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in this section:
Church Linen, Vestments And Textiles
Creative Ideas For Seasonal Retreats
Building Up The Body
Hearing The Call
Creating The Future Of The Church
Journeying With Matthew
Listening For God's Call
100 Ways To Get Your Church Noticed
Sexuality
Poverty
Pastoral Theology
Creative Ideas For Ministry With The Aged
Preaching Matters
Worship4Today Part 2
Worship4Today Part 1
Worship4Today Part 3
Reflections On Eldership
What Clergy Do
The Canterbury Preachers Companion 2015
Services Of Reconciliation
Psychology For Pastoral Contexts
At All Times And In All Places
Eucharist As Covenant
Creative Worship
Facilitiation Skills For Ministry
Preaching The Hard Words Of Jesus (Preachers Toolbox)
Preaching The Four Gospels With Confidence
Echoing The Word
Influential
The Good Worship Guide
Encountering God Together
Look Before You Lead
Go In Peace
Unreached
Creating Community
The Great Evangelical Recession
The Gospel Commission
Women and Men in Scripture and the Church
The Art of Curating Worship
The U-Turn Church
Festivals Together
Gaining Heaven's Perspective
The Measure of Our Success
Dem Dry Bones
Developing in Ministry
Leading Small Groups with Purpose
A Clergy Husband's Survival Guide
Friends In Christ
Stumbling Blocks
Nine lives
101 Great Ideas for Growing Healthy Churches
The Art of Mentoring
Paul as Pastor
Dangerous Calling
Get it across loud and clear
Warnings To The Churches
Redeeming Church Conflicts
Simplicity In Preaching
Creative Ideas for Using Scripture in Worship With CD Rom
There’s Hope For Your Church
Encircling the Christian Year
Leading on Empty
Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals
The Beauty of the Word
50 Masses with Children
Pray, Plan, Prepare, Preach
The Holy Ground Around You
Inspirational Preaching
Pastoring the Pastor
Making the Most of the Lectionary
Eucharistic Ministers
An Authentic Servant
Grow Your Church's Income
Creative Ideas for Children’s Worship Year B with CD ROM
All-Age Lectionary Services Year C


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Church & Ministry: Theory & Resources

For Information and Handbooks useful to all denominations unless specifically stated.
Help with preaching, intercessions, all-age worship, music etc.

Church Linen, Vestments And Textiles

- A Practical Guide To Their Use And Care

by Margery Roberts


I found reading Church Linen, Vestments and Textiles by Margery Roberts an enjoyable and informative experience.  I felt the five fold format that was employed through the first two sections which informed you of the use and description of each item, how the item is best stored, repaired, and how it should be worn, when coupled with the illustrations by Nicholas Elder allowed for a clear and easy understanding. 

I also found the use of lists of different fabrics including descriptions of how they are made and the pros and cons of different cleaning styles and substance helpful and good knowledge to know given the varied style in the Church of England and particular in regards to wine stains in churches or Parishes that subscribe to Metousiosis and the steps to be taken in that situation. 

With enjoyment I was also able to to learn the correct names for certain items which I have used on a regular basis during my volunteer work at the church and had previously been unnamed to me, these included the Credence Table and the Chalice Pall.  

Overall I found that Church Linen Vestments and textiles a book that should be read, kept and referenced to, not just by clergy and laity but also by all involved in the church.          



Review by Danny Pritchard-Shepherd  (15/08/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 978-1-848-25740-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Creative Ideas For Seasonal Retreats

- Experiencing The Seasons Of Faith

by Stephen Spencer


Another great book in the Creative Ideas series from Canterbury Press.
This time providing 15 'retreats' that span the whole of the church year and it's seasons, including Ordinary Time.
There are within these 15 sessions a host of good ideas and activities that really can be tailored to suit a long or short 'retreat' or workshop session. In fact the truth is they are so well done that you can use them for a lot of things that wouldn't really fit the retreat heading but would suit an activity session, a meditation group or any number of things between.
Excellent resource material for spiritual mentors, retreat workers, ministers ... or to my mind even just your ordinary person that is looking for something they can use to take them deeper through the church year on their own spiritual journeys and retreats.
A really good retreat resource.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/08/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-848-25790-0
Paperback with CD ROM
Price: £24.99

Building Up The Body

- Encouraging, Equipping and Enabling Volunteers In The Church

by Richard Steel


Volunteerism is vital to our communities and their flourishing. This is never clearer than in the wellbeing of our local church. Richard Steel speaks from, and to, this lifeblood value set in church life.

