Archives For Neighborhoods


A Christian Heart Beating for Health Equity

A Review of

How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick:
Restoring Health and Wellness to our Communities
Veronica Squires / Breanna Lathrop

Paperback: IVP Books, 2019
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Kendra Stanton Lee
A nurse practitioner and a non-profit development professional seem an unusual author pairing unless your go-to book is a public health manual. How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick: Restoring Health and Wellness to our Communities is not a manual, per se, though it does offer a variety of definitions and diagnoses for the state of public health in America.

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0830841490″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Occupying and Holding Space Together
as Church Communities

A Review of 

Seeing Jesus in East Harlem:
What Happens When Church Show Up and Stay Put

José Humphreys

Paperback: IVP Books, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0830841490″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B07HGJ8MTB” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall


*** This review originally appeared 
on the reviewer’s website.
It is reprinted here with permission.
Browse his website for other excellent reviews!

I am the pastor of a predominantly white suburban church that once lived in Detroit. This church moved to the suburbs, as did other congregations in the city, because most of the members had moved to the suburbs. The congregation tried to stay put, but in the end, it made better sense for the now diminished congregation to let another congregation make use of the historic building. The choice was probably correct, but I am attuned to stories of being present in the community. To be honest, suburban communities need congregations to be show up and stay put as well, so as to demonstrate God’s love and grace, as well as challenging the status quo. Forty years after the move, this congregation is trying to stay put in the community we were replanted.
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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0718077237″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Won’t You Be A Neighbor?  Getting the Church Back in the Neighborhood
 A Review of 

The Neighboring Church:
Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most
Rick Rusaw and Brian Mavis

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Buy Now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0718077237″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [  [easyazon_link identifier=”B010R37B60″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Alex Joyner

Nothing is more difficult for leaders in late-stage bureaucratic institutions than trying to navigate through a morass of well-intentioned policies and procedures in order to do the simple things needed to accomplish the institution’s mission.  Gordon MacKenzie called this leadership challenge Orbiting the Giant Hairball in his 1996 book of the same name [Viking: 1996].  “Orbiting,” MacKenzie said, “is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate mind set, beyond ‘accepted models, patterns, or standards’ — all the while remaining connected to the spirit of the corporate mission.” (33)

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”B0198V4LWE” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Incarnating the Kingdom 
Within Your Neighborhood

A Review of

Next Door As It Is in Heaven:
Living Out God’s Kingdom in Your Neighborhood
Lance Ford and Brad Brisco

Paperback: NavPress, 2016
Buy now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B0198V4LWE” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B0198V4LWE” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] 
Reviewed by Ashley Hales


A year ago, a moving truck pulled up just ten miles from where my husband and I grew up. In the heat of summer, we moved boxes and unpacked: we were moving “home” to plant a church. A few months later, we invited neighbors and new friends to a huge Christmas party with food, good wine, and a hip jazz band. One of our neighbors, a bit incredulous about a church throwing a party with no strings attached, asked what our plan was to start a church. My husband floored him, saying, “I think we’re going to start by throwing good parties.” As we’ve met over small dining room tables and in local parks, hired a taco truck for a nearby neighborhood, and opened up our lives and homes, our little church has begun to grow into a generous and vulnerable community that is learning how to live out the Kingdom of God, even in the mecca of materialism in suburban, southern California. So it was with much excitement that I agreed to review Next Door As It Is in Heaven: Living Out God’s Kingdom in Your Neighborhood by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco.

We all care deeply about where we are placed, and we all long for home to feel like a firm foundational place of belonging. The problem is that we elevate the nuclear family and our physical houses instead of concomitantly seeking the good of our neighborhoods, cities, and world. Authors Ford and Brisco are desperate to recover a sense of the neighborhood as the space of connection, where the gospel takes on flesh.

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”B019ELJG28″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Discerning Our Way Toward Neighborliness
A Review of 

An Other Kingdom:
Departing the Consumer Culture

Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann and John McKnight.

Paperback: Wiley, 2016
Buy now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B019ELJG28″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]   [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B019ELJG28″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]
Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith

This is an abridged version of a review
that appeared in our Advent 2015 print issue.
Are you a subscriber?

Several years ago, I took note for the first time of the collaborations of Walter Brueggemann, Peter Block and John McKnight. I suspect that Brueggemann’s name may be familiar to many of our readers for his work in theology and Old Testament scholarship. Block and McKnight, however, might not be as familiar. Block is renowned for his work in the world of business consulting, in which he has written a number of bestselling books. John McKnight is co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University, and his work over the years has focused on community-building. In many ways, it comes as a surprise that these three thinkers who have distinguished themselves in vastly different arenas should come together and collaborate on a book project.

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Really enjoyed the Neighborhood Economics conference in Cincinnati this week, and left with much to think about!

What is Neighborhood Economics?  Peter Block has described it this way:

“Neighborhood Economics is an idea committed to accelerating the flow of capital into resident driven entrepreneurial enterprise. It calls us to shift how we think about ending poverty. It brings the world of social investors, community builders, community philanthropists, residents and local neighborhood leaders into the same conversations. This is what a systems approach to economic and racial justice is going to require.”

I came away from the conference with a hefty list of books that I hope to read (or re-read). 

Here are some highlights from that list:

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Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove


[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0307731952″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”” width=”217″]Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove recently paid a visit to Englewood Christian Church to discuss his latest book:

Strangers At My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests.

