In the United States, the distinction between urban and rural populations has been a topic of interest for sociologists and researchers for decades. The differences in lifestyle, values, and beliefs between these two groups have been well documented. One significant difference is the level of secularization, with urban men generally exhibiting higher levels of secular attitudes and beliefs compared to their rural counterparts. Historically, urbanization has been associated with a decline in religious adherence. For example, the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century saw a significant shift in population from rural to urban areas, accompanied by a decline in church attendance and religious affiliation.

The growth of factories and mass production led to a shift away from agriculture and towards manufacturing jobs. This created a new class of workers who were no longer tied to the land or farm life but instead worked in cities for long hours with little pay. As a result, many people became disillusioned with religion and turned towards secular ideologies like socialism and communism.

Rural vs. Urban Prophets and apostles

Are these tensions something new? Has any of this taken God by surprise?

Hardly at all.

Let’s take for example the very people through whom God has given us His Holy Word – the prophets and the apostles!

The prophets and apostles in the Bible came from various backgrounds and lived in different geographical and cultural contexts. While it is difficult to categorize them definitively along the lines of the rural-urban divide, it is possible to identify some general trends and characteristics that may provide insights into their experiences.


1. Rural prophets: Many of the Old Testament prophets, such as Amos, Elijah, and Elisha, came from rural backgrounds and were often called to minister to the rural population. They were known for their connection to the land and their understanding of agricultural practices. For example, Amos was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees (Amos 7:14). Elijah and Elisha were also associated with rural settings, performing miracles in the countryside, such as the multiplication of the widow’s oil (1 Kings 17:16) and the healing of Naaman, the Syrian (2 Kings 5).

2. Urban prophets: Some prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, were more connected to urban settings and the political and religious centers of their time. Isaiah, for example, was a court prophet in Jerusalem during the reigns of several kings (Isaiah 1:1). Jeremiah was also associated with the city of Jerusalem and its temple (Jeremiah 1:1). These prophets often addressed the social and political issues of their time and were more involved in the urban religious and political structures.

The New Testament Apostles

The apostles of the New Testament were primarily associated with urban settings, as they were called to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the cities and towns of the Roman Empire. They traveled extensively and were often based in urban centers, where they could reach a larger audience and establish Christian communities.

For example, the apostle Paul was known for his missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, visiting cities such as Corinth, Ephesus, and Philippi (Acts 16-18). He often used his knowledge of urban culture and customs to connect with his audience and spread the Gospel.

Similarly, all twelve of the apostles were urbanites, with most coming from cities like Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Antioch.

Detoxing from Urban Secularism: A Return to Faith

While urbanization has contributed to the rise of secularism among men in America, pathways remain for reconnecting with traditional faith. Here I propose three ways men can detox from today’s urbanization, which leads to secularization:

  1. Connect with Community: Nothing is stopping urban men from seeking out groups such as Hill Cities to foster a sense of belonging and spiritual growth. Engaging in such a group can help restore the communal ties often lost in urban settings.

  2. Sabbath and Retreats: Regularly practicing a day of Sabbath can be a powerful antidote to the relentless pace of urban life. Additionally, attending spiritual retreats in rural or natural settings can provide a stark contrast to city living, offering peaceful reflection and deeper connection with faith.

  3. Digital Detox and Nature: Reducing screen time and engaging with nature can help urban men break free from the constant barrage of secular messaging and reconnect with the natural world, which many religious traditions regard as a reflection of the divine.

As urban men we can rediscover the richness of a faith-centered life, even in the midst of a culture drifting away from God and godly traditions. This return to faith begins with you and I. It not only benefits the individual but also strengthens family bonds and contributes to the well-being of the broader community.

Do you enjoy my weekly blogs? Help me reach more people, and please share this with your friends. Thank you!

Jeff Hagen
President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.

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