There is much value in the prose, scripture, and enduring logic woven into this writing, though I'd have preferred more content and structure as to how the guest and newcomer could be woven into the life and structure of gathered communities. How the stranger becomes a participant in the mission of God, with direction, options and models of how this has been worked out locally, would have further enhanced this read.

Collaboration is a somewhat hackneyed concept, yet developing the skills and experiences that make us better people for building God's Kingdom in the world is scoped out well. The Body of Christ needs to be fully functioning in order to reach out in Jesus name to a lost and fragmented world, and anything that can add to this experience is a valuable asset. Steel offers us much here that is worthy of thanks and deep application in each parish.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (10/07/15)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46175-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Hearing The Call

- Stories Of Young Vocation

by Jonathan Lawson & Gordon Mursell


For anyone thinking about ordination this is the book to read! Primarily written for younger Anglican potential ordinands it would be helpful for anyone considering whether or not they have a call from God to seek ordained ministry as their vocation, whatever their Christian tradition. 

Many of us us in ordained ministry came because someone asked us if we had thought about it or if we thought God was caling us to it. We also felt totally inadequate to the task. This book is so helpful because it stresses that our human frailty and inadequacy are the very things which God uses to allow his grace to flow to his people and their communities. 

Jonathon Lawson looks at some relevant Bible passages and links them to the real-life experiences of some young people he has counselled and advised. Alongside this, Gordon Mursell has some very thoughtful reflections on the Bible passages which complement Lawson. Thinking about the possibility of ordination? Read this book!


Review by Graham Wise  (18/05/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 16 January 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07060-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Creating The Future Of The Church

- A Practical Guide To Addressing Whole-System Change

by Keith Elford


The weighty metaphors of how we clunk along as the local church are somewhat disheartening. Here Keith Elford offers a wide-ranging sweep with the goal of organizational flourishing from his many years and diversity of perspective. It's clear and insightful content for all churches that intend to more than get-by.

There's more than analysis, as it's unashamedly action orientated, strongly flavoured by Anglicanism and yet has application, gain and purpose far beyond it. The knowing who you are and the team chapters are probably the strongest content, and what I was most helped by. The models, action emphasis and research is richly thought out. Worth a second-reading and team application in many of our differing situations.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (14/05/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07077-0
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Journeying With Matthew

- Lectionary year A

by Ed james Woodward, Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce


I really like the way this book is set out. The three authors work extremely well together to open up the Lectionary readings from Matthew through the year. There is a helpful introduction to the Gospel at the beginning and then each chapter has the same framework:Exploring the text, Imagining the text and reflecting on the text. I gained some new insights into Matthew and in particular enjoyed the reflective section. At the end of the chapter are some questions which are helpful if the book is being used by a group. This is a useful and stimulating resource and one I can recommend.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (19/03/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-05903-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Listening For God's Call

- Learning Church Theology For Discipleship And Ministry Series

by Susan H Jones


This is a great book that probably fills quite a large gap in the Anglican market to some degree, many of us may feel what we think is a call to ministry, but what we don't really know is what sort of ministry... this book can help as it works through what the call is, what discipleship is and entails, and then looks at what sorts of ministry there are - both lay and ordained. It uses real people examples before looking deeper at the specifics of the subjects and then posing some questions in the To Do sections scattered throughout.
Admittedly this book is designed to be used in the context of part of a Discipleship and Ministry setting, however it's a great first step for anyone pondering if they have a calling and what it might be, or actually even if they just want to know more about the different types of ministry found in the anglican communion.
I'd certainly suggest it would be a good book for ministers to have on their shelves to loan out when they get asked about vocation and calling, let alone an essential book for Discipleship and Mission teams.

