban problems outside some cities. Planting and growing churches in the newer growing cities are accomplished with greater efficiency than doing the same things in the older cities.

(ii) Descriptions of ministries

A multitude of ministries were listed in the major COWE-convened groups in North American cities. We have here listed three examples of the kind of things being done by 1) a small denomination in Denver, 2) an older church in downtown Chicago, and 3) a parachurch ministry in Boston.

(a) Small denomination in Denver—The Denver study group emphasised a model of 4-6 local, neighbourhood-oriented integrated churches (Black and Hispanic) and mentioned some sensitivities they had to respect. They strive to keep a majority of minority people in each congregation and give precedence to the needs of minorities, the poor, and the neighbourhood. Minority people are in leadership positions. There is concentrated effort to deal practically with social concerns. There is a high percentage of participation by all in the congregation. Minority Christians are encouraged to witness to majority persons as well as to persons like themselves. An alternative philosophy regarding wealth, poverty, and education has been developed.

(b) An older church in downtown Chicago—There are several exciting ministries happening in downtown Chicago. One is the adaptation of the Coral Ridge (Evangelism Explosion) program by Methodist Temple. Methodist Temple is an historically rich, old downtown, homogenous, cathedral church which has found it can most successfully minister to the urban affluent. Each week, Methodist Temple sends out 30 church members to visit in the high-rise buildings of Chicago’s affluent Gold Coast. Contacts are made through church visitor cards and referrals; people are phoned for appointments, and then the teams are sent out. It has been found that high-rise dwellers are open to receive these lay evangelists, and that about 30% of those visited eventually become church members. We do not have the exact statistics, but we do know that a significant percentage of these are through confession of faith.

(c) Para-churchEmmanuel Gospel Center’s ministry in Boston

(1) It is involved in church planting efforts that are done through involvement with specific denominational groups.
(2) It is involved in the training of urban pastors through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
(3) Its staff is involved in eight different existing churches and their own indigenously conceived ministries.
(4) It works with and through churches in summer community evangelistic efforts.
(5) It assists churches in Christian education programs.
(6) It is involved in community development that helps to socialize communities where churches are being planted.
(7) It has assisted in the development of pastors’ groups in the cities.
(8) It provides educational resources to churches via its library, bookstore, and research materials.

(iii) Summary of general discussion of issues related to large city evangelism

The North American participants spent extensive time discussing those factors of urban and church life which were perceived as either barriers to, or channels for, the evangelization of large cities. Factors and issues discussed were too numerous to present in a work of this nature, but they have directly influenced the statements on purpose, goals, and strategies which follow.

(iv) Purpose, goals and strategies

Ultimately, the purpose of the North American study group was to attempt to answer the question, “How Shall the Large North American City Hear?” (i.e., How shall the large North American city be effectively evangelized?) In our attempt to fulfil our purpose, we have established the following goals and strategies.

We urge the LCWE to establish an Urban Strategy Working Group in the immediate future. The basic purpose of this group would be to inform, challenge, and motivate the world-wide evangelical community for aggressive and effective evangelization of the world-class cities.

Members of this group should, quite obviously, be persons actively involved in urban ministry. We further suggest that the group:

(a) Develop a typology of churches and church leadership with some indication of the effectiveness of the different types in multiplying churches and believers in world-class cities.

(b) Supervise a research project which will identify and study ten diverse North American world-class cities, describe the major characteristics of each, and select five churches and/or parachurch ministries in each which will provide case studies of effective evangelistic methodologies. The report of this study should appear in a book published by a major publisher in North America by 1984.

(c) The local urban study groups that functioned before COWE are to be commended for the fine work that they have done. Some of the groups were found to be more productive than others. It is hoped that the groups will continue their work into the forseeable future in co-operation with the Urban Strategy Working Group and under its general co-ordinator. It is also hoped that the network of active local urban study groups will be extended to at least one group for each North American world-class city by 1982.

(d) Develop a standardized research methodology which will be used by all the local groups world wide so that the data and their reporting are compatible. One possible theoretical framework for this methodology might be that of Social Area Analysis, which identifies urban space and devises evangelistic methodologies appropriate to each context.

(e) Establish a world-wide communicative network vehicle which will:

(1) disseminate the results of the research being done by the local groups on a general scale—and
(2) provide a system for specific problem-solving as requested by those faced by a particular evangelistic challenge.

(f) Attempt to identify and describe the unique characteristics of world-class cities in general which make either the entire city, or significant portions of it, resistant or receptive to the gospel. These findings should be communicated through the urban network (i.e., 4:2C Continuation of Pre-COWE Study Groups) as soon as possible.

Our goal in each world-class city is to plant a growing cluster of churches in each social unit of the city, and the revitalization of existing city churches to the point where they become active participants in the process of the evangelization of their city. Some strategies might include:

(1) Ministering within the primary and secondary systems of society

Strategically we need to work within the two basic systems of society. First, the primary face-to-face systems which include such units as family, community, and ethnic groups. Secondly, the secondary or broader institutional aspects of society which include such units as government, economics, and communication systems. With regard to the primary systems, we first need to understand and identify them. In certain cases they will need to be preserved, strengthened, and even created if the more stable churches that are needed in evangelism are to be developed.

Regarding the secondary systems, the urban church cannot define its evangelism too narrowly. Failure to work with, and in, those secondary systems can result in an urban environment which becomes a barrier to effective evangelism. For example, involvement with the concerns of the poor (housing, employment, etc.), and the victims of institutional injustice are central to reaching such people with a holistic message of hope and salvation.

The healing and stability this work produces in a community do much to increase the potential for good evangelism. Further, that stability is important for long-term indigenous church growth and for reaching certain low income areas of the city.

Basically, then, we identify and evangelize within social units and seek to plant and develop churches that reach all such groups. Specific strategies should be worked out in each city.

(2) Anticipating the future

Strategically, our evangelism needs to take into consideration not only the existing community but the second and third generations of people, to avoid the church decline and death common in older urban areas. The city, by its nature, is a very dynamic, changing environment. Thus commitment to our goals, not narrowly conceived strategies, is important.

(3) Co-operation

A strategy of co-operation is necessary to accomplish the total task of evangelism. Co-operation at the levels of church (both ethnic and institutional), para-church, and community makes the whole evangelism effort greater than the sum of its parts. This needs to be done while, at the same time, preserving the identity and integrity of the institutions involved. Some suggested areas of co-operation are:

  • Adequate training for existing urban workers and laity and appropriate training (bridging the gap between the classroom and field) for new pastoral leadership. These often involve co-operative efforts between churches, schools, denominations, and para-church groups.
  • Sharing in the cost of electronic media.
  • Co-operation to utilize the full potential of para-church groups in evangelism that produces church growth.
  • The stimulation and information necessary for total evangelization of all social units is often found in regular planning and fellowship meetings of church leaders, which are often viewed as unnecessary to over-busy pastors but, in fact, they are strategic for some.

(v) Resources for large city evangelism

There does exist in North America a good number of resources for those seeking to do large city evangelism.

(a) Pre-COWE Large City Prayer Study and Strategy Groups.

(b) Those individuals who have developed fairly successful large city ministries.

(c) Regional urban ministry resource centres, e.g., Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston; Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education—Chicago Trinity Christian Community—New Orleans; in Canada, Ontario Theological Seminary in Toronto, and Baptist Inner-City Ministries in Saint John are developing such centres.

(d) Universities and Seminaries which have urban studies and/or ministries departments are too numerous to list. Their students also are a valuable resource which should be utilized.

(e) While not specifically urban, the Christian data banks such as MARC have helpful information.

(f) The Home Mission Boards of many denominations

(g) Government resource centres

(h) Community leaders

(i) The people resources of the suburban churches

(j) The gifts and talents within your own local church

(vi) Questions to be discussed

(a) Since most evangelization is done by denominational and para-church groups, how do we co-operate for more effective large city evangelism without sacrificing integrity?

(b) How do we preserve the primary systems of the city—e. g., family, community, and ethnic systems?

(c) How effective are massive city-wide crusades in reaching the non-churched city dwellers?

