I found this mural one day while doing research in an area of the city called Santo Amaro. In this mural, life in the city is well represented. People mindlessly go about their daily routines just like little wind-up toys.
The first thoughts that came to mind when I saw this were of existentialism and despair, and the natural human tendency to just accept the status quo. Ruts and routines! Anyone that has lived in the city knows what this is like. Our goal is to penetrate into these mindless routines, these patterns that have people so trapped.
Life in the City: Challenges and Opportunities
The biggest challenges that we face for reaching people in the megacity for Christ are also our biggest opportunities. The endless masses of people, the traffic, long lines, and loneliness are all part of the city. But if you think about it, you can embrace any challenge thrown your way and use for the gospel’s sake.
The concern I have is that after you’ve lived in the city long enough, you can easily get caught up in the daily and absorbing routines of life.
What are some positive steps we can take as missionaries or Christian city-dwellers to continue to be effective witnesses while living in the midst of cities that can so easily monopolize of our time?
Life in the City: A Few Positive Steps to Take
1. Change your focus.
Remember, it’s not about you… it’s all about the Lord, and then others (Matthew 22:7-40). Cities are notorious for being lonely places, much more so than smaller towns. It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that everything has to do with you, and thus become incapacitated. Remember, if you’re lonely in the city, so are others. Think outside of yourself. This takes us to the second point…
2. Go out among the people.
A day at the park or zoo could be great way to meet people (Luke 14:23). Visiting with other pastors, missionaries, and leaders is a great way to get the pulse of your city and stay on top of what is happening. Surely, there is someone you can relate to, but you’ll never find them if you stay at home, or become trapped in “the bubble.”
3. Stay out of “the bubble.”
Missionaries can easily get caught up in these so-called bubbles. They can take many forms, but generally speaking, in the bubble they only speak English, they already are overloaded with Christians, and they can be all-consuming. It can be a church, a Bible study group, a school, etc. None of these are bad! Just don’t make this your entire life or missionary experience.
4. In a way, it’s a numbers game.
An insurance salesman would say, “If I talk to 100 people, I’ll sell 10 policies.” In essence, it’s the same with us. If you have millions of people to talk with about Christ, the possibilities are endless. As you reach the city, believers will go out (or back) to these smaller, more rural areas, thus extending your influence. I have seen that happen time, and time again in the churches I’ve been involved with.
5. Use your traveling or waiting time wisely.
The average person in Sao Paulo spends two and a half hours a day in traffic! Whether it’s traffic, the bus, the subway, or walking, use this time wisely. Take someone with you. This is a great time for discussing issues or discipleship. Listen to Bible studies, learn a new song… or a new language (especially if you are living overseas). You have the time, redeem it wisely (Colossians 4:5)! See the links below for free downloadable MP3 Bible studies.
There are so many more ideas for turning big city challenges into big city opportunities . This only scratches the surface.
If you are serious about living and serving Christ in the city, then it is time to take it to the next level. It’s not easy and the commitment is substantial. But it’s well worth the effort you put forth!
Discussion Question: What ways have you seen for turning Life in the City challenges into golden opportunities? We invite you to join the discussion. Your thoughts could help turn someone’s time in the city into a more positive and meaningful experience!
Here are two great resources for Free downloadable MP3 Bible studies.
- John Piper at Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons
- John MacArthur at Grace to You: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons