An inspirational and compelling exploration of a spreading phenomenon that is breaking out in the most unlikely of places.
As attendance in churches is in plateau or free fall, small and growing numbers of people are turning to creative and relationally connected communities that shine the light of Christ with great effect and generosity. Kingdom Communities: Shining the light of Christ through faith, hope and love examines the rise of this diverse and organic movement that is popping up in neighborhoods, regional towns, urban slums, brothels, aged care villages, schools, churches … indeed anywhere!
Using multiple case studies from across the region, Kingdom Communities explores this growing movement historically, biblically and theologically and uncovers the power of distributed networks for holistic Christian mission. In our age of disruption and rapid discontinuous change that has shaken religious institutions to their core, this book is both a challenge and major injection of hope for those who are passionate about the kingdom of God, Christian leadership, the future of ministry and the relational communities that the world desperately needs.
Foreword by Alan J Roxburgh
What leaders are saying about this book
Rev Dr Michael Frost, Morling College, Sydney, Author of Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian World, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement and The Shaping of Things to Come: “Read this book and I guarantee you’ll be deeply encouraged even before you finish the introduction! God is doing something new, breathing fresh life into his people, sending them out as Kingdom Communities, embedded in neighborhoods right across the country. And Andrew and Dean have got their finger on the pulse. Their book is not only full of stories from around Australia, it provides both the theological frame and the practical steps for launching a movement of Kingdom Communities wherever God has placed you.”
Alan J Roxburgh, Fuller Seminary professor, consultant, multiple author and Director of The Missional Network; Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time; Structured for Mission: Renewing the Culture of the Church: “I love this book!”
Rev Professor Darren Cronshaw, Head of Research and Professor Missional Leadership with Australian College of Ministries (Sydney College of Divinity) and Pastor of AuburnLife Baptist Church: “Invite a theological college principal and a denominational executive to write about the future hope of the church and what do you get? Not what you might expect. Andrew and Dean offer thoughtful social analysis, inspiring case studies and grassroots leadership principles for re-focusing the work of the church where it belongs: loving and serving local neigbourhoods. With hopeful implications for congregational transformation, denominational resourcing, theological education and especially the mission of the whole people of God, Kingdom Communities is essential reading for anyone concerned about the complacency and decline of the church as we know it.”
Rev David Baker, Moderator, Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod: “Kingdom Communities offers all those interested in building Christian communities of faith, hope and love, imaginative ways forward that are deeply connected to the heart of the gospel. At a time in our life when people are retreating within circles of like-mindedness, Kingdom Communities points the way to inclusive, open, and affirming communities that reflect the confidence of faith in the God revealed in Jesus Christ.”
John Bond, Chairperson, Compassion Australia Board, Minister at Large, Lifestreams Christian Church and Asia & South East Pacific World Zone Leader of Dynamic Church Planting International: “Andrew and Dean have Kingdom hearts and so speak from this perspective. Kingdom Communities is not about them but about Christ! With sharp theological insight, examples and ample reflection, they share in an engaging and challenging way to stimulate us to personally think about life, ministry, leadership, mission and the models that will promote advance. This book is not theory but rather is laced with fresh perspective and practical application tailored for the 21st century. I am sure this book will enrich your ministry and your understanding of the Kingdom with method that matters.”
Rev Dean Eaton, Church Planting Mentor and Mission Facilitator, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand and Author of Lighthouses: Christian Coaching in a Post-Christian World: “Andrew and Dean are panning for gold as they skilfully sift through the often murky waters of church history. With a keen eye across the globe as well as insightful analysis of the Australian mission scene, the writers provide denominational and local church leaders with a treasure house of ideas for advancing local mission. What emerges is a clear pathway for developing people on mission with God in their local context. A must read for those concerned with developing local mission. Highly recommended.”
Gary Edwards, Chair of Churches of Christ in Queensland Board: “I am so pleased this story has been well documented with real world, current examples and provides excellent keys and ideas to release God’s power within an organisation and across a whole system. I have been privileged to be part of the leadership and have learnt much about my own Christian walk. The stories of Kingdom Communities are a constant source of encouragement.”
Rev Dr Keith Farmer, Former Principal of Australian College of Ministries and mentor to leaders: “What a privilege to commend such a profound and captivating book. My deepest response is that I believe it expresses the heart of God. The combination of sound theology and biblical principles, innovative ideas and a significant case study, communicated with both sensitivity and courage, provides a significant contribution to the deep challenge facing Christian faith in Australia and beyond.”
Rev Darryl Gardiner, St Luke’s Anglican Waikanae New Zealandand Urban Neighbours of Hope Commissioner: “Kingdom Communities is different for all the right reasons. It gives a sophisticated yet clear analysis of the missional situation we are in today but rather than suggesting that we need to do more of the same in better ways, it points to a Biblical model of ministry, ecclesiology and method that deals with the core issues we need to address. It is a wonderful read and highly recommended.”
