Transforming Cities, Transforming Churches

To Transform a CityTo Transform a City by Eric Swanson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I mentioned that I have some quibbles with this book.  My disagreements are minor, and I appreciate the humble spirit with which the authors present their models.  They make clear they are simply trying to start a discussion, not provide definitive answers.  The main problem I have is with their models on pgs. 16 and 17. 

They present the “traditional church model,” where the church is at the center of everything, and tries to draw in converts from the arts, the media, business, family, government, etc.  In opposition to this, they suggest a model where “Christians in the City” are at the center, and move into the spheres or the media, arts, government, education, etc. 

It’s hard to visualize this, but I would suggest tweeking this model.  I have in mind something where these two models are superimposed on each other.  Theologically and biblically, I think we must insist on the centrality of the Church.  The Church is what Christ died for.  We are His Body.  We are the New Humanity.  Since humanity was made to worship God, worship needs to be at the center.  However, I completely agree with Swanson and Williams that churches cannot just focus on building up their own programs and their own membership rolls.  Worship should transform us, and we should go out each Monday into whatever sphere God places us and seek to transform it as well.  We can’t do this as individual churches.  We need to work together.  Different churches have different strengths.  My particular church and denomination is really into education and scholarship.  We’re pretty weak in evangelism and outreach. 

So, my praise for this book really outweighs my criticism.  But, just as John Piper reminded us about the centrality of worship when we think about missions (missions exist because worship doesn’t!) so I think we need to meditate on the centrality of worship when we seek to love our cities and be agents of kingdom-transformation.

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)

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