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General Urban Track


Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life by Mark Votava

There is a lot of talk these days of community and mission, but formation is sometimes forgotten in the midst of it all. This seems to be the most difficult part of our lives to practice because it is embedded in mystery, paradox, and is beyond the intellect. The Mystical Imagination takes you on a path into the depths of the interior life where our concepts of God unravel and our true self comes to life. We start to live into a more countercultural way of life where a contemplative spirituality is our greatest longing and our deepest expression of love in the world.








Copycat: Finding Our Originality By Phil Zarns

It all begins with being called a ... copycat.

We were born to be copycats. From the age of 4 months, humans copy everything they hear and see. God hardwired us to learn this way. From butterflies to the Beatles, Coca-Cola to Xerox, examples of mimicry are everywhere. Even the Mona Lisa can’t hide her smile from being copied. We can’t escape from becoming copycats!

What if we embraced our gift of copying instead of refusing to learn from others? For each season of our lives, we are given processes to endure with mentors to see us through. By embracing our ability to copycat others, we become bursting with potential, positioned to pioneer something altogether original. The Bible shows believers how God has been the catalyst igniting countless generations of copycats before us, changing the world in the process. Trusting God sets off a chain reaction of events through His followers, inspiring other copycats to follow.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, who will copycat you?




Building Friendships: The Foundation for Missional Engagement by Dave Arnold

When you think of missional engagement, what comes to mind? Typically, words such as immersion, incarnation, outreach, and church planting are used. But what is often overlooked is the word friendship. Building friendships is the foundational component to missional engagement. Without it, no strategy, model, or expression will work. Building friendships is essential if we are to live out a gospel-centered life that reaches into every corner of our neighborhoods, cities, and culture. With poignant and inspirational stories, as well as with clear, biblical insight, author Dave Arnold gives practical suggestions of how we can build friendships with others in our neighborhoods and cities that will help us rethink what it means to be missional as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world.







Blueprints for a Just City: The Role of the Church in Urban Planning and Shaping the City's Built Environment by Sean Benesh

What role does the church play in shaping the built environment of the city? Or does it? Blueprints for a Just City is an exploratory journey looking at the ways in which God’s people have played a pivotal role in not only influencing life in the city, but in the actual built environment as well. Together we will delve into the parameters of the Gospel, the role of common grace in the city, and God’s involvement in shaping urban form. If God’s heartbeat is for justice and equity, as part of the Gospel story, how then does the church immerse itself into the city influencing and shaping the built environment? The outcome of Blueprints for a Just City is to collect and synthesize blueprints for what a just and equitable city can look like when marked by the Gospel.




bike-2ndThe Bikeable Church: A Bicyclist's Guide to Church Planting (2nd Edition) by Sean Benesh

The Bikeable Church: A Bicyclist's Guide to Church Planting is an off-the-cuff look and exploration into the bicycling world in Portland. More than that, it pokes and prods church planting in the urban petri dish to discover what it'd be like to plant pedal-powered churches. Chalked full of stories, antics, and slightly questionable research, The Bikeable Church spins forward the church planting revolution in light of the changing transportation infrastructure in cities like Portland, and asks whether we can truly start churches where the primary vehicle of use is the bicycle. This book is for the everyday bicyclist and ordinary church planter. You'll be happy to hear that no spandex was worn for the writing of this book.






No Home Like Place: A Christian Theology of Place (2nd Edition) by Leonard Hjalmarson

“The sense of being lost, displaced, and homeless is pervasive in contemporary culture. The yearning to belong somewhere, to be in a safe place, is a deep and moving pursuit. Loss of place and yearning for place are dominant images…” (Brueggemann, The Land)

Fragmentation, mobility, dualism – these forces work against our belonging, and work against our richly dwelling in the places we live. Add to these the rise of “virtual” place and relationships, and our sense of displacement only increases. It has been difficult to embrace a call to life as mission in this world under these conditions, and equally difficult to embrace a call to place.

Are there “sacred” places? If every place is sacred, does the word lose its meaning? What is it that God loves about place? Can architecture contribute to our ability to engage in a place? How do experiential human questions like “belonging” intersect with a theological lens? Does a biblical view of place imply an ecology and an ethic? How do pilgrimage (the journey) and place (stability) relate? Can the arts assist us in place-making?

This book addresses these questions and more, in a lively dialogue between theology and culture.




KScoverKilling Sin by Aaron M. Renn

Killing Sin is John Owen’s Puritan classic Mortification of Sinupdated for today. Owen tackles the age-old challenge for the Christian: how to put to death the power of sin over our lives. This is something that is impossible through man-centered self-help or self-denial. But with God all things are possible. Though we will never be completely free of sin while alive in this world, by putting our faith on Christ with an expectation of His help, the Holy Spirit will bring the His cross into our hearts with all its sin-killing power.

