Review of Mission With by Paul Keeble

Paul Keeble shares, on the one hand, his family’s experiences of living for over 30 years as part of an underprivileged community in inner-city Manchester and, on the other hand, his personal (theological, social, political) reflections on his motivation and influence in that situation. We read of the author’s involvement with other local residents in facing specific incidents and promoting a variety of social initiatives. Keeble’s lifestyle is both exemplary and challenging; for instance, he questions the tendency of new Christians, as a result of their acquisition of new values, to aspire to move up the social scale and abandon the underprivileged, for whom God has a ‘preferential love’.

The author has a very broad perspective on the meaning of mission. Some quotes may help to summarise his message:

‘Mission-with’ requires close connection with a community, a ‘presence-among’, out of which arises ‘project-praxis’ with and alongside others. ‘Mission-with’ can be effective in communicating gospel-infused values and lifestyle, through attitude, demeanour and responses, as the missioner engages in everyday activities and shared projects among, alongside, in relation to and observed by, other local residents.

My personal experience has shown that it is possible to live and raise a family in the inner city while also engaging deeply in a relational and missional sense with such a community and to become an agent of the kingdom of God and the building of shalom.

A significant part of my story and experience has been relocation and becoming a Christian incomer in a deprived inner-city community with a cross-cultural dynamic, where particular social factors have been present.

The many references to well known Christian leaders, and the rather repetitive discussion of the essence and value of ‘mission-with’ in contrast to other more traditional forms of mission, mean the book demands perseverance and a willingness to re-examine one’s own attitudes.

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