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Eric C. Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya, The Black Church in the African American Experience, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996).

project on black Christianity. For this reason alone, this book holds much merit as a reference book and as a research tool. It will be a long time before such an extensive research project on the black church in America will be undertaken again.

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Robert Linthicum’s Transforming Power12 serves as a template for the exercise of legitimate power by the church and those who want to change the world for the better by acting for the common good. Linthicum defines power as “the ability, capacity and willingness of a person or group of people or an institution (whether it is a church or a nation) to act. The book is divided into two section—“The Theology of Power” and “The Practice of Power.” Linthicum unpacks the theology of the kingdom of God as well as anyone I have read and ties the first public words of Jesus in Luke 4 to the book of Deuteronomy and the then-current system of taxation, slavery, and oppression. He points out that Jesus’ message really was good news for the poor. Similar to the work of Jesus, the job of the church is to bring “shalom” (Jer. 29:4-7) to their cities by praying for the city and blessing it. Blessing the city and praying for the city is the approach of externally focused churches I work with. “The essential task of the church is to work for its society’s shalom—to work for the full and total transformation of all the people, forces and structures with the love of God.”13 Drawing upon Jeremiah 29, he fleshes out the essential, strategic, and sufficient work of the church. The church is to become God’s Robert Linthicum, Transforming Power: Biblical Strategies for making a Difference in Your Community, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003).

Ibid, 75.

presence in the city, called to pray for the city, practice faith through action, and proclaim the good news of the gospel.

In Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality,14 the author deftly attempts to define the “constitutive elements” of a healthy spiritual life. By “constitutive” he means the defining and essential elements of a healthy spiritual life, without which, there is no Christian life. These four essentials are private prayer and private morality, social justice, mellowness of heart and spirit, and engagement in a worshiping community. This book is helpful in understanding, from a Catholic perspective, the balance between a private spiritual life and a vibrant expression of a Christian’s relationship with God through service.

Contrasting the Catholic perspective with a Protestant perspective, he points out that most Protestant believers see their service and ministry as being elements that nurture their faith but are not the essence (constitutive elements) of their faith. The idea of “constitutive elements” of Christianity is very important in helping churches move to a place where ministry and service to others is not optional but essential to life, health, and growth.

In Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development,15 Bryant L. Myers provides an excellent foundational work for holistic ministry and community development. At the time the book was written, Myers had spent over twenty years as a worker with World Vision, so he was well experienced regarding Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality, (New York: Doubleday), 1999.

Bryant L Myers, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999).

proven and broken principles of community transformation. Drawing deeply from the strongest biblical foundations and the soundest social science Myers builds the case that The best of human futures lies in the direction of the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as the person who offers the way to become part of God’s kingdom. Because poverty is fundamentally relational, I then articulate the twin goals of transformational development as changed people and just and peaceful relationships.

By “changed people” I mean people who have discovered their true identity as children of God and who have recovered their true vocation as faithful and productive stewards of gifts from God for the well-being of all.16 Myers provides some of the clearest thinking on the poor and disenfranchised in the context of the continuing story that runs through the Bible.

He also builds one of the best apologetics for the need for the gospel to go forth in word and deed. He writes, “Words clarify the meaning of deeds. Deeds verify the meaning of words.”17 By defining transformation from a biblical perspective, Myers fills in some of the gaps kingdom workers must have, if they are to be agents of transformation.

The aim of God So Loves the City: Seeking a Theology for Urban Mission is to “explore ways to integrate theology, urban studies, and contextualization in a theologically informed, holistic, and transformational theology of mission for the city.”18 It is the product of a sixteen-month investigation and reflection-oriented study group comprised of doctoral students (all of whom are engaged in urban ministry) at the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary. Although this anthology is written by nine different authors, each author follows a similar stylistic approach. Each chapter Ibid., 14.

Ibid., 10.

Charles Van Engen and Jude Tiersma, eds., God So Loves the City Seeking a Theology for Urban Mission, (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1994) xi.

begins with a story of urban ministry followed by a theological or missiological reflection to describe a specific methodology that others may find useful or insightful in their contexts. The big question the authors seek to answer is, “What is the missional role of the church in the city?” Through their comprehensive study, they have done a good job in answering that question. The role of the church is to be one of a caring neighbor, an empowering entity and transformational agent that works with the community, in relationship with the community. The church is not the Messiah—Jesus is the only one who can transform a person and transform a community.

In A Theology as Big as the City19 urban missiologist Ray Bakke establishes the biblical, historical, and theological basis for ministry in the city. Drawing from over 1,200 references to cities, Bakke examines a few key cities and the lives of seemingly average people who were instrumental in their transformation. This book is a good primer on the theology of urban ministry. Bakke’s premise is that the Bible is a book about urban ministry, and when read from an urban perspective one receives fresh insight into the meaning of the Scriptures in respect to God’s heart for the city—from Genesis to Revelation. As a curious learner and long-time practitioner, Bakke is well qualified to address the needs of the ever-changing urban environments as well as the place the church has in bringing the shalom of God to the cities.

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In his classic and seminal treatise, Leadership, James MacGregor Burns defines the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership.

