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City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century Paperback – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

THE CHURCH TODAY STANDS AT A CROSSROADS.  HOW WILL WE FULFILL CHRIST’S CALLING TO BE A “CITY SET ON A HILL”?

Many sincere and dedicated Christians point to the path of relevance as a means for enjoying a post-Christian witness. They want to explore new ways of “doing church”— ways that focus on seekers’ needs, that appeal to today’s entertainment-saturated audiences, and don’t make church “too hard.”

Philip Ryken, however, sees danger ahead. Rather than confronting the relativistic and narcissistic mind-set of our world, this way may very well accommodate it.

In City on a Hill, Ryken asserts that the church needs to walk a different path... a biblical path that leads to exalting God and Him alone by:

·        Proclaiming the saving work of our crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

·        Focusing on our holy God in our personal and corporate worship.

·        Reaching our in Christ’s love to care for one another and share the Good News with the world.

When the church does what it was called to do, it will give the world what it needs most—the life-giving message that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord.

PHILIP GRAHAM RYKEN (M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary; D.Phil., University of Oxford, England) is senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where he has preached since 1995. His published works include The Heart of the Cross and The Doctrines of Grace (with James Montgomery Boice), Is Jesus the Only Way?, The Message of Salvation, and Jeremiah and Lamentations. Dr. Ryken lives with his wife, Lisa, and children, Joshua, Kirsten, Jack and Kathryn in Center City, Philadelphia.

About the Author

PHILLIP GRAHAM RYKEN (M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary; D.Phil., University of Oxford, England) is Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where he has preached since 1995. He is the author of several books including What Is the Christian Worldview, The Heart of the Cross, and The Message of Salvation. Dr. Ryken lives with his wife, Lisa, and their children in Center City, Philadelphia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802441998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802441997
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Graham Ryken (PhD, University of Oxford) is the 8th president of Wheaton College and, prior to that, served as senior minister at Philadelphia's historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written several books for Crossway, and has lectured and taught at universities and seminaries worldwide. Dr. Ryken and his wife, Lisa, live in Wheaton and have five children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I wonder if it has always been true that when people write about the church they write with sadness, lamenting what the church has become or is becoming. In our day we have the church growth advocates bemoaning the fact that not enough churches engage in full-scale marketing of their churches; we have the Emergent Church leaders lamenting the church's refusal to adapt to and engage with the changing culture; and we have conservatives calling us to return to the pillars of faith the church once held dear.

I, sometimes reluctantly, find myself predominantly in the third camp, though I sometimes also wonder if we really are doing so poorly. Philip Graham Ryken is also clearly in the third camp. He assumed the pastorate of Ten Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia after the death of James Boice with whom he co-authored the wonderful book The Doctrines of Grace. As if to prove his allegiance, he subtitled this book "Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century." As with leaders of the other camps, Ryken examines the culture and seeks to find ways in which the church can fulfill it's God-given mandate to be a city on a hill.

This book began with a ministry retreat in early 1999 in which Ryken and the leadership of his church engaged in discussion about being a church that could successfully fulfill God's mandate in the post-Christian 21st century. When he succeeded Boice as pastor of Tenth, Ryken began his ministry by preaching a series of sermons on the seven committments of his church's mission statement. These messages form the basis for the book. Because of this they do read a little bit like sermons (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

City on a Hill begins with an introduction to postmodernism.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David A. Vosseller on July 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Philip Graham Ryken is a worthy successor to his mentor James Boice, both as the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, and as a voice calling out to the church in our day to turn back to her first love. In this great book, City on a Hill, Ryken sets out the Biblical priorities for a church. There are no earthshaking new ideas here, but timeless truths presented in new and fresh ways. Much of this book is based on messages given reaffirming Tenth Presbyterian's mission statement, but the focus given is applicable to any Bible-believing church. He calls the church to return to: expository preaching, corporate worship, fellowship, pastoral care, discipleship, missions and evangelism, mercy ministry and repentance and renewal. Each chapter covers one of these areas and is biblically supported and persuasively argued. The book also has an 'action guide' at the end for pastors and church leaders to evaluate how their own churches are doing, and it provides additional resources for further reading in the areas covered in this book. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about having a God-honoring, gospel-centered & driven church that can impact a community. May He use it for His glory!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Grotzke on June 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I found that Ryken's book was a very interesting evaluation of the local church and it's responsibilities. He pointed out that in many areas we have strayed far from the biblical model. What Abraham Lincoln once said still applies to today, "We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation. But we have forgotten God." (15)

Truly, the church of today is confronted with many unique challenges. The author points out the narcissistic attitude which prevails society today. "Whether they admit it or not, their minds reject absolute truth, and in their hearts they love themselves more than anyone else, especially God." (18) In order to reach the current generation she must confront these mindsets.

As Ryken described the church and God's plan for it, he laid down a list of essentials which every church must be participating in. At the top of the pile was a need for Scripture saturation. "The only church that will survive in post-Christian times is a church with a passion for God's Word." (25) This passion must not be in unique to the church when gathered, although the exposition of the Word is of utmost importance. The Scriptures must be a part of the church member's daily life. Without this essential diet, both corporate and personal, the church cannot and will not survive.

The pastor plays a unique role in this area. A duty given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ is to feed the flock, preach the Word, teach everyone. His job is not to speak his ideas, ideals, or intentions but God's Word. "A minister who sees himself as an expositor knows that he is not the master of the Word, but its servant." (49)

Another aspect highlighted in the book was the description and necessity of worship.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Owen Hitchcock on January 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book because it made me think more biblically about the functions of the local church. Dr. Ryken points us to the Bible alone as the standard for church and we need more of that in these post modern times.
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The author argued more for tradition than biblical church. It was funny to read how his 1950s style church just happened to fit the "biblical" model needed in the 21st century. At several points I wondered if even Jesus would be allowed in his church because the Jesus I read in the New Testament doesn't fit the authors mold.

Consider for example the author's endless "expository preaching as the ONLY biblical way to preach" mantra. I read the New Testament and I find only rare occasions where Jesus preached expositorily - like when Jesus explained the purpose of his death to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. On the other hand, I find numerous occasions when Jesus told stories to illustrate biblical truth, used common objects as lessons, and rarely quoted the Scriptures when he preached - for example the Sermon the Mount, there are only a few short quotes from the OT. I have nothing against expository preaching, but I also don't think it is the only preaching tool in the toolbox. Expository preaching is one method among several is good for certain environments and situations. Other environments call for other methods.

I whole heartedly agree with the author that rampant relativism and narcissism are fundamental problems in Western culture. The author nailed that. However, I might add materialism - i.e., the material world is all that there is - equals narcissism and relativism as fundamental worldview problems.

The author proves to be a much better in-depth analyst of cultural and church problems than providing fresh, new insights to reaching the first Western post-Christian century in more than a millenia. And reverting back to the 1950s is surely not the answer.

I really wanted to like this book, but sadly I've read this same old, retreaded "biblical" answer to the world before which rely far more on the church the author grew up in than what is truly biblical.
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