Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal, By Robert D. Lupton

Renewing the City

Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal

by Robert D. Lupton
Foreword by Raymond J. Bakke

Renewing the City
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Published: July 08, 2005
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3326
  • ISBN: 9780830833269

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When an expatriate bureaucrat toured a devastated city, he saw more than ashes and ruins. He envisioned a thriving metropolis where God's people could find safety and community. Likewise, when we consider today's urban challenges, we can be daunted by corruption and despair, or we can see opportunities for rejuvenation, restoration and rebirth.

Community developer and urban activist Robert D. Lupton looks to the Old Testament example of Nehemiah as a role model for community transformation and renewal. Lupton sees the book of Nehemiah as the memoirs of an urban developer who transformed a decaying city into a place of security and vitality. Placing Nehemiah's story in juxtaposition with contemporary realities offers encouragement and concrete models for how our own metropolitan environments can be revitalized. Nehemiah's example--and Lupton's--offer guidance and hope for all who would seek the welfare of their cities.

"An engaging book from an author who tops the charts when it comes to credibility. Ageless principles from an ancient story are lifted up for today's reality. Lupton looks for and finds a theology that touches the ground, even when the ground is messy. He writes as well as he thinks, and he thinks as well as he implements. His compelling candor and honesty work well in a world of ambiguities."

Robert Seiple, founder, Institute for Global Engagement, author of Ambassadors of Hope

"Bob is a longtime friend of mine, and he?s done such an excellent job of improving the quality of life of people in Atlanta. Renewing the City is an outgrowth of his many years committed to doing economic and community development from a biblical perspective. I hope this book gets wide acceptance and readership."

John Perkins, President, John Perkins Foundation, and cofounder, Christian Community Development Association

"In Renewing the City Bob Lupton has given us a remarkable glimpse of the confusing realities, the irritating lessons and the crises of leadership that are often a part of urban development work. It's all interwoven with an imaginative, provocative and biblically faithful rendering of the story of Nehemiah. From the realities of regentrification to the competing models of economic planning, Bob's insights are full of uncompromising faith and deep wisdom. This is a must read for everyone who believes that God loves cities."

Stephen A. Hayner, Peachtree Professor of Evangelism, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Bob Lupton is the only person I know who could have written a masterful book on the ancient prophet Nehemiah that is at the same time a book on community development and urban renewal. . . . To Bob Lupton be thanks and to our cities be hope!"

From the foreword by Ray Bakke, Professor of Global Urban Studies, Northwest Graduate School, author of The Urban Christian

"Bob Lupton has captured the essence of Nehemiah's story in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Bob has taken the biblical truths of Nehemiah and applied them to the terrible deterioration and disgrace facing America's inner cities. This book provides realistic hope through biblical Christian community development. Renewing the City is a must read for anyone doing urban work today."

Wayne L. Gordon, President, Christian Community Development Association

"Bob Lupton writes what he knows about. Fortunately for us he knows a great deal. He knows about the concreteness of needy folk in the city; he knows about the city as a system and the powerful who preside over it. He knows about compassion and mercy kept sober by issues of justice. He knows about faith that turns to bold energy and he knows about a biblical script through which to organize all of his learnings into a testimony of faith.

"This book is a modern retelling of the narrative of Ezra-Nehemiah, a narrative in which Lupton himself is cast as a key character. The book lives precisely at the interface between ancient text and current urban transformation. Its powerful testimony will provide guidance and courage for those who read. And we finish the book grateful to Bob and Peggy for their large-hearted urban wisdom."

Walter Brueggemann, professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

"I always thought Bob Lupton was one of the most innovative forces in dealing with city problems. In this book I learn he is simply following principles 2,500 years old. Creative, thoughtful and provocative."

Philip Yancey, author of Rumors of Another World

"Bob Lupton is Nehemiah. This imaginative, authentic and narrative account of a faith-motivated visionary's calling to rebuild a city devastated by war and abandonment will inspire similar efforts in America's urban neighborhoods."

Randy White, National Coordinator for Urban Projects, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and author of Journey to the Center of the City

"The creative use of narrative, linking scripture to modern urban stories, makes Lupton's work stand out from others I have read recently or use in teaching on this topic. . . I warmly recommend this book, which is filled with useful insights but not with 'one-size-fits-all' answers."

David H. Greenlee, Mission Studies, 2007

In Renewing the City, community developer and urban activist Robert Lupton explores the Hebrew testament example of Nehemiah as a source of direction for contemporary Christian community development. Using both Nehemiah's story and modern day examples that reflect upon lessons learned from Nehemiah, Lupton presents a must read for anyone who is involved in urban work, whether it be faith-driven or otherwise.

Frank Mills, Borderlands Review, (, October 2008


Foreword by Ray Bakke


Part One: The Story
1. City in Ruins
2. The Calling
3. An Improbable Plan
4. The Opposition
5. Construction Begins
6. External Threats
7. Trouble in the Ranks
8. The End in Sight
9. The Wall Is Completed
10. Repentance and Recommitment
11. Reneighboring the City
12. The Good Years
13. Enforcing the Rules

Part Two: The Issues
14. What Makes a Leader?
15. Gentrification with Justice
16. The Problem of Purity
17. Discerning a Vision
18. The Difficulty with Doing Good
19. Where Your Treasure Is
20. Serving or Leading?
21. Conflict of Interest
22. Church and Community
23. Biblical Tithing
24. Home in the City



About the Author


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Robert D. Lupton

Robert D. Lupton (PhD, University of Georgia) is founder and president of FCS Urban Ministries based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been active in urban ministry in inner-city Atlanta for more than thirty years. His other books include Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America and Return Flight: Community Development Through Reneighboring Our Cities.