Urban Shalom and Discipleship
by Ash Barker
The world has rapidly changed and is challenging the very nature of Christian faith and mission as we know it. A fundamental change with significant implications for Christians is how and where humans live together. In 1800 only 3% of people lived in cities, but now more than half of all humans live in urban areas with over one third facing severe urban poverty. With over 70% of people predicted to be urbanites by 2050, the increased disparity, diversity and density of living will leave no person, place or culture untouched.
Areas of urban deprivation and poverty are especially complex places to make a long-term impact, but they are some of the most critical frontline contexts for mission today. A resilient and thoughtful theology and spirituality as well as innovative skills and frameworks are needed if effective, sustainable responses are to be found.
This week we will explore the nature and call of Christian discipleship as a core motif in response to these growing urban realities. Understanding the context we find ourselves is crucial in this, but much of this week’s notes will focus the significance of various conversions to help us centre on the risen Jesus and empower us to engage with his concerns as a way of faithful engagement from within these contexts. How can Christian discipleship inform and inspire our spirituality, practices and vision for our new urban world?