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Editorial Reviews

Review

'God is moving the human community into cities. How will the church respond to this need and opportunity? With fresh insight, a compelling vision, and biblical reflection, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard provide resources and answers to how the church can respond to this need. I'm thankful for their thoughtful contribution to this important subject!'
--Mark Reynolds Associate Director, Redeemer City to City

'The Bible is the story of a journey from a garden to a city. In the middle of it, it's the story of the journey of the gospel from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Rome, transforming them both. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard helpfully trace the journey, and prophetically show how it's possible to be part of the story.'
--John Ortberg author; speaker; Senior Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, California

'One can't effectively plant or pastor a church in an urban context without first developing a theology of cities. This book will be an essential guide to discerning leaders who know that cities matter and want to engage those cities well.'
--Ed Stetzer President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom

'Recent years have witnessed a torrent of books on urbanization and on urban ministry. Many of these are specialist sociological studies; others are 'how to' manuals so comprehensive that the Spirit of God could walk out and we'd never miss him. What has been lacking is a short, reasonably comprehensive, impassioned, and simply written survey of the trends and issues, combined with unwavering commitment to the eternal gospel and a transparent love for the city. Whether or not you agree with all its details, this book supplies what has been lacking. Written by two younger pastors on opposite sides of the country who share their devotion to Christ and their years of fruitful ministry, this book is neither sociology nor manual (though it has some features of both), but a clarion call to Christians to look at cities with fresh eyes and cry, 'Give me this mountain!' '
--D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

'Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard have done the church a great service in providing a clear and compelling argument not only for the importance of cities in our times, but more especially why cities matter to the church. They do a terrific job in teasing out a rich biblical theology of cities that roots their cultural analysis in a thoughtful and faithful framework. After reading the book, I wanted to call a real estate agent and tell them to find me a place in the city. It is not only where the 'cultural action' is today, but also where there is such a desperate need for thoughtful, faithful, and vibrant ministry. Um and Buzzard show us that cities are not to be shunned but loved with the full breath of the Gospel. You will not be able to think about cities in the same old ways after reading this book.'
--Richard Lints Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

'If you care about your city, the gospel, and the future of Christianity, I highly recommend you read this insightful book by Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um. This book should be required text for anyone doing ministry in today's world.'
--Michael 'Stew' Stewart Founder and Director, Verge Network; Pastor of Strategic Innovation, Austin Stone Community Church

“It’s only a matter of time. If you’re a true follower of Jesus, very soon you will be a happy urbanite in a city called New Jerusalem. This book is a call to get a jumpstart on that civic future now, as we labor to secure an eternal city for others. We need Christians wherever there are people—rural, urban, and suburban—but urbanization is happening so quickly worldwide that the church is in need of a special summons to the cities. These two pastors from Boston and the Bay helped renew my sense of call to the Twin Cities, and likely will do the same for you in your locale—or be the catalyst for some new civic venture God is moving you toward in our increasingly urban world.”
David Mathis, executive editor, desiringGod.org; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Twin Cities, Minnesota

“Given the fact that more and more people are moving back to cities instead of away from them, a lot of books are being published on how the 21st century church can reach the urban centers of the world. My friends Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um contribute to this necessary and strategic conversation by writing a book on why it’s important to focus on cities. In the face of solid research that proves how culture-shaping cities are, Stephen and Justin call for missionary-mindedness—grounding that call, not in law-laden guilt, but in the radical done-ness of the Gospel.”
Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; author, Jesus + Nothing = Everything

“As cities go, so goes the world. We don’t just need more Christians in cities, we need better Christians who love where they live. This book shows the importance of cities and faithful city dwellers for the advancement of the gospel in the 21st century.”
Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission

“You don’t need to live in a city to read this book. You don’t even need to love the city to read this book. But you do need to know God loves the city, so the church should, too. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard don’t shy away from the problems of the city as they offer a hopeful and compelling agenda for the church in our urban future.”
Collin Hansen, editorial director, The Gospel Coalition; co-author, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir

Why Cities Matter drips with passion, not for cities primarily, but for the gospel and its spread in this world. Teeming with people, cities are strategic contexts for gospel-living and gospel-spreading. While urban church planting is a growing trend in many quarters of American evangelicalism today, the influx of people to major cities is growing even faster. Through this book, urban pastors will be steeled and reinvigorated in their calling, many future church planters will make a run for a city, and some suburban churches (like mine, I hope) will take their next church plant downtown. But this book is not just for current city-lovers and future urban church planters—neither is it just for pastors. Whatever your present or future context, this book will challenge you to think more strategically about your dwelling, vocation, and church for the cause of Christ in this world.”
Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Council Member, The Gospel Coalition

