Books and Quotes from Sunday’s Message (E)
In anticipation of Mission (FOR!) Wynne I am preaching a message entitled “Mission FOR Wynne: Transforming the City with a Smile to the City with Shalom” from Jeremiah 29:1-14. In the message I plan to quote from two books.
The first book is by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter and is entitled For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel. I quote the book twice. First, a long quote regarding Charles Spurgeon’s ministry at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London:
“The Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and by the 1850s its effects pervaded England. In this period of great industrialization people left the farms and small towns and flocked to London, Manchester, and other cities. As people congregated in vast numbers, the old infrastructure of London lacked the capacity and resources to attend to the needs of the new crowds.
The influx of people into London meant not only a spike in laborers and factories, but also the number of under-resourced women, children, orphans, and widows exploded in London. The city was in crisis. The leaders didn’t know what to do. They saw the mountain of needs that confronted them from every angle. Thus, in the 1850s a lot of London churches did what a lot of American churches have done during the last thirty years: they fled the cities. These churches moved their locations to the outskirts of London. But Metropolitan Tabernacle, pastored by Charles Spurgeon, decided, “We’re not going to do that. We’re going to stay here. We see this as an opportunity for the gospel.”
Metropolitan Tabernacle looked at the needs of the people in the city and began to engage in helping them with their problems. The problems of the desperately poor were the most pressing, so Metropolitan Tabernacle leaders created almshouses for people who lost their jobs and needed time to get back on their feet. The poorhouses in London operated in terrible conditions, but the almshouses of Metropolitan Tabernacle provided a crucial alternative. The church also built a large number of homes for the elderly where they would care for them and help them die with dignity and in peace. The church created an orphanage where they educated, cared for, and fed thousands of orphans. They created homes for single mothers who had lost their husbands and helped them find employment. Metropolitan Tabernacle started a school for pastors from rural areas to receive a theological education and helped clothe and provide books for these impoverished pastors. They started programs for businessmen to use their entrepreneurial efforts to expand the kingdom through their businesses.
Metropolitan Tabernacle’s influence spread so quickly throughout the poor and all the way up the class ladder to the aristocracy. It got to the point that if Metropolitan Tabernacle had shut down at any point during that decade of grappling with the problems of the Industrial Revolution, the city of London would have been crippled. They would have grieved the loss of the Tabernacle. Can you imagine serving the needs of the city, being so attuned to the common good for the sake of the gospel, that your city would grieve if you picked up and left?
With all of this focus on serving the poor and meeting the needs of people, you might be wondering, “Did Spurgeon ignore the preaching of the gospel?” The answer is clear: absolutely not! So many people began coming to the church, including many lost people who had never attended a church, that Spurgeon asked his Christian members not to attend worship once a month so the lost people would have space to come. Spurgeon saw five thousand people coming to worship at the church each week, and his collections of sermons are regarded as some of the finest gospel preaching ever published. What Spurgeon and the Metropolitan Tabernacle did that was so radical and unique was to seize the opportunity all around them afforded by the needs of the people of London. It was a ministry to all people, and ultimately the ministry pulled in not just the poor but also the wealthy and influential.”
The second quote from this book was a summary of the four ways churches interact with their cities:
(1) Church IN the City
“Their heartbeat is to get people in the doors to hear the gospel. That’s a good goal. But, unfortunately, that’s often where it ends. Such churches create programs for people inside the church walls, and the reach of their ministry only occasionally goes outside the city. The primary focus of these churches is what happens inside the church building. Churches like this are geographically IN the city, but they aren’t effectively engaged with the people and culture of the city.”
(2) Church AGAINST the City
“Churches of this type have adopted a defensive posture toward the city. These churches are often located in urban areas, but everything about the surrounding culture is seen as not just bad, but irredeemable. The arts, the business world, and the media are minions of Satan bent on destroying the church. Believers in these churches often malign themselves squarely against the culture and proclaim that they are taking a stand for Christ.”
(3) Church OF the City
“These churches wholeheartedly embrace the culture of the city, so much so that they lose the flavor in their salt and the brightness of their light by abandoning the call to be in the world without being of the world. They bend so far to the culture that they lose their distinctive Christian identity – they lose their ability to speak truth effectively.”
(4) Church FOR the City
“These churches speak the truth of the gospel and are not afraid to uphold a biblical worldview and moral standard. Such a church proclaims the truths of Scripture with passion, clarity, and boldness. At the same time, though, this is a church that commits itself to seeking the shalom, the flourishing of the city. This means seeking the thriving of the people they live in community with, living sacrificially and using their gifts, time, and money to seek the peace and prosperity of their neighbors.”
From the second, Preach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions, by Charles Fielding I read this quote:
“It is not difficult to see that Jesus’ practice of preaching and healing became the standard practice of the disciples immediately after His ascension into heaven. Interestingly, the juxtaposition of preaching and healing was not necessarily scheduled, but rather the one was precipitated by the other. Like Jesus, disciples naturally tended to the needs of hurting people, which provided more opportunities to preach the Gospel, even among the rulers of the area
Jesus sent out all of His disciples to preach and to heal. They were given one command, because the two ministries work together in God’s master strategy. The NT reveals many examples of how the apostles continued with this tactic, resulting in the growth of the church and glory to God.”