Monday, April 14, 2008

What I'm reading....

I'm terrible at updating the "What I'm Reading" sidebar of the blog and it's actually a question I hate being asked because I find it hard to answer without sounding pretentious. I know what I'm like! I always want to answer with the sharp retort "The Beano", which would be lying. so I usually start off with the truth "Heat magazine". I don't buy it...I am often given it (she adds, somewhat hastily!)

I do read books, more so that my children are getting older and I head towards five years in a pastoral role; I feel I *do* have a little more time. I am hitting a month of MAJOR reading as I have
(a) become interested in a topic I haven't got time for right now (heaven) yet can't put the theology of heaven book down and its a weighty one and
b) I have two papers to write; one reflecting on the pilot all age cell groups I set up almost 4 months ago and one on a pastoral topic related to these cell groups. I'm quite worried about this second one.

I'm also one who dips in and out of books and reads parts so there are always several on the go (such as Ivy Beckwith and George Barna); I've read them all the way through but keep going back to bits so they stay by my bed.

I've chosen here to highlight a few of the current pile of about 10 books - any positive comments or constructive criticisms from readers would be most welcome. I bet no-one's read the first one as I had to get it imported!

1. Peppermint-Filled Pinatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love. Here's the review that made me buy it:
"This is a new book by Eric Bryant, the executive pastor at Mosiac Church in Los Angeles. I sat down to read a few chapters....I expected to read just a few chapters to wind down. However, I found myself two-thirds of through the book in single sitting.

Peppermint-filled Pinatas is not a children’s ministry book. However, Bryant’s book is worth your time. Eric has written a manifesto for anyone wishing to lead the people in their church out of the Evangelical subculture and into the lives of their neighbors.

The title of the book comes from the story of his attempting to host a child’s party ”on the cheap.” Eric wanted to fill a pinata with a bag of bulk peppermints until his more child-savvy wife overruled him. A pinata filled with bad candy is Eric’s metaphor on how we relate to the unchurched. We expect them to work their way through out subculture, jargon, rules, and expectations…. only to be paid off with unsatistying churchianity.

Eric offers an alternative: We can love our neighbors enough to get to know them. Eric covers many of the rough-in-tumble issues that comes with love: Confronting racism and stereotypes; bumping up against systems of morality that run counter to Christianity (and genuinely loving the people who hold them; and loving people of other religions)" [review by Larry Shallenberger on Children's Ministry and Culture blog]

2. The Child in Christian Thought edited by Marcia Bunge. I have two copies of this now! Susan, I will be returning your copy to you! Felt this a worthwhile book to buy personally as historical understanding of children often informs culture today. I keep needing to check back as I can't remember whose view was what (reformation theologians for example. Kept changing their minds!!)

3. The Church Beyond the Congregation: the Strategic Role of the Church in the Postmodern Era by James Thwaites - this book looks at the Hebrew worldview and applies its understanding of creation to arrive at a new vision of church in a postmodern era. Really fascinating.

4. Loving the Lost: The Principles and Practice of Cell Church by Laurence Singlehurst. Bet lots of my readers have used this. What do you think? Reading bits for my placement.

5. Redefining Children's Ministry in the 21st Century; A Call for Radical Change by Becky Fischer. Read this if you dare! Not for the faint hearted! Are you prepared to be (possibly)upset and challenged by this book? Readers will definitely be stirred up in some way. This was written as a reponse to Barna's powerful (and respected) research which showed that 70% of young teens in the USA leave church because "we have underestimated their spiritual potential". I agree and I'm liking this book because I'm currently working with a large group of kids using a supernatural fruit, gifts, character and calling curriculum.

However, one thing which is common to many US books on children's ministry that I have read. which I DON'T LIKE is that kids are either OUT or IN the kingdom; there appears to be little recognition of the strong biblical case for children beginning in the kingdom; demonstrating a love for Jesus that he welcomed and blessed and honoured publicly. I could be prejudging the author on this one -I am going to see her in Leeds in May so I will probably ask her myself. Will post what happens!

I've got about 3 more cell church books but I'm not going to list them, I've just got to get on with them!

So, readers, please leave any comments at all on any of the above books (or just say hello!)
Look forward to hearing from you.


  1. I have to confess I've not read any of them (though you're right I have heard of the Laurence Singlehurst one!). I occasionally think of having a 'what I'm reading' section in my sidebar but I am so bad at collecting books by my bedside I think it would make me feel pressured! There are some books I've been reading for months, and not because I'm a slow reader - I can consume a book in a day! I just put things down and er...pick other things up and then forget I put the first one down and then a third one appears and so the pile gets bigger...

  2. know what you mean. My current pile is 10. My husband and I kinda compete to see whose stack of books is the highest (he's on 16!!)

  3. I have a few books on the go for work which are interesting. un:Christian just came out and I got it at the Vancouver Island library!

    It's more for people working with late teens and twenties and it's really up to date.

    Most of the books we read through our class at Regent college are decent and make me think.

    And still reading your blog. If I had time to blog I would but facebook is as far as I get because it is so useful for work.

  4. Hey DJ, great to hear from you!
    I didn't realise you were at Regent, or indeed staying on in Canada! (we're going for 2 weeks in the summer)

    Have heard of Un:Christian but realise I am too old for it and my client group is too young :-)
    You'll have picked up from the blog then that I finally took the plunge and went for the whole BA Theo whilst working....2 classes to do this term and then only 3 to do next session! Brodie has been a great inspiration.

    Glad to hear your news. Do stop by again. Will look for you on facebook


  5. Yeah, I do a distance ed course through Regent and work for YoungLife of Canada the rest of the time as a youth worker.

    If you're over in Vancouver or Bc let me know.

    You'll find me as Douglas Lochhead on facebook.

  6. I thought my stack was bad - usually 3-4 books on the go..
    The current top of the pile is" Soil & Soul: People versus Corporate" Power by Alistair McIntosh. It's one of those books that defies definition - part autobiography, part politics, part theology, part economics, but it's a good mix, making me reflect on a whole load of issues, actions & motivations. Highly recommendable.

    Also, just finished Ian McEwan's "Atonement" (for my book club) & in the middle of "God's politics" by Jim Wallis.

    Any recommendations to add to the pile?


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