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God is urbanizing world to spread gospel, pastor says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–“A sovereign God is urbanizing his world so we can get the good news of the gospel to people before it’s too late,” the pastor of a multicultural church in Chicago told people attending the National Urban and Multicultural Conference, June 29-July 3 at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center.
“God has one thing on his mind — that lost people would come to know his son Jesus,” Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church, said. “Where are the masses? They’re in the cities. Why should we celebrate the city? Because it’s the New Testament plan to reach the world. God goes where the evil is the thickest, where the darkness is the darkest.”
Lyons, whose inner-city church includes 35 language and culture groups, cited a mass migration to the cities in the 20th century. In 1900, only 9 percent of the world’s population lived in cities, but by 2000 the percentage is expected to top 50 percent. In 1900, there were only 20 cities in the world with more than 1 million people; by 2000, that number will escalate to 430; by 2050, more than 900 cities of the world will have a population of at least 1 million.
“In urban centers, people are uprooted from wherever they came from and they are more open to the gospel,” Lyons said.
He charged too many Christians are limiting what God can do, basing their lives on their own versions of a reconstructed Jesus. Instead, he said Christians must base their lives on the Jesus of the Bible.
Urban ministry “is a battle,” Lyons emphasized. “We are fools if we think we can walk into a great urban city with Jesus in our pocket and think we can have victory. You’ve got to let God out of the box of your preconceived notions.”
Instead of making excuses for a lack of resources to reach people in the cities, Lyons said Christians must understand that, with God, they have everything they need.
“We ought to be establishing fortresses for God and launching pads for his work in the cities,” he said.
At Armitage, “God has brought the world to us,” Lyons said. “We don’t run from it. We’re not afraid of it. We celebrate that we get to be part of what God is doing. We are where the action is, where God wants to do a special work.”
In another message, Rolando Lopez, pastor of Northwest Hispanic Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas, said too many churches are being ineffective because they are “identifying with personality, popularity and prosperity” instead of the Christ of the Bible.
“If we are going to win people to Christ and God is going to honor us in the 21st century, we must be in tune with the voice of Almighty God like never before,” Lopez said.
He warned against those who say people in today’s world don’t want to hear the good news of the gospel.
“People want to hear in spite of Scientology, New Agers and all the rest. There is a hunger for spiritual things,” Lopez said. “We must sharpen our sensitivity to understand there is a hungry world. Then we must understand how to communicate the simple gospel message to those who want to hear.”

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  • Linda Lawson