Our book, Together for the City, contends that to truly reach a community for Jesus, the gospel compels us to create localised, collaborative, church planting movements.
As a bunch of church pastors and planters, with a burden for our city of Birmingham, we have been discovering together that the spiritual need, and the ministry opportunities across our community are far too big for us to respond to on our own.
We have been growing a deep conviction that the more willing we are to find ways to collaborate, the more effective we’ll be in reaching our city for Jesus. The more generous we are toward one another, the more God will bear fruit through us. Together for the City is our attempt to put into words what we have been discovering in practice.
We aim to convince you that collaborative church-planting movements are a Christ-honouring implication of the gospel and a strategic way to reach our communities for Jesus.
We seek to cast this bigger vision by telling our story as transparently as we can and by introducing you to what is happening all over the world. If God can use us in this way, he can use anyone.
In a way that may be useful to you in your context, we aim to share our experiences with you as well as some of the convictions we have grown in, lessons we have learned, and principles we have discovered.
We aim to encourage you wherever you are on this journey and implore you to see that we each have a role to play in this bigger vision.
With a vision to reach lost people through church planting and with healthy collaboration at its heart, by the grace of God may we together reach our cities – and through them, the world.
We in no way present ourselves as experts. 2020birmingham, (our own local collaborative church planting movement), is probably a ‘fledgling’ movement at best. We are 19 church plants into what has grown into a 50 plant project for our city, and we are under no illusions that this in itself only scratches the surface of what is needed for a complex and challenging context like Birmingham.
However, we do believe we are discovering what God can do in our cities when we are on mission together, in a way that begins to cross some of those traditional tribal boundaries. As we answer the call and live on mission, we should build bridges not barricades and throw ropes not rocks.
You may already be convinced of the need for collaboration. You are ready to go, and you hope we can help you get started. Our prayer is that this book will be a practical encouragement to get you on your way.
Or, you may be unconvinced and wondering why this should be a priority for ministry. Perhaps you’re struggling to see how to embrace collaboration without compromise. Perhaps you assume this kind of vision is for bigger and more established churches than yours. Almost certainly you’re already far too busy and are wondering why this should take up valuable space in your diary. Our prayer is that Together for the City will be a provocative book that prompts you to think again.
You may instinctively “get it.” We hope that the book is practical enough quickly enough, and that the time spent defending principles will help root your convictions. Perhaps you will be reading with the voice of a cautious leadership team in your ears. We hope that we’ve done enough groundwork to aid you with difficult conversation.
All in all, as you read, our prayer is that we might inspire and encourage you. Our desire is that this book might play a small part in giving you confidence to step out with risky faith, as part of your story, in your city, all for the glory of Jesus!
written by John James