Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter's book For the City is a divided into two parts "A Tale of Two Cities" and "In and For the City." Part one of the book describes the early years of both Matt's and Darrin's plants. Part two of the book covers developments or themes that both authors either had not lived out or had a period of reformation within these categories during their tenure with these congregations. Part one covers the creation, decision, and early life of the church. Part two covers key themes which they learned and that are needs of reformation in the majority of churches within America. Key themes which are discussed in part are: Contextualization, Community, Serving the City, Equipping, Suffering, Confessions, and lessons learned from Jonah. The Title of the book comes from the idea that a church can be against the city (view it is sinful), of the city (the city controls and influences its theology and ministry [e.g. seeker sensitive]) or for the city (a congregation that is rooted in and has a heart for the city. A church for the city is a church that "if it were to shut its doors, the city would grieve."
To begin, this book was phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed both the writing style and content of both authors. Coming into the book, I had never heard of Matt Carter, but I had heard of Chris Tomlin (his worship minister). I come away from the book appreciating Carter more and desiring to learn more about him and his ministry. Next, I am extremely appreciative of the categories or themes which the authors chose to address in part two. The themes within this book are some of the most neglected themes within the church within our age. I am thankful for the many seminaries who are producing graduates who have a high regard for theology and exegetical preaching. Even in light of saying this I believe that the categories within this book are often neglected in spite of the return of theology and exegetical preaching. I pray that pastors and their congregations with take hold of this book and apply its truths to the daily lives. In most churches community exists but it is divorced from mission and thus is no community at all. Churches are not equipping leaders or training pastors, but are sending them off for someone else to do this. I would not go to the extreme as some do and say that I wish seminaries didn't have to exist, because I think there is a place for them. I am thankful for seminaries and believe that they serve a purpose of academy that the majority of the time cannot take place within the church. Churches are not contextualizing their ministries. Many people will flee from this wordage because it sounds to emergent or emerging, but the issue remains at large even if you semantically get around the wordage. This book teaches both through story and didactically. The stories are very rich in their thinking and are extremely challenging in their application. This is a book that once you pick up you will not want to put down. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I think this book should be a requirement on every pastor's bookshelf.
For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter
The authors "explore what it means to be a church for the city God has called you to engage". The book is addressed to church planters, established churches and Christians in general in hopes we will learn from their mistakes, "resubmit [our] church plans and programs to the Lord and analyze them again through the filter of the gospel" and personally "move from member to missionary" in reaching others for Christ. They hope God inspires us to that end.
I believe the book is well written so that it can accomplish the author's purposes in our lives. I would encourage you to give this book a fair audience by thoughtfully reading each of its pages. I found their individual stories to be inspirational, educational, informational and at times entertaining. I believe you can benefit spiritually by reading this book and it may just help you recalibrate your thinking about reaching your community for Christ, both individually and corporately. Below are some examples of the things they addressed within the 179 pages.
The flawed thinking behind "plug and play".(Pages 19 -20) The need for each individual ministry to discover and develop God's divine plan instead of borrowing someone else's ministry model.
An analysis of four approaches churches often take toward the community in which they are located. (Pages 24-27)
The personal stories of Darrin (pages 29-45) and Matt (47-62), with their different backgrounds and church planting experiences, should be an encouragement to church planters.
They help us define contextualization and culture and how to approach the community you are called to reach along with several approaches we are to avoid. (Pages 68-83)
They urge us to consider "how do you best leverage the opportunities the city provides for authentic, gospel-centered community"? (Pages 93-115) The questions on page 115 are priceless for those wanting to make a difference for Christ in the lives of others.
Small group design and purpose. (Page 120 -121)
I found myself highlighting and marking the margins of this book on most pages. This is a good sign it has much to offer the reader.