Thursday, August 25, 2011
book review: Metrospiritual
Metrospiritual: the geography of church planting
Resource Publications: 2011
Sean Benesh has written a much needed book on "the geography of church planting". While much of what Sean writes is focused on the USA, he is currently planting the Ion Community in Vancouver BC. I resonate with this, having lived in Richmond, BC, while doing a ThM at Regent College. I have also lived in Monteal, QC and the GTA.
Sean draws on statistics and surveys to provide the background for this book. However, he doesn't leave us with dry numbers. These are only the backdrop out of which Sean asks the important questions. I think Sean is on the right track as he interacts with Richard Florida's concept of the "Creative Class" and asks the question "are new churches engaged in community transformation" (xxii)? He continually emphasizes that this holistic transformation of individuals and neighbourhoods is a meaure of kingdom impact.
Sean pushes church planters (or potential church planters) to ask why they are planning on planting a church; are they understanding the "theology of the city, and, "the missional thrust of church planting, and the church as God's agent for social transformation" (27).
One of the things I appreciate about Sean's perspective is "if we start with the city we will still get the suburbs... if we start in the suburbs it does not mean we will get the city" (80). Sean clearly recognizes the tensions in deciding where to plant a church, but calls church planters to view the city in a holistic fashion with the eyes of community transformation.
Metrospiritual is a worthwhile read, not only for church planters and potential church planters, but for anyone ministering in the city. Sean points us to an unrban centric faith that embraces the city.