Understanding Affinity

“Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19 (TPT)

By the year 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities.  This global shift leaves us wrestling with the question, “What does ‘ta ethne’ (go to all nations) mean in an increasingly urban world?”  I am convinced that it will require a radical paradigm shift in Christian missions.  The “ends of the earth” have come to our doorstep. 

Our traditional understanding of fulfilling the Great Commission is still largely based on geography.  In recent history, those who most needed to hear the gospel always seemed far away – often across oceans.  But the world has changed.  The irony of the new complex urban landscape is that it is sometimes littered with church buildings next to millions with no viable gospel access.  

Natural social networks

Cities change the way people relate.  A broader meaning of “nation” or “ethne” includes any way that people group together.  People are inherently social beings and they move together much like a swarm of bees, flock of birds or herd of buffalo.  Could “nations’” also refer to large groups of people in natural relational networks?  Increasingly, people in cities do not relate according to traditional tribe, culture or even language.  Rather, they begin to form new networks of common interest, common need or common cause.  People will sometimes have a stronger affinity with their urban relational networks than with their traditional tribes or families.  These affinity groups could be anything from a tribe of young mothers to gangs in the slums.  Any strategy to reach cities with movements must learn how to work with this new social phenomenon.

Affinity is experienced between two or more people when they develop the same interest, have the same need or fight for the same cause.  New affinity groups begin to form and new relationships are forged.  

At Two Four Eight we work into several macro affinity groups and help them to build movements.  We form global networks of learning that are focused on similar affinity groups.  One of these, for example, is urban slums.  Another is business leaders.  Yet another is young adults.  Each group will require a slightly different approach to making disciples.

You can learn more about reaching people in affinity groups through our free online training.

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