Several years ago the North American Mission Board shifted its focus to cities. But what is the SEND North America strategy?
NAMB’s SEND strategy can be summed up in four words: population, lostness, diversity, and influence.
NAMB states that, “With 83 percent of the population now living in metropolitan areas, the major population centers in North America are vital mission fields for Kingdom growth and influence.”
NAMB is focusing on cities because that’s where the overwhelming majority of people are. People are moving to the city in record numbers, making cities the most logical and strategic place to invest.
Cities answer the question, “How can we have the most impact in the most influential places on the most amount of people?”
The SEND strategy focuses on cities not only with the largest populations but also with the greatest concentrations of lostness.
Dean Fulks, church planter and SEND City Missionary to Columbus, Ohio, had this to say about the initiative: “The SEND Network exists to push back lostness in North America. That purpose is accomplished through church planting in areas of greatest need, our 32 SEND cities, and strategic college campuses in the U.S. Through planting churches, the SEND Network enhances the planting experience through collaboration and unmatched support with assessments, training, coaching, resources and care.”
In a recent episode of The Grind Church Planting Podcast, Associate Executive Director of the ABSC Greg Addison said, “Most of Massachusetts is now less than 2 percent evangelical. By definition, Massachusetts is an unreached people group.” The SEND city of Boston is home to only one Southern Baptist Convention church for every 39,257 residents.
While population density and overwhelming lostness are great motivators for engaging cities, NAMB also cites diversity as a reason for its shift in focus.
"It’s been said if you reach the cities, you’ll reach the nations,” reads the opening statement about SEND. “The face of North America is changing. From 1970 to 2010, the foreign born population in the United States rose from 4.7 percent to 12.9 percent. By 2050, it is expected that half of the U.S. population will be of a different ethnicity than non-Hispanic white. As early as 2004, more than half the residents of the city of Toronto were foreign born. Globalization has afforded North America a unique opportunity in history. Just as Judea was a crossroads for the known world during the time of Jesus, North America has become a modern crossroads of peoples from around the globe.”
Kevin Hasenack, planter of Calvary Denver in the SEND city of Denver, Colorado, offered this insight: “Our large metropolitan communities are growing at a rapid pace. People of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures are moving to the cities!” A call to minister to the nations in North America is a call to work in the city.
Hasenack continued, “Within the SEND strategy rests the basic presupposition that in order to meet the spiritual needs of the masses, someone has to go to them. We have to go where they are arriving, congregating, living, working, and playing. We believe that this means a God-inspired migration must take place. We must be willing to pick up our lives, when called to do so, and simply obey and go.”
Lastly, influence is a key component for why NAMB has embraced cities. Cities are the shapers of culture. There is no more influential place in the world than cities; one need only consider the impact of a place like New York. These stats from NAMB illustrate the influence of NYC as well as other North American cities:
- In 2010, Forbes magazine named New York City the city with the largest global impact and influence in the world.
- The city is home to more than 2,000 arts and cultural organizations and more than 500 art galleries.
- New York is the second largest U.S. city center for film production and industry.
- New York City takes in more than 40 million tourists each year.
- The NYC subway system is the largest mass transit system in the world.
- Close to 40 theaters make up the famous Broadway District in the heart of New York City.
To influence a city is to influence the culture. By planting churches in strategic urban centers, the influence of the Gospel can now go forth to places it has never been before.
To find out more or to see all the ways that your church can partner with NAMB in a SEND city, click here.