Missiology: Urban Mission Part 3

Over the next few days I will be posting some thoughts on an issue facing the future of the church, namely the explosion of urban populations. I will start by taking a look at some of the issues brought up by the urban explosion, and I will conclude by reflecting upon how the Gospel addresses these issues.

Today we will look at the first issue brought about by the urban explosion: poverty.


II-The Context: The City

             B- Poverty

            Who are these migrants? Some of these migrants are the unemployed, unemployable, social outcasts. Others are highly educated, highly skilled, and highly motivated people. Both types of people come to the city. However in the case of many urban settings, including urban settings in industrialized nations, the majority of immigrants to the city have come from poorer regions of the world.[1] In fact, in many urban areas there is a demand for immigrant labor. In some market sectors this means that highly-skilled personnel are encouraged to enter the area, in others it means that low-skilled workers are needed but are often unwelcome. One scholar notes that  “the contribution to low-skilled occupation and small business is of great economic importance, but it is officially unrecognized.”[2] Because many of these low-skilled migrants come from poor to rich countries, without local knowledge, a lack of networks, and a lack of proficiency in the new language it is often the case that they enter the labor market at a very low level.[3] Sometimes this results in a lack of possible upward mobility.

These difficulties often result in immigrants clustering together for economic and social reasons.[4] When these immigrants cluster together, the result is residential segregation. Residential segregation often results in these groups of immigrants residing in “ethnic enclaves” or “ghettos.” They are “forced by powerful social and economic factors into isolated and disadvantaged urban areas.”[5] When these areas become “ghettos,” older residents leave the area, further reinforcing residential segregation. The result of this movement is often the unavailability of high paying jobs within these areas.

[1] Flanagan, Contemporary Urban Sociology, 27.

[2] Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 253.

[3] Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 253.

[4] Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 255.

[5] Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration, 258.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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