WHAT I'M READING
BY THE REV'D CANON ART GOING, CANON FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Each month I’ll be sharing some of what I’m currently reading. My hope is that this will stimulate deeper thinking and conversation among us about theology, mission, and ministry. Feel free to send me comments and questions. And let me know what you’re reading.
Cultural changes in Western societies since the Reformation have created a serious challenge for the church. We’ve all noticed and experienced growing inhospitality to Christian orthodoxy. We’ve all seen the withdrawal of the Nones and Dones. And we’ve witnessed the growing divide within the churches, what Walker and Parry name “the third schism,” a divide between those who believe and practice the central tenets of the Christian tradition and those who do not.
The book is a call to what C.S. Lewis’s called “deep church,” an appeal to remember our past in order to recover historic Christian orthodoxy.
What could be more timely? Perhaps you read Mark Yarhouse’s recent article in Christianity Today. You’ve certainly tracked the news stories the seem to be front-page every day.
Yarhouse is an expert in sexual identity and therapy, who teaches at Regent University. In this important book, he challenges the church to rise above the political hostilities and listen to people’s stories. He offers a Christian perspective on transgender issues with deep familiarity with current research and pastoral sensitivity.
This is a clarion call to come alongside those on the margins as they grapple with their questions and concerns about gender identity. A great book to read in anticipation of the upcoming synod in November, at which Matthew Mason (formerly on staff at Rez DC and now planting a church in Salisbury, England) will be teaching on this and other aspects of our gospel mission in the face of sexual confusion.
Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
Marshall and Payne’s earlier book, The Trellis and the Vine, proposed a “ministry mind-shift that changes everything.” This book shows how that mind-shift can and must shape every aspect of what we are doing as congregations of Christ’s people around the central task of making disciples.
What is actually happening in our churches is often still a long way from the kind of ministry vision outlined in that book. And so now the authors have followed up with more of a manual for leading change—to center our ministries on disciple-making. This is the help we need to change church culture.
Here’s a proposal for a 5-phase process for growth and change:
to clarify and sharpen your convictions
to reform your own personal life to express these convictions
honestly to evaluate every aspect of your current church culture
to devise some key plans for change and put them into effect
to keep the momentum going and overcome obstacles
This would be a great book for use by clergy and vestries in self-assessment and re-visioning.
holds them dear.
Stanly Hauerwas calls Swinton “the premier pastoral theologian of our time.” In this profound book, Swinton explores the contours of dementia and challenges the church to move beyond merely medical models of understanding. This is pastoral theology at its best—creative engagement with Scripture and the realities of suffering, in order to encourage wise and compassionate ministry by pastors and caregivers.
Here we are reminded that our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers afflicted by dementia “remain tightly held within the memories of God.” And we are called afresh as church to be “a living body of remembering friends.”
Three years ago I lost my mother to an insidious dementia that slowly robbed her of her ability to translate her thoughts into words. This vibrant woman, who we always joked scarcely had an unuttered thought, now was silenced . . . until one day not only her tongue was silenced. I will always be grateful that the last words I remember hearing from my mom’s lips were: “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Many of you have watched with anguish a similar disappearance of loved ones, or wrestled with how to care for and minister to parishioners slipping into the shadows, or reassured their family members that God