How to Impact a Trendy, Cool, and Hip Urban City

“Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ”Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  (Jonah 3:1-4)

Notice 3:1, “Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…”  For Jonah, to hear God give him another chance to obey Him and go to Nineveh, would have sounded glorious because what does anyone want more than anything after they’ve blown it big time or made a huge mistake?  ANOTHER CHANCE.  God, by giving His Word to Jonah a second time, shows not only His desire for every sinner on the planet to repent (Nineveh included), but it also shows His heart for His own people.  Jonah is an adopted son in God’s family, and God is Jonah’s patient and kind Father.  So again we see the glory of God’s grace being the central theme in Jonah.  Jonah didn’t deserve a second chance, he disobeyed the God who created him!  But God was gracious, and gave him what He didn’t deserve.  Now, I want you all to believe that God is just as patient with you, when you sin and disobey, as He was with Jonah.  Some of you surely will think, “Awesome, God is very patient with me indeed.”  But I know that there are others of you out there who have a huge struggle trusting in God as a patient and kind Father because you’ve got an earthly father who is anything but patient and kind to you!  I’m sure some of you have Dads that are mean all the time, not there in your life or always at work, or perhaps some of you have Dads who’ve just left.  Well, if that’s you, let me encourage you.  No matter if your Dad is a good one or a bad one, God is better than them all!  Every human will eventually let you down in some way or another because we’re all sinners, but God is faithful, He will never let you down, hurt you, or leave you, ever!  So when you sin, know that your sin will bring consequences, like Jonah’s did, but know that when you sin, like Jonah – worse them Jonah – or different than Jonah, God is gracious and will always welcome you home if you turn from sin to Jesus.

So Jonah received the Word from God and He preached the Word from God in the city of Nineveh.  And we read that Nineveh repented when they heard Jonah’s preaching, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  Stop…right…here.  God has something for us here.  In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the largest city in Assyria, the largest and most powerful nation in existence.  This made Nineveh the biggest, greatest, coolest, most-influential, most-hip, urban city on the planet.  Just like people who want to be famous now move to Hollywood, if you wanted people to know that you’re a big deal, if you wanted to be famous, or you wanted to be in on the most recent and current trends and fashion in Jonah’s day, you moved to one place, the one place where Jonah is headed – downtown Nineveh.

I worked in a downtown church for 4 years during seminary, and it is very popular among downtown pastors to talk about how to reach the “urban centers” of the world, and it seems that every pastor had a different answer for this.  Some said, “It takes a certain type of discipleship plan to reach an urban downtown group.”  Others said, “It takes a very un-offensive, seeker sensitive type of worship service to draw an urban crowd.”  People even said, “It takes a cool, hip, and trendy pastor to reach cool, hip, and trendy people.  If you want to reach them, become like them – get skinny jeans, a skinny tie, a fohawk haircut, thick rimmed glasses, and a visible tattoo, and they’ll come to your church by the thousands!”  To which I reply, “Hogwash!”  If you want to reach the cool, hip, trendy, and popular urban centers of the globe, more so, if you want to reach anyone in the world for Jesus, do what Jonah did and preach the Word!  Jonah preached God’s Word and transformed the trendiest place on the planet in his day, and if we want to see the Church have an enormous impact in the world during our lifetime, we must stick close to the Word, believe the Word, live the Word, and preach the Word, in this world and before this world.

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