Urban Impact Endorsements


Urban Impact

We have been using the principles in Urban Impact as a training guide for the students, staff and interns in our ministry. We have specifically chosen Urban Impact because it lines up exactly with our theology and philosophy of ministry. We wanted to find a resource that concisely and clearly communicated effective principles of Urban Ministry. There are a plethora of books on Urban Ministry these days but this is the only book I have come across that unashamedly and faithfully unites Jesus call to evangelism and discipleship with compassionate engagement in addressing social needs. John Thompson faithfully brings Urban Ministry back to its center in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the lives of individuals and their community. Jesus would live incarnationally in our neighborhoods. Jesus wants us to faithfully call people to repent and turn to Him in the midst of broken systems. Jesus wants us to provide the support new Christians need in growing in their relationship with him through discipleship and addressing social needs.

Urban Impact was written out of decades of life and ministry experience in a large urban area. John Thompson uses his background and experience to develop principles and strategies that are applicable to every urban setting. He doesn’t just tell you his story but helps you in the process of writing your own.

Jason Holt
Cross Cultural Youth Ministry Course Instructor,
Grace College and Theological Seminary
Director of Urban Hope Training Center and
Urban Hope Community Church


The world has come to America and in particular our urban centers. Yet, it is hard to find a church that is meeting the need and seizing the opportunity. One that is rising to the challenge is Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago. In my opinion it is one of the greatest churches in America. Every time I visit Armitage I am blessed and excited by what God is doing. John Thompson’s ministry is a key element of the Armitage story. He has lived out urban ministry. A mark of true discipleship is the ability to replicate; John has done so in the lives of numerous Armitage members and in the lives of his own family. His son, Jamie, having grown up under Pastor Lyon’s and his father’s teachings is growing a church in a tough Chicago location. Read this work, apply its truths, and catch the urban vision. Our nation and the world lie in the balance.

William E. Brown, Ph.D.
Assoc. Professor of Evangelism and North American Church Planting
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC


Far from being a beginner text on urban ministry by an inexperienced theorist, Urban Impact is written by a pastor who has the experience and credibility that only a lifetime of effective urban work can marshal. Books of this sort sometimes fixate on providing pragmatic ministry band-aids or become little more than memoirs of social justice written by sympathetic authors living safely outside the city in the comforts of suburbia. In a unique and stirring approach, Thompson deftly crafts his book to become all things to all people. In it, he squares the importance of urban ministry with timeless biblical principles and theological constructs, gives meaty and practical how-to’s for those ministering in the urban context, and provides hard statistics that will delight social scientists and academic-types. I predict Thompson’s Urban Impact will be used in at least two strategic ways: As required reading for students in Urban and Cross-Cultural academic courses, while serving dutifully as a street-smart survival handbook for cross-cultural church planters, city pastors, and parachurch workers.

Frederick Cardoza II, Ed.D.
Department Chair, Christian Ministries
Associate Professor of Christian Education
Talbot School of Theology and Biola University, La Mirada, CA


I heartedly endorse John Thompson’s book, Urban Impact, Reaching the World Through Effective Urban Ministry. Thompson’s work gives a clear theoretical approach to urban ministry, while at the same time offering helpful guidelines on doing urban ministry. The greatest element about the book is that John knows what he’s writing about. John and his family have lived and breathed urban ministry for over a quarter of a century. John’s work leaves nothing out for the academician and the practitioner who wishes to teach or do urban ministry. This text deals thoroughly with urban ministry elements from the absent father to designing a model to reach the urban environment. Being an academician as well as practitioner, I can appreciate a work that I can personally use in the classroom, as well as on the field.

Leroy Gainey, Ph.D.
JM Frost Chair of Educational Leadership
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, CA and
Senior Pastor First Baptist Church, Vacaville, CA


Inner-city ministries may at times be risky and unnerving. But they are never dull, nor without spiritual rewards. John Thompson has given us a book rich in personal narrative, biblical teaching, practical wisdom and urgent challenge. I recommend that students who feel even the slightest tug to consider urban ministry read this book, let its message grip you, and ask God if the inner city is where he wants you to serve him.