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (17/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 30 November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-334-04412-3
Paperback
Price: £14.99

100 Ways To Get Your Church Noticed

- Revised & Expanded Edition

by Neil Pugmire


This is a brilliant book with excellent practical examples and ideas of things from the cheap and simple to the expensive and complex that could really help a church get noticed. Leafelts, services, redesigns of logo's and buildings, working out who you are trying to outreach or serve, social media and a host of things in between all get targeted here in clean paragraphs with visual imagery to help and a point by point 'how to do it' section for them too.
So ok some of the things in here seem blindingly obvious, but it's nontheless a given fact that we often overlook the obvious ... or downplay our ability to do, or need to do it. With this book in hand there is something for every church to pick up and improve upon and make sure that the church gets noticed in the best possible way.
Great tool with some great ideas in it.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-715-14467-1
Paperback
Price: £17.99

Sexuality

- The Inclusive Church Resource

by Susannah Cornwell


Probably likely to be the most divisive of any of the 'Inclusive Church Resource', but then given the series title it also does help highlight in advance where this very helpful, handy and well thought out and articulated little guide is likely to sit in the sexuality debate.
Regardless of denomination or viewpoint this is a keen little book on a tricky subject, well worth reading for the personal viewpoints and stories you will find in the front section of the book, but the theology section at the back is also keen, gentle and deeply considered so suitable for people looking to understand the wider issues in a quick but insightful way.
Excellent little handbook.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher:
Published: October 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53067-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Poverty

- The Inclusive Church Resource

by Susan Durber


Another great addition to 'The Inclusive Church Resource' series of books. These are all short but insightful handbooks on key issues for any church regardless of denomination and as such can be used by any church or church member for key insights and helpful guidance.
This one dealing with Poverty is especially topical and helpful with both personal stories of poverty and also keen insights and run down on the theology of poverty and the ethics around it.

With so many people being on and below the poverty threshold these days this book really is a short, helpful guide to a worrying and deep subject.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: October 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53068-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Pastoral Theology

- SCM Studyguide

by Margaret Whipp


This well written book aims to provide a broad introduction to the area of pastoral theology, and succeeds in its aim; I found it to be informative and engaging. It provides questions for discussion or reflection at the end of each chapter, which would potentially make the book even more effective in a group or course setting. It is a book in two parts:

The first part discusses humanity and what it means to be fully human and live life in all its fullness. I particularly liked the discussion of the relational and corporate nature of faith; ‘the pastoral ministry of the Church is sometimes mistakenly seen as dealing primarily with individuals in need. This is quite a dangerous misconception...pastoral care is always about growing together.'

The second part of the book is concerned with the practical aspects of pastoral care; the author discusses pastoral conversation, integrity, boundaries and abuse. She also looks at some key themes from historic approaches to pastoral care that have had profound influences on current thinking and practice.

If you are new to pastoral theology I would highly recommend this book. It is easy to read and to understand and gives an excellent introduction to the breadth of the theology behind pastoral care, with a wealth of further reading suggestions at the end of every chapter.



Review by Tim Hupfield  (14/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04550-2
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Creative Ideas For Ministry With The Aged

- With CD ROM

by Sue Pickering


 

 

A great addition to an already good series of books.

 

Our population is growing older with the majority of people being over the age of 40, and this is very much reflected in many of our church congregations. This book provides a great framework for working alongside those in the upper brackets of years.

The book covers all the many situations you may work with the Aged—church, homes, hospices etc are all covered, and a number of services and ideas for activities of a pastoral nature are included. These deal gently and sensitively with some very real issues such as loneliness, bereavement, dementia etc

This is a great book for anyone who wants a great resource as they work alongside and minister to an older population.

 

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (01/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25648-4
Paperback
Price: £24.99

Preaching Matters

- Encountering The Living God

by Jonathan Lamb


Preaching Matters provides the reader with an excellent all-in-one guide to biblical preaching that results in the recipients encountering the living God. This is an excellent starting point for new preachers, and a warm and robust revision for seasoned leaders. Jonathan Lamb uses the text of Nehemiah 8 to guide us through what preachers should be grappling with, practicing and aiming for in order to continue to grow and become masters at their art.

Lamb splits the book into three sections. The first focuses rightly on the heart of preaching and the preacher—getting the preachers relationship with the living God right as a matter of utmost importance in biblical preaching. The second focuses on the ‘art’ of preaching. What we might normally find in homiletics textbooks in summarized in a readable and accessible manner. In the third section, Lamb focuses on the purpose of preaching, elucidating the subtitle of his book: Encountering the living God.

The additional seven appendices make this excellent introduction to biblical preaching even more useful in providing the tools for the training of new preachers. This book is warm, encouraging, and full of wisdom – a must for every preacher, new and experienced.



