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Adventist Mission

Mission to the Cities

Mission to the Cities is the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s emphasis on sharing Jesus’ love and the hope of His soon return with people in some of the world’s largest cities.

Jerry Page, secretary for the Ministerial Association at the General Conference, and Gerson Santos, director of the Global Mission Urban Ministry Center, are passionate about urban ministry. They talked to us about Mission to the Cities and NY13, our church’s multifaceted outreach to the people of New York City.

Mission 360°: Jerry, why is there such an increased emphasis on urban mission?

Jerry Page (JP): I think it’s because so many people live in cities now. We’ve realized that if we want to reach the multitudes, we need to go where they live. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy outline our mission, and I believe Jesus is passionate about us doing what He’s asked us to do. We also have a General Conference president who reminds us of this need.

M360: Gerson, why is it so hard to spread the gospel in cities?

Gerson Santos (GS): There are so many people in urban areas, representing a myriad of backgrounds, languages, and cultures. We can’t think we’re going to reach everyone with just one strategy or method. We have to adjust our approach and be sensitive to the people we’re reaching out to. We have to be innovative, creative, and relevant to them.

M360: What is the church doing to reach cities?

GS: We have a plan called Mission to the Cities. The goal is to reach about 650 of the world’s major cities in the next few years, starting with New York City and an initiative called NY13.

M360: Why New York City?

JP: It’s one of the most populous and influential centers in the world. The New York City metropolitan area’s population is the largest in the United States, estimated at nearly 20 million people. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. As many as 800 languages are spoken in this area, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The nations of the world look to and are represented in New York City. If we reach the people of New York we reach the cultures of the world.

M360: Gerson, how will the outreach we’re doing in New York City impact the world church?

GS: Church leaders are following the counsel of Ellen White that the work done in New York City should be a “symbol of the work the Lord desires to see done in the world.” Representatives from all 13 world divisions will be involved in NY13 and the knowledge gained from their participation will allow them to do similar, contextualized work in their areas.

M360: Jerry, what are you seeing churches do that excites you about the possibilities of Mission to the Cities?

JP: We recently talked with young adults from the Gateway Church in Melbourne, Australia. Before they began outreach to their community, they spent eight months praying together, asking God what He wanted them to do. They followed guidelines in the book of Acts and studied a chapter in volume 9 of the Testimonies called “Methods of Labor” for the large cities. They’ve started three branch churches and 27 small groups in this very secular, postmodern city. They’re so authentic in their spirituality. They put a lot of emphasis on discipleship training. You can watch a video about their work, called “Gateway Church Models Urban Evangelism” at It’s a great resource.

So, I’m excited about church members who spend a lot of time praying, allowing God to pour out His power and direct them in an authentic Acts experience. And I think that as we take that Acts experience into the cities, people will be able to relate to that kind of authenticity in Jesus.

M360: Gerson, is there something in particular young people can do to help with mission in the cities?

GS: I think the most important thing we need today is people connecting with people. Young people have a special gift for this because they’re more open. Their parents may speak their mother language, but when young people get together, they speak the same language. Even cultural or religious backgrounds don’t seem like a barrier to them. It’s easier for them to connect and I see a lot of potential with them getting involved.

M360: Jerry, what about the rest of us—what can we do?

JP: Prayer in the Bible is the key to all growth, so we’re calling the world church to prayer. We’re asking that all members, whatever their time zone, pray every morning at seven and every evening at seven for the outpouring of the Spirit upon our cities, our church, and our leaders. Second, a lot of missionaries are going to be needed. We need people to give Bible studies and distribute literature. We need people to pray for the work and to help support it with their finances. There are lots of ways to get involved. When we pray, God will show us how we can reach the millions of people who are still waiting to hear the good news of His love and soon return.

•For more on Mission to the Cities, visit

Mission to the Citites is the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s emphasis on sharing Jesus’ love and the hope of His soon return with people in some of the world’s largest cities. Starting with New York City in 2013, Mission to the Cities is a wholistic approach to sharing the gospel in urban settings. In 2014, each world division will focus on a city in their territory. Each union will focus on a city in their region in 2015. Outreach activities will be as varied as the people of each city with everything from LifeHope Centers (centers of influence), community events, seminars, small groups, and reaping events.

In 1800, 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas.

In 1900, 14 percent lived in urban areas. Only 12 cities had populations of more than one million.

In 2009, the majority of the population lived in urban areas.

In 2011, more than 20 cities had more than ten million inhabitants.

Today, there are more than 300 cities with populations of more than one million.

It’s expected that 70 percent of the population will be urban by 2050*.

* “Human Population: Urbanization,” Population Reference Bureau, accessed May 16, 2013,

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