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

“God is moving the human community into cities. How will the church respond to this need and opportunity? With fresh insight, a compelling vision, and biblical reflection, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard provide resources and answers to how the church can respond to this need. I’m thankful for their thoughtful contribution to this important subject!”
Mark Reynolds, Associate Director, Redeemer City to City

“The Bible is the story of a journey from a garden to a city. In the middle of it, it’s the story of the journey of the gospel from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Rome, transforming them both. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard helpfully trace the journey, and prophetically show how it’s possible to be part of the story.”
John Ortberg, author; speaker; Senior Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, California

“One can’t effectively plant or pastor a church in an urban context without first developing a theology of cities. This book will be an essential guide to discerning leaders who know that cities matter and want to engage those cities well.”
Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom; www.edstetzer.com

“Recent years have witnessed a torrent of books on urbanization and on urban ministry. Many of these are specialist sociological studies; others are ‘how to’ manuals so comprehensive that the Spirit of God could walk out and we’d never miss him. What has been lacking is a short, reasonably comprehensive, impassioned, and simply written survey of the trends and issues, combined with unwavering commitment to the eternal gospel and a transparent love for the city. Whether or not you agree with all its details, this book supplies what has been lacking. Written by two younger pastors on opposite sides of the country who share their devotion to Christ and their years of fruitful ministry, this book is neither sociology nor manual (though it has some features of both), but a clarion call to Christians to look at cities with fresh eyes and cry, ‘Give me this mountain!’”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard have done the church a great service in providing a clear and compelling argument not only for the importance of cities in our times, but more especially why cities matter to the church. They do a terrific job in teasing out a rich biblical theology of cities that roots their cultural analysis in a thoughtful and faithful framework. After reading the book, I wanted to call a real estate agent and tell them to find me a place in the city. It is not only where the ‘cultural action’ is today, but also where there is such a desperate need for thoughtful, faithful, and vibrant ministry. Um and Buzzard show us that cities are not to be shunned but loved with the full breath of the Gospel. You will not be able to think about cities in the same old ways after reading this book.”
Richard Lints, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“If you care about your city, the gospel, and the future of Christianity, I highly recommend you read this insightful book by Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um. This book should be required text for anyone doing ministry in today’s world.”
Michael "Stew" Stewart , Founder and Director, Verge Network; Pastor of Strategic Innovation, Austin Stone Community Church

“It’s only a matter of time. If you’re a true follower of Jesus, very soon you will be a happy urbanite in a city called New Jerusalem. This book is a call to get a jumpstart on that civic future now, as we labor to secure an eternal city for others. We need Christians wherever there are people—rural, urban, and suburban—but urbanization is happening so quickly worldwide that the church is in need of a special summons to the cities. These two pastors from Boston and the Bay helped renew my sense of call to the Twin Cities, and likely will do the same for you in your locale—or be the catalyst for some new civic venture God is moving you toward in our increasingly urban world.”
David Mathis, executive editor, desiringGod.org; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Twin Cities, Minnesota

“Given the fact that more and more people are moving back to cities instead of away from them, a lot of books are being published on how the 21st century church can reach the urban centers of the world. My friends Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um contribute to this necessary and strategic conversation by writing a book on why it’s important to focus on cities. In the face of solid research that proves how culture-shaping cities are, Stephen and Justin call for missionary-mindedness—grounding that call, not in law-laden guilt, but in the radical done-ness of the Gospel.”
Tullian Tchividjian, Founder, LIBERATE; author, One-Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World 

“As cities go, so goes the world. We don’t just need more Christians in cities, we need better Christians who love where they live. This book shows the importance of cities and faithful city dwellers for the advancement of the gospel in the 21st century.”
Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; Vice President, Acts 29; Chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals; author, The Dude's Guide to Manhood

“You don’t need to live in a city to read this book. You don’t even need to love the city to read this book. But you do need to know God loves the city, so the church should, too. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard don’t shy away from the problems of the city as they offer a hopeful and compelling agenda for the church in our urban future.”
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church

Why Cities Matter drips with passion, not for cities primarily, but for the gospel and its spread in this world. Teeming with people, cities are strategic contexts for gospel-living and gospel-spreading. While urban church planting is a growing trend in many quarters of American evangelicalism today, the influx of people to major cities is growing even faster. Through this book, urban pastors will be steeled and reinvigorated in their calling, many future church planters will make a run for a city, and some suburban churches (like mine, I hope) will take their next church plant downtown. But this book is not just for current city-lovers and future urban church planters—neither is it just for pastors. Whatever your present or future context, this book will challenge you to think more strategically about your dwelling, vocation, and church for the cause of Christ in this world.”
Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Council Member, The Gospel Coalition

