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Bridges To People: Communicating Jesus to People and Growing Missional Churches in a Multi-Ethnic World

 

Sean S. O’Neal, Bridges To People: Communicating Jesus to People and Growing Missional Churches in a Multi-Ethnic World (Xulon Press, 2007), 288 pages, ISBN 9781602662681.

My longtime friend, mentor and colleague, Sean O’Neal, who serves as the Director of Evangelism and Youth Ministries for the Church of God California/Nevada State Executive Office, has published his dissertation work under the title Bridges to People. The book is one of a few, if not the only published academic research on urban missions from a Pentecostal perspective.

This text, however, is much more than just a dissertation project. It is a practical application emerging from over two decades of urban missions work across America, which is intended to be used as a training tool for pastors and congregations who are involved in cross-cultural urban ministry.

Sean’s ministry begins in Indiana and moves to Chicago metro where the church he pastors transforms into a multicultural center ministering to Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians and Mexicans and building bridges between ethnic groups within the Kingdom of God. The practical experience, which becomes the basis and the heart of the publication redefines the philosophy of modern day urban ministry in the 21st century. The claim that the book defends over and over is simple: the effectiveness of urban ministry depends on its origin in the praxis of ministry. And this is a truly Pentecostal claim, as it places the practical experience of faith within the multicultural context of ministry before all theological and philosophical presuppositions.

I know that by now, most of you who are involved in any type of urban ministry are already asking the question: “Will this work for me?” It worked for Sean and the ministers whom he trained to recognize the need and provide the needed ministry. The principles which he defines and describes come directly from his experience within the multicultural ethnic context of Chicago (1990-1998), New Jersey and New York (1998-2002), Urbana (2002-2004) and California, where he currently teaches and ministers.

Bridges to People is intended to be used exactly the way it was developed: in a practical self-growing, self-testing and self-accountable ministry. It is a cross-cultural training manual for ministries and churches through redefining the ethnic reality of your community. Its objective to build a multi-facet cross cultural ministry makes it applicable not only for American based organizations, but for international ones as well. And last, but not least: it is written from a Pentecostal perspective, giving a central place of the work of the Holy Spirit building bridges between people across cultures and redefining doing missions in, from, by and with the Spirit of God.

Reviewed by Dony K. Donev

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Category: Fall 2008, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Rev. Dony K. Donev, D.Min. is a graduate of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and cofounder of the Institute of Bulgarian Protestant History. He is the author of scholarly articles in textual criticism, protestant history, Christian media and contemporary church movements. In 1999 with his wife Kathryn, they established Cup and Cross Ministries International with a vision for restoration of New Testament theology and praxis. They are currently serving as missionaries and leadership developers in his native Bulgaria.

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