From Luke Greer, Director of Partnership
As I stepped from the platform into the car, the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the subway assaulted my senses: a suit-wearing executive barked orders on his iPhone before losing coverage, teens sporting Yankees caps and loosely-laced Nikes slap-knuckled one another in greeting, a beggar entered from an adjacent car jingling his donation cup, most folks read books and screens strategically avoiding eye contact, and white earbuds blasted loud enough for all of us to sing along to Coldplay.
This wasn’t New York City.
This was a typical ride on the subway in Mexico City.
It was experiences like these on Mexico City’s sprawling transit system that helped me to understand a new global phenomenon: major cities often look and feel a lot more like each other than they do their local regions. In other words, in many ways, Mexico City is more like New York City than its neighboring state of Morelos. And the same could be said for almost any global city.
This is important, because we are increasingly finding ourselves in a world where the predominant mission field is urban.
For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in major cities. That means that there are more people in the world’s cities today than ever before — both as a percentage of the population and as a raw number. And the trend is accelerating. This has enormous implications for Christian missions and evangelism. People — the subjects of God’s great rescue — are increasingly located in cities.
Orchard Group is seeking to intentionally target and engage this urban mission frontier through the Global Cities Initiative. Already, work is beginning in Brooklyn, New York; Lagos, Nigeria; Paris, France; and Cape Town, South Africa. As centers of finance, industry, and the arts, each of these cities has much in common. And like most other global cities, they also share a startling shortage of churches to reach their growing populations. When we start churches in major cities, we help to open the door for many millions to discover, receive, and worship Jesus.