It's more than coincidence that a city like Des Moines is topping lists, which are praising it's current status as well as it's projected rise to prominence, while God is also calling church planters here as well as sparking growth in many other area ministries.
Every week it seems I meet a new person in ministry, have conversations with new friends disconnected from, searching for, or just becoming interested in church, but are yet to find a place they feel connected to. Likewise, I hear of and/or meet people at various stages of exploring a call to Des Moines church planting, and many already on their way or in the first months of planting.
A Call to the City
Cities are rapidly expanding, and in our context, notably small to medium cities, especially in the Midwest, are on exponentially fast trajectories in many areas. 5.5 million people move into cities each month, and currently 80% of the worlds population is urban. Outside the US, other megacities are growing the fastest, but we are not far behind and our cities are growing at incredible rates.
Our hearts and calling are to theses cities, and in particular to Des Moines. For us, we explored a calling that could only be explained by a Holy Spirit prompting that led us to here, and has been confirmed over and over by these types of stats and cultural trends that point to the prime time opportunities to move into cities and be a part of God's redeeming movements in the city. For others we've talked to about their call, it's been seeing the undeniable evidence of this movement and opportunity, and feeling prompted to explore a call that would hinge on the new urban growth and cultural expansion.
I share this to give a glimpse into our lives and calling thus far. Also to our friends and family near and far, to point to God's movement and culturally influential opportunities that are bursting in cities like Des Moines and so many others. If you feel called to join us here, awesome. If you are prompted to shift ministry efforts in ways to capitalize on the new urbanization, awesome.
A Call to Action
Church, let's not lag behind on another cultural trend that can be influential with the redeeming power of Gospel. Let's shift our focus and efforts to change in a way that's on or ahead of trend, instead of remaining stereotypically irrelevant to current culture movements and trying to play catch-up after falling a decade behind (and in this case, being slaves to typical evangelical anti-urban bias). Let's move with culture, through careful discernment and strategic action, and allow the power of the Gospel to redeem the city, its art, its neighborhoods, its business', etc., in ways that not only see conversions to faith in Christ, but engagement and investment in the new urban culture, in the common good of our neighborhoods, in the art and business whose influences reach far and wide outside the city streets. Remember, God built His church through cities, and as the city goes, so goes culture.
As it's said in Why Cities Matter: To God, The Culture, and the Church, "We argue for the importance of cities not because it is sexy or trendy, but because the wonderfully good news of the Gospel demands that our mission not be haphazard or arbitrary. Rather, Christian mission ought to be strategic." "We need churches everywhere there are people, but the people of the world are moving into the great cities of the world much faster than the church is. And therefore we must call all Christians to better understand and care for cities, and we must call more Christians to consider living and ministering in cities." I can rattle on about this, but don't take my word for it!
From Megacity to “Metacity” — The Shape of the Future
The Missing Demographic in Urban Churches
Do the Most Hipster Thing Possible—Move to Des Moines
Rise of the Megacities
Beyond City Limits: The age of nations is over. The new urban age has begun.
World Urbanization Prospects, 2014 Revision