The Urban Harvest
World populations are increasingly moving from rural to urban centers, making for larger cities with greater population density than ever before. Cities have been the central gathering places of human life from time immemorial, it has been from these cities that great ideas and movements of the world have sprouted, accompanied by a growth in urbanized life over the last several decade. For the first time in history, more people are living in cities than rural areas. And, this way of living is only going to continue: by 2050, the urban share of global population is projected to surpass 66 percent (up from 30 percent in 1950). Approximately 54% of people worldwide now live in cities, up from 30% in 1950. Sources estimate this will grow to 2/3 of world population in the next 15-30 years.
Approximately 65 percent of the U.S. population now living in cities and generating 75 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, such urban life increasingly dominates the national landscape. Today, 82% of North Americans live in urban areas and are increasingly concentrating in mid-sized and large cities. In 2010 41 urban areas in the United States housed more than 1 million people, up from 12 areas in 1950 and projected to grow to 53 by 2030.
With urbanization the church faces its own problems: how to reach the city with the message of salvation; how to establish its presence among thousands of unreached city dwellers. The church also needs to investigate and study new methodologies to reach the secularized society that characterizes many cities and its complex demographic. In the great urban centers, the number of "new non-Christian urban dwellers per day" is increasing while the percentage of Christians in the city is decreasing. In 1900 there were 5,200 "new non-Christian urban dwellers per day"; in 1992, the number is 107,800; by the year 2,000 there will be 140,000. In 1900 urban Christians constituted 68.6 percent of urban dwellers. The figure for 1992 is 48.4 percent. In 2000 city Christians will account for 47.8 percent.
Throughout history God has called his servants to ad dress the gospel to cities, and at no time has this been more urgent than in today's urbanizing world.