(d) To what extent does the electronic church positively and/or negatively affect the process of evangelizing the world-class city?

(e) How does the quality of family life impact upon the church and the task of evangelism?

F. Southeast Asia/Oceania

(i) The uniqueness of certain cities in South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

We notice two special features of the cities of this area. First, their diversity: teeming populations of most Asian and some Australian cities, small cities like Perth and Wellington; some in the tropics, others in the temperate zones; some developed, Western-style cities, others developing cities with all the characteristics of Asia. Secondly, their similarity: they have all received the gospel within the last 300or 400 years.

Looking at some individual cities, we noted that Perth has the lowest density of population and is the most isolated city in the world. Its largest non-Australian ethnic group is the Italians. Sydney still can trace some of its origins as a penal settlement. Melbourne is the third largest “Greek city” in the world. Wellington is a city of government officers and employees with a very secular atmosphere. Auckland is the largest “Polynesian city” in the world. Singapore is the only city outside China and Taiwan where the majority of the population is Chinese; of its student population, 45 percent claims to be Christian and its “puritan style” government has re-introduced Bible knowledge into its school curriculum for the sake of its moral content. In Honolulu only the Roman Catholic Church is strong, and evangelicals represent only three percent of the population. This is a city of syncretistic religion. In the Philippines, two-thirds of church attenders are young people-the median age of its citizens is only 25. It has 86 cultural-linguistic groups. Manila is a university city, with onequarter of the population having some involvement with the university. Zamboanga has a large Muslim population.

(ii) Issues related to the task of evangelism

(a) The identification and reaching of people groups in the city (e.g., youth, split families, men, workers, unemployed, business people, community leaders, ethnic groups, urban poor and urban rich, high-rise families, the handicapped, nominal Christians, other religionists, and cultural groups). Note: we identify these people groups for the sake of evangelism rather than to establish separate churches.

(b) The decision whether or not to establish church buildings in relationship to costs and distances involved, populations, and cultural expectancy.

(c) The sharing of resources, co-operation, and the place of parachurch organisations, taking account of the differences between denominational, inter-church and para-church missionary societies and boards.

(d) The training of leadership for urban evangelism which is biblical and evangelical.

(e) The communication of the gospel—through preaching crusades, the media, etc.—which affirms the local church and is witnessed to by an authentic Christian life-style of believers.

(f) The strengthening of family-based evangelism and church membership.

(iii) Definition of goals as to what should be done about the above issues in the next few years in our cities.

(a) People groups

(1) Provide a “people group register” for each city by April 1981, for inclusion in the “Unreached Peoples” directory 1982 edition.
(2) Conduct research to determine the status of Christianity in these people groups.
(3) Prepare “city profiles” along the lines of current country profiles.


The preparatory study groups for COWE in each city are encouraged to supply information for the Peoples Group Directory. Participants in COWE are encouraged to establish such groups where they do not exist. Using the MARC questionnaire, “Reaching the Unreached,” and specially prepared questionnaires, these groups will present material which could be used for publishing in the brief but comprehensive “city profiles.”

(b)Church buildings

(1) Examine the role of “worship places” biblically, sociologically, evangelistically, and practically for possible inclusion as an article in “Unreached Peoples Directory” 1982 (due by April 1981).


A paper is to be prepared by one of the participants in COWE on the topic of the role of worship places within the church for possible inclusion in the “Unreached Peoples Directory” 1982.

(c) Sharing of resources

(1) Identify para-church organisations, their purpose, resources, ministries, and current relationships with the churches and one another.

(2) Establish or identify co-ordinating bodies to facilitate this mutual co-operation in each city.


The COWE study groups are requested to identify the para-church groups and to assume the role of actively encouraging their work and their co-operation among themselves and with local churches, avoiding unnecessary overlapping. In so doing, they will actively affirm the ministry and value of para-church groups.

(d)Training and leadership

(1) Identify present facilities and programmes.

(2) Encourage the establishment and development of such training where need is revealed.

(3) Feed COWE insights into all leadership training programmes.


