Book Review: Together for the City
Together for the City: How Collaborative Church Planting Leads to Citywide Movements
Neil Powell and John James
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press 2019. 230 pages
We love our cities and would love to see each of its segments saturated with the gospel. That said, cities are enormous and complex and it’s often overwhelming to think about how we could accomplish just that. In Together for the City, Neil Powell and John James helpfully encourage us to have a bigger vision for our cities and propose that we can transform them with collaborative church planting movements. They “have a deep conviction that the more willing we are to find ways to collaborate, the more effective we’ll be in reaching our city for Jesus” (7).
Contributions to Ministry
Neil Powell and John James define collaboration as “what happens when distinct parties work together to produce something they simply could not produce on their own” (156). It is more complex than partnership which is simply working together.
They explain 4 types of collaboration which I found to be very helpful as I think about how I can partner in my city. They explain that we can partner at at least four levels – sowing, sending, supplying and supporting. Sowing includes mapping the city, casting vision, training and more. Sending is responding to the identified spiritual need across the city with leadership and resources. Supplying involves generously providing support, such as administration, volunteers, and coaches. Supporting begins with prayer and could extend to financial contributions.
I also found the four degrees of collaboration to be helpful, and to be honest, freeing. It is nice to know I can collaborate at several levels of depth. I believe this allows me to collaborate with more churches if I don’t have to completely commit to each one. Neil Powell and John James propose four degrees of collaboration as listeners, receivers, participators and influencers. Listeners are people are discerning if this is for them. They want to understand vision and cost before making a commitment. Receivers connect relationally by attend monthly gatherings, prayer initiatives and training events. Participators are actively involved in discussion and keen to contribute. Influencers identify areas which can be strengthened and resourced. They are actively influencing development and direction.
I agree with Powell and James when they ask every faithful church to affirm 3 statements.
- If we could, we would plant churches.
- Therefore, when we can, we will plant churches.
- In the meantime, we will do what we can to help others plant churches (132).
I asked those questions and I have found this book to be helpful as I try to collaborate to saturate Johannesburg with the gospel. I believe this book will help you begin the process of collaborative church planting in your city.
How can I get this book?
Together for the City is available on Amazon and many Christian bookdealers.
The book also has its own website: https://www.togetherforthecity.org