Book Review: "The Vanishing Neighbor - The Transformation of American Community Culture" by Marc J. Dunkelman

by Alan Roxburgh. Journal of Missional Practice , Winter 2015. Accessed April 14, 2017.

“The technological revolution underway…creates unprecedented challenges for our understanding and practice of community.” In a new book about the loss of neighborliness, missional leader Roxburgh finds fruitful analysis supporting the missional imperative to “join God in the neighborhood”. To explain what is happening, Dunkelman uses a “social architecture” framework imagined as three concentric rings. The innermost ring represents one’s intimate relationships. The outer ring represents one-on-one relationships mediated by technology. The middle ring is where relationships are transacted face-to-face, such as traditionally happened among neighbors. Today, for the first time in human history, the “inconvenient middle ring”, with its rich (and messy) interactive space, is being lost, and our relational capacity diminished. For Roxburgh, the church is uniquely suited to restore the middle ring. It does so by embracing the neighborhood as God’s holy ground. This essay can be used as a discussion starter for small groups.