Last week I have the opportunity to get to know Eric Swanson. You might recognize his name as the co-author of The Externally Focused Church or from his role with the Leadership Network. I am glad to now call him friend. Eric has recently co-authored another important book; this one entitled To Transform A City. I want to recommend it to every pastor and church leader that desires to see God work in and through their church to begin a movement that can meaningfully impact the life of their community. The book offers several specific examples of congregations and networks of congregations from across the globe that are having a transformational influence on their cities. These examples do not “how to” guides, but rather as living narratives of what it can look like when a transformational movement begins.
I think part of what resonated so powerfully with me is that these congregations were willing to dream God-sized dreams that were only possible with the movement of God in their midst. I believe that for too long the American church have either become cultural chaplains or prime marketers of religious entertainment. I fear that too many churches have become complacent with its place on the edge of the public square or as a relish their place as part of the latest religious trend, rather than to live outs its mission as salt and light. The teen pregnancy rates, the number of children who go to bed hungry every night, the number of women whom are abused by their spouses, and the level of those addicted to drugs and alcohol that walk our streets and live next door, all speak to the reality that the Church is not having real impact in our cities. We can do better. We must do better. I believe that God shaped us to be more. This book offers pictures of what can happen when we truly endeavor to transform a city.