Book Review: Stay in the City

Stay in the City Book Review

This will be a short review, because this is a short book, which is at least in part a bit of a trailer for a longer book by the same authors, which I am now quite excited to read. Gornik and Wong write to Urban Christians – which, bluntly, is probably the majority of Christians in the world today.

As Tim Keller puts it in the foreword;

its companion volume, ‘Sense the City’, promises to be more practical and concrete, this book ends with time-tested, high-level principles for long-term fruitfulness. It points out how seamlessly family life, ministry and our work-for-pay go together

Keller is a big proponent of Urban Ministry – and as someone who appreciates a lot of his writing, his foreword piqued my interest. That said, I’ll be recommending this book to friends for far more than that link. Gornik and Wong share a range of stories of Urban Ministry – from across demographic and denominational divides and differences.

It is worth noting that this book is refreshingly clear about who it is for. This is not an apologetic for or encouragement of Urban Ministry – rather, it is a sharing of stories, and teasing out of some of the principles behind these stories, of what God is doing with his Church in various Urban settings. Here, on my reading, are three reasons to read this book:

  • Unity and Diversity – Gornik and Wong have worked hard to gather stories and examples of ministry from a range of backgrounds, with some helpful micro-reflections on issues like ‘bi-vocational ministry’.
  • Culture and faith – cities are like greenhouses for culture, which Christians have a range of views on. This book engages with some of these, making a strong case for Art and Public Faith. This has profound implications for questions of what it means to be human today.
  • Thinking about the future – often, churches can lean on the past or present, without thinking about the future. I found this to be a helpful and hopeful book – not least for myself, reorienting and reimagining my future in the city following Jesus.

Overall, then, Stay in the City is worth a read. Clocking in around 80 pages, it won’t take up too much of your time, but will provoke your imagination to think again. I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of Sense the City, to think a little more about some of the issues raised in this book.

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