Gateway to the Nations: The Strategic Value of International Churches in a Globalized Urban World

Gateway to the Nations:

The Strategic Value of International Churches in a Globalized Urban World

By Michael Crane and Scott Carter


Behnam Farhadi, and his sons Atash and Erfan, were fleeing from a Central Asian nation in political and economic distress became refugees were in Sofia, Bulgaria.[1] All three of them became followers of Jesus and were discipled through the ministry of an international church in Sofia. They later moved to Athens to lead in a struggling Persian congregation, then moved to Paris, and are currently living in the Netherlands. They also spend time traveling to major cities in Europe assisting in discipleship and leadership training with other Persian congregations. Many from their same people group came to Christ in Sofia and Athens, and are now scattered throughout Europe reaching their people living in refugee communities.

International churches around the world are making an invaluable contribution to the church’s mission to make disciples of every nation. Around the world God has used international churches as instrumental in sowing seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the frontiers of lostness.

Defining International Churches

Churches gathering internationals together can be quite diverse.[2] Although there are international churches that span the spectrums of theology, denomination, and practice, we are particularly focused on those who are Evangelical. [3] We define international churches as Christian congregations who are intentionally multicultural, use English as the primary language, and are self-identified as Evangelical in their theological commitments. Some estimate there are over a thousand international churches spread across the globe.[4] In our research we found international churches in at least 182 nations out of 195.[5] These churches are found in over four hundred cities worldwide, and include the largest and most influential cities.

While the international church is primarily English-speaking, there are multiple languages used in ministries of the church, and translation services are common when needed.[6] There are language ministries within the church, but great effort is made to keep the multi-national members integrated as one body. The international church is characterized by being intentionally multicultural by celebrating the variety of language and cultures within it.


It is sometimes thought that international churches serve as a kind of club for Westerners living abroad. Properly defined, however, an expatriate is a person residing in a foreign country; any country other than their own. This definition includes more than corporate business people living abroad working for international companies, or diplomats working for their home governments abroad. Expatriates also include refugees, migrant workers, and international university students. Expatriates can come from any country, not just western or developed countries, as is sometimes the perception. In other words a Kenyan working in Ethiopia is as much of an expatriate as an American diplomat living in Ethiopia.

Another point of clarification to be made is in regards to an international church being ecumenical versus being affiliated with a denomination. International churches are not simply a hodgepodge of denominational polities all stuck together in one church. Most international churches either have a specific denominational affiliation which, generally speaking, identifies its statement of beliefs and polity. Or, if not denominationally affiliated, the church has at least specified and defined its polity structure well.

Need for Churching the Cities

As we see a world globalizing and urbanizing at such a rapid rate, we must consider the implications for missions. Just as Paul sought to start churches in the largest, most interconnected cities of his day, we too need to start churches in the global cities of our day. Even though the vast majority of the population of the Roman Empire lived in rural areas,[7] Paul went to the important cities that were the centers of influence, trade, and cultural production. His church planting strategy was an urban one.[8] Paul was so confident of the effectiveness of his planting of churches in the urban centers of the empire that he could claim that he had fully proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum (Rom. 15:19). Establishing churches in the important cities was Paul’s strategy of putting down the roots of the gospel so that it might bear fruit in the surrounding regions. Tim Keller explains how church planting is essential to urban missions:

The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city.  Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.[9]

Not only is church planting in the key cities a biblical model of missions strategy, it also makes sense in terms of multiplicative influence.[10] Cities around the world are the centers of cultural production, new ideas, innovation, and change.[11] “As the cities go, so go the nations,” says Roger Greenway, “If winning the nations to Christ is our assignment, to the cities we must go.”[12]

It is noteworthy that Paul planted churches that were intentionally multicultural. This was the model that Paul was exposed to in Antioch. Although Antioch was a city reputed to be deeply divided ethnically with as many as eighteen ethnic enclaves,[13] it is evident that the young church was remarkably multicultural (Acts 13:1-3). We can see from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome that it was intended to be multicultural, even when it was challenging to do so. Seemingly, it would have been simpler for Paul to have planted separate churches for the Jews and the Gentiles. The cultural differences between the groups was evidently a source of discord,[14] but Paul knew that for the gospel to take root in what is perhaps the world’s first global city,[15] then it would necessarily be a multicultural church.

