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City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century Paperback – Mar 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Press,U.S. (Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802441998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802441997
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 916,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ryken begins the book with a wonderfully concise and accurate analysis of post-modernism, in particular highlighting it's twin idols - relativism and narcissism. He then analyses each of his 8 marks of church, indicating how they can be corrupted by these idols, and calling for a return to its true nature.

This book really stands out because it is unwilling to wallow in lament of the present age, as some are want to do, nor to hark back to the past, but to "live in the present, learn from the past, and anticipate the future, while always looking to the Bible."

Perhaps my own negative is that, at times, it feels that the author is leaning more towards a conservative viewpoint and a "if we just go back to doing what we've always done" mentality, rather than offering a more rigorous critique of where the previous generation had succumbed to it's culture (modernism).
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By A. W. Ferdinando on 21 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the kindle edition of this book and gained from it.

The author seeks to point out the way the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ should be in the 21st century and I found much in it which is helpful and edifying.

It is set in the American context but nevertheless has much to teach those of us who are in the UK.

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Format: Kindle Edition
Although this book is about the church in America, the principles and observations apply equally here in the UK. The author has made a clear case for the role of the church today and the problems it faces within and without. Definitely a call to reflection and action.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Recommended! 18 Jun. 2005
By Tim Challies - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wonder if it has always been true that when people write about the church they write with sadness, lamenting what the church has become or is becoming. In our day we have the church growth advocates bemoaning the fact that not enough churches engage in full-scale marketing of their churches; we have the Emergent Church leaders lamenting the church's refusal to adapt to and engage with the changing culture; and we have conservatives calling us to return to the pillars of faith the church once held dear.

I, sometimes reluctantly, find myself predominantly in the third camp, though I sometimes also wonder if we really are doing so poorly. Philip Graham Ryken is also clearly in the third camp. He assumed the pastorate of Ten Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia after the death of James Boice with whom he co-authored the wonderful book The Doctrines of Grace. As if to prove his allegiance, he subtitled this book "Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century." As with leaders of the other camps, Ryken examines the culture and seeks to find ways in which the church can fulfill it's God-given mandate to be a city on a hill.

This book began with a ministry retreat in early 1999 in which Ryken and the leadership of his church engaged in discussion about being a church that could successfully fulfill God's mandate in the post-Christian 21st century. When he succeeded Boice as pastor of Tenth, Ryken began his ministry by preaching a series of sermons on the seven committments of his church's mission statement. These messages form the basis for the book. Because of this they do read a little bit like sermons (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

City on a Hill begins with an introduction to postmodernism. Ryken identifies these post-Christian times as being characterized by relativism and narcissism. In order to combat those forces and to be a remedy to society, the church needs to return to the model of the 1st century church - a church that was modelled on teaching, worshiping and caring. These three forces, when combined, caused the church to grow. Ryken identifies seven objectives for the church: expository preaching, worthy worship, Bible study and fellowship, pastoral care, educational programs, missionary work and service to the church and community. Each of these objectives forms a chapter in the book.

While these objectives are hardly unique, and could as easily be found in a book written by John MacArthur or any of the other Reformed or conservative church leaders, Ryken does something that gives this book great value. He shows how relativism and narcissism negatively impacts each of these seven objectives, and also shows how returning to the biblical model can be an antidote to the influences that pervade our culture. For example, he teaches that in a post-Christian culture, worship becomes less about Scripture, and less about honoring God, while becoming predominantly about the individual. Church becomes a place where needs are met rather than a place where God is worshiped. He teaches that we need a theology of worship to guide our practice so that we can avoid society's negative influences. In the fifth chapter, which deals with pastoral care, the author teaches that "the revolt against the mata-narrative helps explain why people are so resistant to the gospel. Christianity has a story to tell. It claims to be the story, the story of humanity...However in these post-Christian times, people don't want to listen to God's story; they want to make up their own. When they read the script of salvation, they discover that it's all about God and His glory. But they were hoping to play a bigger part. Hence the postmodern revolt against the meta-narrative, which is really a rebellion against the authority of God" (page 94).

Ryken determines that if we are wise, "we will recommit ourselves to expository preaching, God-centered worship, loving fellowship, pastoral care, costly discipleship, global evangelism, and practical compassion. But none of this will matter unless we recognize our need - our daily need - for the gospel. The church can only be a city on a hill if it confesses its sin and trusts in the crucifixion, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus Christ for any hope of salvation" (page 179).

For the church to succeed in its ministry during the post-Christian era, it must take care that it presents a biblical alternative to the forces of society, all the while ensuring that it does not accomodate them. When church does what it is called to do - to be a city on a hill; a light shining in the darkness - it will give the world what it most needs - the message of life and salvation in and through Jesus Christ.

This is a book that is sure to challenge the reader. It is consistently biblical, returning constantly to the Word of God. It calls the church to return not to the model of the twentieth century, but the model given to us in the Bible. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to others.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Call for the Church to Again Be the Church! 17 July 2003
By David A. Vosseller - Published on
Format: Paperback
Philip Graham Ryken is a worthy successor to his mentor James Boice, both as the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, and as a voice calling out to the church in our day to turn back to her first love. In this great book, City on a Hill, Ryken sets out the Biblical priorities for a church. There are no earthshaking new ideas here, but timeless truths presented in new and fresh ways. Much of this book is based on messages given reaffirming Tenth Presbyterian's mission statement, but the focus given is applicable to any Bible-believing church. He calls the church to return to: expository preaching, corporate worship, fellowship, pastoral care, discipleship, missions and evangelism, mercy ministry and repentance and renewal. Each chapter covers one of these areas and is biblically supported and persuasively argued. The book also has an 'action guide' at the end for pastors and church leaders to evaluate how their own churches are doing, and it provides additional resources for further reading in the areas covered in this book. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about having a God-honoring, gospel-centered & driven church that can impact a community. May He use it for His glory!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Thoughtful 26 Jun. 2012
By S. Grotzke - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found that Ryken's book was a very interesting evaluation of the local church and it's responsibilities. He pointed out that in many areas we have strayed far from the biblical model. What Abraham Lincoln once said still applies to today, "We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation. But we have forgotten God." (15)

Truly, the church of today is confronted with many unique challenges. The author points out the narcissistic attitude which prevails society today. "Whether they admit it or not, their minds reject absolute truth, and in their hearts they love themselves more than anyone else, especially God." (18) In order to reach the current generation she must confront these mindsets.

As Ryken described the church and God's plan for it, he laid down a list of essentials which every church must be participating in. At the top of the pile was a need for Scripture saturation. "The only church that will survive in post-Christian times is a church with a passion for God's Word." (25) This passion must not be in unique to the church when gathered, although the exposition of the Word is of utmost importance. The Scriptures must be a part of the church member's daily life. Without this essential diet, both corporate and personal, the church cannot and will not survive.

The pastor plays a unique role in this area. A duty given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ is to feed the flock, preach the Word, teach everyone. His job is not to speak his ideas, ideals, or intentions but God's Word. "A minister who sees himself as an expositor knows that he is not the master of the Word, but its servant." (49)

Another aspect highlighted in the book was the description and necessity of worship. "The reason worship is at the center of church life is that in worship, God is placed at the center of our attention." (26) Too often our times of "worship" are mere rote observance, devoid of emotion and meaning. Worship is not founded upon feelings, but it cannot leave one without any. The author states, "The principle - that worship is for God and His glory - has several implications. One is that true worship demands everything we have." (65) For the church who seeks to know God through His Word, worship should be a time to express God's greatness back to Him. One way which this is accomplished is through the avenue of music. The author references a helpful quotation from Luther. "Music and notes, which are wonderful gifts and creations of God, do help gain a better understanding of the text.... We have put this music to the living and holy Word of God in order to sing, praise and honor it. We want the beautiful art of music to be properly used to serve her dear Creator and his Christians. He is thereby praised and honored and we are made better and stronger in faith when his holy Word is impressed on our hearts by sweet music." (62-63)

Ryken gives many other insights into the pastor's duty and the churches responsibility in today's world. One of those was the pastor's task to address not only conduct but convictions. "Good shepherds not only distinguish between Christian and non-Christian behavior, but the also discriminate Christian from non-Christian belief." (107)

The Bride of Christ truly faces many unique challenges today, but God has provided everything needed for her witness, edification and sanctification. May the leaders of this Body seek to do all for His glory, by His Word, and through His Spirit.

Favorite Quotes: "What we ought to do is take the time to stop and think. That is what people usually do when they lose their way. A motorist looking for a street in a strange neighborhood eases off the gas pedal and turns down the stereo. But in these post-Christian times, we do exactly the opposite. We sense that we have lost our spiritual way, but instead of taking time to think things through, we go faster and faster, cranking the music louder and louder." (123)

"But Christ does not conform; He confronts." (134)

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 4 Jan. 2013
By Owen Hitchcock - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book because it made me think more biblically about the functions of the local church. Dr. Ryken points us to the Bible alone as the standard for church and we need more of that in these post modern times.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the church 28 Dec. 2012
By Mgrdich - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So real. Ryken openly and directly talks about the temporary image of the church and influences the pastor feel and get effected. A CALL TO REDEDICATION to the Lord and to the church he founded.
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