The Urban Challenge • II

January 21, 2008

Here is the second of three short articles by Tim Svoboda, YWAM’s International Director of Urban Missions. This comes to you as Romkje and I are travelling to New Zealand, returning to Europe early March.
Tim led the YWAM urban work in Chennai, India, where he pioneered city-wide networks and diverse ministries. He recently received a Doctor of Ministry degree in urban missiology.
Tim: When we talk about Urban Missions we are not referring to ministry only to the inner city or poorer sections of cities. YWAM Urban Missions focuses on the Whole City. That means ministry to the powerful and the powerless, to the middle class, and the migrants, to the upper class and the poor, to the business community, neighborhoods, unreached people groups, the ‘seven spheres of society’, the university campus, issues of injustice, mercy ministries, evangelism… and all that the city gives us opportunity for.
We need a dual strategy for cities. Both of these ways require two kinds of leaders. One is the Micro Strategy which requires Micro Apostles and the other is the Macro Strategy which requires Macro Apostles.
In the Micro Strategy we need to divide the city up as much as possible, which gives us opportunity for much ministry. We cannot look at cities as single entities in which we only plant a single YWAM ministry.
Cities are diverse. Here is a pie chart that divides a city into some of this diversity. We have to divide the city for strategic purposes into as many slices as possible. We need to cut it along ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural lines. We also need to cut it along neighborhoods as some are rich and others poor. We also have to cut it along the lines of arts, business, education, media as well as the special needs of each city-prostitution, suicide, homeless, senior citizens, youth, or issues of injustice, community health, etc.. The more the city is divided in sections, researched and strategized for, the more ministries will multiply. Cities could easily sustain hundreds of focused teams that are living incarnationally amidst the diversity of the city.
This pie chart is not comprehensive but begins to give us an idea of the complexity of the city. Having one mission base per city does not really afford us to live incarnationally amongst the people we are trying to reach. As we target the neighborhoods, people groups and concerns of the city, our teams become more focused in what they are trying to accomplish.
As we do this, we develop Micro Apostles who become specialists in the field of their calling. For instance, Anil Kumar in Chennai, India, started with a team of two working with lepers. Today the team has expanded to more than 50 staff with a Leprosy DTS, Primary Health Care, Relief and Development, Church Planting and other ministries just amongst one micro group of people who are leprosy patients.
The second strategy for the city is through the Macro Strategy. Micro apostles are what it takes at the grassroots to engage people in all the spheres, neighborhoods and places of the city. Yet at the same time there needs to be those leaders that take a Macro view of the whole city: Macro Apostles. I was talking with a senior Christian leader in a Super Giant city (cities with more than 10 million population) where YWAM continues to struggle to this day to establish a presence. He told me our teams have been wonderful but we have struggled to become established throughout the city because we lacked the one or two broad shouldered leaders who would give the moral support to the micro teams that were trying to take root in the city. Although this YWAM work in a Super Giant city has had many micro teams, it has struggled to become established throughout the city because there were no leaders who could give moral support to the micro teams that were attempting to take root in the city.
Door Openers
Just as a base needs a base director so the city needs a City Director. City Directors are not building YWAM bases but are making the city their base and expanding the efforts of YWAM throughout the city. City Directors are concerned with the transformation of the entire city. A city director is a facilitator who makes sure the micro teams stay alive. He/she does a little bit of everything which may include pastoral care, promotion, networking, teaching, strategizing, resourcing and whatever it takes to keep the teams moving forward in their endeavors. They are passionate about the city and are calling the All of YWAM to the All of the City.
City Directors are not gate keepers protecting teams and YWAM from the city but are door openers who are inviting the All of YWAM and the Body of Christ to build the Kingdom of God in the city.
Next week Tim writes his third and last article on urban strategies.

  • To register for the YWAM International Urban Missions conference in Vancouver, Canada, from April 21-25 of 2008, with Dr Ray Bakke as main speaker, go to
  • For resources, articles and an urban mission booklist, see the YWAM International Urban Website,

Till then,

Till next week,

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