In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul says that “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Such a statement was a radical thought in the Roman world where the lines between the powerful and the powerless were drawn with extreme rigidness. Paul’s message of equality for those in Christ was revolutionary. In his day, those with power, wealth and privilege were often deemed as more favored by God. Thus writers like James admonished the early church not to show preference to the rich over the poor.
However, when we survey the majority of the missions landscape today, we find almost a reverse tendency. Much of the evangelism in many parts of the world has been in remote villages and among the poorest in society. The middle and upper classes are often devoid of any gospel influence. Praise God that so many of the world’s needy are hearing the gospel and responding. These people need to be reached.
Unfortunately, the lack of a cross-social balance in missions can create dependency. With few exceptions, people from the poorer segments of society are ill-equipped to effect nationwide transformation. This is not a reflection on them personally, but on the social realities that limit them.
So, how can you affect nationwide impact? Pastor Walter Perez of Buenos Aires, Argentina points to two key factors: “If we want to change a nation or continent for God it has to be done by national people and national leaders. That requires a strong national church. To have a strong national church you need resources and you need leadership. And people who have the ability to lead and finance the work are generally found in the middle class in Latin American capital cities.”
This is why the Encounter Model places a strong emphasis on mobilizing the urban professional segments of society. When won to Christ and properly challenged, they provide the necessary leadership and resources to advance the church throughout their nation. Moreover, they are better equipped to reach both up and down the social ladder to reach everyone with the gospel.
In addition, as a strong national church emerges, the believers in a nation are better equipped and end up doing a better job of helping the displaced and suffering people in their countries. A strong national church can prick the conscience of a nation and effect long-term social change.
The gospel is for all people. Mobilizing urban professionals is one of the most effective means for unleashing its power to change lives and change nations for God.