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Saul's Armor

In the U.S. and Canada, we have often unintentionally burdened David with Saulís armor by importing middle-class ways of doing church into low-income communities. Our middle-class model of church requires:

  • Money. Lots of funds for buildings and professional staff.
  • Organizational abilities. Experience in managing institutions and large programs.
  • Academic skills. Ability to teach and learn using primarily an academic (reading/writing-based) approach.

These resources are abundant in middle-class culture. Most low-income churches following this model, though, will either suffer constant shortages of these resources, or else have to depend on subsidies of money and skills from more affluent churches, forever on life support. Supporting all the institutional infrastructure that was designed for a different culture is like David trying to fight on Saulís armor, making it hard for these churches to grow and multiply.

Our mission

"Cities on Hilltops consulting service for urban ministry was very insightful, relevant and encouraging. Eddy and Dennis were both passionate, knowledgable and easy to work with. I recommend their services to any congregation looking to become more relevant, effective and empowering to their community."

Rhonda Hill
Assistant to the Bishop/
Director of Discipleship
Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA

Cities on Hilltops partners with urban and other low-income churches in the U.S. and Canada that are learning to do church in culturally appropriate ways that empower them to be healthy, effective, self-supporting, and reproducing. This calls for:

  • Low overhead. A culturally appropriate approach to doing church in low-income communities is far less dependent on owning buildings and on full-time professional staff.
  • Local leadership. For local leaders to provide most of the leadership in a low-income church, the church must adopt ministry strategies that are less dependent on complex organizational skills and that build on the relational and life experience strengths of local leaders. Intentional, culturally-appropriate leadership development must be woven into every part of the churchís life.
  • Relational and hands-on learning. Rather than relying on the print culture* methods of reading, writing, and classes as the primary way to make disciples and equip leadership, oral culture* churches make disciples and grow leaders best through coaching, peer mentoring, teamwork, and hands-on ministry.

Our most effective missionaries donít impose Western institutional forms on the churches they serve in Africa or Asia or Latin America. In the same way, here in North America we are cross-cultural ministry is most effective when we let go of many of our middle-class assumptions and adopt ways of doing church that grow out of the culture of the host community.


* By print culture we mean a culture in which reading and writing are central to the learning process. Oral culture refers to a culture in which the preferred methods of communicating and learning are oral, even if many members of the culture read and write.

Cities on Hilltops
Phone: (316) 440-3681