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To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City Hardcover – September 12, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

In the year 2007, the number of people living in the cities of the world---finally and irreversibly---exceeded the number of people living in rural areas. The earth's population is now more urban than rural, and Christian leaders are trying to figure out what this means for the church. Pastors and kingdom-minded leaders know they need to engage the surrounding community with the gospel but are unsure about how to do so. Ministering in diverse and populous areas brings a unique set of challenges and promises. Evangelistic strategies that work in rural areas seem to bounce off of people in the cities, forcing church leaders to reevaluate church effectiveness. They see that the arena for significant impact is the surrounding community. The wide-open potential for spiritual and social change on this larger scale requires that leaders leverage the multivalent domains of their communities to solve problems the entire city cares about. Eric Swanson and Sam Williams have been working together with missional leaders from cities around the world trying to discover examples and principles of city transformation. They try, investigate, and share effective and proven ways for ministry leaders to mobilize for spiritual impact and partner with other community organizations for societal good. This book is a call to action for spiritual and societal transformation. The authors begin casting their vision for God's work in cities with an overview of the importance of cities in the twenty-first century. They address the process of community transformation along with examples of where and how cities have been changed for the good throughout history. They challenge readers to a vibrant kingdom-orientation in their ministries and use the concepts of 'whole church, whole gospel, and whole city' to explain this large vision. They encourage people of good faith to work together with people of goodwill for the common benefit of cities around the world. To Transform a City is a timely, compelling book that helps readers explore the reality of cities, the potential of their own communities, and the broad strategies churches and Christian leaders need for kingdom impact.

About the Author

Eric Swanson is a missional leadership specialist with Leadership Network, leading initiatives with externally focused churches that are missionally engaging their communities, cities, and the world.  He is coauthor of The Externally Focused Church (Group, 2004), The Externally Focused Life  (Group, 2009), and The Externally Focused Quest  (Jossey Bass, 2010). He lives in Louisville, Colorado, with his wife, Liz, and enjoys reading, blogging, photography, cooking, travel, and good coffee.

Sam Williams is the codirector of Vision San Diego, a coalition of 200 public, private, and not-for-profit sector organizations working together to serve San Diego.  He was a pastor for 35 years, a seminary professor, has planted 13 churches, and is a church and leadership consultant. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Nancy, and loves books, movies, and loving on his grandkids.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; First Ed 1st Printing edition (September 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310325862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310325864
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A bit about me....I have a passion for engaging churches worldwide in the needs and dreams of their communities so a to bring about spiritual and societal transformation. My wife Liz and I served with Campus Crusade for Christ for twenty-five years before joining the staff of Leadership Network where I currently work as a "missional specialist," serving as Leadership Community Director for Externally Focused Churches, Missional Renaissance and Global Connection Churches working with scores of missional churches around North America. I also often work with leaders around the world who are focused on kingdom transformation. In 2007 I completed a D.Min. degree in "Transformational Leadership in the Global City" from Bakke Graduate University. With Rick Rusaw I am the co-author of The Externally Focused Church, Living a Life on Loan, The Externally Focused Life, and The Externally Focused Quest. With my long-time friend, Sam Williams, I also co-authored To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City. I've been married to Liz for over 35 years, have three married children, seven grandchildren and resides outside of Boulder Colorado. You can contact me at eric@tangogroup.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 2007 the number of people who live in urban cities was larger than the the number of people in rural areas for the first time. This is an irreversible trend. Church and ministry leaders must now determine the best way to minister to cities. At least, this is the contention for Eric Swanson and Sam Williams in the book "To Transform a City". Swanson and Williams deal with transforming a city into a better place to live as a means to share the gospel using work they've done in the Boulder, CO area.

Initially, the authors make a great point as they open the book that the best way to transform any population is to love them unconditionally. Through loving on your city you can make things better for the least of these and share the gospel with everyone who asks why your doing these works. But this idea gets lost over the next 200 pages.

This book is a tough read. The writing is dry and the concepts are overcomplicated by the authors. Graphics in the book are simple and lack any pop much like the text. The information is useful as a study of how churches should interact as part of a city but I fear only the very dedicated reader will be able to push through and glean the best of the text.

Overall, I would recommend this for leaders of large churches of ministries. Lay leaders or smaller churches will find very little of this information useful and the text is not entertaining enough to recommend for these groups.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the Community Ministries Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock and member of the leadership team of the Nehemiah Network, a relational network of pastors seeking the unite the church in our community to live and serve as the Body of Christ, I can say from personal experience, this book is must read for anyone (experienced or new to city reaching) desiring to reach their city. I ordered 25 copies of the book on pre-order to give to two different leadership teams and I am confident I will need more. I believe many will find the first chapter on "The Importance of Cities" worth the price of the book and it keeps getting better with each chapter. Order today, but don't just buy one; get enough for your whole team.
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Format: Hardcover
Eric Swanson and Sam Williams, both ministry practitioners with global experience, are the co-authors of To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City (Zondervan, 2010). In it, they offer six reasons why "we need to engage with the city" (30):

Cities have a transforming effect on people.
Cities form a creative center.
Cities create fertile ground for thinking and receptivity.
Cities can help people live more efficiently and productively.
Cities are valued by God.
The early Christian movement was primarily urban.

With these reasons providing the impetus for city engagement, Swanson and Williams offer practical advice, strategies, and reflections on leaders desiring to be involved in the transformation of their city. Transformation, the book argues, not only involves change in outward appearance but also the birth of something new - communally, spiritually, societally, and individually.

The book is immensely practical - with charts, lists, and narrative examples - while also providing a huge array of references to further encourage sociological and theological exploration of the city. For anyone desiring to better connect to their city, this is a book worth engaging.

Note: As part of Zondervan's blog tour, I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished Eric and Sam's book "To Transform a City." I have been a pastor for the last 20 years in both downtown San Francisco and Denver. I read every resource I can find on changing urban culture. This is by far the best book I have found on this topic. Eric and Sam do a superb job at synthesizing theology, sociology and missiology. They create the kind of runway so many of us need for our vision to take off to a new level. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
The prayer Jesus prayed at the conclusion of the final Seder he shared with his disciples has been debated, parsed, over-theologized (no, that's not a real word), misapplied and ignored.

And it has gone largely unanswered. True, some of us have experienced some appetizer-sized moments of brilliant oneness with other believers, but for the most part, the 35,000+ identified denominations, along with the countless other individual independent congregations, house churches and miscellaneous other expressions of body life testify to a watching world about our propensity to separate, not unify. My sadness over our schismatic ways led me to get involved with Catalyst, now known as Christ Together, several years ago. It's been a delight to see churches who have labored side-by-side like disconnected silos in this county begin to interact with one another in prayer, service and learning. The "big C" Church in Lake County has miles to go in terms of fully responding to the prayer Jesus prayed, but it has been encouraging to watch those first baby steps leading to more steps.

Eric Swanson and Sam Williams have served and/or coached other leaders in "city-reaching" church unity movements around the world, and have penned a practical guide for those interested in the notion entitled Transform A City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City. This 218-page hardcover marries the theology behind these movements to lots of real-life examples. It was a fun surprise to discover Catalyst/Christ Together mentioned as an example on page 112 of how a community-wide church relational network is formed and functions.
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