Place Matters Book Review
"Jesus calls us not to be just church members or attendees but to be His disciples"
Place Matters, Coz Crosscombe and Bill Krispin, 230 pp. CLC Publications, 2017.
Planting a church requires guidance and vision. Serving in a church requires guidance and vision. But what exactly does that vision entail? It certainly requires biblical teaching and godly wisdom, but what that looks like is different depending on what exists outside of the walls of the church building. The people that walk along the outside sidewalks, those that live next door or down the street, and the statistics about diversity, crime, and age are all factors that need to be considered when creating an action plan for a church.
Our very own Urban Ministry Program Director and Professor Dr. Coz Crosscombe teamed up with Bill Krispin to write the book Place Matters: The Church for the Community. Both coming from 20+ years of urban ministry experience, both author’s relay throughout the book the importance of considering the neighborhood of a church in order to have effective outreach.
Dr. Crosscombe reminds us of the Catholic parish and its principles that have been lost in the amongst the Protestant community. Instead of going where we can walk to, we instead are more likely to become commuter congregations. Church-attendees may drive 30 minutes to their place of worship when a church with similar doctrine is around the corner. When this is the case, the church members are not having an active impact on the community 6 days of the week. The church only shows up in the neighborhood on Sunday morning.
After giving a thorough analysis of the American “white flight” and other suburban movements, Dr. Crosscombe points out the dangers of this trend. He says that many denominations believed the church’s future was in the suburbs; they lost hope for the city. In reality, the city needs the message of Jesus more than ever, and those that once left are finding their way back into the urban churches.
Dr. Crosscombe also honestly says, “when it comes down to it, it is easier to attract existing Christians to the new show in town than to go and make disciples of the unreached.” More often than we like to admit, our churches resources and mindsets are geared towards bringing in more existing Christians than reevaluating our approach to reach those who aren’t already attending another church.
This book reminds us the Great Commission given to us in the book of Matthew: “Go and make disciples.” The church should be equipped to keep the “going, baptizing, teaching” cycle moving. In order to make new disciples, going is the church’s first step. We aren’t even required to go far. More often than not, we need to step no further than outside the church door.
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