Rooting the Church in the Neighborhood
A Feature Review of
The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community
Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight Friesen
Paperback: IVP Books, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Maria Drews.
“Most people are longing for a more integrated and connected life. Followers of Jesus want to be the church together in deeper ways than simply attending professionalized church programs.” – The New Parish
For several years I lived in intentional community with some people from my church in a low-income neighborhood, spending afternoons playing with the neighborhood kids and evenings catching up with my housemates. Together we hosted backyard movie nights and tutored kids at our apartment. We joined the neighborhood council, partnered with other local churches to feed the hungry, and stopped to listen to neighbors as we walked to the local shops and library. We joined in with our neighbors to support each other in difficult times and shared with those who needed help. But when asked, I always struggled to name what we were doing. We weren’t a ministry of our local church. We were a poor excuse for a new monastic community. And we weren’t community organizers or sent missionaries. We were a little community making a small attempt at seeking God’s reconciliation and renewal along with our neighbors and struggling to live life as Jesus taught us in our little corner of the city.
In their wonderful new book, The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community, authors Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight Friesen give a name for what we were. We were part of a new parish.