The Explosive Growth of Cities

New Philly Hongdae (video streamed to Sillim, Itaewon, Busan; delayed stream for Sydney)
Preached by Christian Lee on April 12, 2015, Sunday.
Duration: 63 minutes (audio)
Theology of the City: Part 4

NP Hongdae


Discussion Questions

The Cultural Mandate and the City

  1. By most estimates, 5% of the world’s population lived in cities 200 years ago. Today 50% of the world population now live in cities with the most explosive migration to cities taking place in Asia. What are some of the most densely populated cities that you’ve visited or lived in? Briefly describe some of your observations.
  2. A big reason why cities wield enormous influence today is because of globalization. Although the world’s population is getting bigger, globalization has connected cities around the world and made it smaller. The digital revolution has led to an unprecedented mobility of people, ideas, and financial capital. Discuss the effects of globalization and how it is changing the way the cultures of the world are being shaped.
  3. According to the Wall Street Journal and the Atlantic[1], approximately 32% of Americans in the Millennial generation live in cities – and 88% express that they want to. In contrast, an article from two months ago[2] claims that American Millennials are yearning for the suburbs but stuck in the city. Which do you think is true of Millennials (born 1978-1995) and why?
  4. Read this quote aloud from Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

    “This much is clear – the cities are where the people are… If the Christian church does not learn new modes of urban ministry, we will find ourselves on the outside looking in. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must call a new generation of committed Christians into these teeming cities. As these new numbers make clear, there really is no choice.” [3]

    If the trend of urbanization continues into the next two decades, what are the negatives effects of the church not adapting to urban ministry?

  5. Read aloud Acts 17:26-27. In light of this passage, how should we interpret and respond to the explosive growth of cities and the global population that we’ve seen in the 21st century?
  6. Read this quote aloud from Tim Keller:
    “I would argue that there is nothing more critical for the evangelical church today than to emphasize and support urban ministry.” [4]

    Many churches focus all their money and resources on conducting missions abroad to rural areas. What churches come to mind that are targeting and putting their resources toward urban ministry? How do you feel about this quote? What changes can our church make to this new urban emphasis that Tim Keller is insisting on?


  8. Optional: For homework, memorize Acts 17:26-27 (NIV 1984).


  1. Jordan Weissman, Why Don’t Young Americans Buy Cars?, The Atlantic, March 25 2012.
  2. Joe Pinsker, Young Americans: Yearning for the Suburbs, Stuck in the City, The Atlantic, January 27, 2015.
  3. Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 159.
  4. Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 162.

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