Mission to the Cities and Centers of Influence: Global Knowledge of and Participation in the General Conference Initiatives

Blog November 30, 2022

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Did you know that the General Conference organizes and promotes a number of global initiatives? These are designed to encourage and grow the faith of members, as well as reach others with the good news of the hope that can be found in Jesus. In the 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS), survey respondents were asked about their knowledge of and participation in these initiatives. In this blog, we will look at the survey results on “Mission to the Cities” and “Centers of Influence” initiatives.

Mission to the Cities

According to the “Mission to the Cities” website,

“Mission to the Cities” operates under the Global Mission Urban Center in partnership with the Global Mission Centers and Adventist Mission. One way the Office of Adventist Mission contributes to the “Mission to the Cities” initiative is to focus on making disciples among the urban, unreached people groups. Through our members’ sacrificial giving to Global Mission offerings, funding is available to start new groups of believers, and Life Hope Centers, using “Christ’s Method Alone” to make disciples.[1]

Respondents in the 2017–18 GCMS were asked about their knowledge of, and involvement with, “Mission to the Cities.” About a quarter (23%) 2017–18 GMCS survey participants reported that they had participated in the “Mission to the Cities” initiative. Over a third (39%) had heard of the program, but had not participated. However, a similar number (38.5%) of respondents had never heard of “Mission to the Cities.”

When the data was cross-tabulated by the location of respondents’ churches, those who attended a large city center church (32%), attended elsewhere in a large city (30%), or those who attended church in a smaller city located near a large city (27%) were more likely than other church types to have participated in “Mission to the Cities.” Survey participants who attended church in a rural area were most likely (35%) not to have even heard about this initiative.

To learn more about the current “Mission to the Cities” initiative, visit the following website: https://missiontothecities.org

Centers of Influence

The Adventist Mission website describes the “Centers of Influence” initiative:

Ellen White envisioned putting Christ’s method into action in urban areas through wholistic ministry centers that she called “centers of influence.” They would feature a variety of activities such as lifestyle education, small-group meetings, literature, restaurants, treatment rooms, public meetings, and “reaping” ministries. . . [2]

The Office of Adventist Mission is working to help establish a network of self-sustaining centers of influence in key urban areas around the world. These will be branded the same, be undergirded by the same theological/spiritual principles, but will vary in shape, size, and sophistication depending on the city. Their look, style, and flavor will be shaped to local situations, but the philosophy and principles of operation will be consistent.[3]

Participants in the 2017–18 GCMS were asked about their knowledge of and involvement with the “Centers of Influence” initiative. Over half (54%) of global respondents had not heard of “Centers of Influence.” About a third (31%) had heard of the initiative, but had not participated. Only 15% reported that they had participated in “Centers of Influence.”

Interestingly, when this data was cross-tabulated by respondents’ local church setting, there was little difference in participation between those who attended church in a city and those who attended in a rural area. There was also little difference in numbers between those who had heard about the program, but had not participated. Interestingly, there were more members who had not heard about this initiative in churches located in suburbs of large cities than in other settings.

When you consider your own knowledge and participation in “Mission to the Cities” and “Centers of Influence,” where do you rank? If you have not been involved with General Conference initiatives in the past, we want to encourage you to do so. Visit the General Conference website to learn more about current initiatives: https://gc.adventist.org/initiatives/

For more information on research findings regarding church locations, read these previously published blogs:

For more information on research findings regarding the total sample, see the Meta-Analysis report.


Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry

Published by ASTR on 11/30/2022


[1] Mission to the Cities. (n.d.). About. https://missiontothecities.org/about2

[2] Adventist Mission. (n.d.). Centers of influence. https://am.adventistmission.org/centers-of-influence

(Based on quotes by Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol 7, p. 115.1; Counsels on Health, p. 464.2).

[3] Adventist Mission. (n.d.). Centers of influence. https://am.adventistmission.org/centers-of-influence