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.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.