Don’t Ignore the Strategic Micropolis

I help pastor a church in a unique and difficult micropolitan area. On an average weekend we have a 1,000 people come through the doors of our church and that’s a big deal to us because we live in a community that needs gospel change.

Our community is unique because in a lot of ways it’s a small city with big city problems. It has a litany of problems that you would find in any major city (drugs, prostitution, homelessness, economic depression, etc.), but it lacks the resources of a major city. Our community also has a plethora of churches, but this hasn’t brought the kind of change one would hope. In some cases that is because along with these churches has come a culture of legalism which distracts men and women from the gospel. This makes the work ahead of us quite difficult. In fact the work to be done here is not nearly as glamorous as that which we find in the urban context, nor is it as simple as some think it might be, but it is important.

With all the major human traffic steadily moving back into the urban context there has been, rightly, a push among church planters to re-neighbor the urban centers of the world with Christians and churches. This is an important move, and yet it may leave cities like mine with an impoverished Christian witness. The micropolis is a strategic place of ministry within the U.S. and churches need to see their role in these contexts as crucial to the mission of the Kingdom.

The micropolis becomes the cultural center for a lot of smaller communities, villages, towns, and cities adjacent to it. In my area many people come to Portsmouth for school, work, or social life. This makes it a huge influence on Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky, for either good or bad. This means that while other church planters and missionaries are flooding to the metropolitan areas, some of us must pick up the slack in these communities.

It’s not always easy for me to stay. I am really a big city person. I love the density and diversity of the metropolis. A few years ago I tried desperately to move my family to Chicago, then to Philly. But each time the Lord closed those doors. So we are here and I am continually reminding myself that this is an important place to be. There are still greater things to be done here! So, friends, don’t forget the strategic micropolis.

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