(Tim) Our parents lived in Cambridge on Mass. Ave when they were first married. Dad was I-V's first staff worker there in New England (it was all his terrritory) and he and Mud (Mother) attended Park Street Church when Ockenga was in his prime. David, Nathan, and I bought our M.Divs at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and while living on Boston's North Shore, were on the most intimate terms with the city's best and brightest.
So I was interested to see the kind of vision being cast for the ministry of the PCA there, now. Turns out the PCA has a congregation there called Citylife Church. The man leading Citylife's work is "Reverend Doctor Stephen Um" and, from the church's web site, here's how Dr. Um describes himself and summarizes his own philosophy of ministry on his congregation's web site:
First, Dr. Um describes...
Having received most of his higher education from institutions near the Boston area, Dr. Um has acquired a unique awareness for the various intellectual and cultural issues confronting Bostonians. He is a graduate of Phillips Academy [check out those pledge totals; high school has gotten expensive since I attended] at Andover, and Boston University where he read Sociology and Philosophy. After receiving a call to ministry, he entered Seminary at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he received an M. Div. and a post-graduate degree (Th.M.) in Biblical Theology. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament studies at St. Mary's College (University of St. Andrews) in Scotland. Furthermore, since the beginning of 2002, Dr. Um has been teaching New Testament studies as a faculty member of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has a burden to propagate the vision of kingdom expansion through church planting to prospective church planters studying in our nation's seminaries.
For the past 16 years, Dr. Um and his wife (who has received a degree in Family Ministry and Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) have been involved in several Presbyterian Churches throughout the Northeastern part of the country. They began their ministry by serving at a church in Hartford, CT for a couple of years before planting a multi-cultural college church at Brown University in Providence, RI. From there, they moved down to New York City for five years where they sensed God's call to plant a young professional ministry. He is now the Senior Minister of Citylife Church in Boston, and the author of The Theme of Temple Christology in John's Gospel, The Library of New Testament Studies 2006, T & T Clark International (formerly the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series). Dr. Um is a member of the Board of Directors for The Gospel Coalition, for which he serves as the Secretary. Citylife Church in center city Boston is an ethnically diverse group of professional and creative urbanites.
Dr. Um and his wife have three children, Noël, Adeline, and Charlotte.
Next, Dr. Um describes his philosophy of ministry:
Reverend Doctor Stephen Um is explicitly targeting "an ethnically diverse group of professional and creative urbanites." Sadly, I fear he will only confirm Boston's best and brightest in their conviction that world history has been awaiting their arrival and that the Gospel is extraneous to their burden of actual bloody sins.
What is the greatest, most crying need in the American church today?
"I believe the greatest need for today's American church is for its individual members to make a radical commitment to the centrality of the Gospel as Christ's finished work for every aspect of their life and mission. We need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened (Eph 1.18) in order to savor the supremacy of Christ in all things and to move away from anything that chokes or blinds our ability to value his worth and glory. Jesus perfectly lived the life that we should have lived by transferring his righteousness to his people so that our religious piety or social morality would be exposed for what it is, a form of self-salvation. The church needs to be aware of her tendency to focus on secondary, peripheral issues, that is addressing behavioristic symptoms, rather than on central issues of historic confessional Christianity, namely justification by faith alone on Jesus perfect record which gives us a vital relationship with a Holy God. The crying need in our churches is for prophetic voices to expose the limitations of all other cultural worldviews (e.g. traditional, modern, or postmodern) while offering an ultimate satisfaction and substitutionary redemption which frees us from all kinds of enslavement. The confidence and humility which Christ's righteousness provides will enable us to embrace this incarnational responsibility to be secure with ourselves while loving God and others. This commitment to a contextualized gospel will cause the church to be missional and counter cultural, and therefore more relevant and theologically sensitive in deconstructing other philosophical paradigms while illuminating both religious and secular people to engage in an organic relationship with the person of Jesus."
- Reverend Doctor Stephen Um