Mission From Below: Growing a Kingdom Community

by and Stephen Conway (foreword)

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Book Details

Rating: ★★★★★

Format: Paperback (128 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-910519-77-6

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“A book that needs to be taken very seriously”
— Philip North —

“Challenging lessons for the modern church”
— Michael Turnbull —

This is a radical and controversial challenge to the top-down leadership models that are so widespread in the church, instead making the case for a new model of people-driven servant leadership, guided by the Holy Spirit towards kingdom growth rather than church growth.

Using the example of two Loreto Sisters working alongside one of the most socially-deprived communities in North East England, we see how they listened to and affirmed people who felt forgotten and had lost hope. As servant leaders, the Sisters were gradually able to empower the residents of Port Clarence on the River Tees to confront the many injustices heaped upon them, and to take action in improving their lives.

Mission From Below is an inspiring example of how a seriously neglected community can bring about its own transformation without any fads or initiatives imposed from on high by the church.

Contemporary evangelism is in danger of becoming obsessed with the quick win, of demanding instant results and immediate, measurable returns. However in the urban context, such expectations can lead only to disappointment. Evangelism there is about patient, faithful presence and the slow, long-term processes of building trust and equipping local leaders. I was privileged to work with Janet Hodgson in the Diocese of Durham where she taught me so much about the need to contextualise the Gospel so that our proclamation is based on deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of local people. By focusing on a small religious community who located themselves in Port Clarence, then an all but forgotten and highly deprived corner of Teeside, Janet finds a powerful demonstration of the key emphases of her work. In an age when we are in danger of opting for style over substance in our missional approaches, this is a book that needs to be taken very seriously.

Philip North, Bishop of Burnley

Drawing on her vast experience, Janet Hodgson has produced a thrilling book which bridges the often neglected gap between narrative and reflection. Here is a true and compelling story of mission on the front line. But the author has the theological skill to draw out of the story some timely and challenging lessons for the modern church. The book is a very readable sketch of God’s great and continuing enterprise.

Michael Turnbull, Bishop of Durham (1994–2003)

Sister Imelda Poole and Sister Philippa Green did wonderful work whilst in Port Clarence.  They reached out to people on the margins building the community up.  They always had an open door where everybody was welcome.  They both gave a listening ear and offered words of comfort and consolation, empowering people in the local community.

Seamus Cunningham, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Hodgson bewail[s] the C of E’s wrong-footed expression of mission: its failure to see mission as community growth, becoming too religious, and, as a result, losing touch with the very material world that Jesus came to love and save. Ann Morisy, The Church Times


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