We live in a unique moment in history.
Right now, more people live in urban centers than ever before. This means that we have an unprecedented opportunity to influence the majority of the world through the church in the city.
Helping us to make the most of this moment, urban pastors Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um lay out a compelling vision for cultural engagement and church planting in our world’s cities.
If you’re looking for motivation to maintain a commitment to the city or for guidance as you consider going all in, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of urban life that informs, instructs, inspires, and answers questions including:
- Why cities are so important
- What the Bible says about cities
- How to overcome common issues and develop a plan for living missionally in the city
Instead of retreating from or taking from our cities, here is a call to make the cities our home, to take good care of them, and to participate in God’s kingdom-building work in the urban centers of our world.
“God is moving the human community into cities. How will the church respond to this need and opportunity? With fresh insight, a compelling vision, and biblical reflection, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard provide resources and answers to how the church can respond to this need. I’m thankful for their thoughtful contribution to this important subject!”
—Mark Reynolds, Associate Director, Redeemer City to City
“The Bible is the story of a journey from a garden to a city. In the middle of it, it’s the story of the journey of the gospel from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Rome, transforming them both. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard helpfully trace the journey, and prophetically show how it’s possible to be part of the story.”
—John Ortberg, author; speaker; Senior Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, California
“One can’t effectively plant or pastor a church in an urban context without first developing a theology of cities. This book will be an essential guide to discerning leaders who know that cities matter and want to engage those cities well.”
—Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom; www.edstetzer.com
“Recent years have witnessed a torrent of books on urbanization and on urban ministry. Many of these are specialist sociological studies; others are ‘how to’ manuals so comprehensive that the Spirit of God could walk out and we’d never miss him. What has been lacking is a short, reasonably comprehensive, impassioned, and simply written survey of the trends and issues, combined with unwavering commitment to the eternal gospel and a transparent love for the city. Whether or not you agree with all its details, this book supplies what has been lacking. Written by two younger pastors on opposite sides of the country who share their devotion to Christ and their years of fruitful ministry, this book is neither sociology nor manual (though it has some features of both), but a clarion call to Christians to look at cities with fresh eyes and cry, ‘Give me this mountain!’”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard have done the church a great service in providing a clear and compelling argument not only for the importance of cities in our times, but more especially why cities matter to the church. They do a terrific job in teasing out a rich biblical theology of cities that roots their cultural analysis in a thoughtful and faithful framework. After reading the book, I wanted to call a real estate agent and tell them to find me a place in the city. It is not only where the ‘cultural action’ is today, but also where there is such a desperate need for thoughtful, faithful, and vibrant ministry. Um and Buzzard show us that cities are not to be shunned but loved with the full breath of the Gospel. You will not be able to think about cities in the same old ways after reading this book.”
—Richard Lints, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
“If you care about your city, the gospel, and the future of Christianity, I highly recommend you read this insightful book by Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um. This book should be required text for anyone doing ministry in today’s world.”
—Stew Stewart, Founder and Director, Verge Network; Pastor of Strategic Innovation, Austin Stone Community Church
“It’s only a matter of time. If you’re a true follower of Jesus, very soon you will be a happy urbanite in a city called New Jerusalem. This book is a call to get a jumpstart on that civic future now, as we labor to secure an eternal city for others. We need Christians wherever there are people—rural, urban, and suburban—but urbanization is happening so quickly worldwide that the church is in need of a special summons to the cities. These two pastors from Boston and the Bay helped renew my sense of call to the Twin Cities, and likely will do the same for you in your locale—or be the catalyst for some new civic venture God is moving you toward in our increasingly urban world.”
executive editor, desiringGod.org
; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Twin Cities, Minnesota
“Given the fact that more and more people are moving back to cities instead of away from them, a lot of books are being published on how the 21st century church can reach the urban centers of the world. My friends Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um contribute to this necessary and strategic conversation by writing a book on why it’s important to focus on cities. In the face of solid research that proves how culture-shaping cities are, Stephen and Justin call for missionary-mindedness—grounding that call, not in law-laden guilt, but in the radical done-ness of the Gospel.”
—Tullian Tchividjian, Founder, LIBERATE; author, One-Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
“As cities go, so goes the world. We don’t just need more Christians in cities, we need better Christians who love where they live. This book shows the importance of cities and faithful city dwellers for the advancement of the gospel in the 21st century.”
—Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; Vice President, Acts 29; Chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals; author, The Dude's Guide to Manhood
“You don’t need to live in a city to read this book. You don’t even need to love the city to read this book. But you do need to know God loves the city, so the church should, too. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard don’t shy away from the problems of the city as they offer a hopeful and compelling agenda for the church in our urban future.”
—Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
“Why Cities Matter drips with passion, not for cities primarily, but for the gospel and its spread in this world. Teeming with people, cities are strategic contexts for gospel-living and gospel-spreading. While urban church planting is a growing trend in many quarters of American evangelicalism today, the influx of people to major cities is growing even faster. Through this book, urban pastors will be steeled and reinvigorated in their calling, many future church planters will make a run for a city, and some suburban churches (like mine, I hope) will take their next church plant downtown. But this book is not just for current city-lovers and future urban church planters—neither is it just for pastors. Whatever your present or future context, this book will challenge you to think more strategically about your dwelling, vocation, and church for the cause of Christ in this world.”
—Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Council Member, The Gospel Coalition