I am particularly interested in books and resources that deal with strengthening the local church for more effective community engagement. As a pastor I believe it is critically important for the church to leverage its corporate resources and individual member’s gifts and talents to engage and positively impact its immediate community surroundings. This engagement occurs through introductory methods such as community block parties and service projects and moves on to more complex efforts such as community impact centers and church planting efforts. I recently completed a book entitled “A Heart for the Community; New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry” by Editors John Fuder and Noel Castellanos. Fuder serves as the director of community engagement at Park Community Church and Castellanos serves as the CEO of the Christian Community Development Association, both in Chicago, IL.
A Heart for the Community exposes the reader to the collaborative efforts of the Christian Community Development Association, Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Church to holistically change the city of Chicago through the power of the gospel. This book is actually a selection of essays from over thirty contributors who been involved in the trench work of urban and suburban ministry that have strategically planted churches in the urban and suburban areas of Chicago. This book is divided into four parts. Part One, Critical Issues, highlights the importance exegeting the community to better understand the who, what, when, where, and why of the people you’re ministering to. Part Two, Church-Planting Models, deals with the various models of churches being planted in Chicago as a result of the exegesis. These models include Latino, Hip Hop, Chinese, and Muslim along with ministries reaching to the homeless, drug addicts, and prostitutes. Part Three, Ministering to Suburban Needs, looks into the increasing diversity in suburban areas highlighting poverty alongside luxury and racial dynamics. Part Four, Para church Ministries, shows the importance of working alongside other agencies and ministries such as the Salvation Army and Young Life.
A Heart for the Community is practical and not overly-scholarly. Not only does it bring to the forefront the issues and needs facing churches today, but it offers strategies to tackle the problems head on. Fuder and Castellano’s work is not a “do this and you will be successful” book. It does however offer hope that communities can be reclaimed. This is a great work and I recommend it highly any church leader that is concerned about their community and wants to know the challenges and possibilities involved.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”