Since Tim Keller’s preach at Cape Town 2010 (the Third Lausanne Congress) on a theology of city, I’ve developed an interest in how urban theology and ministry should be developed. So it was with interest when I was sent a copy of For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel (Exponential Series) by Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick.
Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter have spent the last several years of their ministries trying to figure out what that means and what it looks like for the church to serve the city to the glory of God. In this book Patrick and Carter share what they’ve learned along the way, both from their successes and their failures.
“Within ten years, nine out of ten people will claim “no religious affiliation.” Many of these people will live in urban areas – something like 60% of the world already lives in an urban area. Church leaders must learn how to effectively engage in ministry with this urban core, a group that includes both the poor and marginalised as well as the wealthy and influential. This book will guide readers in developing a philosophy of ministry that can lead to restoration and renewal in their city.
This book is divided into two sections. The first section introduces us to the authors and their vastly different faith journeys. From Darren, the high school party boy who did not grow up in the church, to Matt who grew up in a Christian home, we see how God can take anyone and use their gifts for ministry in a positive way.
The second section discusses how to be that church for the city. Darrin does a wonderful job talking about contextualizing the culture of that city to be an effective church in the city. Matt wrote an amazing chapter on suffering, which caught me by surprised, but I realized that to serve faithfully in the city and for the city, a church has to suffer. My favorite quote in that chapter is, “One of the most important things we as the church can show to our cities and our neighbors is how Christians suffer well, to the glory of God.”
The end of the book deals with each pastor talking about the mistakes they have made as church planters. Every church leader, whether in a church plant or an already existing church, needs to read that chapter to learn from those mistakes and ask God, which one am I making or where is somewhere I need to grow as a leader.
Here’s a quick video from Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick:
This book is very helpful. Even if you are not a church planter and not in a “city” the questions in this book are broad enough to apply.