God is working in cities. That's not to say that He isn't working in rural settings and so forth, but people everywhere are finding that when we engage cities, taking the complete gospel to the whole city, lasting transformation for the Kingdom is taking place. That is the premise of To Transform a City by Eric Swanson and Sam Williams.
They begin by building 'a case for cities.' From defining cities, to historical evidence of what has aided cities, to models for cities, to reasons to engage the cities, they make a case for the importance of cities, sociologically and spiritually alike. It sets the tone for the rest of the book, which deals with city transformation, spiritually and otherwise. If cities are going to change, it starts with individual transformation, which leads to church transformation, which leads to community and cultural transformation. It is about big picture transformation that begins on the individual level and moves up to wider reaching and lasting change.
Chapter three looks at understanding the Kingdom of God, the message of the Kingdom, the values of the kingdom and engaging others in the Kingdom. Chapter four is a fascinating look at historical examples of transforming power, from the early Christians, through medieval and middle ages, to more modern examples, calling on believers to reverse the recent reversal and get back to fully living out the good news in our communities. Next comes a call for unity and the whole Church working together, rather than merely as individual units, in order to do more and to be more effective, and to incorporate the whole Gospel into the transforming Kingdom work. Advocating a 'thicker Gospel,' we turn goodwill into good works about the good news. This Gospel transformation should move across all sectors of the city, including business and social sectors and much more. We partner with others who care, even if they don't share all, or perhaps any, of our spiritual goals and beliefs, because we are doing it for the common good and for the common grace. We leverage 'social capital,' and as externally focused churches, we can turn the strength of our bonded capital into bridging capital, changing our scorecard to match God's standards for measurement and God's heart for our communities.
Finally, Swanson and Williams challenge leaders to rethink the future and to realize that what we can't move forward by continuing to do the same things that haven't worked. We must become transformed ourselves, and must yield ourselves to God's Kingdom work, His plan and His desire for our world to be transformed. Warning: don't read this if you are not prepared to be challenged deeply.