Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Transform a City Review Pt. 2

Yesterday I posted my review of To Transform a City.  It really is a helpful book and will cause you to think.  But hopefully it causes us to do more than just think—hopefully it stirs us to action as well. 

I did mention, though, there are a few questions/concerns that I had with the book.  One was its view of the kingdom.  I’m still learning about that myself, so I mentioned that it’s possible the problem is more with my own heart and mind than the book itself.  I encourage you again to judge for yourself from the Scriptures. 

The other main question/concern that I had can be found with the Quadrant on page 129.  I really wish I could provide you a copy of this, but you’ll have to buy the book yourself.  I’ll do my best to describe it. 

This quadrant is comparing demonstration with proclamation.  Each quadrant is an intersection of being internal or external focused in both these categories.  The fourth-quadrant is the one that Swanson and Williams are promoting.  It has as its goal “saving the lost and serving the least”.  It is externally focused in both demonstration and proclamation.  The quadrant in the lower left corner (I believe that would be Quadrant-II) is internally focused on both deeds and proclamation. 

I agree that it is a great danger to be externally focused on demonstration but quiet on proclamation.  I also agree that it is a truncated view of the gospel to only be verbal and not to also minister with life.  I agree that the gospel should be “show and tell” and not either/or.

But here is my concern.  Without quadrant-II then quadrant-IV cannot exist in any meaningful way.  (Maybe this is what that line across it is referring to, if so then I agree and consider this only a way of highlighting something awesome in the book). 

What I see happening so often are churches that neglect the “building up of the saints” for the sake of saving the lost and serving the least as if one is more commendable than the other.  It is a great faux pas for a church to be “internally focused”.  But the truth is, and they even point this out in the book, unless a church is transformed (inward) there is no real way for it to engage in transformation of community (outward). 

Sometimes this book assumes gospel transformation within the body.  It’s a high-wire act to balance inward focus and external focus but I believe a good portion of the NT is given to the building up of the saints.  Yes, that building up of the saints is for the sake of extending the gospel kingdom, but that building up can never be assumed.  And we can never assume that we’ve arrived. 

The truth is that churches should be internal and external.  Perhaps this is also an area where we cannot choose either/or but instead we choose a both/and. 

Tomorrow I’ll give you a few helpful tips from the book on transforming your community. 

Again you are encouraged to read the review and purchase the book.

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