At the beginning of 2017, a few of us from Park Community Church were asked to develop a Strategic City Guide for the International Mission Board. The chosen city was Istanbul. I’m pleased to say that the Guide has been released. You can download it here or it’s available here from IMB.

What is a Strategic City?

Strategic Cities are large urban centers that meet a few specific qualifications. According to IMB, they are:

  1. Hubs of culture and business
  2. Influential across their respective regions
  3. Ethnically diverse
  4. Significant cultural, political, or economic actors globally
  5. Economically diverse
  6. Physically and spiritually in need

What is the purpose of the guide?

Strategic Cities Guides are meant to serve both goers and senders. For anyone who has heard the Lord’s call to venture to one of IMB’s Strategic Cities, particular with a business-as-missions approach, the Guide is a helpful aid in understanding the world you’re considering entering.

The Guide goes through basic cultural and political norms and challenges. It also describes the spiritual climate of the city, where there is opportunity, need, risk, and current fruit.

It informs about logistics on-the-ground: Where can my children go to school? How and where can I find an apartment? What should I expect to pay for food and transportation? How do taxes work for expats?

And it records the testimonies, insights, and advice of Christians already working the ground in these cities.

The Guide is also helpful for senders, informing them about the city, how to support those who go, and how to pray for the people there.

What can I do?

So many things! Chiefly, you can request a Guide or peruse one online to grow more informed about metropolises that will no doubt become more and more prominent in the coming decades. Armed with that information, you can better represent people and places in your thoughts and speech, and you can grow in humility and wisdom about needs, challenges, and opportunities. By becoming better acquainted with these cities, the people in them, and the missionaries who go their way, you’ll also be able to pray better prayers.

In addition to the Istanbul Guide, you can also find Guides for Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Shanghai.

Exploring IMB’s work through these Guides might also be a good jumping-off point if you’ve ever felt the nudge toward business or harvest-work overseas. Equip yourself with insider knowledge. To serve abroad, you certainly don’t need to know everything, but with resources like these available to you, there is every reason to know something. A Strategic Cities Guide is a good place to start.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson


  1. Which Park Community Church are you at, Griffin?


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson March 3, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      I had been at the Rogers Park campus since 2013, when it was planted. However, when I got engaged, we felt led to the church where my now-wife has been for the last few years. I’m still connected to Park though, via friends, events, and projects like this guidebook.


  2. Gotcha. We are going to visit the Logan Square campus.


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson March 6, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Great! I’ve heard the lead pastor there a few times. I hope it’s an uplifting, enlightening, nourishing time.


    2. Griffin Paul Jackson March 15, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      How was it?


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