Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seeking the welfare of the city

I've been reading Henry Drummond's The City without a Church. I do this every July because the Northumbria Community's readings for the month come from it. I love it. It never fails to move, inspire and challenge me.

Drummond is almost forgotten Victorian Scot who worked with Moody and explored the frontier between science and faith. He died in his late 40s and left a substantial body of work on science, faith and spirituality. You can check out his work here. The Northumbria Community has produced The City Without a Church as part of its How shall we then live? series of booklets. Check out the community website here for details.

The City without a Church is a meditation on verses from Revelation 21 & 22 and is a call for Christians to live their faith in the grubby realities of our city rather than hide away in our churches. It's written in a simple and direct style that continually asks us 'why not?' Here's a flavour:

'I make this, then, in all seriousness as a definite practical proposal. You wish, you say, to be a religious man. Well, be one. There is your City; begin. But what are you to believe? Believe in your City. What else? In Jesus Christ. What about Him? That He wants to make your City better; that that is what He would be doing if He lived there. What else? Believe in yourself—that you, even you, can do some of the work which He would like done, and that unless you do it, it will remain undone. How are you to begin? As Christ did. First He looked at the City; then He wept over it; then He died for it.' (booklet p11)

There is a glorious, down-to-earth optimism about his writing that sits uncomfortably in our slightly cynical, ironic times. I'd say that he's a pioneer missional thinker. He repays careful and reflective reading. So why not read it with a friend or a home group and ask how you might put it into practice in your own communities?

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