Archives For Church

 

Learning to Dance Together
 
A Review of 

A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community
John Pavlovitz

Paperback:  WJK Books, 2017.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis
 
 

Whether one is graceful and light on one’s feet or is rhythmically challenged with two left ones, learning to dance with a partner can take time and varying amounts of patience. In his new book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, John Pavlovitz calls for courage and patience in leading congregations…and people in general… toward the marks of a bigger table, a different kind of dance. Radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free community are the author’s indications of a faith-filled community of believers that truly strives to welcome all. Like dancing together, the building of a bigger table takes patience and Pavlovitz offers an honest and transparent new book that is filled with autobiography, story-telling, and strategy for a hopeful path forward for those who wish to accept the invitation to be brave and bold in their faith community’s welcome and to be effective dance partners in the dance between religion and culture today.

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Another of the best theology books released this month is: 
 

The Pietist Option:
Hope for the Renewal of Christianity

Christopher Gehrz / Mark Pattie III

Hardback: IVP Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Like Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, released earlier this year,
Gehrz and Pattie invite the church into a timely new way of being…

 

The four instincts that are at the heart of The Pietist Option:

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Single And Married People Together
 
A Review of 
 

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
Gina Dalfonzo

Paperback: Baker Books
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]
 
 
Reviewed by Catherine Guiles
 
 
As a never-married Christian woman in my mid-30s who’s been a part of fairly mainstream evangelical-ish churches my entire life, I was excited to read Gina Dalfonzo’s One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. Like a lot of single Christians, I’ve been the recipient of slights, misunderstandings, exclusions and insults from fellow believers, many unintentional, but all hurtful to one degree or another. But thankfully, I’ve also been the recipient of a great deal of love, community and opportunities to serve and lead — the kind of things Dalfonzo argues that churches need to give more of to their single members, whether never-married, divorced or widowed; male or female; or young or old. I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate the way she unpacks the issue and frames it within a larger, holistic context of how Christians should relate to one another and make their churches places where “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). ­­­

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A Unique Gift to World Christianity
 
A Feature Review of 
 

Born from Lament:
The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa

Emmanuel Katongole

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  
 
Reviewed by James Matichuk
 
 
 
I first encountered the work of Fr. Emmanuel Katongole in Reconciling All Things (IVP 2009), a book he co-authored with Chris Rice. That book was a user-friendly guide, discussing the Christian resources for reconciliation, and included an excellent chapter on lament.  This, alongside several other reflections, convinced me of the power and place of lament in Christian Spirituality. Since then, Katongole has written several books reflecting theologically on politics and violence in Africa and ethics.

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Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

    

Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology

Amy Plantinga Pauw

Eerdmans
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Prophetic in Reconciliation
 

Intercultural Ministry:
Hope for a Changing World
.

 
Grace Ji-Sun Kim /
Jann Aldredge-Clanton, Eds.

Paperback: Judson Press. 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee
 
 
One of the most important starting points for bringing differing people together is being open with one’s own story and understanding of their story. The act of being self-reflective auto-locates a person within their social imaginary. If anything is taken from Kim and Aldredge-Clanton’s book, Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, it is the persistence of self-reflexivity as a foundation for bringing people together. Nearly every case study in the book begins their success and recovers from their failures by fostering a place of telling and admitting their story; an open space for people to participate, dialogue, and forge paths of coming together where they might not have before. Each and every author demonstrate a commitment to forming an intercultural, inclusive faith community, and the case studies within this book can serve as encouraging examples for both the novice and the experienced embarking upon this path. The book is as confessional as it is encouraging.

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I recently finished reviewing this superb new book for our fall print magazine issue. 
(Not a Subscriber?  SUBSCRIBE NOW…)

 

ACTS: Belief Commentary Series
A Theological Commentary on the Bible

Willie James Jennings

 
Hardback: WJK Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
I’m excited to share the following excerpt from this book with you, which I take as one of Jennings’s central (and most timely) themes in this commentary. 
 

Reprinted from Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
by Willie James Jennings.
Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.

 

Word of God against Word of God.
A Reflection on the Story of
Peter in the House of Cornelius
Acts 10-11

(Pages 118-121)

 

“You have heard that it was said, . . . but I say to you . . .” (Matt. 5). These often repeated words of Jesus set the stage for our interaction with the living God, whose words to us are living, because they are bound up with the source and giver of life itself. Acts 11 is a moment of reorientation where the Spirit is teaching us a crucial lesson that the church must constantly remember: God yet speaks and word of God always presses against word of God. What God has said in the past is pressed against by what God is saying now. Israel shows us that the human creature is always positioned between these two words and destined for yet more hearing from a God ever extended in grace toward us. This in-between position  has often been painful for us as we try to grasp clarity of thought and action on a walk of obedience to God on a well-lit path, albeit with multiple twists and turns. (Ps. 119:105) In this regard, the struggle of the church has been twofold: we struggle to hear the new word that God is constantly speaking, and we struggle to see the link between the new word and the word previously spoken.

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The Wonder of Love and
the Call of Justice

A Feature Review of 

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church
Carol Howard Merritt

Hardback: HarperOne, 2017
Buy Now:  [  Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]

Reviewed by Phil Snider

 

Have you ever been afraid in the hallways of your high school because you couldn’t find any of your friends from church, and you thought the rapture had occurred and you were left behind?

Have you ever been inclined to “come forward” to the altar just one more time, to make sure your heart is sincere, even though you’ve already committed your life to Christ on multiple occasions yet somehow can still never feel secure in your salvation?

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Won’t You Be A Neighbor?  Getting the Church Back in the Neighborhood
 
 A Review of 

The Neighboring Church:
Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most
Rick Rusaw and Brian Mavis

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 
 
Reviewed by Alex Joyner
 

Nothing is more difficult for leaders in late-stage bureaucratic institutions than trying to navigate through a morass of well-intentioned policies and procedures in order to do the simple things needed to accomplish the institution’s mission.  Gordon MacKenzie called this leadership challenge Orbiting the Giant Hairball in his 1996 book of the same name [Viking: 1996].  “Orbiting,” MacKenzie said, “is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate mind set, beyond ‘accepted models, patterns, or standards’ — all the while remaining connected to the spirit of the corporate mission.” (33)

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Our Book of the Month for November/December is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

Previous Parts of this Conversation:
[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]

 

Part 6:
Chapters 20-23

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Chapter 20: Vocation

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