Living system ministry is an approach to Christian ministry in the Western world that recognizes the differences between cats, the world God created, and toasters, the world we create using our technology and our capacities, limited as they are. The church is the Body of Christ, a living system. Neighborhoods, cities, and cultures, too, are complex and interrelated living social systems. Why, then, would we try to do God's work in a church or social system using tools and methods designed for non-living systems? Writing from his forty-five years of experience as an urban ministry practitioner in Boston, Dr. Doug Hall introduces us to an approach to missions that recognizes the lead role of God's larger, living social systems as powerful engines for doing far more in our world than we can even begin to imagine.
Like many young pastors, Stephen Witmer dreamed of pastoring a big, center-city church, believing thatâ€™s where God does His most significant work. Instead, he became a pastor in Pepperell, Mass. (population 11,497 in 2010), a place only slightly larger than his hometown in Maine. In A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters, Witmer explains his personal about-face and makes a theological case for small-place ministry. The book illustrates both bright and dark sides of small places, explores joys and temptations facing pastors called to rural areas, and challenges our un-Biblical definitions of significance and strategy. By showing the joys of embracing a big gospel and delighting in the small and seemingly insignificant, his message becomes applicable to just about anyone.