Why focus on the city? In the United States, more than half of the population now lives in just forty cities of a million or more people. In the past twenty-five years Las Vegas exploded with 250-percent population growth, while Houston grew by 140 percent. Cities are magnets pulling the hopeful across any barrier, and they endure any hardship. They are twenty-four-hour-a-day catch basins for the vulnerable. But some cities are losing population as old industries die. We are in the beginning phases of the most massive migration, both in and out of cities, the world has ever known. And it is ramping up.

Why focus on the city? Today’s cities, even more than nation-states, influence economic systems, political alliances and social movements. This makes cities a strategic investment: what influences the city influences the world. The city needs a growing cadre of young leaders – both college and graduate students as well as those already in the marketplace – who will link their skills, their privileges and their sense of well-being to the well-being of the city. In today’s globalized world, to shape the city is to shape the way people experience life itself.

Why focus on the city? While for some the city is the normal context of faith development, part and parcel of what it means to follow Jesus and the stage where the drama of life before God has unfolded, for many others the city represents a huge question mark. Is it a place where faith can thrive? Is it a place of blessing, or evidence of a curse? Is the city a spiritually fertile place where a person can sustain a vibrant relationship with God? For many whose faith was nurtured in the womb of a gated suburban community or in the calm rhythms of small town America, there’s a lot of doubt about the answer.

While books on ministry in cities, on community organizing, on urban evangelism or simply on how to serve people in cities abound, there are very few resources that view the city as a place to grow your faith and discover a meaningful life, as a place that transforms you or as a place where your own transformation can have an effect.

– Randy White in Encounter God in the City: Onramps to Personal and Community Transformation