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A city without a church (reflection on Drummond’s book

Reflection: A City without a Church (by Henry Drummond)

Drawing on the Revelation to St. John, Drummond claims that Heaven should be conceptualized as a city in which its inhabitants work towards the goodness of the city in the here and now (pg. 8-9). Churches provide connection and fellowship. However, the Christian faith extends far beyond the church itself. True faith is a daily devotion to Christ who brings abundant life. In this reflection, I will focus on the implications of Drummond’s address for missional church planting today.

Implications for Missional Church Planting

First, we need to remember that Christ came to give us abundant life – meaning, hope, reconciliation and healing – and came to give it to the full in this life (pg. 13). Evangelism has often focused on the future heavenly realm beyond the mire of this world. Yet, the beauty of the Gospel is that Christ meets us where we are today. Missional church planting then should be focused on building relationships and fostering time spent with each other. The ordinary aspects of our lives (e.g. work, building  family, eating together) are opportunities for extraordinary Grace to meet us.

Second, we need to remember that our lives (and not programs or sermons) bear the strongest witness to Christ. Building relationships will provide opportunities to share Christ as a joyful “discovery” (pg. 25) instead of doctrine to which one should ascribe. Programs can provide the vehicle through which relationships are built. For example, an ESL cafe provides an opportunity for newcomers and visitors to practice English while also providing opportunities for the church to learn and attend to their needs. As we gather with others, we can share what God is doing in our lives just as one might share about their weekend. Our lives then become opportunities for the Gospel to be modeled and shared in a way that is inviting and nonthreatening.

Third, Drummond encourages us to begin with the gaze of Christ into the city we find ourselves in, to lament over its waywardness and to offer our lives for it (pg. 34). In doing so, we attend to the ordinariness of life and discover needs in our midst. Christ’s love is demonstrated as we work towards the wholeness of the city. This will require time and energy as we come alongside those who are hurting, lonely, sick or afraid. In doing so, we love citizens of our city as Christ loves them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, missional church planting works towards the goodness of the city by focusing on the ordinary aspects of our lives, building relationships and serving the needs among us. In doing so, Christ’s love is light that shines throughout the whole city and not just within the walls of a building.

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