Wow! What can I say about this amazing book? It is as if the authors have been following our associational leaders around for the past three years. When you read it, you might think they’ve been following you around, too!
Back in 2007, our association adopted a new vision statement, “To See Our City Radically Transformed by the Power of Christ.” Beginning the following year, and spanning the next eighteen months, we made drastic changes in the structure of our association in keeping with this vision. The new association emerged streamlined, and committed to this vision – nothing less than a radical transformation.
Since 1998, the authors of this book have experienced a similar journey, beginning in Boulder, Colorado. The burning question that launched them on their quest was, “How do we love this city?” Their breakthrough came when, as pastors and laymen in churches throughout the city, they discovered the secret. Their hearts had to be totally committed to “seek the welfare of the city,” regardless of the cost. As Eric Swanson explains, “We were discovering what it meant to love Boulder.”
This book is an invaluable resource guide for churches and associations everywhere. It is replete with example after example of city transformations, and great movements of God’s Spirit throughout history. The book however, is much more than just a chronicle of the authors’ personal experiences and interactions with leaders of city movements worldwide. Eric Swanson and Sam Williams do an outstanding job synthesizing the elements of each movement into principles that can be easily applied in any context.
In addition, this book provides us a theological and biblical orientation for “societal transformation” through what the authors call “kingdom work.” Such work involves evangelism – introducing people to the King, and discipleship – helping them grow in that relationship as they learn and embody kingdom values. Their treatment of the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God is well-written, comprehensive, and inspirational. It’s a 10 in my book!
However, the most valuable contribution of the book is the authors’ honest and straightforward analysis of the current context for missions in the urban world. Coupled with specific principles and practical strategies, this book provides a much-needed tool to reach our cities, and love them to Christ.
This book should be required reading for every pastor who wants to make a difference in their cities and regions. I think it is important for every minister to read it, because according to demographers working with the United Nations, by the end of this month, 51.3 % of the world will live in cities. We cannot ignore the cities if we hope to evangelize our world with the Gospel.
If you haven’t yet started this journey, you need to go. If you’re going there, you are going to need this book. If you’ve been there, you will appreciate this book. Regardless of where you’re at—Get the book!
To Transform a City:
Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City