Zondervan sent me a free, review copy of To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City by Eric Swanson and Sam Williams as part of a blog tour that is taking place this week.
According to the authors, the world will be transformed when the cities are transformed, and the cities will be transformed when all believers in those cities work together to see their neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The authors sprinkle their chapters with examples and case studies from cities throughout history and around the world.
In fact, one of the important aspects of this book is the fact that the authors have worked with Christian leaders from around the world. Thus, their perspective is broad and general, not limited to a specific city and context.
What do the authors mean by “transformation”? They explain the process of transformation as follows:
1. Transformation begins with one person who is yielded to the Spirit of God.
2. Proclamation comes through proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.
3. Transformation begins as people are transformed.
4. Transformed people want to transform their communities.
5. Transformation occurs when the work is taken over by others.
6. Transformation is recognized by how the city identifies your role. (53-55)
The positive aspects of this book is found in the insistence that the church (i.e., all “local churches”) must work together and that the focus must be the kingdom of God (i.e., not the “local church”).
However, there are a few negatives. To the authors, churches working together seem to consist of church leaders working together. Also, I’m not convinced that there is as strong a focus on the cities in Scripture as the authors indicate. There are many instances of God working in villages or God sending people to small towns or even into the desert or wilderness.
Overall, though, this book presents several concepts that are important for all believers to understand. When believers work together with brothers and sisters in their neighborhood (whether they are part of the same “local church” or not), then their neighborhood will be transformed. The same could be said for workplaces, schools, etc. They do not have to wait for church leaders to organize projects. They can start working together right now.
I recommend this book to followers of Jesus Christ who are interested in this type of unity and cooperation for the sake of the kingdom of God – whether that brother or sister lives in a city or town or village.