Spurgeon offered this advice to his students who pastored in cities:
If you have to labour in a large town, I should recommend you to familiarize yourself, wherever your place of worship may be, with the poverty, ignorance, and drunkenness of the place. Go if you can with a missionary into the poorest quarter, and you will see that which will astonish you, and the actual sight of the disease will make you eager to reveal the remedy. There is enough of evil to be seen even in the best streets of our great cities, but there is an unutterable depth of horror in the condition of the slums. As a doctor walks the hospitals, so ought you to traverse the lanes and courts to behold the mischief of which sin has wrought. It is enough to make a man weep tears of blood to gaze upon the desolation which sin has made in the earth…
The world is full of grinding poverty, and crushing sorrow; shame and death are the portion of thousands, and it needs a great gospel to meet the dire necessities of men’s souls. Verily it is so. Do you doubt it? Go and see for yourselves. Thus you will learn to preach a great salvation, and magnify the great Savior, not with your mouth only, but with your heart; and thus you will be married to your work beyond all possibility of deserting it.
This is in a lecture he gave on the importance of earnestness for a pastor. I’d never thought of this before, but Spurgeon is right. One of the keys to earnestness as a pastor in the city is to really get the know the needs of the city. It can overwhelm and discourage us, but it can also fuel our passion. Great advice for those of us pastoring in Toronto and other cities.