Lessons from Cities
Text: Acts (various) | Listen to Message
High Impact Church Planting
It’s an age-old debate: Was the book of Acts meant to be descriptive or prescriptive? Is it telling us what to do or just how things were?
Acts is a true history of the Early Church and the expansion of the Gospel outward from Jerusalem. But it’s admittedly a very selective history – and a pedagogical history at that. In other words, Luke has chosen and crafted his stories carefully in order to teach us important lessons about the nature of God and His work in our world.
One of the most unmistakable lessons from the book of Acts is the importance of reaching strategic cities with the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ. Though the early Christians scattered every which way proclaiming Jesus, Luke primarily follows the city-centric church-planting mission of the Apostle Paul.
Though urban people are not more valuable to God than suburban or rural people, there are simply more of them! As Tim Keller notes, “Cities have more of the image of God per square inch than any other place on earth” (Center Church, p. 141). And along with that disproportionate number of people and disproportionate density comes disproportionate influence. What happens in the cities shapes the surrounding regions, but the inverse is not often the case.
Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to a series of strategic cities where he preached the Gospel and planted high-impact churches. Instead of shying away from the cultural, commercial, political, intellectual, and religious centers of his day, Paul went and demonstrated the relevance of the Gospel in these very places.
The ministry of the Early Church was hardly confined to religious spaces. Instead, you find the opposite: the Gospel was proclaimed wherever people gathered to do ordinary life together. Down by a river. In the marketplace. At the university. Outside pagan temples and shrines. In the halls of government. Around cooking fires. In people’s homes.
The mission of Grace City is shaped by stories like these. We cannot simply preach Christ on Sundays to whoever shows up and pat ourselves on the back for being on mission for Christ. We are called to make all of life about Christ. We must reach the kinds of people who hang out at coffeehouses and tap houses, rather than houses of worship. And we must demonstrate the credibility and the compassion of the Gospel, that this is the hope of our cities and our world.