Roger S. Greenway, Th.D.
Professor of World Missiology
Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI


John Thompson’s book, Urban Impact, is like a breath of fresh air amongst the urban ministry literature available today. Thompson addresses the crying need for evangelism and discipleship in the city. Nor is he afraid to tackle the tough issues, such as pastoral burn-out, the negative impact of broken homes, and the challenges of life in urban areas. Urban Impact is definitely a “how to” for effective urban discipleship. I heartily recommend Urban Impact as a must read for anyone involved in or contemplating ministry in the urban world.

Thomas P. Johnston, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Evangelism
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO and
Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO


The Bible speaks a lot about the importance of cities to God and Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. Thompson’s work is an important addition to the growing passion people have for urban ministry. Thompson’s first hand experiences give his work a great deal of credibility to an audience who is thirsty to learn all they can about this blossoming field of ministry. In this generation, urban contexts are the most important mission fields of focus, and there are few relevant role models to observe. Thompson’s book provides a significant foundation upon which to move into the future for anyone thinking about being part of God’s Kingdom in an urban context.

Allan Karr, Ph.D.
Missiologist and professor
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, CA


Thompson writes as a pastor, friend, and neighbor of inner-city Chicago. His 29 years living in the city is evident in the personal, practical tone of Urban Impact. This is an important contribution to widen our perspective about being missional in the U.S. urban context.

Dave Livermore, Ph.D.
Global Learning Center
Grand Rapids Baptist Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI


There are practitioners who are not veterans. There are veterans who are no longer practitioners. There is nothing like hearing from a veteran who is still a practitioner. John Thompson writes from the field.

The power of this volume is due in no small part to who John is. I’ve worked closely with John for a dozen years. I know John’s story. It is one of remarkable character and faith. I know John’s family. When a family, a minority in its community, lives out robust Christianity with uncommon strength, producing adult children who love God and his work, as John’s kids do, all the world sits up and takes notice. I know John’s community. It is a spiritually, morally, emotionally, hostile environment. It’s the last place you would think to find a man choosing to live, serve and raise a family. I know John’s ministry. It is one of unflagging commitment, steady labor, and God-glorifying fruitfulness. He is part of a ministry marked by longevity and impact. He is not theorizing about what could or should happen. He is participating in, observing, and reflecting on what has happened.

This work helps meet the urgent need for urban ministry perspective and material that is rooted in scripture, tested in practice, and local church based. This volume is the voice of a man who lives the life and knows what he is talking about.

Over half the world is urban, and the rest is quickly being urbanized. We are late and behind in urban missions. We need all the help we can get. This book will educate, equip, and inspire.

Charles Lyons
Senior Pastor
Armitage Baptist Church, Chicago, IL


Optimistic. Biblical. Practical. John Thompson’s work Urban Impact: Reaching the World Through Effective Urban Ministry will equip any reader to enter the city with the faith and hope necessary to bring individuals to Jesus Christ. John’s book is a long overdue alternative to the whining we hear about urban areas. Today is the day to reach the city, and John’s book shows us the way.

David Mills, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean for Applied Ministries
and Assistant Professor of Evangelism
Fish School of Missions and Evangelism
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX


I have read and used many books as texts over the years. Urban Impact: Reaching the World through Effective Urban Ministry by John Thompson is the best book I have read on urban ministry, period. I say this for several reasons.

First, it covers topics that most books on urban ministry do not. In fact, some of the topics I have rarely or never seen addressed in a book on the subject, i.e., urban discipleship and raising a family in the urban environment. His chapters on ministering to the disenfranchised and the impact of the absent father on urban ministry are two of the most important chapters I have read in any book in recent years.

