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The Cat and the Toaster: Living System Ministry in a Technological Age

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Living system ministry is an approach to Christian ministry in the Western world that recognizes the differences between cats, the world God created, and toasters—the world we create using our technology and our capacities, limited as they are.

The church is the body of Christ, a living system. Neighborhoods, cities, and cultures, too, are complex and interrelated living social systems. Why, then, would we try to do God’s work in a church or social system using tools and methods designed for non-living systems? We do it because our culture is very socially and technologically centralized. We have grown accustomed to thinking of our social contexts not as living systems, but as things we can easily measure and control.

Embracing both perspective and procedure, The Cat and Toaster is about doing better ministry by seeing a better picture of what exists in the total system. Like farmers—rather than technicians—we learn to be involved in and to be “in tune with” what causes fruitfulness. We never cause fruit to grow. God does! But as our work becomes better aligned with what God is already doing in his complex, living-system environment, there is an explosion of life. We have the opportunity to discover and use the fruit that remains.

Writing from his 45 years of experience as an urban ministry practitioner in Boston, Douglas Hall introduces us to a missions approach that recognizes the lead role of God’s larger, living social systems as powerful engines for doing far more in our world than we can even begin to imagine.

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  • Explains the dynamics of ministry in socially constructed environments
  • Addresses ministry from a divine and anthropological perspective
  • Presents theology as situated within fluid living-system environments
  • Understanding Our Times
    • Overwhelmed by Complexity
    • Understanding My Culture
    • Understanding the Urban Church
    • Understanding the City
    • Understanding God’s Living System Design
    • Understanding Our Times
  • Embracing Our Poverty
    • Introduction to Mental Models
    • What Do You Have in Mind?
    • We Can Work It Out
    • Embracing Our Poverty
  • Discovering Our Wealth
    • Three Redemptive Treasures
    • Gold Refined in the Fire
    • White Clothes to Wear
    • Salve to Put on Your Eyes
    • Case Study of the Redemptive Method in Ministry
    • Immune Systems and Redemption
  • Aligning Our Actions
    • Receive the Training and Discipline of the Lord
    • God’s Thoughts Are Higher Than My Thoughts
    • Tools in the Master’s Shop
    • Aligning Our Actions: Case Studies from Boston’s Living System
  • Opening Our Doors
    • The Friend of the Master
    • The Ministry Practitioner
    • Working with God
    • Multiplication
  • Beginning Our Journey
    • Anticipating the New Creation
    • Learning the Mental Models of the New Creation
    • Finding Total Redemption in the New Creation
    • Aligning Our Actions to the New Creation
    • Entering the Doors to the New Creation
  • Title: The Cat and the Toaster: Living System Ministry in a Technological Age
  • Authors: Douglas A. Hall, Judy Hall, and Steve Daman
  • Series: Urban Voice
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Pages: 390
  • Christian Group: Evangelical
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Ministry

Douglas A. Hall is president of the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston (www.egc.org), where he has served with his wife, Judy Hall, since 1964. He also serves as adjunct professor of urban ministry with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of What Christianity is Not: An Exercise in Negative Theology, Waiting for the Gospel: An Appeal to Dispirited Remnants of the Protestant Establishment, and Why Christian?.

Judy Hall is the wife of Douglas Hall. She has served with him in ministry for more than 40 years.

Steve Daman is director of communications at the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston.


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    Digital list price: $45.00
    Save $30.01 (66%)

    Gathering interest