Urban Evangelization – Part 2 of 2

*This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

We must be a continual presence in our city.

Jeremiah continues his prophecy and tells the Israelites to involve their children in marriage ceremonies and to increase in number. We are talking about generational impact in the city – our evangelism must produce transformation and change that will be seen for generations in the city.

In order to impact generations through our evangelistic methods, we must embrace a posture of challenging the broken social systems of our day. We must begin to know the young people that are being courted by the gangs in our neighborhoods, the children that are being forced into human trafficking, the broken families that seek healing in alcohol and drugs.We have to get our hands dirty. Urban evangelism is not easy – it’s heartbreaking. When we begin to see the people that NEED the good news of Jesus, we begin to respond to those environments differently.

Recently I spoke with some urban church planters that are in an area that is filled with apartment buildings. They told me about the building that they felt the most comfortable in – the building where the neighborhood gang is in charge of who’s coming in and out!  At first, they were nervous every time they thought about going into that building.  But because they are now known by the neighbors as “good people who are serving God”, the gang extends their “protection” over them. I smile to think about the day when we hear that the gang members have given their lives over to Christ, and they start to see generational and societal changes in their lives. 

pexels-photo-109919.jpeg

We must pray for our city.

Perhaps the most blatant instruction we can take from Jeremiah is: seek the peace of the city and pray for her prosperity

Praying for the city is one of the most important parts of urban evangelism. The spiritual forces at work in the city are battling every day, and we engage in spiritual warfare when we step into its realms. We must pray and truly long for the SHALOM, the holistic well-being, of our city. And to pray effectively, we must deeply know our city. We need to know her rhythms, her hurts, and her people.

God is already at work in the city, and prayer is our connection to Him and His work.  When we engage in the prayer of peace for the city, God begins to guide our path to the daily encounters that He wants us to have, and He replaces fear with love. Then and there, in the supposedly mundane and secular, God uses us to evangelize: to bring His good news to the people of our city.

Evangelism in the city is not about the latest and greatest technique (we wish it were that easy!). Urban evangelism is based on creating strategic and intentional relationships. And quite simply, that takes time. If you are called to urban evangelism, you are called to a long-term vision. Consider moving into a neighborhood where you see God already at work. Spend time with people in their places of work and times of entertainment. Get to know the people that are involved in systemic sin and befriend them. Above all, pray for peace in your city. Trust that your city is on God’s heart and that He desires to use your daily testimony and interactions to bring peace to your city.

Urban Evangelization – Part 1 of 2

By Scott and Emily Armstrong

The city has it all, doesn’t it? Schools and universities, hospitals and doctor’s offices, theatres and shopping malls – the list goes on and on! With more employment opportunities and access to health care and education, it’s obvious why people want to live in the city. Global statistics tell us that the Mesoamerica Region is already URBAN.  Over 80% of our people live in a heavily-populated city, and many of these people are unchurched.

You might be thinking that city evangelization is no different than in the suburbs or rural areas, but you’d be wrong. How do we make Christlike disciples of people that live a fast-paced life and don’t have time for Jesus? How do we create relationship and gain the trust of someone that works 7 days a week? What does hope look like in the midst of substance abuse, gangs and poverty?

First things first: God has a plan for the city.  You have to believe that truth if you ever want to be a successful urban evangelist. Oftentimes when we think about the city, we think about the problems found there – everything from traffic jams to air pollution to stressful schedules to gangs.  However, we must begin seeing the city as God sees it: a place of influence where righteousness and peace can be obtained.  Imagine with me for a minute the vision revealed to us in Revelation 7:9-10,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

That’s the CITY of ZION that we are reading about!  God’s infinite story goes on forever IN A CITY.  We will gather together with every nation, tribe, and language and praise God forever! Isn’t it interesting how our cities are already becoming the home to so many cultures at the same time?  Could we even imagine that maybe, just maybe, God is already giving us an opportunity to experience a glimpse of heaven on earth right in the heart of our cities?

pexels-photo-373974.jpeg

Jeremiah 29:4-7 is another passage that speaks to us about God and His desire to use His people to impact the city:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’”

This passage offers us three principles we must keep in mind when we evangelize the city:

We must live in our city to love our city.

We must be a continual presence in our city.

We must pray for our city.

We must live in our city to love our city.

Jeremiah bluntly tells the exiles of Jerusalem (city dwellers by the way!) to “build houses and settle down…”  He didn’t say to enjoy a short respite there or to view it as a temporary tourist destination. He told them to settle down there. 

I recently sat in a workshop listening to urban church planters tell of their experiences and one of them said, “If you are commuting to the city, it means you work there, not that you care for the neighborhood.”  What he was saying was that the city is a hurry up, come-and-go environment for so many people that are only there for 10 hours during a workday. But the people that LIVE in the city? They are always there!  The decisions that are made in local government affect their personal lives, the school systems mold their children, and the lack of public transportation there affects their employment capabilities.

