"City Changers" might be a new concept to you, written by the Founder of a Family of Churches. Shouldn't a Mayor write on such a subject?
Should a Church Leader not write about the Vision, Mission of the Church, or Structure, Policies or Procedures or at least a bit of Ecclesiology, Church in the Last days, Church Planting or Mission?
It will be a surprise to you, to discover this "City focus" and God's plan through cities, past, present and future and the example of Alan's comparison between Babylon and Jerusalem is dynamically packaged, as new wine for time like today.
While many books are flooding our market today trying to identify "What is wrong with the Church?", "Why are young and old leaving the Church?", "Which model we should implement?" etc., this book might be just what is needed, to bring a dimension to our search for answers.
However, you will not find these questions in the book, because Alan is not trying to analyze the church, but to re-call from his own experience, what in principle have worked for Doxa Deo after the "corner room experience" and seek God for wisdom, as a Church Leadership Team, in the realities exposed in the city.
Alan is definitely addressing a dire need in contextualizing the gospel (The Good News) for today.
It appears strong in the text "Somehow the church has never been able to transfer Christ's mission into his "real life." (Conclusion, Location 2629)
Then he reveals the heart of the matter and the drive behind his theology and philosophy.
“I personally feel this is a failure of the church, not of the person in the pew. I believe we have preached the gospel of salvation to the neglect of the gospel of the kingdom. We know that redemption has a personal salvation dimension, of course, but we miss the mission of restoring all things that was included in the redemption moment of the cross"
It is revealing how we are taken on a journey, to discover how "Faith for The City" could impregnate "The Faith for the Church" , directing us away from cliché expressions, traditionalist structures, competitor attitudes between churches and "one man shows" to basic Biblical examples of how Jesus, the Head of the Church, set a strategy and tactics of ministering to broken world to bring about deep restoration in our communities.
As Alan is taking his examples from the Old- and New Testament. He leads and guides you in a readable format, with good reasoning and motivation, on a non-dogmatic, non-classical theological and non-apologetic journey.
The Babylon - Jerusalem analogy serves as a Story-line with a realistic city theme.
"There are no fewer than eleven hundred references to cities in the Bible.” (Location 2597), opened definitely a fresh interest in the subject he has got to offer.
Do not think this book is only for church leaders. Every believer today can benefit for the challenges it carries. The experience of Doxa Deo reflects that everyone was exposed and couched in these matters, Pastors, Evangelists, Teachers, Missionaries - All head of Ministries in the Church, Worship Team, Admin & Staff, Sunday School Teachers, Businessmen, Volunteers, etc. Everyone. All Levels.
It is my opinion that probably a church member will discover this book and challenge his/her local church with the message.
In this book you will find, that old/traditional and even more recent Christian- and Biblical concepts are revived (I almost what to say "resurrected") to a Millennium generation understanding, which are by far more accurate than what Self-help books can offer:
Here I am only covering a few chapters:
Chapter 1. From Concern to Compassion
As reflected in most of the titles of books dealing with the "Church Problem/s" as referred to above, Alan is moving forward in taking the example of Jesus who had compassion for the crowd, and define the practical implication of salt and light of the world, to defining a Church Vision and Mission Statement that takes the City into consideration. He shares his own experience of engaging from the top of structures, the Church Board and coaching them towards a Church Mandate to create an environment of grace. Micah 6:8 was key.
Good approach for Church Leaders to consider, when approaching their Church Board to deploying the "City Changers approach".
Chapter 2. The Accomplished work of Christ (Location 417)
Maybe you have heard about "Your identity in Christ", by not of Divine Exchange".
These concepts are a fresh look at them and are treated more in depth in Alan's first book,
Not Do But Done - Living From the Completed Work of Christ and DVD Series. (Also translated in various languages)
Here follows an astonishing text:
"His ultimate intention was never for His Word to be contained only in a book or a doctrine but for it to be expressed in human form".(Location 616)
Followed by The Five Guiding Principles (Location 344) and The Threefold Conversion (Location 380)
Chapter 3. A New Bandwidth in My Theology
This would definitely be a chapter where some will read with suspicion.
"How can a Church Leader change his Theology and for what reason?"
Aren't we suppose to stand firm in our believes?
Well Alan's has got a surprise for you. The traditional "Not of this world, but in the world" gets new meaning with the "Parable of the Fleas".
The error of our inherited Dualistic thinking is corrected by His truth. God's opinion.
Chapter 4. A Changed Philosophy
The need for an alignment of your worldview is introduced by the African saying "It takes a village to raise a child."
The eight primary spheres (Church, Business, Education, Sports, Social Services, Media, Arts and Culture, Government are leveled against four primary focus areas (Healthy Spirituality, Healthy Mentality and Healthy Productivity). Well illustrated by the accompanied diagram. The Eight Spheres - Health Spirituality Church (Location 897)
The rest of chapters:
Chapter 5. A New Understanding of the World
Chapter 6. A Strategy for Transformation
Chapter 7. Producing City Changers
Chapter 8. Transforming Together
Chapter 9. Understanding Our Cultural Reality
Chapter 10. Engagement
Chapter 11. The Generosity Principle
Chapter 12. The Generosity Paradigm
Chapter 13 Going to the "Other Side"
This is a book of rich communication, accurate information, full of recent practical examples - more case studies, based on historical verification - as references are given to newspaper reports), scenarios, good advice (not to think) and warnings (not to do), and ideas are systematical developed from beginning to end of the book.
This book is not trying to justify, defend or attack any Eschatology views or Dominion Theologies, nor Christian Church Traditions (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Protestant, Pentecostal/Charismatic, Episcopalian/Anglican, Evangelical, Reformed, Congregational, etc.), although some readers might be tempted to label such aspects.
Alan avoids the trap, typical of his style to avoid controversial issues, and align the church to focus on what really matters, and what he believes, is on God heart for the redemption and restoration since Creation and the Fall.
The necessary "City Changer" concepts are well defined and clearly explained with Bible references, some graphical illustrations and case studies that convince you to be "burdened" and for you the make a start in being a City Changer.
Although footnotes are minimal and in this genre of book condusive for friendly reading, those few used did provide important information to clarify the point made in the text.
A few of the omitted references that could have supported the text like:
"Wherever Christianity has gone, societies have been radically transformed. It always starts with spiritual" (Conclusion, Location 2612) - There are ample (scientific) research done and could be of much value to a skeptic.
"Cities have personalities and even spiritual characteristics of their own" (Chapter 9 Location 1669) - I think he is referring to "Spiritual Mapping" - Various good references could have been helpful.
This book stand in good order with previous books written on similar subject/s by others and is a fresh look at concepts and complementary to various areas missed out before.
This book is also available as an eBook on Google Play for those not having a Kindle.
Well designed and Layout, Font size, Chapter length and Cover design. (You can Preview by clicking on the "Look inside" feature on Amazon.)
I strongly recommend the book for all who are interested in meaningful church leadership, church membership (partnership) or Significant Christian living.
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