Second, the book is extremely practical. It not only addresses the problem and the reasons for the problems, but it gives clear step by step methods to respond to those problems. This is what students and ministers are looking for. The one comment I consistently receive from my students and ministers I talk to is that they want materials that are practical. This book is that.

Third, Thompson writes from years of personal experience. The methods he suggests are valuable because he has utilized them and seen them work. The examples of his personal experiences that are peppered throughout the book bring the methods to life.

Last, but certainly far from least, the book is biblical. The principles and methods all proceed from Scripture and Thompson uses Scripture throughout to discuss both the causes of and solutions for problems that are so prevalent in the urban setting. It is vital to me that a book I would use in class or ministry be Biblically sound and centered. Thompson’s book is both.

I have known John Thompson for many years. I have had the privilege of seeing him at work in his church in Chicago and of teaching beside him. He is a man of great integrity, knowledge, and experience who has had a positive impact on many people in both settings. I am excited because this book will allow that impact to be expanded. I am looking forward to using this book in my classes in the future and to recommending it to colleagues to use as well.

David R. Penley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX


The urban church and urban ministry have increasingly been the topic of discussion for scholars and practitioners in recent decades. Ray Bakke’s book, the Urban Christian, hit a chord and stimulated much of this discussion. Yet, there have been few books that have combined good Biblical scholarship, sound sociological statements about urbanization, and practical, hands on guidance on how to be an urban church or do urban ministry. Pastor John Thompson’s Urban Impact, Reaching the World Through Effective Urban Ministry, fills this void.

Pastor Thompson brings the credentials of twenty eight years of urban ministry in inner city Chicago. Furthermore, he represents the lessons learned at Armitage Baptist Church, one of the truly effective and inspiring urban churches in American cities. The lessons he teaches have been tested and found to be true in daily life of the church and Pastor Thompson and his family.

One of the many strengths of this book is the emphasis on application. When he speaks of urban ministry he provides concrete, well supported principles that could profitably be followed by any urban church. When he speaks of discipleship, he provides a useful guide as to how to disciple and how to choose the participants for the relationship. His “Living in the City” chapter is wonderful. He speaks with authority about how to raise a family in the city. He speaks of how to engage with the neighborhood. He does this without demonizing the city while at the same time recognizing the challenges and difficulties of living and ministering in the inner city. Lastly, Pastor Thompson provides a wonderful chapter on church planting in urban areas.

Urban Impact, Reaching the World Through Effective Urban Ministry is a book that I intend to keep near me on my bookshelf for fast access when I teach courses on urban life and ministry and as I serve and live in my church in Northeast Minneapolis. It serves a number of audiences well. In particular, this book would be very useful in academic settings as a text for urban courses and as a very useful guide for the urban ministry practitioner who is looking for a solid Biblical approach to urban ministry combined with sociological insights and years of hands on experience.

Harley Schreck, Ph.D.
Anthropology and Gerontology
Bethel College, St. Paul, MN


Reading John Thompson’s: “Urban Impact: Reaching the World Through Effective Urban Ministry” was an enlightening experience. John Thompson has captured just what is needed in a comprehensive yet practical examination, analysis, and strategy for 21st century urban ministry. Very few other works address the topic so practically while being theologically on target.

As a professor who for two decades has been teaching a number of courses in this curriculum area, I see this work as a certain adoption as a required text in any of three or four courses we offer at our institution. I recommend this work with confidence and enthusiasm.

Dr. T. Vaughn Walker
WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and
Professor of Black Church Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY


Christian experience and Christian love for the city and ministry to city people has propelled John Thompson and his whole family into service with love, care and compassion at the life level in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. His study of the city brings gems that resonate with my spirit. His practical approach to many areas of urban ministry brings forth helpful information to train others for further ministry for 21st century. I highly recommend the book Urban Impact for those that have a serious call to be an urban minister.

Robert E. Woolfolk, M.A., DHL
Urban Training Center Director
Denver Seminary, Denver CO


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