How are you going to care about all of the dynamics of the city if you don’t live there? Often times we see evangelism as a task to accomplish, but this model will not work in the city.  If you are only coming into the city to evangelize every once in a while, the neighbors will begin to see your evangelism as WORK and not as love.  And every neighborhood is different: a single city can be home to hundreds of different communities that all have their own culture and opportunities.  Thus, it’s so important to live where you are evangelizing, because it’s the normal everyday interactions that speak loudest.

Because life moves at such a fast pace, our relationships in the city are typically built around economic activities.  We purchase our groceries every few days, and we go to the same supermarket and get to know the local employees. We go to a sporting event and meet fellow fans that hold similar interests.  We enjoy the community of a local mall and come into contact with others that are enjoying free entertainment as well.  Our interactions with people are numerous every day, but turning it into an intentional meeting is key to evangelism in the city.  One contact – or even a dozen contacts – does not necessarily make a lasting relationship.  We must live in the city, allowing us to live life with our neighbors as well, which then opens up the door to deeper spiritual conversations and continual evangelism through our daily testimony.

*This article will continue in the next post.

Real Life Church in Quito, Ecuador

Some of our friends and colleagues in ministry have planted a new church in the heart of Quito, Ecuador. A few weeks ago they described their initial months and their strategies and philosophy in an article published by Ardeo Global. What do you notice about their approach? Can you see this working in your city?

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador! Our team has recently begun our church planting work here with our first church service in September, 2018. The name of our church, Iglesia Real Life, reflects our mission to show how the message of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ provide real life solutions to real life problems. I think that is the goal of every church, but our focus can get clouded with church logistics and we can begin to focus on the upkeep of a physical church building and its programs. Our team is looking at church planting from a different philosophy. We’ve studied Jesus’ ministry and found that most of His time was spent ministering to non-religious people outside of religious buildings. Our goal is to break free from non-biblical traditions in order to focus on what really matters: loving on people as Jesus did.

So what does that look like? Most noticeably, we don’t meet in a church building. We want our area of influence to be unrestricted by the geographical location of our church, we want to be free of distraction from the work and resources required to maintain a church building, and we want to be welcoming to people who would never feel comfortable entering a church. Our goal is to eventually have various teaching points throughout the whole city so that every new person we meet can attend a worship service and Bible study near where they live.

Currently, we’re meeting at a really neat place near the commercial center of Quito. It’s a food court with a central area for concerts and other events. It also has a playground and separate area where the kids can meet, and the owner is letting us hold our events there for free! So far we’ve had one church service there, and we did our best to make it really feel like a celebration. We had upbeat music and balloons and confetti poppers. At the end of the service, Pastor Josué closed with a prayer but didn’t close his eyes, so people were a little surprised when they realized he was praying. But why not talk to God as though He were standing in the room with us, since we know He is? In the big things and the small things, we want moments like that in our church. We want to get to the root of why we do things and challenge people’s ideas of what the church is. We simply want to be the hands and feet of Christ, loving and serving the people of Quito unconditionally.

Photo+5.jpg

How exactly are we going to serve and meet the needs of the people here? Well, first we have to learn what their needs are, and to do that we have to start by just getting to know them.  Quito is the capital of Ecuador and in many ways is very modern. There is a large downtown area filled with businesses and people living a metropolitan lifestyle. So far we’ve found that many of the issues of people here are pretty similar to those of people in the US: marriages need help, teens need guidance on what to do with their lives, and it’s difficult for families to spend quality time together amidst the many demands of everyday life. However, Ecuador is also a country with a developing economy where many people face underemployment and struggle to simply provide for their families. Problems with drugs and teenage pregnancies are increasing, crime makes it dangerous to be outside after dark, and Venezuelan refugees here face blatant racism every day.

When we first started planning our outreach strategies, we expected that we would be reaching the people in the modern, business-focused, post-Christian part of Quito, and based on the location of our first teaching point we definitely will have opportunities to minister to them. However, in our day-to-day interactions we’ve met people from all walks of life with various needs, both spiritual and physical.

The need for hope and love is universal and does not discriminate across socioeconomic differences, and neither will we in our efforts to reach anyone who is ready to hear of the immense love that God has for them, whether that looks like hosting a marriage seminar or paying for someone to see a medical specialist that they couldn’t afford on their own. Our daily challenge is to stay flexible and open to where and to whom God is leading us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This article was originally published at Ardeo Global.

Returning Home

Nazareno and Yamila grew up attending church in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but left the church in early adulthood. After a serious car accident, Nazareno struggled with feelings of depression. It wasn’t until a neighbor introduced them to the Church of the Nazarene that their hearts for the Lord were renewed.

