Just returned from recording a programme at Premier Christian Radio with Jeff Lucas and Ruth Dearnley which was fun. I was there to talk about - and frankly, rather mercilessly plug - my new book.
Called Building a Better Body: A Good Church Guide, it's published by Authentic and is in the shops next week. It's the third incarnation of a book that started life as Struggling to Belong in 1998, doubled in size to become Why Bother with Church at the turn of the millennium and has been mildly revised and updated and given a sparkly new cover for this outing.
I'm quite pleased with it and found myself warming to its central theme as I chatted with Jeff and Ruth. That theme is that leaders of churches must take those who struggle with church much more seriously, listen to their concerns, make room for their gifts and interests; and that strugglers must find ways to remain engaged with church.
The reason I'm sticking with this theme - much to my surprise, I have to say - is that Alan Roxburgh's The Sky is Falling: Leaders lost in Transition takes a similar line. Roxburgh has been hugely influential on my thinking over the past decade. His The Missionary Congregation, Leadership and Liminality is one of the books that has defined my understanding of my ministry and the call of the church. If you've not read it, I urge you to.
In the The Sky is Falling, Roxburgh talks about liminals and emergents - which he defines really helpfully - needing to work and walk together in order to create churches that work for all concerned. He argues everyone struggles with the world of discontinuous and perpetual change we are living in - but for different reasons. Only through dialogue with each other will we create churches that embody Kingdom values to our neighbours and colleagues at work.
As well as Arcade Fire, I've been listening to Josh Groban this week. He's an American singer that my younger daughter has introduced me to. He's intriguing, half his stuff is in Spanish but there are a couple of English songs that are absolute blinders. He sings big emotional ballads that pack a punch. I've also been reliving my youth - well, childhood actually! - listening to the Doors. What a band! And I've got tickets to see the Who in June - how cool is that?
Hi Simon. Thanks for this post.Interested in the stuff from Roxburgh having read earlier stuff. Can I also commend your book here in your blog? Sure I can. I have read its previous two incarnations and found it stimulating and provocative and will recommend it to people. We encouraged loads of people in the church to buy and read and discuss earlier incarnations. One downside - I personally preferred earlier titles and look - seemed to me to better to capture radicalism of ideas inside - but hey what do I know and from your blog it is clear that others have responded positively to this new look. Bring a few with you on your trip up here later in year?
Thanks, Stuart. Titles are funny things, aren't they? Some people feel 'Why Bother with Church?' was a very negative title, almost dismissive; I thought it captured precisely what the book was about. At the end of the day, one is in the hands of the publisher and what they think they can shift. Thanks for the commendation, though; I really appreciate it - and I'll come armed with copies to sell when I visit.
I saw your name appear on Brodie's blog, "view from the basement" today - and having just finished your book this morning, clicked to see if it was you - and it was!
In our church we are currently thinking through what it means to be church, having kick started the whole thing with a weekend with Stuart Blythe, and now into a discussion and prayer phase through our housegroups.
We've been interacting with a number of books as we have done so; such as the Living Church by Stott, your book (especially the stuff you relayed from I.Howard Marshall about worship) and Blythe's stuff too.
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