Why You Should Know about Urbanization

population_growthFor many people, the word “missions” conjures images of African savannahs, Middle Eastern deserts, and Southeast Asian jungles. Remote, isolated, and primitive—these are words often used to describe international ministry. Although that is still true for many people serving overseas, the majority of the world now lives in cities.

During the past decade, cities globally have seen an influx of people coming in to search for better opportunities, jobs, education, or a higher wage. Refugees have shifted to cities from countries at war. In many areas around the world, rural areas are thinning out as the younger generations uproot to urban centers while the middle aged and elderly remain.

In fact, as of 2014, 54 percent of the global population lives in the cities, a number that is steadily growing. In 1990, there were ten so-called “mega-cities” with more than ten million inhabitants. As of 2014, twenty-eight such mega-cities exist.

Small cities are growing, as well. Cities of less than 500,000 make up some of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Rural populations, meanwhile are on the decline. People are moving into cities, they have been for a while, and the projections say that trend will not slow.

One of the undeniable truths of urban growth is that cities are becoming increasingly diverse. The nations are drawn to the cities. Some people who migrate to cities and hear the gospel may go back to their home countries, cities, or towns. So urban centers offer an opportunity to affect nations—many nations—with the gospel of Jesus.

International missions will continue to require presence in the African bush, but it progressively requires Bible studies in a Parisian café, a gospel-centered conversation in a Tokyo sushi bar, or a prayer time over a glass of piping hot tea in a Central Asian megacity. Cities are growing concentrations of heterogenous populations from around the world. How are you and your church preparing to take advantage of these gospel-ready hot spots?