Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places

Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places

Basic information

  • Author(s):
  • Published: March 15, 2018
  • Publisher: Calvin College Press
  • ISBN: 978-1- 937555-28- 3
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1- 937555-29- 0

Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places

This book offers a brief overview to stimulate congregational thinking about community engagement that includes insights regarding social science and local context.

Congregational community engagement is so widespread in the United States that it is best described as a congregational norm. Both congregational leaders and attenders, in fact, expect to be involved in these activities simply as matter of course. Moreover, people in need assume aid from congregations remains part of the natural order. Beyond that, most congregations want to be involved in their communities—they see neighborhood participation as a natural product of their mission. And congregational social activity also tends to spur other action: studies show that individuals who attend congregations in which there is a strong and clear priority on community care are more likely than others to be civically engaged outside the congregation. In other words, congregational activity has ripple effects that are hard to even measure. Congregations interested in community engagement, though, should prepare to accurately assess both their limits and capacities in addressing community issues. There exists no step-by-step formula for congregational engagement that simply translates to all communities/neighborhoods. This book, however, offers a brief overview to stimulate congregational thinking about community engagement in a manner that includes insights regarding social science and local context.


"Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places examines what churches do and reimagines what they are. With the eye of an ethnographer, his lens close to the ground, Dr. Mulder surveys what actually happens when churches engage their neighborhoods. The result is a wonderful short read that is sure to have a long impact."
—David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary, Chicago, IL

“Mark Mulder has given urban churches and members a pithy guide that uplifts a congregation's role in neighborhoods and challenges us to think systemically about ministry in cities."
—Reggie Smith, Director of the Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America

"The early Christians were known for their radical charity. Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places shows how Christians can engage in radical charity for the 21st century. Dr. Mulder, a leading thinker on the Christian church and community engagement, shows us with clarity and insight how to be salt and light in our communities. Highly recommended."
—Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., Provost, Professor of Sociology & Urban Studies at North Park University

“With a sound caution against trying to substitute for public sector social services, Mulder encourages churches to do what they do best as they develop relationships that are deep and lasting. He points us toward justice, reminding us that relationships are not the only dimension we must address. Systems and structures should also be the concern of the church.”
—Dr. Steven R. Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America

"Most of the Latino churches we serve in our county do not have the tradition to connect and serve the community in which they live. This highly readable book provides simple and effective tools from social science research that will help our churches learn how to love their neighbors with wisdom, humbleness, and hope. The stories that illustrate the principles in Congregations, Neighborhoods, Places are stories we all identify with and provide a way forward to love our communities more effectively. Myths about poverty are debunked, white privilege and access to resources are explained, and awareness of the structural realities that perpetuate poverty in our cities is reached. At the same time, the limitations, as well as the significant ways in which churches can contribute to their communities, is another plus of this fine book." 
—Mariano Avila, Ph.D., New Testament Professor, Director of the Latino Program, Calvin Theological Seminary


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