Today the rapidly growing urban areas of the world loom as our greatest mission challenge. In most parts of the world, Adventist churches, institutions, and services tend to be located outside cities instead of where the majority of people live.
More than 100 years ago Ellen White told leaders that the church had “neglected” the cities. She recognized that there are certain classes of people “who cannot be reached by public meetings.” She championed holistic urban ministry centers, called Centers of Influence, which would connect the church to the community.
These centers will feature a wide variety of activities such as lifestyle education, treatment rooms, bookstores, reading rooms, restaurants, literature ministry, lectures, small groups, instruction on preparing wholesome food, and more. The activities of each center will vary depending on an accurate assessment of local community needs.
Centers of Influence follow Jesus’ holistic method of ministry. Ellen White says,“ It is through the social relations that Christianity comes in contact with the world.” These centers will facilitate that vital contact.
The General Conference is working to revitalize Ellen White’s concept of Centers of Influence and to establish a network of self-sustaining Life Hope Centers in key urban areas around the world.
Where possible, Life Hope Centers will have the same visual identity. All centers will be undergirded by the same theological and spiritual principles, but these centers will vary in shape, size, and sophistication. Their look, style and flavor will be shaped to local situations.
Life Hope Centers are an integrated evangelistic outreach. They provide an opportunity for lay people to be involved in ministry using their unique gifts. They also involve pastors and other church workers, departments, institutions, services, and Global Mission pioneers.
Limited funds will be available to help start Life Hope Centers in strategic urban areas. However, funding must be a partnership among various organizations and institutions of the Church. The centers should be seen as locally owned and supported projects, not something financed from the General Conference.