Apostle to the City, Part 2

To urban expert Ray Bakke, cities are the laboratory of God's mission in the world, not a problem to be solved.

* beginning in previous article

Where are your models for this kind of ministry?
My heroes for urban community development are Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah. Esther moved inside the system, ran for Miss Persia, and won. She married the king, accessed power, and changed the law. Somebody has to move off the map of the godly into the godless structure and change the law. Esther teaches us that it's not enough just to repent for sin. It's systemic, and the law has to change. We're into housing because justice is not being done. If you want justice, you have to change the law.

Nehemiah, on the other hand, got the government grant and started the biblical model-cities plan. He got everybody in the neighborhood to build the wall. Urban ministry does not start with just the saved; it starts with everybody.

When Nehemiah got the wall built, he discovered that he had an urban jungle; only the priests lived there. So Nehemiah went to the suburbs and said, "Choose one out of ten to come and live in the city." Nehemiah 11:2 says, "And the people blessed all those who were willing to live in Jerusalem." Then Ezra came and rebuilt the temple with his friend Zerubbabel.

I tell pastors, "You have not preached tithing until you have preached the tithing of your people, of 10 percent going into urban neighborhoods where the church is." If you have more than that, you'll intimidate the natives and gentrify the neighborhood. Tithe your people, and use your assets to buy property next to every playground and grammar school in your community so you can stash your people there to create positive webs of influence in the community.

Is there a typical profile of people who do ministry well in the city? People have to be secure in their identity. Another ...

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Christianity Today
Apostle to the City, Part 2
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March 3, 1997

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