Urbanization and Globalization

The twin engines of urbanization and globalization are changing the shape of societies across the world.[16] Globalization is not a new phenomenon,[17] but it now has a larger footprint than ever. The breadth of globalization as a topic cannot be pursued here except to provide a definition and to discuss its relevance for international churches. Joseph Stiglitz defines it simply as “the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world…”[18] Globalization is both the cause and effect. It is spurred by consumer demands, economic liberalization, technological innovation, and cultural shifts.[19] Scholte describes the impact of globalization in terms of respacialization, “Globalization entails a reconfiguration of social geography with increased transplanetary connections between people.”[20] In other words, globalization is much more than the popularity of Big Macs and Frappuccinos around the world; it is effecting the movement of people around the world and a worldview that encompasses interconnectedness.

The urbanization project, as some call it, is rapidly moving towards an integrated social system spanning the globe.[21] The crucial nodes in this emerging global network are the cities. They are increasingly the vital channels through wihich communication, cooperation, and commodities pass. Global cities are emerging as places of innovation and decision-making requiring highly skilled professionals from all over the world. As the market demands skilled professionals working in multi-national companies, more young people are seeking education in other countries in order to position themselves for this job market. Global cities are the nodes of education, innovation, and financial services for this global class of people.[22] One gauge of this shift over the last thirty years is to note the proliferation of international schools in global cities. For example, in 1984 there were only two international schools in the Kuala Lumpur metro area. Thirty years later, there are at least twenty self-identified international schools. In other words, there is a significant expatriate population segment residing in every major city of the world.

Expatriate residents in global cities comprise a global corps of educated and highly-skilled workers. As English is the lingua franca of the world, these expatriates use English for work, education, and social interaction.[23] Peter Berger goes further to say that English is “the koine of the emerging global culture.”[24] Beyond the use of English as the common language, there is a culture that is emerging that is unique to these highly mobile professionals in global cities. Global cities are highly networked to each other to such a degree that culture and worldview is developed in this interconnected context.[25] People living in global cities begin to feel more of an affinity with those in other global cities than those from the same nation who live in small towns.[26] The realities of globalization and urbanization combine to point us to the need for churches that are started with these globalized urban dwellers in mind.[27]

Strategic Importance of International/Multicultural Churches
As we have seen the rise of global cities and a global-urban culture to go with it and have noted the need for vibrant, gospel-centered churches in those cities, we submit that international churches have a growing strategic importance in reaching our cities and making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). In what follows, we have organized the reasons for international churches into five categories. Not all international churches operate with such a missional vision and some are nothing more than a church for a segregated cultural enclave. Thus, what is below also serves as a challenge for international churches to see their potential for making a global missions impact.

Making Disciples of the Globally Mobile

With people on the move more now than ever before,[28] this poses new challenges to discipleship. As stated earlier, multinational corporations, universities, NGOs, and diplomatic services take people all over the world. In some cases, it is a short-term assignment and they return to their home nation. In other cases, it is a life-long nomadic life. In addition, there are locals who have had international experiences that have changed them culturally to the point that a multicultural church is the best fit for their spiritual growth. The church needs to find ways to disciple these who are away from their home faith community.

Many who move to other countries struggle to maintain their spiritual growth when they move. In our city, many American families visit the local English speaking churches without ever feeling accepted or being spiritually nurtured. One family we know tried six different English-speaking local churches before giving up on attending church altogether. If they continued that way, they would return to the States spiritually weakened. An international church can become a home away from home and challenge deeper spiritual growth. In order to grow spiritually, we need to have ongoing growth through a committed church community.

As these expatriates move back to their home churches, they are now more equipped to be advocates for international missions as well as becoming leaders in reaching out to the unreached peoples who now live in their home towns.

Among those on the move are an increasing number of global nomads. These are people who are not rooted in one particular country. In my neighborhood is a family of mixed Russian-Uzbek-Kazakh lineage but they hold passports from Kazakhstan. Since they are not pure Kazakh they are not given good job opportunities there. Their future is to live in global cities, and their children will be even less rooted in one nation than their parents are. I have met so many more just like this family, who move from global city to global city. International churches are in the best position to evangelize and disciple these global nomads.