Rev Dr Graham Hill, Founder & Director The Global Church Project, Author of Healing our Broken Humanity and Salt, Light and a City: “Andrew and Dean love Jesus and his church and mission. They see the struggles of the contemporary church, but also signs of hope and renewal. They call the church to join with Jesus in proclaiming and embodying the kingdom of God, through new and transforming approaches to discipleship, mission, reconciliation, community, loving neighbours, and embracing fresh practices. Andrew and Dean show how churches can draw on the power of stories and language and practices to become kingdom communities that glorify and serve Jesus Christ. This is one of the most important books I’ve read for many years.”
Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, The Shaping of Things to Come,5Q, among others. Founder of Forge Missional Training Network, 100movements, and The 5Q Collective: “In Kingdom Communities: “My friends Dean and Andrew present something of a missional analysis of the Australian Church, one that exposes some of the inherent flaws in our thinking. They go on to present an approach to ecclesiogenesis based on the working model fleshed out in Queensland and beyond. A worthy read.”
Rev Lynette Leach, Former CEO, Churches of Christ in Victoria & Tasmania, Chair of Stirling College Board: “Based on their leadership and experience in local, state, national and international church and business contexts, Andrew and Dean offer a depiction of the challenges facing the church today. Using data, stories of change and neighbourhood engagement, backed by theological and biblical reflection, hope springs up as Kingdom Communities emerge. Rather than focusing on despair, the book has a practical application to churches of all sizes and models, to individuals, and to creative neighbourhood experiments where the light of Christ is shining through faith, hope, love and compassion. I found it an inspiring book which hopefully will spark imagination for the sake of Kingdom possibilities.”
Dr Carson E Reed, Vice President for Church Relations and Executive Director, Siburt Institute for Church Ministry and Frazer Chair for Church Enrichment, Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University, USA: “Kingdom Communities serves as tour guide and theological primer. As tour guides, Andrew and Dean skilfully transport the reader to all manner of delightful places where kingdom communities are flourishing. In doing so, the authors point out what new expressions of God’s work look like in a myriad of local contexts. But just as important, Andrew and Dean ground their touring in solid but accessible theological frameworks. Readers not only experience the pleasure of new places visited, but they will have biblical and theological resources to imagine what God might be up to in their own context. Kingdom Communities possesses catalytic possibilities for Christian leaders and communities who are willing to imagine anew God’s kingdom.”
Rev Dr Martin Robinson, Principal ForMission College, UK, Author of a number of books including Faith of the Unbeliever and Invading Secular Space: “Andrew and Dean are undoubtedly successful insiders in terms of church life. Their experience is enhanced with the fresh eye of the ‘practitioner/ theorist’. Their combination of clear thought and practitioner engagement offers the reader practical insights for the future emergence of a church deeply devoted to mission in our immediate contexts. This is a must read for all Christians passionate about mission in their neighbourhood.”
Greg Runge, Former Managing Director David Mitchell Limited and Chair of Council 2013-16 Churches of Christ in Queensland: “I am so pleased that Dean and Andrew have put down in print, the amazing Jesus journey possible when we prayerfully seek His will for growing His Kingdom, and step out in faith to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As a Christian in Australian business and industry for more than forty years I have learnt that we just need to always strive to be Christ where we are, bringing the light of Christ into our communities. Kingdom Communities is an easy but challenging must read for all Christians in leadership, and a great encouragement to all those who earnestly seek to grow Christ’s Kingdom on earth.”
Paul Sparks, Co-Author of the award-winning book The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community: “Let me be straightforward with you. You cannot wait any longer. This book is the best survival guide you can get to cross the desert from the old world to the new! Gather those you love. Step into the practices of Kingdom Communities together. The future is filled with hope for those who do.”
Rev Tania Watson, Executive Minister, Churches of Christ in Western Australia: “All Australian church leaders are right to be concerned about the Body of Christ in this Country and in our time. Andrew and Dean rightly call for mutual discernment that must include deep listening to what the Spirit is saying. Mutual discernment must also include, as they have done, an embrace of the discipline to write down deep reflections based on insight and experience. This book is a brave contribution to the Australian Church discernment process and I hope that it inspires two responses: considered engagement and more considered writing by Australian Christian leaders and thinkers.”
Rev Dan Yarnell, National Co-ordinator, the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Great Britain: “Drawing on informed empirical research, wide theological reading and reflections on active contextually relevant examples, Andrew and Dean have provided an honest, engaging, reflective and empowering work that will assist all leaders who are involved in seeking to articulate living expressions of communities of Christ-followers for the 21st century. I commend this book to leaders of denominations, networks, local churches and their local leaders, along with key influencers within theological colleges to read, reflect, digest and inculcate the needed change that is being considered in this vital and timely work. Perhaps by learning to live and tell new stories from a transformed imagination, the future will have the kind of church that is keenly attentive to the life-empowering Spirit of God who continues to challenge, provoke and lead us into the missio Dei for our generation and the ones to come.”