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 70%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433532891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433532894
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
WHY CITIES MATTER is an important book, and I found it to also be a very exciting book.
Tom Farr
In fact, I think a similar book could be written that focus' more on my context, with a great deal of foundation laid by these authors.
Luke Geraty
A book like Why Cities Matters will help not only church leaders understand why cities matter, but also the layman.
Dave J. Jenkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luke Geraty on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
I recently worked through Why Cities Matter: To God, Culture, and the Church, written by Stephen T. Um and Justin Buzzard. Truth be told, I expected the book to champion the typical "big city equals big church equals effectiveness" type of thinking that's heralded by some church growth thinkers. I'm assumed it would, once again, place cities at the forefront of all church planting and ministry efforts.

To my surprise, it didn't rub me negatively! As many of you well know, I'm a huge advocate for a renewal of focus upon rural church ministry and rural church planting. I think many of the models and systems that are suggested for cities are often not as effective in rural communities or small churches. That's why we find many pastors saying things like, "I tried so and so's model and it just didn't work here."

The authors are clearly passionate about biblical revelation and being culturally aware. If I had to simplify the books main ideas, as I understood them, they would be as follows:

Cities are tremendously important for the sake of the gospel.
Cities will only continue to grow and develop.
Because of this, we'd be foolish to overlook the different issues related to reach and ministering in cities.
Cities have certain general characteristics that, if we're discerning, we can wisely integrate into our ministry approach and missional focus.
The Bible is not anti-city and the desire for some to pull completely back from being involved in cities is not rooted in Scripture.
Cities demand that we contextualize the gospel and really interact with the problems and opportunities of city-life.
Cities can be transformed by the gospel, so don't give up.
Churches can be more effective in ministering to and in the city.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David George Moore on April 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Confession time, but before I do a few words...

I love the emphasis of getting Christians to consider the importance of living out the gospel in the city. I love big cities. I have spent much time in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. Overseas I have enjoyed Paris, London, Belgrade, Vienna, Zagreb, Venice, and Salzburg. Growing up, I spent many happy days in Detroit.

My confession of sorts is that I also love rural America. In fact, I have been privileged these past three years to serve as an interim pastor at a terrific, rural church.

The push toward planting churches in cities is a wonderful thing indeed, but I wonder if it is now getting too much attention. All this made me both excited and somewhat reluctant to read Why Cities Matter? by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard. Would this "big city" pastor duo be imbalanced in their love for the city, or would they help me navigate this issue more intelligently? To my delight, I found the latter.

Why Cities Matter? is not a long read at about 150 pages (not including the notes which are worth reading!) It is more than I expected: solid research mixed with accessibility, engaging writing style, and lots of stuff to stew over. I recommend it highly.

As somewhat of a "book cover snob," let my add my kudos on the design. It is simple, elegant, and creative. Well done Mr. or Mrs. Graphic Designer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Riley Ashford on January 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Um and Buzzard provide a concise little treatment of the significance of cities in the 21st century, and the necessity of making the cities our home and ministering in them. Maybe the best way to give potential readers a sense of the book's flavor is to note some of the influences behind the work. Um and Buzzard have done their homework in urban studies (they rely upon Richard Florida, especially, but also Jane Jacobs); they rely upon a few scholarly theological works (especially Craig Bartholomew, but also G. K. Beale and others); they interact with other urban missiologists and church planters (Harvie Conn, Darrin Patrick); but towering above any other influence is Tim Keller. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 17, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church by Stephen T. Um and Justin Buzzard was an excellent book. It challenged many of my preconceived notions concerning cities (specifically that cities are evil) with some very simple Biblical perspectives on cities... In other words, this book made me ask the simple questions, "How does God view cities?" and "How should I view cities?"

The authors started by doing some basic teaching on the direction that cities are taking and the roles they play in our modern world. My eyes were also opened as the authors began to discuss the future of cities, the statistics of the numbers of people who will be living in cities, and exploring the myriad of reasons why people move to cities. As the authors continued with the history of cities, including a Biblical history, I found that my heart began to long for the city that I live in. I know that Danville is not a large city by any stretch of the definition, but it is the city that I reside in... It is the city that is home to people that I love... It is the city where people go to work and play everyday that have destinies and futures that are in jeopardy of God's imminent judgment... It is the city that I have been called to minister to.

Why do cities matter to God? At one point this book simply says, "... because people matter to God and there are people in the city."

I want to recommend this book to everyone that I know, especially to those in ministry in my city, because this book progresses toward teaching us how to know our city. Before I read (listened to) this book, I had never contemplated learning my city, and the impact that knowing the heart of my city might have on how I (or we) minister in our city.
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