What role does the church play in shaping the built environment of the city? Or does it? Blueprints for a Just City is an exploratory journey looking at the ways in which God’s people have played a pivotal role in not only influencing life in the city, but in the actual built environment as well. Together we will delve into the parameters of the Gospel, the role of common grace in the city, and God’s involvement in shaping urban form. If God’s heartbeat is for justice and equity, as part of the Gospel story, how then does the church immerse itself into the city influencing and shaping the built environment? The outcome of Blueprints for a Just City is to collect and synthesize blueprints for what a just and equitable city can look like when marked by the Gospel.
Sean Benesh teaches in Portland, Oregon at Warner Pacific College and Multnomah University. His books and teaching focus on active transportation, a theology of the city, and gentrification. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.seanbenesh.net
“We have not thought carefully enough about the role of the church in cultivating a built environment for human flourishing. Sean Benesh helps us to do just that. I’m glad to have his voice in this conversation.”
Dr. Noah Toly, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Politics and International Relations, Director of Urban Studies Program. Author of Cities of Tomorrow and the City to Come: A Theology of Urban Life
“Sean’s passion for the urban built environment is contagious. He understands that we build our environment and then our environment builds us, thus we ought to participate in designing our cities. It is life-giving to journey with Sean as he explores God’s desire to redeem every aspect of life, including architecture, spatial planning and our approach to gentrification, for our story ends in a city.
JR Woodward, National Director, V3 Church Planting Movement, Author, Creating a Missional Culture
“As the scholarship and writing about the importance of place in people’s lives comes to the fore in our rapidly urbanizing world, the dearth of good, practical thinking about the relationship between the church and the city is a huge liability and missed opportunity. Blueprints for a Just City seizes the opportunity to think well on the subject for the sake of both the church’s calling and the world’s flourishing. Sean Benesh brings together insights from Urban Planning, biblical reflection, theologies of the city, and his own experience living, working, consulting, and traveling in cities across the world in fresh and unique ways to give us much needed insight for the present and future of our churches and cities.”
Dr. Luke J. Goble, Associate Professor of History and Humanities, Warner Pacific College
“Whether they realize it or not, churches have always had influence in shaping cities—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In Blueprints for a Just City, Sean Benesh offers a much needed primer on how churches can play a critical role in offering grace-filled leadership that results in more just cities and built environments that nurture human flourishing.”
Dr. Mark T. Mulder, Professor of Sociology at Calvin College and author of Shades of White Flight: Evangelical Congregations and Urban Departure (Rutgers University Press)
“Old Testament prophets addressed kings, nations and cities, crying out for justice, equality and inclusion of everyone—and especially the most vulnerable. Too often books on place-making and the built environment minimize this focus, but Sean Benesh has not. I circled and underlined powerful concepts on almost every page—biblical blue prints that help me see my own blindness of how the streets, sidewalks and buildings create a ‘street ballet’ of spontaneous life giving fun where people flock to feel connected ... or places too isolated, too big or too tight for us to feel safe and free to really live. Yes, Sean helps us see that God is a City Planner and Architect. He has challenges us to join God’s redemptive work––restoring and healing every fiber of our beings, and the very soul of our cities.”
Dr. Jill Suzanne Shook, Professor, Workshop presenter, Catalyst, Author/Editor Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Model and Vivienda y justicia: una perspective bíblica
“Sean Benesh isn’t going to like this moniker, but I view him as a modern day prophet at the forefront of a movement helping God’s people properly expand their vision of the gospel’s relevance and impact. We know the gospel has the power to save individuals and influence society and culture, but we’ve been slow to consider how that includes the ways cities themselves are planned, designed, and built. Why is this important? Because as Benesh points out, ‘The way cities are designed and laid out truly does impact our day-to-day lives more than we realize or can comprehend.’ This is why Blueprints for a Just City is not only poignant, but also immensely helpful. Christians who take this book to heart will not only gain new biblical insights into the city, they will also have in their hands a practical manual for helping to make cities, towns, neighborhoods, and streets better places to live—and that’s a desirable expansion of the gospel’s scope.”
Dr. Chris Elisara, director of the Project for Placemaking, a program of the Center for Environmental Leadership, and director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Creation Care Task Force whose focus includes sustainable urbanism