Written by Laurie Green Reviewed By David Smith

Within the field of urban theology the name of Laurie Green is well known and widely respected. The Anglican Bishop of Bradwell, he has ministered in Birmingham and London and writes from a lifelong knowledge of inner city contexts, especially London’s East End where he grew up.

The book is divided into four sections covering the British urban context, an analysis of the current urban situation, urban theology, focused particularly on the theme of the kingdom of God, and finally, the practice of city ministry. The author draws upon very considerable personal experience and wide reading, including relevant sociological sources, but he writes in a clear and accessible manner, making this book an excellent introductory text on the subject for undergraduate students. Although much of his own work has been with marginalised people, he rejects a definition of urban mission focused exclusively on the poor of the inner-city, insisting on the need to treat inner cities as indivisible wholes. This concern to understand actual situations is reflected in the recognition that the urban context of today is no longer identical with that described in the famous 1985 volume, Faith in the City. That book, and the research underlying it, shaped Anglican urban mission strategies for two decades, but the city has moved on, with mass immigration and schemes promoting regeneration the urban context is now ‘contested space with many individuals and groups all fighting their corner’.

I found much of help in this volume and its value is especially enhanced by the closing section on the practice of urban ministry. There are points here at which evangelicals may question some of the underlying theological assumptions, or wonder whether evangelism might not have a more prominent place in the description of mission, but anyone with a real commitment to urban ministry will discover much of profit within the covers of this volume. I commend it as a valuable Anglican contribution to a growing field of study from a practitioner whose experience yields many important insights.

David Smith

David Smith
Covenant Fellowship Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA