Referred to by a friend, I too am offering my endorsement of Church Planting in Muslim Cities. I can hardly believe that Livingstone wrote the book twenty years ago! He, in my view, was ahead of the curve. Besides some of the practical nuggets regarding the challenge of establishing churches inside Muslim domains, the biggest value of the book is how he offers a “participant observer’s” viewpoint. That, by the way, was my choice of research method for Soul Whisperer. Let me explain.
Participant observers make insider, up-close-and-personal gleanings. From that intimate place he speaks to the deeper engagement issues and receptivity factors within Muslim culture. Many mission writers are too removed and theoretical to be helpful. He, on the other hand, sees the very necessary pivotal nature of influence. He knows from real-time experience, that if we are to reach Muslims that they must wrestle deeply with the relevance of the gospel to their lives. In this, he is reading them, knowing that we have to get to a deeper dialogue. Establishing friendships alone will not accomplish the greater aim.
Of course, he also addresses the sociological issues of embracing Christianity, where the seeding the gospel must be contemplated from a community acceptance vantage point, not just individually. Given the level of fear that currently exists, providing realistic support is paramount. Clearly, there is much to add, when it comes to shaping a multiplication movement in the Middle Eastern context. Having recently been in Egypt, I will be addressing this challenge in upcoming posts.
In sum, though statistics are still staggeringly low regarding church planting successes in Muslim urban centers, from my take, Livingstone is asking the right questions. He has inspired some new lines of thinking that I am going after in my next project. Want to reach people entrenched within a dominant cultural matrix? Pick it up!