“We’re going to take this city for God!” the worship leader shouted as he encouraged the prayer warriors at the citywide prayer meeting.
“We’re going to win this city for Christ!” declared the young church planter as he helped organize the evangelistic crusade.
“All I am asking you to do is to win your neighborhood to Christ!” said the passionate megachurch pastor as he challenged his home group leaders.
Quotes like the above are heard over and over again in Christian endeavors today. But what do we mean when we say them? Are we going to take our cities and neighborhoods by force and make everyone believe in Jesus? Are we intending to infiltrate the government, schools, and politics so that we can pass rules and laws that compel everyone to become Christians whether they want to or not? Is that what Jesus wants us to do? Is that the model and method that He used when He walked this earth?
Of course not! Jesus invited people to follow Him and they could freely choose to follow Him or not. He told his disciples to spread the Good News and invite people to enter into His kingdom. When He sent out the 72 disciples, Jesus told them to stay and spend time with those who were interested but to shake the dust off their feet and leave those who were not interested. He didn’t tell them to call down fire from heaven upon the unbelievers nor did He tell the disciples that everyone in the city would accept their message. In fact, He told them the opposite, that people would persecute them.
So why do we talk and pray as if we can convince everyone in our cities and neighborhoods to follow Christ? Why do we set ourselves up for failure by setting unattainable goals like winning the whole city? Why do we think that we can do what generations of Christians before us failed to do? What makes us so special? What makes us so powerful and anointed in our own eyes?
Think about that a little bit. Why do we have to be a part of something glorious so that everyone knows how great we are and how powerful our church is? Why can’t we be satisfied with loving our city and rejoicing when a few people respond to God’s call to salvation? Why can’t we quietly pray against the principalities and powers of darkness over a city without drawing a lot of attention to ourselves?
The answer is obvious. We love ourselves more than we love Jesus. We would rather be a part of something great than quietly lay down our lives for the sake of others. We would rather impose our Christian morals on others than live them out ourselves. We would rather be a part of the mainstream than be known as a Jesus freak. We’re more concerned with our own pride, our own comfort, our own great name. We want to be known as the one who brought revival to the city.
It’s time that we get back to Biblical Christianity. It’s time for Christians to live up to their name and be “little Christs” who are just like their Master. It’s time that we lay down our lives for our city rather than trying to take the city or win everyone whether they want to be Christ-followers or not. It’s time for the Body of Christ to be known for their love for God and for one another rather than their religious rhetoric or conservative politics.
And yes, it’s time for Biblical goals instead of grandiose ones like taking our city. Let’s set goals that are attainable and rooted in Scripture:
Let’s love our city. Let’s give to the poor, minister to the broken, pray for the sick. Let’s get involved in schools and community groups. Let’s be a source of help and hope to those around us. Let’s get to know our neighbors and co-workers and show them love and kindness whether they are Christians or not. Let's set specific goals like doing a certain number of loving acts or getting involved in a community group.
Let’s pray for our city. The Bible talks about principalities and powers being over a city. The only way to “take” a city in a Biblical sense is to come against the demonic powers over an area and disarm them in prayer in the name of Jesus. Spiritual warfare is real and prayer is powerful so this is a critical component of seeing people in your city give their lives to Jesus. Let’s pray for our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. Let’s intercede for our city and take prayer walks around our neighborhood.
Let’s invite people to follow Christ. Let’s tell people God loves them and that Jesus died for them. Let’s tell people that Jesus gives us victory over sin and the grave and they too can be set free to follow Jesus. Let’s share our testimonies of what Jesus has done in our own life. Let’s offer people salvation in the name of Jesus and eternal life in His Father’s house. Let’s invite everyone around us to lay down their lives and follow Jesus. Let’s set specific goals like how many people we talk to about Jesus in one month or how many times we invite someone to share a cup of coffee and talk about what Jesus has done in our lives.
Let’s make disciples who are serious about following Christ. Let’s teach Jesus-followers to do everything that He taught. Let’s spend time with trustworthy people who will in turn take the things they learn about Jesus and entrust them to others. Let’s help Christians grow to maturity in the Lord and be able to lead others to Jesus, teach others the Bible, and pray and minister to whomever the Spirit brings along their path.
Let’s lead our city towards Christ. Instead of telling everyone we are going to “take” our city for Christ, how about we tell everyone we want to lead our city towards Christ? The difference to the hearer is huge (think about how you would feell if you heard a Muslim talking about taking your city for Allah). Taking a city is militaristic and offensive while leading a city towards the Lord gives room for free will and personal choice. Let’s tell people about Jesus and His love. Let’s invite people to get to know Him. Let’s encourage people to read the Bible and talk to God. Let’s encourage people to attend a Jesus-centered church and support Christian ministries. Let’s be known for our love for one another and for our community as well as for our love for God. Let’s live such holy lives that people around us will respond to God’s invitation on their day of visitation.
The suggestions above are offered in the hope that you, the reader, will share these ideas with others and take action as you feel led by the Lord. Feel free to share this article with others or reproduce it as seems best to you. Let’s work together to share the Good News wherever God leads us and win as many people to Christ as we can.
Questions for Contemplation and Discussion:
Think about how you can be more involved in leading your city towards Christ. Brainstorm as to how your church can be more encouraging, effective, and redemptive in its relationship with your city.
Set some goals or make some specific plans as to how you personally can be more active in meeting people and sharing your testimony or the Good News about Jesus.
Pray for your church’s testimony and outreach. Prayerfully consider meeting with church leaders to talk about how the church can be more active in leading people toward Christ.
Talk to God about your role as a disciple of Jesus and perhaps even your role as a disciple-maker. Are you following Jesus and trying to do everything that He taught? Are you familiar with the Bible and able to teach? Do you feel led to join a small discipleship group or to lead a group? Take steps towards becoming a disciple who makes disciples as the Spirit leads.
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, help us to lead our city towards you. Help us to be loving, kind, and merciful towards everyone we meet, just as You were. Give us courage and grace to spread the Good News in an inviting yet challenging way, just as You did. Give us faith and insight to heal the sick, pray for the broken-hearted, and set people free, just as You did. Let Your church be an extension of You, let us be your hands, your voice, your feet, your touch upon the people of our city. I pray for my neighborhood and city… (continue praying as you feel led)