"Engaging with London" written by RTSO alum Jonny Dyer - as published in Evangelicals Now, July 2013

RTS Orlando alum Jonny Dyer, who is working as the International Student Worker at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, wrote the following article for Evangelicals Now, the leading Christian publication in the UK. His was a main article for the July 2013 issue.

Engaging with London

In 1800, 2% of the world’s population lived in cities.

By 1900 that figure was 12%. Today 52% of us are city dwellers and by 2050 it is estimated that will rise to 70%.

God is passionate about his world. He cries ‘Mine’ over every square inch of it. Consequently, God is passionate about cities, since they have more of the image of God per square inch than any other place on earth.

Cities matter to God
Cities are packed full of the fallen image bearers of God; they bring together the nations of the world around ideas and commerce; they are unique places of cultural and political formation; and they have a disproportional national and global influence far beyond their boundaries.

In an increasingly urban, mobile and digital age, cities provide unique opportunities for the gospel and are strategic for reaching the world for Christ. The apostle Paul knew this; he poured himself into establishing churches in the most influential cities of his time. If Paul were alive today he would surely be crossing the globe from New York to Beijing to London, planting, growing and encouraging city churches.

London matters to God
London is one of the most connected, diverse and influential cities on the planet.

Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport and the hub of the civil aviation world. Our capital city is consistently ranked the most visited city in the world — driven by education, business and tourism. According to 2011 census data, its citizens speak over 300 languages, with 55% identifying themselves as other than white British. They are not only cosmopolitan, but overwhelmingly young, with 31% under 24 years old. London knows exceptional wealth and also deep deprivation. It is home to 43 universities and, according to a recent official evaluation, the cultural programme of the Olympic and Paralympic games cemented London’s reputation as a world leader in the arts.

Gateway to the nations
London provides unique challenges, but, by the same token, is an open door to reach Britain and a gateway to the nations.

In days past, missionaries travelled to the four corners of the planet to reach the nations; today the world has come to our capital. It is as if God has picked up his world and, like a snow globe, shaken it and jumbled up the nations. As they settled, a concentration of people from many different nations landed within a 12-mile radius of central London and there are numerous mission organisations actively evangelising them.

The apostle Paul was aware of the powerful witness afforded by people from different ethnic and social groups united in the gospel (Ephesians 3.10). London churches enjoy this same opportunity today.

And yet, according to Tim Keller and others, the church still has relatively little sustained presence in cities like London. To a great extent this is explained by large student populations, a global workforce and the high cost of housing (which means young families tend to gravitate away from city centres), all leading to transitory congregations. Yet the sheer pace of urbanisation, with London’s population likely to grow by one million (or 12.5%) in the next ten years, only serves to underline the importance of a strategy across the evangelical fraternity to plant and rejuvenate churches in London, a strategy that by reaching London will reach the nations.

Against this backdrop, it is therefore timely that London City Mission is coming together this summer with the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity and others to put on engageLondon, a Christian festival which aims to connect the gospel with London living, mission and culture.

Ken Brownell who is helping to organise the festival, says: ‘My dream for engageLondon is three days of serious but enjoyable engagement with the gospel in the context of London so that people are better equipped to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus in the world’.

The event, sponsored by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, runs from August 29-31. For more information see http://www.engageLondon.org

You can find the original posting of this article here.

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