In this book, Tim Dickau tells three stories: the story of Western society's move towards secularism and its captivation to distorted powers; the story of Grandview Church's sustained journey of forming a thicker and more porous shared life in a particular place; and the story of his own recovery from burnout and alcohol abuse after thirty years of pastoral ministry in one place;
While engaging a host of scholars across a variety of academic disciplines in his societal analysis, Dickau engages three primary conversation partners that include Charles Taylor, William Cavanaugh and Willie Jennings. In describing the moves made in Christian theology and practice over the last half millennium, Dickau attempts to help us understand how we have come to our current cultural context. By describing how Grandview church has responded to this context, he attempts to spark our imagination for how the church might participate in the mission of God in fruitful ways in this cultural moment. In particular, Dickau seeks to illuminate how Grandview church sought to hold together elements of the mission of the church that often get pulled apart including evangelism with seeking justice, prophetic action with works of mercy, personal conversion with the pursuit of systemic change, institutional development with grass-roots organisational leadership, formation and discipleship with deeper cultural engagement. By telling his own story of recovery, Tim also seeks to let us in on some of the personal challenges of pastoring in a communal context for the long haul.
15x23 cm; 230 pages
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tim Dickau was the pastor of Grandview church in Vancouver for 30 years. During that time, the church had gone from being ready to dissolve to becoming re-established as a force for good in its neighbourhood. In the last three decades, the church has found creative ways to bear witness to the good news of God’s reconciling and restoring love through community living, welcome of the poor and the stranger, economic development through social enterprises, a 26unit community housing project, proliferation of the arts, prophetic witness and deepening practices of confession and repentance. Tim’s first book, Plunging into the Kingdom Way, describes the process that the church engaged in as they moved towards practices of hospitality, community, justice and confession. Tim has recently embarked on a new venture as the leader of the certificate in missional leadership program with the Center for Missional Leadership at St. Andrews Hall on the University of British Columbia campus. He has also become the director of Citygate in Vancouver where his task will be to help "connect the church with the city for transformation". The organization has a goal to help churches and communities to collaborate with each other to pursue systemic change through creation of housing, food security, and other responses. Tim lives with his wife Mary. Upstairs lives one of their three sons, his wife and grandson. Tim and Mary have lived with over 30 people in their practice of living in a shared home with others.
There is no one alive from whom I would rather learn about ministry in the local church than Tim Dickau. He is the best combination of the biblical scholarship of an N.T. Wright, the creative institution- building of John Perkins, and the Anabaptist grit of the new monastics. This book’s engagement with such luminaries as Charles Taylor and Willie James Jennings is a feast. Tim is Canadian so he won’t brag. Let me tell you: this book is a must-read for pastors.
Vancouver School of Theology
Rarely does an author so effectively draw together threads of cultural and historical analysis, rich personal and pastoral experience, and community examples and wisdom into a single work. This challenging, engaging, and accessible book is written with deep humility and hope-filled insight. I highly recommend it!
Christine D. Pohl
Professor Emerita, Asbury Theological Seminary
Tim Dickau’s Forming Christian Communities in a Secular Age is a must-read book for churches who want to live faithfully in the twenty-first century. Not only does he help readers navigate some of the most important social thinkers who help us understand the times in which we live, he also gives us imagination and guidance on how we might live faithfully together in our churches today.
C. Christopher Smith, Founding Editor of The Englewood
Review of Books, and author of How the Body of Christ Talks
The church in the West today faces dual dangers of shrinking into irrelevance or waving defiant flags of self-destructive division. This book calls for leaders to listen with humility to what the Spirit is saying to the church through the culture. Speaking with clarity and conviction, the author challenges us to consider what the church needs today to thrive in our place as a transformative community. Rather than programs and simple repetitive solutions, at this crucial juncture in western culture the church needs clear thinking and contemporary engagement that is theologically reflective and practically applied. The church needs this book.
President and Dean of Theology, Acadia Divinity College
“There are many and various voices advocating for the church’s revitalization of its inner life and its mission in the world. But this book is a must read. It provides a sustained analysis of contemporary society, a vision of church as an embodied community in the neighborhood sustained by a sacramental life in Christ through the Spirit, and engaged in a mission to the world that touches all the domains of life, including probing the nature of the ‘fallen powers.’ And there is more - the book pulsates with a probing humility that makes it winsome and invitational.”
Emeritus Professor Regent College, Vancouver.
People are always asking me for resources that might help them strategize in and with their communities about how to bring about lasting and meaningful change. Dickau offers us a weapon for righteousness or more precisely a weapon of humility that will help Christians see rightly their world and their work in it. This is a book for pastors, churches large and small, and for all Christians who believe that faithful witness to the gospel must be a witness in place and a witness of place.
Willie James Jennings
Associate Professor of Theology and Africana Studies, Yale Divinity School, Author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging
I was profoundly shaped by my time at Grandview. What Tim articulates here is humbly grounded in decades of work, prayer, and study in one place—the Grandview-Woodlands community in Vancouver—but his insights are a clarifying and empowering call for all The Church across North America. A powerful, rich, brilliant book.
Canadian Juno award winner. Host of HBO’s Hip Hop Evolution and former host of CBC’s Q.
This book shows how the disintegration of the church in a secular context presents the opportunity to reimagine the church and give hope to those wandering through a divided and despairing world. Tim Dickau deftly bridges the scholarly and the pastoral to display a realized vision of a congregation sharing the hardships and dreams of a neighborhood. The practical examples of liturgy, peace work, and alternative economic practices show what humility and openness to God’s Spirit can allow to happen.
Professor of Catholic Studies at DePaul University and author of Field Hospital: The Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World.
Tim Dickau’s book grew out of decades pastoring a church along “pathways of fidelity to God’s kingdom within our secular culture” The book weaves together three strands: his own story of burnout and recovery; stories from Grandview Church in Vancouver as that community sought to be a Christian community; and Dickau’s wide-ranging study, in many disciplines, seeking to understand our present context. He provides that rare book: a description of things done alongside the reasons we are called to do them now.
He offers a welcome glimpse of church coming to life.
Dean of Seminary, Ambrose University
With warmth and wisdom, Tim Dickau invites us on a transformative journey narrating the steps of how we find ourselves today in a post-Christendom landscape. As both a missional practitioner and scholar, Dickau offers the reader a thoughtful and encouraging exploration of Christian witness in our secular age. Rather than simply giving up or giving into the powers that challenge the gospel, this book demonstrates how small communities of Christian faith can lean boldly into the future God is bringing, with sanctified hope rather than naive optimism. Dickau’s grounded and gracious reflections on discipleship leave the reader better equipped to express love of God and neighbor in a world searching for meaning within an immanent frame.
Ross Lockhart, Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall, Vancouver and Founder of The Centre for Missional Leadership.