The COWE study groups are encouraged to identify these, and to promote or establish urban strategy groups for the purposes of the study of urban issues, training of leadership for urban evangelism, and dissemination of the findings and insights of COWE through media, T.V., Bible institutions, missionary training programmes, local congregations, etc.

(e)Communication of the gospel by the media

(1) Encourage every local church to understand its key role in evangelism.

(2) Provide training to equip church members to be able to express what it means to be a Christian, empowered by an authentic Christian life-style.


Dissemination of COWE findings and insights is encouraged through every available means—church synods and assemblies, local congregations, publications, etc.

(f) Family Based Evangelism

(1) Strengthen the family as a base for evangelism and church membership.


By encouraging, through the study groups and all possible means of communications, family ministries in the church, leading to greater family solidarity and promoting family education programmes, worship, and devotional materials.

All these strategies should be undergirded with prayer, in total dependence on the Holy Spirit.

(iv) Urban strategy models

(These are examples only; there could be many more.)

(a) Wellington, New Zealand

(1) The Youth for Christ movement has a successful outreach in Wellington by running both bi-monthly large youth rallies in the city hall (2,000 attend) and week-night youth study groups in suburbs (500 in I I groups) and emphasising the importance of local church membership.

(2) The Wellington Anglican Maori Pastorate makes good use of funerals and other tribal events among the Maoris to minister through services of worship at the place where they are held as part of such events.

(3) The Wellington Anglican Chinese Pastorate has captured the enthusiasm of local Chinese by dedicated Christian leadership and an ambitious building program to establish a Chinese Christian Centre by organising Chinese banquets and cultural activities for the citizens of Wellington to raise the funds needed.

(b) The Philippines

(1) Tent of the Good News: Three tents, accommodating 100-400 people operate in three cities with one- or two-week campaigns. Follow-up is conducted until a healthy self-supporting church is planted. Campaigns are held where there are no other local churches

(2) Media

(a) A new magazine, ” Sidestreets,” aiming at removing prejudice. It speaks to students and young professionals in Metro-Manila. It is a bi-monthly production available on newsstands, in bookshops, and youth groups.
(b) A radio programme dramatizing testimonies. It is a local production and strives to be culturally relevant. It aims to create a point of contact for personal evangelism.

(c) Singapore

(1) High-Rise Apartments: Of Singaporians, 70% live in high-rise apartments. The church has no alternative but to work in house churches, which are commenced in New States (50,000 to 200,000 people) where there is presently no corporate Christian presence. Christian residents are located, then brought together for Bible study, worship, and evangelism. The total membership is mobilised for evangelism.

(2) Spontaneous groups in central business district: Half a million people work in the central business district. A group of Christians meet once a day for six days a week in almost every building to nourish young Christians, to nurture mature Christians in prayer, Bible study, and encouragement. There is no organisational focus. All are spontaneous. Professionals run their own groups as do personnel in the armed forces and police. Very little is happening among industrial workers.

(3) Reaching English-educated secondary students: English-speaking students are quick to pick up Western ways. They are open to the gospel due in part to a general rejection of parents’ beliefs and religious systems. There are a wide number of organisations and churches involved.

(d) Australia

(1) Local church penetration: A small group in the port city of Fremantle has been meeting for fellowship and has developed an extended family, positively influencing other families. One member is now a councillor of the Fremantle City Council providing Christian salt and light. They have initiated programmes such as the Fremantle Astigen’s Co-operative, and the Waste Recycling Project, both job-creation schemes. Credibility of Christian faith has risen measurably.

(2) Cultural festivals, media, and youth: Christians from numerous local churches serve in the Festivals. These are natural settings, in that the church doesn’t have to invite people in. It is primarily a seed-sowing venture but, through creative and non-offensive ways, provides people with the opportunity to explore faith. Radio: Radio is used to reach the 15-25 age group and is attempting, through “Top 40” sound and creative inputs, to climatize the youth population. Youth: Schools and street level are used to contact and invite youth into relationships and homes.

(3) In Adelaide many young families are being reached. The Sunday Schools are still around and are being used evangelistically again. Small groups have been formed in which members share personalities and feelings. An emphasis has also been placed on knowing and receiving the Holy Spirit.