Owen tells us why it is imperative for the Christian to be killing sin in his life, what it actually means to kill sin, why only a Christian can do it, why it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, and how we can avail ourselves of the power of the Spirit to kill sin through gospel faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Owen’s original Mortification of Sin was written in 17th century English that is extremely difficult to understand. This Killing Sin translates Owen into contemporary English that is easy to read without dumbing it down so people today can read this very important book on a most critical topic.




tmnc-new one-2The Multi-Nucleated Church: Towards a Theoretical Framework for Church Planting in High-Density Cities (2nd Edition) by Sean Benesh

For too long church planting literature and training has been primarily focused on starting churches in low-density parts of our cities predicated upon auto-based commuting patterns. However, the reality of the global city is that millions upon millions of people worldwide do not live that kind of lifestyle. Rather, life revolves around getting from Point A to Point B via on foot, bicycle, or public transportation. What would church planting then look like with those common transportation realities? Instead of basing strategies and methodologies on a car-based lifestyle, The Multi-Nucleated Church reduces the scale to walkable neighborhoods, districts, city centers, and central cities. The common denominator is truly high-density urban contexts. The Multi-Nucleated Church explores the theoretical framework of constructing an ecclesiology that finds its home in the multi-nucleated high-density mega-global city.





urban cycling The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling by Sean Benesh

Cycling as a way of life and mode of transportation is on the rise in city after city around the world. For those looking to dip their proverbial toes into the waters of urban cycling the prospect at times can be rather intimidating. What kind of bike should I ride? A skinny-wheeled high-end road bike? A fixie? A chunky city commuter bike? A department store bike? How about fashion? Do I have to wear brightly colored skin-tight Lycra outfits? Can I just wear normal clothes? How do I lug my gear around?

The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling takes the reader into the world and workings of cycling in the city to uncover the essentials to how to join in on the cycling revolution. Your bicycling guide on this journey is a card-carrying bohemian living in Portland. By using the bike-crazy city of Portland as the backdrop, this book covers all of the basics needed to bike comfortably in the city and to know what the heck you’re talking about ... from bike selection to fashion to bike lanes to gentrification and more. After reading this you’ll know precisely what to ride, how to ride, what to wear, and how to talk like an insider. Well, maybe not, but it’ll still be a fun journey together.

But this book is more than about urban-cycling fashion and high-end bikes. It also plunges headlong into conversations about mobility, equity, race, and justice. If there is going to be a book about all-things cycling in the city it must delve into these uncomfortable topics in order to develop a more holistic view of urban cycling. The bottom line must be to affirm all kinds of people pedaling through the streets of our cities on anything that rolls.




nomadic-newNomadic Faith by Paul Dixon

What if we learned to set aside our preconceived plans, methods, and more importantly ourselves, in order to follow God into the world? It’s time to put away our books, podcasts, and ideologies. It’s time to sit back and listen to God, the author of the church. Armed only with our personal relationship with the One who created all things, and his gospel, we await that still, small whisper from him that will guide our next steps. We wait patiently for him to reveal though Holy Spirit the plan, the people, the where, and those to whom we are to go and present the gospel.

Let’s take time to journey together back to the basics, de-cluttering our lives, learning to sit at the feet of Jesus, and allow his Spirit to guide us. We can become like the people of Israel, the nomads in the desert, packing up only what is needed for the journey, our faith and the gospel, in order to live out a nomadic faith where we set aside the baggage of the past and follow the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to the place where God wants us.





A_way_cover-only A Way: The Story of a Long Walk by Jenna Smith

But why? Why would a young urbanite leave the comforts of home and walk 65 days through rain and hail and scorching sun? So begins A Way, the recounting of a young woman's pilgrimage along the Camino di Santiago from France through Spain, with nothing more than the bag on her back and her husband by her side. It tells of the people met (the quirky ones, the lost ones, the kind and unforgettable ones), the physical discomforts endured (and oh, how many there were) and of the road travelled (all 1065 miles of it). It reveals how a sacred pilgrimage can bring about the most unsacred of experiences. It is a memoir, intertwined with reflections from the walking and lessons learned on the road about time, about the body, and about community. But most of all, it's a story. The story of a long walk.








TCI_coverThe Communal Imagination by Mark Votava

Everyday life is often times not experienced as very relational anymore. The church has been co-opted by services and meetings detached from a relational expression within a particular place or parish in everyday life. We need to create the context to reimagine the body of Christ in everyday life as embodied through its proximity and shared life together. Without the value of inhabiting and listening to the place where we live, we will have very little expression of faith together in everyday life. There needs to be an embodied expression for our ecclesiology to make sense. If we do not have a local expression together, we will create a duality between our spirituality and our everyday lives in the ordinary. The Communal Imagination will draw out a new way of being for ourselves into this transition of embodied expression by stressing the importance of proximity and shared life within a particular neighborhood where we live, work and play. We need to embody practices as a way of life that are based on a spirituality of love, grace, humility and simplicity within the place where we share life together. This is how we will be able to get along and function in a healthy way over time that does not do damage to the cultural context we are in as we build on the particulars of our relationships together.






