This book is THE text book that everyone involved in urban ministry needs to read. Conn & Ortiz have worked together to create a book that covers almost every aspect of urban ministry, not only informing the reader of the challenges of urban ministry, but equipping the reader to face those challenges.
The book begins by placing the urban environment within the context of world history. The city was originally a place of worship, then it became a political center, a cultural center and a commercial center. The authors then focus on the global urban population explosion. These cities are growing for three reasons. These are first of all due to better medical care there is a stable birth rate and a declining death rate. Secondly, there is the push from the rural areas moving toward the cities for a better life. Finally there is the pull of the cities with the dream of having a better job and a better standard of living.
The authors wait until chapter thirteen to define the city as: "a relatively large, dense and socially heterogeneous center of integrative social power, capable of preserving, changing and interpreting human culture both for and against God's divine purpose." The reader is challenged to rethink a rural centric Christian ideal which has retreated from the cities for many years turning the cities into a large and growing mission field.
The authors explore the role of the city as a center of culture, power and commerce. The city has always been a place of stability. In ancient times the city had walls for protection and today cities have large buildings that give an element of stability, yet the city is also a place of constant change. In this tension the urban minister is urged to be knowledgeable and prepared for ministry. The authors call the reader to make use of the social sciences, anthropology and demographics in their urban ministry. The final chapters are incredibly practical, teaching the reader about selecting and training urban leaders and mobilizing the laity.
The message of the book is not to just evangelism in the city, but mobilizing leaders and the church as a whole to bring about social transformation in the global urban centers