Some time back I was asked to endorse the book The New Parish: How Neighbourhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community by Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight J. Friesen. It was one of those times when a ‘yes’ was easy.
I’ve followed the ministry of these three from afar for some time. The growing influence of their Parish Collective in calling the North American church to rediscover its local identity has been significant. Back when my own God Next Door came out, I was heartened to hear stories from people far and wide who were similarly passionate about the neighbourhood identity of the church and the renewal of rootedness in local place and community at the heart of Christian mission. Sparks, Soerens and Friesen were three of those.
My own words of endorsement were these:
‘The New Parish is a gift to church leaders like me. Though the authors challenge the most fundamental understandings of the church’s mission and its presence in the neighborhood, they do so as practitioners deeply invested in its flourishing. This book sets out a challenging agenda for the local church, but with such encouragement and hope that one is left in no doubt that the challenge is within reach. In fact, it’s right outside our front doors.’
But you don’t need to take my word for it. Others of far greater insight have said much more. I certainly recommend it to anyone seeking to better understand the mission of the church in our day and the distinctive impact that genuinely local communities of faith can have on the wider city and, indeed, the world.