Reshaping The Urban Church

Urban Church Breakthrough, by Richard E. Moore and Duane L. Day (Harper & Row, 1966, 183 pp., $4.50), and The Grass Roots Church: A Manifesto for Protestant Renewal, by Stephen C. Rose (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, 174 pp., $4.95), are reviewed by William Edmund Bouslough, chairman, Division of Biblical Studies and Philosophy, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California.

Our decade has seen a great number of volumes about problems in the contemporary church. They range from bitter criticism through more moderate evaluations to academic discussions. Urban Church Breakthrough and The Grass Roots Church represent the latest approach to the issues. They have many similarities. Each purports to build on the foundation of criticism and evaluation of the recent past and to offer positive steps for the future. Each relates itself to the urban situation, each reviews the facets of modern city life that demand renewal, each suggests a basic theological stance for renewal, each recognizes the necessity for continuing and strengthening the local church, and each moves to suggested structures that the authors believe will bring new meaning to the ministry of the Church.

Moore and Day have four basic points. First, a ministry of reconciliation is necessary. The city prompts loneliness, alienation, and depersonalization, and the Church, under the lordship of Christ, must help the defeated to find dignity, courage, and power. Second, the Incarnation, not just as propositional truth but as “reality and presence,” must guide the Church as it goes about its task. Reality is the key, and a “reality-shaped parish” is the means by which a church will fulfill its mission. Third, the residential congregation needs to ...

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