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.