(4) Mass evangelization is used in Brisbane to bring about a consciousness of God in the community-at-large, and to preserve society morals. This seems to mobilise the church for witness and to develop personal skills of counselling. It brings renewal to both laity and clergy.

(5) Child Evangelism in Brisbane incorporates (1) Rallies of a professional standard that are arresting to unchurched children and encouraging Christian children; (2) After-school clubs and Bible-centred/classes conducted for three or five days in homes or halls; (3) Low-cost, one-day camping; (4) Vacation Bible Schools over a period of 2 to 3 hours each day. These are good for reaching those not attending Sunday Schools.

(6) In Sydney a “Church in the market place” has been established in the centre of commercial development in the eastern suburbs. It seeks out those suffering hopelessness to give the possibility of growth (e.g., by schools for senior citizens). It concentrates on providing deep human companionship and discovery of talents to set people free to contribute to society. The church serves in senior citizen care, community aid, child care and a girls’ hostel. It also uses the arts to help its celebration. The church exists to reach out, worship, pray, and care.

(7) The Cathedral Church in Sydney is a lively centre of reconciliation and experimentation in a secular society, and is responsible for spiritual worship, cultural learning, pastoral care, public relations, and relevant evangelism in the city.

4. Reflections on Large City Evangelization

Recurring Themes From Pre-COWE Convener Documents

(i) Major hindrances to the effective evangelization of large city dwellers

(a) Lack of co-operation between churches, and between church and para-church organisations, resulting in waste of limited resources.
(b) The church is viewed by many as an unattractive option, or as lacking credibility by non-Christians.

(1) There is often a loss of spiritual vitality
(2) Evangelism has ceased to be a priority for many churches
(3) Some churches lack sensitivity to the basic human needs for food, clothing, housing, etc.

(c) Untrained church leadership (lay and clergy) often lacks the ability to cope with complex urban society.
(d) Forms of outreach abound, but systematic analysis of effectiveness seldom accompanies them (e.g., audience analysis of people groups).

(ii) Some emerging generalizations on strategy

(a) The family is central. Successful evangelism takes into account the special needs of, and dynamics surrounding, urban families.
(b) Neighbourhood housing units and inter-personal witness are the successful conversion strategies most often cited.
(c) Mass media with Western content is often used, seldom critiqued, yet is frequently reported to be largely ineffective.
(d) No one generalization emerges with such clarity on all continents as the affirmation that the local church is the key to evangelization, and its revitalization is everyone’s concern.

(iii) Some recommendations to meet the challenge of large city evangelization

(a) The local church must be helped to assume new vitality and recover evangelistic vision.
(b) Urban audience research must be undertaken, perhaps with the help of research and training centres.
(c) Training for urban evangelism is an absolute necessity.
(d) Ways and means must be found to encourage co-operative outreach and the dissemination of research findings and strategies.

(iv) The most common issues raised in the regional groups at COWE

There were six sub-groups (see 3.a. – f.), and at an early stage certain issues were consistently raised by all or several of the groups.

Six discussed the need for co-operation and sharing of resources
Five discussed seeking out people groups in the city
Five discussed training for leadership
Four discussed the communication of the gospel
Three discussed family evangelism

Later in the consultation, members of the groups learned from one another and adopted insights from each other so that in the end the regional findings reflected a mutual learning process.

5. How Shall the Large Cities Hear?

Some recommendations of the large cities consultation to the LCWE are as follows:

A. We must continue to expand the COWE network of study and strategy groups for the purpose of facilitating urban evangelism and mission in world-class cities.
B. We should establish centres in each of the major regions of the world to perform these functions.
C. The facilitation of research on each of the world-class cities within the region.
D. The evaluation of the stewardship of evangelism strategies being undertaken within the region.
E. The co-ordination and facilitation of training for urban workers.
F. Convene periodic regional urban evangelism consultations.
G. Establish a newsletter on urban evangelism directed to chairpersons of COWE study and strategy groups.
H. We should publish brief “city profiles” along the lines of present “country profiles” and possibly list addresses from where the full Pre-COWE study group reports on each city can be obtained.