Global cities also have a high number of locals who have studied abroad, worked overseas, or married internationally. They come back to their home country feeling like misfits. When they return to their homogeneous churches, they feel disconnected. There are other locals who seek a multicultural experience, come to an international church and come to faith in Christ. International churches play a vital role in discipling expatriates, global nomads, and even locals.

Anchor Churches in Global Cities

One of the biggest obstacles in planting churches in an unchurched city is starting the first church. Tim Keller has repopularized the notion of planting a city center church that can then provide a base of operations for ongoing church planting.[29] International churches can easily become this kind of anchor church in a city.[30] International churches often are blessed with significant financial resources that afford them an opportunity to be firmly established in the city which then provides a base to start more churches, both international and homogeneous ones.[31]

For cities that have only a small local Christian presence, an international church might be the initial beachhead entre of the church in the city. Once the church is established, it can provide the inspiration and encouragement for other churches to be planted. Or in some cities the local church has only been a ghettoized minority. International churches can offer an expression of the church that is for people of all nations and that engages with the broader population of the city.

Diversity is a vital component to vibrant cities. The multicultural nature of international churches can serve to inject creativity and new ways of doing things into the church life of the city. This can be particularly important in cities where the church has retrenched into a defeated traditionalism. International churches can inspire other churches in the city to adopt a more missional posture. Just as cities thrive on diversity, urban churches must take advantage of urban diversity for missional impact.

Reaching the Least Reached

The continued growth of globalization means the world’s urban centers are becoming more multicultural. Many of the people found in the world’s global cities are from some of the most unreached people groups in the world. Living abroad as an expatriate, whether as a student, a migrant worker, or a corporate expatriate, means many of these people are marginalized in some way. As the cities become more multicultural, international churches are also becoming more multicultural. It is typical for international churches to have dozens of nationalities present on any given Sunday. When a church has such obvious diversity in its congregation, the church becomes a safe place for these marginalized and curious people to have their first exposure to the teachings of the Bible. For example, in one Southeast Asian city, Muslims from neighboring countries will freely, and safely, walk into English-speaking churches curious about Christian teachings. Missionaries are working with these churches to equip them in sharing the gospel with these seekers. Converts from these unreached people groups may not stay in these churches after following Jesus, preferring to be part of same-culture (house) churches, but the international church plays a vital role in the journey.

In the new world of missions, missionaries cannot publicly announce themselves as missionaries (due mostly to government restrictions). This often makes it difficult for them to establish credibility with local Christians and poses an obstacle to networking with others who might share a similar calling. International churches can be hubs of networking for tent-makers and others who are focusing on the least-reached peoples residing in the city.

International churches working in these global cities, where the nations are gathering for education and business, are often in the best position to start churches or specific language outreaches in other languages among the unreached. There is story after story of international churches currently involved in reaching Arabs, Japanese, and Pakistanis, and other restricted access and resistant peoples.

Disasters and crises can strike anytime and anywhere. When these disasters strike in remote areas, or areas among unreached people groups, international churches are able to respond more quickly than their affiliated churches or denominational agencies in other countries. For example, in Jakarta a poor, unreached area of the city was devastated by a massive fire. An international church there was able to mobilize relief almost immediately and was able to start an outreach in that community. Or when the super-typhoon Haiyan hit the southern Philippines in 2014, International Baptist Church (IBC) Manila, because of its strategic proximity, had the potential to aid missions organizations desiring to help. If IBC Manila had been networked in with Southern Baptistist missionaries in the country, and other Southern Baptist relief groups, such as Baptist Global Response, there could have been a more immediate and efficient response in the afflicted area.

Again, with the trends of globalization bringing remnants of some of the most unreached people groups in the world to global cities, missionaries who focus on those people groups are also engaging these peoples in the global cities. International churches like this provide fellowship and encouragement for those who are focused on reaching the least reached in the cities. International churches also become a place of sharing strategic resources and forming alliances for working among these people groups. If anyone from their focus people group are in the church, or ever visit the church, these missionaries have a safe place to engage, reach and equip members of the people group. These missionaries can also find other church members who may be interested in their particular focus group.

