Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods
By Jonathan Brooks (InterVarsity Press)
Jonathan Brooks’ memoir of being pulled into the pastorate of Canaan Community Church in Englewood, Ill., is a beautiful reminder that God is at work in places even if the church is not. In Church Forsaken, Books shares his story as pastor in a neighborhood largely written off by those who live outside his community.
Leaning on the principles of living in exile found in Jeremiah 29, Brooks paints a beautiful picture of what it means to live out intentional and relational ministry. In fact, it is a clear reminder to anyone that effective life-changing ministry cannot be done remotely. As Christians, we are called to enter into the lives of our neighbors as we love and serve them.
Ministry in Englewood is hard and unique, just like it is hard and unique where you live. The guiding principles Brooks lays out in this book are not only biblical but applicable to where we all live. These principles are important to keep in mind when ministering in neglected neighborhoods—areas that tend to be ignored by businesses and local governments due to the socio-economic status of many who live there.
I would encourage anyone who is passionate about seeing God move in neglected neighborhoods to read this book. It is a call to arms for churches not to forsake tougher neighborhoods but to engage with the community and be ready to see God do amazing things.
Jeff Howard, minister of students
First Baptist Church