Nobody saw this one coming (except those who subscribe to the “what goes around comes around”) theory of life: a move back to urban areas on the part of young people. 

We are told that millennials are drawn to city life, which is good news for real estate developers especially, but also for city governments in search of revived property tax bases. Regentrification has been going on in parts of Cleveland for some time near the Cleveland Clinic; it has moved block-by-block into the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati (where it is now going on directly across from Prince of Peace), and over in Indiana, where it is bringing change to downtown Ft Wayne.

What will this mean for the remaining urban churches of our District? Some may receive offers to purchase their property. Perhaps one or two may find it wise to sell, with the stipulation that they get a large multi-purpose area on the ground floor, the way St Peter's got a deal in Manhattan when they sold their property. For others, the regentrification move may present a dilemma. For as new families move in, they will displace the previous population. In the case of Prince of Peace, that includes the homeless whom they serve so well. It is still an open question as to whether or not these millennials can be reached with the Gospel, and if so, how. For another group of congregations, nothing much will change because their neighborhood will remain as it is. They will continue to be challenged by a population that is mostly unlike them in ethnicity and age.

The one thing all three scenarios share in common is that Christ is still their head. In His time, in His way, people hear the Gospel. Yes, the Spirit did forbid Paul and company from entering Asia Minor and Bythinia, but it wasn't forever. Years of hard work can pass without so much as a nibble; then, for reasons known only to God, the nets nearly break for a sizeable catch. One thing I have learned – much depends upon the vision and dedication of a church's leaders – pastoral and lay. If they are committed to the neighborhoods in their area, people will be reached. If they are committed only to preserving the so-called "faithful few," God will go elsewhere to find servants willing to die to themselves and live for Him. I am thankful to God that more recent graduates have expressed interest in urban work. God bless them with abundant fruit!