Charles Van Engen tells us the essence of this book: it is “to explore ways to integrate theology, urban studies, and contextualization in a theologically informed, holistic, and transformational theology of mission.” This book is a collection composed of the writings of a group of doctoral students in the School of World Mission at Fuller Seminary. In composing this book, the authors reflected upon their personal experiences. By doing this they were able to create a theology of mission for the city. Another thing that we should note is that out of the attempt to create an urban theology of mission, the authors espoused a particular methodology for doing theology of mission in the city.
Overall this book was enjoyable and insightful. The inclusion of stories which come from the author’s lives and ministries added a personal element to the book. The stories prevented the book from becoming a pedantic academic exercise and allowed this book to become an interesting and applicable exploration of doing mission out in the real world. One chapter which stood out in my eyes was Mary Thiessen’s chapter “When we are dying in the city: Three sources of life.” In this chapter she tells the story of a ministry which is falling apart from the inside. In the section on context she examines the way these types of ministries end up dying. Her rereading of scripture shows us how the Holy Spirit brings vitality to those who are carrying out His mission. She then takes these insights and applies them to the story given in the beginning. It is chapters like these which are so practical and theologically informed that show that the method Charles Van Engen outlines in chapter eleven is a useful method for creating a theology of mission in the city.