Urban cover shot.png

It doesn’t take an astute observer to realize that there are many things in the world today that are not as they should be. Modern society is like a piece of shattered plexiglass; it’s still intact, but its integrity is compromised. The entire framework of our human reality is filled with cracks and fissures, all of which can and should be fixed by focusing and investing into our vertical relationship with God, which in turn smooths out our horizontal relationships with others.

The brokenness of human relationships is most obvious in our great concrete jungles; New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles. Cities make up over 50% of the worlds population and are full of people, all of whom are infinitely broken and tirelessly seeking a means by which they may be remade and restored.

Some people seek restoration through other people, or through drugs, or sex, or power and fame. I’ve come to believe that true, abundant life comes from two things: a reciprocal relationship with Jesus Christ and living in community with other believers who are externally focused on their larger communities, impacting them with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.

YWAM Tyler’s Urban Discipleship Training School (UDTS) began in 2010 with a heart for that exact thing: to see communities of young Christians be discipled into loving God and loving others, for the sake of God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

In 2013, a 22 year old young man named Josh came to do the UDTS in Houston, Texas. Josh came from a very broken family and was a self-proclaimed drug addict and alcoholic, living selfishly for his own pleasure at the expense of anyone and everyone else. He felt as if his life had no purpose, so he might as well use it to pursue the earthly pleasures that entice us all from time to time. He came to the UDTS halfheartedly, wanting change but not positive that anything significant would even happen. Thanks be to God and His goodness and grace, change did happen.

During the UDTS, Josh learned that relationship with God isn’t just a cute idea; it’s literally the point of life. He took that reality and ran with it, surrendering his heart and every deep dark area in it to the Lord, and has continued to do so. Josh is now a full-time missionary in the great city of New Orleans, Louisiana, where he is a beloved member of his community, known to many around the city. Living in community with other believers and finding true purpose in relationship with God are the two things that changed Josh’s life the most, and he now is an agent of God in changing the lives of others.

Society as we know is changing at a rapid pace. For the first time in human history, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas! In the United States, cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, and Dallas are becoming increasingly diverse melting pots of culture in which every tribe, tongue, and nation can be found at the grocery store, the local park, the library, and anywhere else you can imagine.

What does this mean for the body of Christ? As Christians, how can we choose to engage the urbanization of our countries for the sake of the Gospel, rather than disengage for the sake of our comfort?

YWAM Tyler's Urban Discipleship Training School (UDTS) is a 5-month missionary training school designed to equip you with the heart and abilities necessary to know God and make Him known in an increasingly urban world.

Get More Info

Ben Venable

Author: Ben Venable

Ben has been a full-time missionary with YWAM for 6.5 years, where he currently staffs an annual Urban Discipleship Training School and helps foster longterm missional communities in different cities across the U.S. Ben is a proud (in the righteous way!) Texan and loves few things more than acoustic guitars, Dr. Pepper, and good conversation and laughs with his dear friends.