Equipping and Developing a Greater force for Missions

International churches have the capacity to serve as “mission outposts” in global missions. By establishing more international churches in global cities, mission agencies and sending churches from abroad can have a mission force, a resource pool, and continual on-the-ground response and mission teams. These churches can become bases for theological education, cross-cultural training, church planting training, and missions mobilization. For example, many people take jobs in other nations knowing they will have the opportunity to be a light to the nations. Rarely, however, have they been trained and equipped to carry out this calling effectively. They do not have the benefit of missionary training or a seminary education. An international church can provide this equipping for any expatriate living in global cities and wanting to use their professional presence in a missional way.

Likewise, international churches can become a hub of training in culturally appropriate methods of sharing the gospel, resources for evangelism and discipleship, and even starting new churches. These churches can have the presence and capacity to provide such training for both expatriates involved in the church, as well as national believers looking for more diverse training than their national churches provide.

A recent trend in sending missionaries abroad is to place new missionary families in “landing cities” where they experience some focused, on-the-field training before they arrive to their new mission field. While this method of training has its strengths and weaknesses, by utilizing international churches in global cities, young missionaries who are eager to plant churches among their focus people group, and yet have little experience in church ministry or multicultural ministry, can gain experience. International churches can be a good starting place to gain experience and mentoring from those more seasoned in the work, as well as gain a supporting church for their new work and people group on the mission field.

With more people living abroad for at least a part of their career, Christian families are becoming more exposed not just to the world in general, but to Great Commission needs as well. As expatriates are living in global cities among expatriates from other countries, including some of the least reached, being involved in missional international churches gives them a missional church context within which to encounter the Great Commission needs. When these expatriates return to their home country, they become strong advocates in their home church and denomination for overseas missions.

As mission sending agencies and churches in the more traditional sending countries continue to struggle with funding due to sluggish economies, international churches in global cities can become field-based resource pools, both for finances and personnel. If churches and mission agencies develop strategic missional relationships with international churches, the International churches can provide funding for mission projects in nearby mission fields, as well as provide short-term mission teams to help carry out mission endeavors. In some cases, missionary candidates may be identified in the International churches, trained and mobilized from the international churches. These candidates may be more culturally close to the unreached people groups being targeted in the mission field.

Mission agencies would do well to find ways to network with international churches. For decades, the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention planted and resourced International Baptist Churches (IBC’s) in cities around the world. In the 1990’s, the Foreign Mission Board officially severed its relationship with the IBC’s that it had established, no longer providing pastors and other staff members for the church, and withdrawing funding. Except for some personal relationships maintained by missionary field personnel, the (now) International Mission Board has had no relationship with these churches. We believe the decision to sever these relationships has weakened our gospel impact on these global cities.. These IBC’s are involved in engaging some of the most unreached people groups in the world right in their cities. The IBC’s are becoming more involved in church planting efforts, and many of them are in healthy financial condition. The IBC’s could be a tremendous resource pool for the International Mission Board today.

Visible Demonstration of Diversity in the One Body of Christ

In a world rife with war, division and racism, the church has an opportunity to powerfully demonstrate the work of reconciliation through the blood of Christ (Col. 1:19). International churches by nature and location are extremely diverse in nationalities and ethnicities. In these multi-cultural situations, people from opposing nations or people groups learn to live together in reconciliation under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. At the same time, multi-cultural churches and their members can be a model of peace and reconciliation of Jesus for the world.

International churches, whether they are denominationally affiliated or not, attract Christians from various national, cultural, and denominational backgrounds. Because intentionally multi-cultural churches in cities are actually quite scarce, international Christians are more concerned with being active in a local church than they are with denominational affiliations. Most international churches have members, or regular attendees, from most major denominations. Not that doctrinal differences are unimportant, but these international Christians recognize the ability to overlook secondary and tertiary doctrinal issues in order to actively participate in a local body of believers.

