America has become an urban nation. This change, from rural to urban dominance, has proceeded with ever-quickening pace through the last century. In 1850, the population of the United States was only 15.3% urban; by 1920 the figure had jumped to 51.2%. In 1950 it was 64%, and today it is approximately 67%.
Virtually saturated cities are now bulging into their suburbs. For example, Chicago’s population in 81 suburbs increased 35% in five years following the 1950 census. The United States not only has five cities of over a million population, and 14 metropolitan areas of over a million each, but it contains 103 cities of between 100,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants; 127 of between 50,000 and 100,000; 266 of between 25,000 and 50,000.
God’s Concern For Big Cities
If our nation is to be evangelized, we must reach these urban areas. We dare not neglect the metropolitan masses. In Jonah’s day Jehovah was concerned over Nineveh, “that great city wherein are more than six-score thousands [120,000] persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand and also much cattle” (Jonah 4:11). Jesus had compassion for Jerusalem: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). The major item in Paul’s first-century evangelistic strategy was to evangelize the important city centers and to plant churches there before moving on.
Difficulties rise mountain-high in the path of an urban program of reaching the lost. The mobility of city dwellers makes them hard to find, hard to reach and hard to hold. People find it easy to isolate themselves and to dodge religious responsibility when they live in the city. The sense of loneliness, the constant tension and ...1
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