Dr. Sean Benesh recently published Urban Hinterlands: Planting the Gospel in Uncool Places (White Blackbird Books, 2017). Urban Hinterlands delves into not simply planting the Gospel and new churches in uncool places, but wrestles with our perceptions of what makes cities truly livable. Wrapped up into this are frank conversations and confessions about motives in church planting, the value of place, our deepest desires and longings, calling, and identity. In the end this is a conversation about the Gospel and what we believe God is calling us to. Should the goal of church planters be to move and plant the Gospel in cities and neighborhoods which are deemed desirable or livable? What about uncool paces? What about the urban hinterlands?
As city centers become more revitalized, desirable, hip, and trendy there is a wave of new church planters moving into these urban neighborhoods. In city after city there is a direct correlation between the attractiveness of place and the number of new churches planted there, whether in the suburbs in the past decades or trendy inner-city neighborhoods of today. In other words, the trendier the neighborhood the more new churches are being planted there. But what if that is not you? What if you feel called to go to those “in between places” … the urban hinterlands?
Dr. Sean Benesh serves as Professor of Urban Mission, Urban Church Planting Specialist in the Department of Urban Mission in the School of Missional Practice at Missional University. B.A. in Pastoral Ministries & Biblical Studies, Grace University, Omaha (USA); M.A. in Church Planting & Church Growth, Simpson University (USA); D.Min. in Transformational Leadership for the Global City, Bakke Graduate University (USA); and Doctoral Studies in Urban Planning and Community Development, Portland State University (USA).