The prevailing model of urban mission has been one of dependence on Outsiders who seemingly bring needed resources–money, education, connections to outside communities. Has this model brought about more harm than good? Is there a better way forward for ministry in the inner city? And what is the proper role for Outsiders in a such a vision?
Contemporary evangelical theology and missionary practice of the urban church are sorely in need of a solid theology of place. The author looks to the biblical narrative for guidance, and finds a pilgrim church called out and sent back to the world on God’s mission as redemptive agents to specific places and concrete contexts.
Hundreds of churches are being planted within relatively few years and tens of thousands are coming to know Christ, in places and among people groups that most of us have never heard of. David Garrison calls these occurrences Church Planting Movements, and within the pages of his book by the same name he provides their stories and lessons the Church as a whole can learn from them.
How does the Western Church proclaim the gospel to a post-Christian world that does not care about its message? The Church must speak with confidence the authority of Christian scripture, despite the temptation for scriptural relativism. As an alternative to the idolatrous individualism perpetuated in the West, the Church must provide a visible testimony of authentic community. And the Church must adopt a missional identity in which every church member is recognized as an agent of gospel mission. The world is changing, but the Church can make a difference with a renewed, gospel-centered heart.
Christianity is inherently polycentric. Africa, Asia and Latin America are important not just numerically for the church, but theologically. These are some of Andrew F. Walls’ insights into the cross-cultural nature of the Christian faith. He is an important guide who will help us understand global Christianity today as well as the nature of the church’s mission in the 21st century.