Paperback: Convergent Books, 2013
Buy now:   [ [easyazon-link asin=”0307731952″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ]   [  [easyazon-link asin=”B00CQZ5ODK” locale=”us”]Kindle[/easyazon-link]  ]
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By C. Christopher Smith

In the current issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity, and the new book [easyazon-link asin=”0801014743″ locale=”us”]Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism & Liberty[/easyazon-link], offers his top 5 books on Christ and culture that have shaped this new work.

[ Read McCracken’s list on Christ and culture… ]
While McCracken’s list is solid, and I have a deep appreciation for three of the books on the list (Smith, N.T. Wright, Myers. Niebuhr’s work is dated and not particularly helpful and I haven’t read the Rogers book), I have been struck by recent statements by both Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben (in his new autobiography [easyazon-link asin=”0805092846″ locale=”us”]Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist[/easyazon-link]) that the way forward for humanity lies in cultivating strong local communities. There often is a temptation to think of culture in the broadest, most abstract sense and to gloss over the particularities of the local cultures in which we daily live and move and have our being, therefore I thought that I would spin McCracken’s idea a bit and offer my own top 5 list, on the theme of Christ and LOCAL Culture.

I am eagerly anticipating the Spring 2014 release of The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community by Dwight Friesen, Tim Soerens and Paul Sparks, next spring, which will likely supercede all of these books, but until then, you can’t beat these five books.


[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0664235166″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”103″ alt=”Christ and Local Culture” ] 1) [easyazon-link asin=”0664235166″ locale=”us”]Journey to the Common Good[/easyazon-link] by Walter Brueggemann.  [ Read our review… ]
Brueggemann provides here a compelling theology of church and local culture. He concludes the book by saying:”[A] biblical perception of reality is urgent for the imagination of the public community, especially if that public imagination has been enthralled for a very long time in the claims of Enlightenment rationality.  While there are huge gifts given in that rationality, what we cannot derive from the account of Enlightenment rationality is demanding, generous neighborliness grounded in God’s own passion for the neighborhood.”

This book and Brueggemann’s recent work with community development gurus[easyazon-link asin=”1609940814″ locale=”us”]Peter Block and John McKnight[/easyazon-link], moves his work to the top of this list of resources for understanding the relationship of Christ and local culture.

2) [easyazon-link asin=”0836191609″ locale=”us”]Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World[/easyazon-link] by John Howard Yoder
Although Yoder’s work is coming under scrutiny of late, as the Mennonite church wrestles to understand it in the context of Yoder’s patterns of inappropriate relations with women, this is an essential book that demonstrates how five essential Christian sacraments each provide a way for churches to engage their neighborhoods and to leaven their places with the shalom that God intends for all humanity.
[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0836191609″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”103″]
[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”1557256233″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”108″] 3) [easyazon-link asin=”1557256233″ locale=”us”]The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture[/easyazon-link] by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

[ Our 2010 Book of the Year – Read our review… ]

As long as a we continue our habits of moving from place to place every few years as individuals, families and churches, we are unlikely to bear much fruit in the work of engaging our neighborhoods. As the most prominent non-monastic book on stability, Wilson-Hartgrove makes a compelling case for staying rooted in our places.

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[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1555976441″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”” width=”222″ alt=”Stephen Burt” ]Anthems, Neighborhoods, and Adulthood.

A Review of

Belmont: Poems
Stephen Burt

Paperback: Graywolf Press, 2013
Buy now:   [ [easyazon-link asin=”1555976441″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ]

Reviewed by Joel E. Jacobson

Well known for his definition of elliptical poetry and labeling “the new thing” in poetry, critic Stephen Burt adds his own voice to the choir of American poets searching for meaning and identity in a cultural climate intent on crucifying outsiders. Burt is not just a poet and critic, but also a husband, father, professor and cross-dresser. These eclectic details may not directly relate to each other, but they help understand the bared heart of a man searching for a world in which he and his family can exist and thrive.


The opening poems are meditations of a father-to-be as he wonders what type of person his child will become. In the process, the poet begins to evaluate his own life, his own evolution of being, his own place of acceptance in a world that alienates men who wear dresses and makeup. Burt masterfully uses urban imagery to embrace both his personal values and the values of his surrounding community. The tone is pastoral, but the material is urban, which creates a meditative ambivalence of love and hate, materialism and abstemiousness. In “Poem of Seven A.M.”, Burt writes, “The tireless & endless rubbish on & against the curb / looks to have been the product of a bilious regime /  unknown to human motives, & too big for human hands.” He continues describing the piles of trash and recycling that “dwarf us, although we have carried them out; they build, indifferently, our tombs . . . all come together in hasty concert / to make their parts a demented harmonium.” These symbols of self-created trash and accumulation of stuff stand for “repeated anthems for our neighborhood, our home.”

*** [easyazon-link keywords=”Stephen Burt” locale=”us”]Other Books by Stephen Burt[/easyazon-link]

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Through Monday May 27, Amazon is running a huge sale on ebooks.


Over 500 ebooks have been marked down, with savings of up to 88%!!!


You can browse the full list here:


CLICK HERE to jump right into the Religion/Spirituality section


HOWEVER, if you don’t have the time or desire to browse the full collection, we have picked 10 essential ebooks that you should own and read:

[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”B003MW0H74″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”73″] 1) [easyazon-link asin=”B003MW0H74″ locale=”us”]The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Communities[/easyazon-link] – John McKnight / Peter Block
Read an excerpt here
2) [easyazon-link asin=”B004GUSHTG” locale=”us”]The Autobiography of Mark Twain[/easyazon-link]
[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”B004GUSHTG” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”73″]
[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”B009AL0B0E” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”74″] 3) [easyazon-link asin=”B009AL0B0E” locale=”us”]Abraham Lincoln: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership[/easyazon-link] by Elton Trueblood

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