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Urban missionaries offer sage advice to reach changing cities

Some people rail against immigration. Others welcome it.

In “Mosaic: A Ministry Handbook for a Globalizing World,” Jared Looney and Seth Bouchelle do neither. Instead, the two urban missionaries simply recognize that immigration is transforming the makeup of our cities. And they want us, as followers of Jesus, to have the tools necessary to reach these people who are literally coming to our front doors.

Dyron Daughrity | In PrintChurches — especially in urban centers — must adjust to the changes in their communities at breakneck speed. If your congregation has not yet dealt with immigration on some level, then please know that it will, probably sooner rather than later.

Looney served in New York for 15 years but recently relocated to Tampa, Fla. Bouchelle still serves in NYC. Both work with Global City Mission Initiative and are mission studies graduates of Abilene Christian University in Texas.

Their work focuses on how globalization is changing American society. At the heart of this volume is a concern for how Christians can effectively strategize their mission efforts.

The authors’ solution: We must first get to know them. Later, we can witness to them.

There is a lot to like in this book. Most importantly, it is practical. The authors provide many stories from their rich experiences that help to explain the doing of ministry and missions in a globalized context like New York. Similarly, readers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Denver, Austin and Charlotte will be readily aware of how immigration is changing the fabric of their own cities.

Jared Looney and Seth Bouchelle. Mosaic: A Ministry Handbook for a Globalizing World. Skyforest, Calif.: Urban Loft Publishers, 2017. 282 pages.The book excels when it talks about reaching immigrants, especially non-Christian immigrants, for Christ. The authors give helpful discussion of numerous strategies. Those in multiethnic churches will also find valuable information. If your church is in an ethnically diverse city or neighborhood and you don’t quite know how to adapt, then rush out and buy this book.

My main critique is that the book seems aimed at Christians in college and ministry training programs. In places it is quite academic. There is an overuse of terms such as “syncretism” and “contextualization,” along with citations from influential scholars and theoreticians of these issues. The authors do, however, go to great lengths to help you understand the latest theories on culture and globalization.

Non-academics could use a distilled version of this information. In fact, I would recommend just that to the authors. Cut the book in half (it is nearly 300 pages), remove the academic jargon, and tell us more plainly how to adjust to the new realities you so competently describe.

“They’re coming to America,” Neil Diamond sings. Those words are more relevant today than ever.

And churches need to be on the front lines if they hope to reach these immigrants with the love of Christ.

DYRON DAUGHRITY is a professor of religion at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and the author of books including “Roots: Uncovering Why We Do What We Do In Church” (2016) and “Martin Luther: A Biography for the People” (coming in August).

Filed under: Reviews

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