I started reading this book at Greenbelt, and have quoted it to several people since. As someone who has now lived in Manchester for a couple of years, there was that level of enjoyment, but I also really enjoyed engaging with the concept of ‘Mission With’, rather than ‘Mission To’, or ‘Mission For’ – living alongside people, in community, as witnesses – bringing a Christian worldview, but without necessarily an explicit evangelistic approach. This seems very alike to what I encourage people to do online – be yourself, allow your Christian self to be part of the mix – and Paul finishes the book with one of my favourite sets of verses – The Message version of Romans 12: 1-2.
From 30 years of experience of living within, being part of, an inner-city/urban community, Paul gives a lot of suggestions of things that have worked – and things that haven’t worked too, and there’s a strong challenge to the ‘middle-class’ model of church where people move out to ‘safer’ areas and either abandon the local church, or commute back in – neither of which connect with the local community on a strong level of understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of ‘incarnation’ (and I’m not a theologian) , with an emphasis on everyday life and relationships (p217) – lots to chew over on this book.
There are lots of further references and options for further reading for those who want to take this model further, whether theoretically or practically.