This book is a must read for anyone who desires to plant a church or someone in church leadership. Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick have been where any church planter will be. They have also been where any church leader will be. Both of these men have started churches from scratch and have, by God’s Spirit, led them to be impactful churches in their respectful cities. Through all of this, they have had to ask the hard questions that any church will need to ask itself. Matt and Darrin have had to attempt to figure out what their church is going to be all about. For the City attempts to get Christians to come back to the very purpose of the church and how here in America, we might be missing the point with how we do church.
Here is what the back of the book has to say:
“How will the church respond to the needs of people today, as the suburbs shrink and cities expand? Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick challenge Christians and church leaders to take a second look at the church’s calling and responsibility for the renewal and restoration of the city. Hear their stories and learn how you and your entire church can faithfully proclaim the gospel while living out the reality of a community changed and transformed by its message.”
When America was first founded, it seemed that there was always a church near the center of the town. Whereas, it now seems that churches have moved out of the city to the suburbs just like most Christians have moved out of the city to the suburbs. Matt Carter compares how churches have been moving in recent years. He says churches have focused on being a church IN the city, AGAINST the city, or OF the city (p. 24-27). Each of the first 3 statements represented a negative response from the church towards the city whereas a church FOR the city seeks to “speak the truth of the gospel and is not afraid to uphold a biblical worldview and moral standard” (p. 26). It seems that many churches these days, or establishments that call themselves churches, have sacrificed some part of the true calling of the church in order to be relevant with today’s culture. But, whenever you look at the church in the New Testament, or study the church throughout history, it is never called to be relevant; it is called to represent Christ to the world and many times, this is far from being relevant.
For the City is a challenging and very well written book. Matt and Darrin do a very good job of using Scripture as well as personal stories to defend their points while using their own testimonies of how each were led by God to plant a church that was FOR the city. Because of this, they went into the heart of their respective cities, Austin and St. Louis, to start churches. The result of their commitment to follow where God leads them has been growing churches making a lasting impact in their city for God’s glory.
If you are a pastor, church leader or someone who feels God leading you to eventually plant a church, this is a must read for you. Matt and Darrin do a great job of sharing the highs and lows of planting a church because planting a church is not an easy process and they make sure not to sugar coat any part of what they say or make it appear easy to do what God has led them to do. One of my favorite parts of the book was chapter 9 which is simply titled “Confessions.” In this chapter, both of these men share what they see as being where they failed in their church planting and leadership endeavors. I greatly enjoyed their sincerity throughout the whole book. You can truly see how they have a huge heart for the church to get back to its mission here on this earth and not allow the American dream or other pursuits to distract the church from what it was called not only to do, but to be. I pray that God raises up more men to plant churches like these that are not afraid to step out of the suburbs and back into the city.
In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.