In Revelation 7:9, we read, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”[32] (emphasis added) From these verses we see heaven will be multi-cultural. The multicultural picture given in Revelation 7:9 is the epitome of unity in the diversity of the Body of Christ. Though not perfect, but as opposed to the more monoethnic churches that make up most of the churches in the world, multicultural churches demonstrate the unity and diversity of the Body of Christ here on earth. Multi-cultural churches on earth are a foretaste of eternity when people from every tribe, tongue, and nation gather in eternal worship. Leaders in multi-cultural churches are often heard speaking of their corporate worship services as “practicing for heaven.”


International churches are being used around the world with great impact on individuals, cities, and many of the world’s least reached people groups. At times, international churches have been viewed by missions sending agencies with disdain, but it is our contention that they have vast potential to be an important partner in our effort to pursue the Great Commission. As we minister in a world becoming increasingly global and urban, we need ways of thinking about our churches that are suited to these seismic cultural shifts. International churches that are globally-networked, gospel-centered, and intentionally missional can be invaluable strategic partners in reaching the burgeoning global cities for Christ.

Work Cited

Abrahamson, Mark. Global Cities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Allen, Roland. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962.

Bebbington, David W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Routledge, 1989.

Beck, Stephen. “A New Day Dawning in the Old Country? Twenty-First-Century Urban Trends in Germany and Their Implications for Urban Church Planting.” In Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, 233–52. Evangelical Missiological Society Series, No. 20. Pasadena, CA: William Carey, 2012.

“Being Foreign: The Others.” The Economist, December 17, 2009.

Berger, Peter L. “The Cultural Dynamics of Globalization.” In Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World, edited by Peter L. Berger and Samuel P. Huntington, 1–16. Oxford?; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Bowers, Dan. The Missions Potential of International Churches. Prague, Czech Republic: International Church of Prague. Accessed March 27, 2014.

Conn, Harvie M., and Manuel Ortiz. Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, & the People of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Davey, Andrew. Urban Christianity and Global Order: Theological Resources for an Urban Future. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.

Dawson, John. Taking Our Cities for God: How to Break Spiritual Strongholds. Rev. Ed. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2001.

DuBose, Francis M. How Churches Grow in an Urban World. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978.

Fujino, Gary, and John Cheong. “Emerging Global Mega-Regions and Globalization: Missiological Implications.” In Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, 35–57. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012.

Fuller, Brandon, and Paul Romer. “Urbanization as Opportunity.” Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environmnet, NYU, Feb. 6.

Garrett, Bob. “The Next Frontier: The Implications for Missions of Global Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century.” In Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, 19–34. Evangelical Missiological Society Series 20. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012.

Greenway, Roger. Apostles to the City: Biblical Strategies for Urban Missions. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978.

Hall, Peter. Cities in Civilisation. Orion Publishing, 2006.

Hiebert, Paul, and Eloise Meneses. Incarnational Ministry: Planting Churches in Band, Tribal, Peasant, and Urban Societies. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

Irvin, Dale T. “The Church, the Urban, and the Global: Mission in an Age of Global Cities.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 33, no. 4 (October2009): 177–82.

Keller, Timothy J. Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Keller, Timothy J., and J. Allen Thompson. Church Planter Manual. New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2002.

Klassen, Ernest Eugene. “Exploring the Missional Potential of International Churches: A Case Study of Capital City Baptist Church, Mexico City.” D.Min. dissertation, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2006.

McMahan, Alan. “The Strategic Nature of Urban Ministry.” In Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, 1–17. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012.

Meierkord, Christiane. “English as Lingua Franca.” In The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, edited by Carol A. Chapelle. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2012.

Nuesch-Olver, Delia. “Missiological Challenges in the Twenty-First Century.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 42, no. 3 (July 2006): 372–77.

Sassen, Saskia. The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Schaller, Lyle E. Center City Churches: The New Urban Frontier. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.

Scholte, Jan Aart. Globalization, Second Edition: A Critical Introduction. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Stark, Rodney. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

Stiglitz, Joseph. Globalization and Its Discontents. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

“The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed March 28, 2014.

Wright, N. T. The Letter to the Romans. Vol. X. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002.

[1] All names are changed for security purposes.

[2] Ernest Eugene Klassen, “Exploring the Missional Potential of International Churches: A Case Study of Capital City Baptist Church, Mexico City” (D.Min. dissertation, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2006), 24–27.