Vespas, Cafes, Singlespeed Bikes, and Urban Hipsters: Gentrification, Urban Mission, and Church Planting edited by Sean Benesh

Chapter Contributors: Dave Arnold, Cole Brown, Michael Carpenter, Michael Crane, Caleb Crider, Jon Hall, Jon Huckins, Orvic Pada, Brandon Rhodes, Glenn Smith

Gentrification is a complex process that historically has created dividing lines between the haves and have-nots. In urban renewal, there are clear winners and losers as neighborhoods and districts become revitalized. On the plus side, there is a reclamation and preservation of grand historic buildings, homes and edifices alongside renewed economic vitality. On the negative side, gentrification means many minorities and lower-income families, who for years had called the old neighborhood home, are getting pushed to the urban periphery because they cannot afford to live there anymore. In light of these competing if not contradictory values, how should Christians respond? Is there a biblical and theological foundation on which to build such a response? Vespas, Cafes, Single Speed Bikes, and Urban Hipsters takes a look beneath the surface of this phenomenon to uncover and present a Christian response to this city-changing movement.




GLM_new_cover-2Growing Local Missionaries: Equipping Churches to Sow Shalom in Their Own Cultural Backyard by Dan Steigerwald

Growing Local Missionaries is about real action for the good of the world––equipping people to move in their neighborhoods and cities with confidence in both their God-given identity and their capacity to pass on practical missionary skills.








Text and Context Cover 2Text and Context: Church Planting in Canada in Post-Christendom edited by Len Hjalmarson

Chapter Contributors: Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Sean Benesh, Robert Cameron, Nathan Colquhoun, Scott Cripps, Laurence East, Frank Emmanuel, David Fitch, Phil Harbridge, Jamie Howison, Rob Laidlaw, Kim Reid, Robb Scott, Dan Steigerwald. Foreword by well known pastor Bob Roxburgh and afterword by Scott Hagley of Forge Canada.

How does the text of the gospel take root in a post-Christendom culture? What role do those projects we have classically identified as “church plants” have in kingdom renewal? How does this frame of “church plant” shift in our renewed awareness of the missio Dei?

This project listens to the stories of ten church planters, in ten Canadian cities. In part, it comprises a research project to discover what stories are really being written on the Canadian front lines. It anticipates a diverse contextualization of the gospel as we re-enter the neighbourhoods of towns and cities and urban centers.

Frank Emanuel's essay closes the volume with some reflections on the grid developed in “Treasure in Jars of Clay: Patterns of Missional Faithfulness.” The grid discerned eight patterns rather than simple indicators, and frames the question, “How would you know a missional church if you saw one?” Dan Steigerwald, North American Director for Christian Associates International, reflects on the leadership challenge. Dan has planted churches in Europe and in the USA, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Finally, Sean Benesh was a church planter in Vancouver, BC as he worked on a dissertation examining the new urban realities in North America. He has observed recent shifts in church planting focus relating to gentrification and the rediscovery of vital community in urban cores.

POTA Cover
Pilgrims of the Alley: Living Out Faith in Displacement by Dave Arnold


Sometimes people wonder why they feel stuck in life, as if they are living out their days in an unnatural and often hostile environment. The truth is, this is a reality for people attempting to follow Jesus in our world. We are displaced persons.

To be displaced means to be away from or out of one’s natural environment. And I believe it’s in this environment our faith grows the most.

Why? Because God is at work in displacement, and it’s in this environment – in the alleys of life – where extraordinary growth takes place and our faith grows the most. This book is about a journey of understanding how we are to navigate a life of faith amid a world of such uncertainty, of darkness, and oftentimes, of great despair.





TMCF Cover The Missional Church Fieldbook by Leonard Hjalmarson.

Tools for helping believers transition into missional practices have been absent or rare: until now. The Missional Church Fieldbook is a tool for use in groups to transition from inward to outward focus, and to work together to discover shared disciplines of mission and community. The Missional Church Fieldbook will require that you ... move from the life of a member to a missionary ... begin a journey to an unknown destination ... open your life deeply to at least three other people ... recognize that you are God's possession and inheritance ... reimagine your life within God's big story ... discover a messy spirituality ... get outside your comfort zone.







TJNTIY Cover New They're Just Not That Into You: The Church's Struggle for Relevancy in the 21st Century by Stephen R. Harper

Close to 90% of Canadians say they still believe in God, yet less than 15% go to church on a regular basis. Why is there such a disconnect between church and culture? They’re Just Not That Into You: The Church’s Search for Relevancy in the 21st Century explores this question. Author Stephen Harper delves into the curious shift that has occurred in western society, studying the cultural nuances affecting the church’s ability to significantly influence the world around it. So is there a solution? They’re Just Not That Into You investigates this reality and offers some practical solutions.