Raymond Bakke. A Theology As Big As the City, (Downers Grove, IL:

Intervarsity Press, 1997).

Transactional leadership involves “exchanging one thing for another,” money for work, jobs for votes, etc. Transformational leaders take into account not only the task to be accomplished but just as important the needs of those being led. Transformational leaders tap into the motives, desires, and needs of followers. Burns firmly proposes that the best transformational leaders lead others to action and change based on the aspirations and expectations of both leaders and followers. Transformational leadership theory, as first put forth by Burns, states that his own measurement of “power and leadership are measured by the degree of production of intended results,”20 with the operative words being “intended” and “results.” Understanding transformational leadership is essential to assessing the value of LCs as they relate to community and societal impact. Burns writes, “By social change I mean her real change—that is, a transformation to a marked degree in the attitudes, norms, institutions, and behaviors that structure our daily lives.”21 What he describes as “social change” is nothing less than the type of change those in the LCs are seeking.

Twenty-five years after writing Leadership, the preeminent fathers of transformational leadership, James MacGregor Burns, wrote Transforming Leadership: a New Pursuit of Happiness, in which he deposits the fruit of his learning since penning Leadership. It is clear that Burns has transitioned from writing to a business audience to writing to those in the political or social sector. He writes, “Summoned forth by human wants, the task of leadership is to accomplish some change in the world that responds to those wants. Its actions and achievements are measured by the supreme public values that

–  –  –

themselves are the profoundest expressions of human wants: liberty and equality, justice and opportunity, the pursuit of happiness.”22 To the aging Burns, transformational leadership is too important a concept to squander on helping the business sector squeeze and extract the last penny of profit from an enterprise. Transformational leaders need to work on solving the big problems of the world and in doing so, to change the world. This book is an important piece of work in the world of externally focused churches.

In Transformational Leadership: Industrial, Military, and Educational Impact, Bernard Bass defines the specific components of transformational leadership. Such leadership is charismatic in that followers want to identify with and emulate the leader.

Second, transformational leaders inspire others through challenge, understanding and persuasion. Third, transformational leadership is intellectually stimulating. And last, transformational leadership is “individually considerate” in that it provides followers with support and coaching. Bass posits that the degree to which the leader exercises these components he or she is a transformational leader. He notes that when people describe good leaders, they describe leaders who exhibit the aforementioned components of leadership.23 Bass measures the outcome of effective leadership in terms of commitment, involvement, loyalty and performance. These are essential outcomes to keep in mind.

Bass recognizes that transformational leadership is “an extension of” transactional leadership and both are useful in appropriate situations. He points out however that “Leadership must also address the follower’s sense of self-worth in order to engage the James MacGregor Burns, Transforming Leadership: a New Pursuit of Happiness, (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003), 2.

Bass, 14.

follower in true commitment and involvement in the effort at hand. This is what transformational leadership adds to the transactional exchange”24

In Stephen Hacker and Tammy Robert’s book, Transformational Leadership:

Creating Organizations of Meaning, the authors define the three areas of transformation:

personal transformation, relational transformation, and enterprise transformation.

Transformation is not merely some type of internal change but rather, the authors are quick to point out, “one cannot declare a transformation without the measurable results to demonstrate the change.”25 I found this book to be helpful in thinking more clearly about the role individual leaders and interpersonal relationships have in bringing about organizational transformation. All three transformations must be present to bring about genuine transformation that results in dramatically improved performance—in my case engaging an increasing number of people in ministry outside the church. The authors clearly believe that the individual leader is the beginning of the change process. This conclusion informs a potential hypothesis: Communities are transformed by churches that have been transformed led by people who themselves have been transformed.

Service-Learning: a Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on Its Origins, Practice, and Future seeks to construct, through its founders, the roots and practice of service-learning.

“Service-Learning joins two complex concepts: community action, the ‘service,’ and efforts to learn from that action and connect what is learned to existing knowledge, the Bass, 4.

Stephen Hacker and Tammy Roberts, Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning, (Milwaukee, WI: Quality Press, 2004), 2.

‘learning.’”26 Service learning goes beyond service and goes beyond learning. To enhance the value of serving one needs reflective learning that informs those who serve and enhances the effectiveness of continued service. The concept of service learning is foundational to understanding the LCs, not only during the three-day gatherings but also the kind of learning that occurs as churches engage their communities and reflect upon their experience.

In Action Learning in Action: Transforming Problems and People for WorldClass Organizational Learning, author Michael J. Marquardt describes many critical elements and processes that are essential to the success of an LC. Marquardt notes that action learning is built around a problem (project, challenge, issue, or task), in which both the team and the organization are stakeholders in the successful resolution of that problem or challenge.27 The author also identifies the “six distinct interactive components” that are critical to action learning—the same six elements that are critical to LCs: (1) A problem, (2) The group, (3) The questioning and reflection process, (4) The commitment to taking action, (5) The commitment to learning, and (6) The facilitator.28

–  –  –

Ram Cnaan’s The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare provides the best and most recent study (2002) of the church’s Timothy K. Stanton and others, Service-Learning: A Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on Its Origins, Practice, and Future, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 2.

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