[3] David Bebbington lists four common priorities that mark Evangelicals: conversionism, activism, Biblicism, and crucicentrism. David W Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1989), 3.

[4] Dan Bowers, The Missions Potential of International Churches (Prague, Czech Republic: International Church of Prague), 1, accessed March 27, 2014,

[5] Putting an exact figure on the total number of nations is difficult due to the claims of nations on other nations. “The World Factbook,” Central Intelligence Agency, accessed March 28, 2014,

[6] We recognize that there are international churches that use other languages. The focus in this article is particularly on English, as the lingua franca. Indeed, other language international churches have been effected in missions.

[7] Some estimate that only 5% of empire’s population lived in the cities in the 1st century. Rodney Stark, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 60.

[8] Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962); Paul Hiebert and Eloise Meneses, Incarnational Ministry: Planting Churches in Band, Tribal, Peasant, and Urban Societies (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995); Francis M. DuBose, How Churches Grow in an Urban World (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978).

[9] Timothy J. Keller and J. Allen Thompson, Church Planter Manual (New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2002), 29.

[10] Bob Garrett, “The Next Frontier: The Implications for Missions of Global Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century,” in Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, Evangelical Missiological Society Series 20 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012), 30; John Dawson, Taking Our Cities for God: How to Break Spiritual Strongholds, Rev. Ed. (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2001), 17; Andrew Davey, Urban Christianity and Global Order: Theological Resources for an Urban Future (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), 39.

[11] Alan McMahan, “The Strategic Nature of Urban Ministry,” in Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012), 1–17.

[12] Roger Greenway, Apostles to the City: Biblical Strategies for Urban Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 27.

[13] Stark, Cities of God, 159–160.

[14] N. T. Wright, The Letter to the Romans, vol. X, The New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002), 406–408.

[15] The size and influential reach of Rome at its zenith was unparalleled for centuries to come. Peter Hall, Cities in Civilisation (Orion Publishing, 2006), 621.

[16] Delia Nuesch-Olver, “Missiological Challenges in the Twenty-First Century,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 42, no. 3 (July 2006): 374.

[17] Although the genesis of globalization cannot be pinpointed with precision, some consider the first world’s fair in 1851 as a moment that marks its rise. Jan Aart Scholte, Globalization, Second Edition: A Critical Introduction, 2nd ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 95–100.

[18] Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, 1st ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 9.

[19] Scholte, Globalization, Second Edition, 16.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Brandon Fuller and Paul Romer, “Urbanization as Opportunity” (Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environmnet, NYU, Feb. 6),

[22] Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo., 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 87–88; Mark Abrahamson, Global Cities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[23] Christiane Meierkord, “English as Lingua Franca,” in The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, ed. Carol A. Chapelle (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2012),

[24] Peter L. Berger, “The Cultural Dynamics of Globalization,” in Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World, ed. Peter L. Berger and Samuel P. Huntington (Oxford?; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 2.

[25] Gary Fujino and John Cheong, “Emerging Global Mega-Regions and Globalization: Missiological Implications,” in Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2012), 52–53.

[26] Timothy J. Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 155.

[27] Dale T. Irvin, “The Church, the Urban, and the Global: Mission in an Age of Global Cities,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 33, no. 4 (October2009): 180.

[28] “Being Foreign: The Others,” The Economist, December 17, 2009,

[29] Keller, Center Church, 21.

[30] There are a variety of terms for these churches: flagship churches, city center churches, or anchor churches. These resources offer a more complete discussion on the strategic potential of anchor churches in major cities. Lyle E. Schaller, Center City Churches: The New Urban Frontier (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993); Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, & the People of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001); Keller, Center Church.

[31] Stephen Beck describes how starting a multicultural church in Frankfurt, Germany became the base for ministry to a variety of ethnic groups as well as equipping local church planters to establish nine local churches in the metropolitan area. Stephen Beck, “A New Day Dawning in the Old Country? Twenty-First-Century Urban Trends in Germany and Their Implications for Urban Church Planting,” in Reaching the City: Reflections on Urban Mission for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Gary Fujino, Timothy R. Sisk, and Tereso C. Casino, Evangelical Missiological Society Series, No. 20 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey, 2012), 248.

[32] From the English Standard Version

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