Captura de pantalla 2018-10-31 a la(s) 14.28.08.png

Watch the video below and see how God transformed this family: 

Help for Migrants in Mexico

45561968_2156109701100723_3953999836759457792_o.jpg

In October more than 7,000 children, women, men and older adults from Honduras started a journey that has taken several weeks.  Recently people from other countries have also joined them as they have traversed from the south border of Mexico to the north in order to eventually arrive in the United States. They have left their countries because of the reality of violence and poverty that confronted them there. 

The Church of the Nazarene has responded to a variety of the caravan’s different needs through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and have fulfilled the call of God to freely give what we have freely received. 

Click on the video below to see how the Church has mobilized to help in the past  month:

Offering of Thanks: Sharing Christ’s Love in 162 World Areas

As followers of Christ, we are all called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom throughout the world. And through the global Church of the Nazarene, you are doing exactly that. Not only are you showing Christ’s love to your neighbors locally, but you are also showing it to those thousands of miles away.

When your church supports this fund, they are supporting the actions of Nazarenes loving others in Christ’s name, truly making Christlike disciples in all nations.

Nargiza’s redemption story began after surviving two suicide attempts when she was 13 years old. Not long after, a classmate invited her to church, setting her on a trajectory that would change her life forever.

“The reason why I wanted to commit suicide is because I believed no one loved me,” Nargiza said. “But when I came to Christ, I realized how much He loves me. [So] I didn’t just go to church, I really committed my life to Jesus.”

Today, Nargiza is not only alive and healthy, but she is a minister in the Church of the Nazarene.

“The difference between my life before Christ and after I accepted Him is that I have hope,” Nargiza said. “Through all the difficulties, God is with me, and I feel His love in my life.

OfferingofThanks.png

Every time you pray for the church, participate in giving to Nazarene missions, or go on a missions trip, you share Christ’s love in 162 world areas and beyond, resulting in transformed lives.

Promote the Offering of Thanks to your congregation using the materials and resources that are now available.

The offering website, nazarene.org/givethanks, includes promotional materials such as social media graphics, posters, brochures, a PowerPoint graphic, and bulletin inserts to support local churches.

Be sure to follow Church of the Nazarene (Official) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you can share posts about the offering with your social media followers.

For more information visit 2018 Offering for Nazarene Missions.

World Evangelism Fund

One of the things that characterizes us as a denomination is our heart for missions.  The primary way we fund the global missionary enterprise is through the World Evangelism Fund (WEF).  But what is WEF?

The World Evangelism Fund fuels the Church of the Nazarene’s mission by combining each person’s and church’s gift together to fund ministries everywhere. Every church is asked to give a portion of their yearly funds for the purpose of making Christlike disciples in the nations.

Why does the World Evangelism Fund exist?

In 1923, the Church of the Nazarene moved to a centralized funding system called the General Budget. In 1997, the name was changed to World Evangelism Fund, but the purpose remained the same: to sustain valuable ministries through consistent mission funding. The World Evangelism Fund provides the undesignated money and mission network that all Nazarene ministries need. Your gifts create and sustain ministries, and allow ministry personnel to spread the gospel.

How does the World Evangelism Fund work?

When you give, the money comes to the General Treasurer’s Office where the funds are distributed to various regions, missionaries, and ministries around the globe. The World Evangelism Fund not only provides ministries on the ground with the monies they need, but the money is used to ensure that legal, federal, and support needs are met so that ministries are as safe as possible and can be sustained for years to come.

Easter Offering2018DRC

Here are a few examples of ministries that the World Evangelism Fund makes possible through direct funding or the ministry network:

Read Engage Magazine to hear the stories of individuals who have been helped by Nazarene ministries. All of this work only happens because of the combined gifts of people like you!

How is the World Evangelism Fund Received?

Much of the monies received come directly from local churches as a part of the Funding the Mission plan (watch the USA or Canada video about the plan). When you donate, your church gives a tithe of that money on to the worldwide Nazarene church. The World Evangelism Fund goal for every church is 5.5% of their income for the year less mission giving.

Some churches choose to raise funds through the Easter Offering and Thank Offering for the World Evangelism Fund. These two offerings happen every year, and Stewardship Ministries provides promotional and informational resources to help churches communicate the offerings to their congregations. Churches also use Faith Promise pledges to raise funds throughout the year. We encourage churches to actively engage their congregations in understanding and giving toward mission work through the World Evangelism Fund. Many churches choose to invest more than the 5.5% goal toward ministry, and those gifts make a huge difference.

Thank You

When a church meets its Funding the Mission tithe goals, including the 5.5% for the World Evangelism Fund, it is recognized as a World Evangelism Church. All World Evangelism churches receive a special thank you for their faithful generosity to the mission. Additionally, Nazarene Missions International recognizes churches that meet their World Evangelism Fund goal at 5.7%. Click here to read more about church recognitions. 

None of the ministries the World Evangelism Fund sustains would be possible without the gifts of people like you. It is a pleasure to partner with you to take the gospel around the world. We thank you for your faithfulness to give and pray for Nazarene mission work everywhere.

This information was originally published on the official website of the Church of the Nazarene.