Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Intentional Engagement

Written by: on September 16, 2021

Since first entering seminary and learning about the great philosopher St. Augustine, The City of God had been on my reading list. Whether it was due to the sheer number of pages or the complexity of his writing, twenty years passed before I first tackled this book earlier this summer. Little did I know at the time that I would be rereading it in the fall, in conjunction with, On Augustine: The Two Cities by Alan Ryan! But truth be told, there is so much to be gleaned that two readings hardly garner all the wisdom this book holds. However, there were a few observations that particularly caught my attention.

First, I could not help but notice Augustine’s intentionality to engage the world and those around him after his conversion. This was most notable in both his practical decision to not retreat to the country as a philosopher and the purpose of his writing the City of God as a treatise to defend the truths of Christianity in an ungodly world.[1] Additionally, whether or not it was due to the conversion of Constantine and the widely embraced endorsement of Christianity, Augustine encouraged engagement in all sectors of life, including the political and military realm. These areas of life had once been considered taboo by dominant Christian ethics.

From this framework, I note my second observation; Augustine believed “the dominion of good men is profitable, not so much for themselves as for human affairs.”[2] Directly opposed to a retreat and isolation mindset, Augustine advocated for the good of all people through the intentional engagement of Christ-followers in the world. Affirming this truth, Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked person rules, people groan” (NASB).

Finally, I very much appreciate Augustine’s portrayal of a two kingdom mindset. One kingdom is driven by a love for the things of this world, whereas the other kingdom, the kingdom of God, is motivated by a deep affection for God.[3] From this, I understand that Augustine’s call is for Christians to live with a kingdom of God mindset while they faithfully live their lives in this world. Yet, Augustine is not so naïve as to believe that the will and intentions of humans are always good, for original sin (Genesis 3) has affected all people.

In thinking about both the ministry I lead and my NPO, these principles carry great practical significance. First and foremost, at the core of Christian community development work is an ethos of engaging those you aspire to serve holistically. In the words of John Perkins, relocation, to live among those you intend to reach, is of utmost importance. Through this intentional investment, lives intersect in such a way of neighborly love, fueled by a love of God, and paves the way for transformed lives. Thus, rather than retreat from the dark and dangerous parts of our cities, may we as a people of faith boldly engage and firmly, yet humbly, lead as we advocate for the good of those we serve. However, if we fail to acknowledge a two-kingdom mindset and orient ourselves toward the kingdom of God, we will not succeed in the way God intends, nor in a way that promotes flourishing. Instead, we will lack the hope for “what could be;” imagination for His kingdom on earth; and find ourselves exhausted, burnt out, and a joyless people of no faith.

[1] Alan Ryan, Augustine, and Augustine, On Augustine: The Two Cities, First Edition. (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016), 60.

[2] Ibid., 127.

[3] Ibid., 139.

About the Author


Eric Basye

Disciple, husband, and father, committed to seeking shalom.

5 responses to “Intentional Engagement”

  1. Eric, I greatly appreciate your thorough reading and engagement with Augustine. What a joy to have read him before now 🙂 I’m sorting through the incredible gift St. Augustine gave us from this time and how it apply to now. When I read him I see the budding of evangelicalism and the root system of doctrines such as original sin and assumptions as judgement toward those who commit suicide. On a macro level I struggle with the dichotomized perspective on reality, yet I understand he is a man of his time as I am of mine – postmodern and looking for the universal metanarrative.

  2. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Good insights Eric. I agree that we have to acknowledge a 2-kingdom mindset as we go about our ministries. Otherwise we will run out of energy and become exhausted. Augustine was so insightful to recognize human kingdoms and their ways, and God’s eternal Kingdom working in the background, being built one generation, one person at a time.

  3. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Eric, great insights from someone who has committed the time to read the entire work by Augustine. I am jealous that! It sounds like we have similar themes from “The City of God.” I especially like your observation that Augustine did not retreat from the culture of his day, but he engaged it with a reasoned reply to the accusations made against the Christian faith. Too often, there is an overreaction to cultural currents that do not serve the impact of faith well. For example, in response to the social gospel of the early twentieth century, evangelical Christianity abandoned effort to benefit the welfare of communities and focused exclusively on the gospel. I appreciate your NPO and the work you are doing to help entire communities experience a wholeness and healing. That effort is much needed and I look forward to what you project produces in the end.

  4. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Eric, I was glad to see you talk about the two kingdom mindset. It seems that Augustine’s framework on this concept has been utilized in almost dangerous ways in our country. There is such a misguided understanding of church and state and Christians in the US have equated earthly politics with Kingdom politics. How do we reframe and redirect?

  5. mm Henry Gwani says:

    Much thanks Eric for your insights. Like you, I’m also impressed with Augustine’s effective engagement with the world. This is because, coming from a context where followers of Jesus have by and large been very reserved about expressing their faith in public, while their Islamic counterparts seize every opportunity to promote theirs, I realize that our only real option is to boldly, yet lovingly and wisely (like Augustine) communicate the good news.

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