- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Moody Publishers; New edition (March 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802441998
- ISBN-13: 978-0802441997
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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"When we look to the Bible we see God's plan for the church all times and in all places. So to understand how to live for Christ in the twenty-first century, we need to go back to the first century. This is not traditionalism; it is not irrelevance; it is not living in the past. It is timeless Christianity, which is founded on Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8)."
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.
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Not only for a laymen of the church but pastors & staff
Also helped to reevaluate one's own beliefs and commitment!
Loved the leaders of our day that contributed to the book!
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.
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. "The reason worship is at the center of church life is that in worship, God is placed at the center of our attention." (26) Too often our times of "worship" are mere rote observance, devoid of emotion and meaning. Worship is not founded upon feelings, but it cannot leave one without any. The author states, "The principle - that worship is for God and His glory - has several implications. One is that true worship demands everything we have." (65) For the church who seeks to know God through His Word, worship should be a time to express God's greatness back to Him. One way which this is accomplished is through the avenue of music. The author references a helpful quotation from Luther. "Music and notes, which are wonderful gifts and creations of God, do help gain a better understanding of the text.... We have put this music to the living and holy Word of God in order to sing, praise and honor it. We want the beautiful art of music to be properly used to serve her dear Creator and his Christians. He is thereby praised and honored and we are made better and stronger in faith when his holy Word is impressed on our hearts by sweet music." (62-63)
Ryken gives many other insights into the pastor's duty and the churches responsibility in today's world. One of those was the pastor's task to address not only conduct but convictions. "Good shepherds not only distinguish between Christian and non-Christian behavior, but the also discriminate Christian from non-Christian belief." (107)
The Bride of Christ truly faces many unique challenges today, but God has provided everything needed for her witness, edification and sanctification. May the leaders of this Body seek to do all for His glory, by His Word, and through His Spirit.
Favorite Quotes: "What we ought to do is take the time to stop and think. That is what people usually do when they lose their way. A motorist looking for a street in a strange neighborhood eases off the gas pedal and turns down the stereo. But in these post-Christian times, we do exactly the opposite. We sense that we have lost our spiritual way, but instead of taking time to think things through, we go faster and faster, cranking the music louder and louder." (123)
"But Christ does not conform; He confronts." (134)
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.