Review by Tim Goodall  (16/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-783-59149-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Worship4Today Part 2

- Developing Key Skills

by Helen Bent & Liz Tipple


This book covers sessions 5 - 8 of the course. Being part 2 of the series, it launches straight into the sessions, preceded only by a 3 page summary table showing the structure of the course. This part of the course is more practical than the previous one, but is just as thorough: topics are covered at reasonable depth, and the style is consistent with the previous part.

As before, each session has Teachers' Notes, full and detailed lesson plans, resource lists, and photocopiable handouts (though the copies on the CD—which also contains copies of all the Powerpoint presentations in .ppt format—will print and copy much better than ones you will get by pressing the book onto a copier glass).

The book comes with a licence for owners of the book to use the copiable materials "within their organisation".

The sessions in this part (over 220 A4 pages) are:-

5 The Role of Music in Worship: the session looks at a wide range of genres, and includes a comprehensive historical review of the English / Anglican choral tradition. Despite the title of session 7, the course is arguably at its most Anglican here!

6 Worship in the Psalms: by contrast, this session, which includes psalm writing, has elements which are useful way beyond the confines of the course.

7 Patterns of Worship in the Anglican Church: includes much that is generally useful and is not as difficult to adapt for other denominations as the title might suggest.

8 Building a Worship Team: Again Anglican in its orientation, but nevertheless of general relevance. The session includes elements of PA/technology advice, but these are superficial and less sure-footed than the rest of the course. It concludes with a little elementary music theory.

Each session is designed to last for half a day.



The book has its own website:www.worship4today.co.uk

Review by Martin Brasier  (14/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-715-12261-7
Paperback
Price: £24.99

Worship4Today Part 1

- Laying A Firm Foundation

by Helen Bentz & Liz Tipple


This is Part 1 of a 3 part series which together provide a complete and comprehensive guide and resource for running the Worship 4 Today course for worship leaders and musicians. As well as full sets of teaching notes and handouts, there are various pro-formas and templates. All handouts and presentations, plus editable versions of the other materials are on the accompanying CD. (The editable files are in .doc format, which can be read by most word processors. The presentations are in Powerpoint .ppt format.)

The book begins with an introduction which runs to over 30 pages. The plan provided spreads the 3 parts of the course across 3 academic terms, from Autumn to Summer. It is an Anglican course, and the materials are based on the experience of running it in the Diocese of Sheffield, where it is part of Continuing Ministerial Education.

Although designed to be run at at a diocesan level, it includes guidance for adapting it to use at a more local level in a less formal way. It would also adapt for use with any other mainstream denomination.

The introduction covers planning, advertising, marketing, recruiting/interviewing, signing up, and venue as well as giving guidance on how to actually run the course.

The course is thorough and quite demanding—there is homework, and active participation and commitment are needed. The authors acknowledge that it will be quite a challenge for those not used to studying. It includes a framework for written and practical assessment, review and evaluation. There is no formal qualification though the Part 3 book includes a pro-forma certificate for authorisation by a bishop, as well as more standard course completion certificates.

The core of the book (about 270 A4 pages) is devoted to the first four sessions of the course, which lay much of the Biblical and theological foundation and are fairly theoretical.

Each session has Teachers' Notes, full and detailed lesson plans, resource lists, and photocopiable handouts (though the copies on the CD will print and copy much better than ones you will get by pressing the book onto a copier glass).

The book comes with a licence for owners of the book to use the copiable materials "within their organisation".

The first 4 sessions, each of which are designed to last for a fairly intensive half day, are:-

1 Theology of Worship: this includes a very helpful "audit" sheet to aid participants in visiting other churches and learning as much as possible from how they worship. (I wish I'd had this when I spent a recent sabbatical visiting other churches.)

2 Who is the God we Worship: Handout 5 in this session looks at creative skills: good bass guitarists may be mortified by "relatively easy to pick up if you have too many guitar players" though sadly, it's all too often what happens.

3 Worship in the Old Testament: this session provides a Biblical history of worship through the Old Testament period, and draws lessons from it.

4 Leadership Skills: looks at the role of Levites, and what we can learn from Jesus (our great high priest) about leadership.



The book has its own website:www.worship4today.co.uk

Review by Martin Brasier  (14/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-715-12260-0
A4 Paperback
Price: £24.99

Worship4Today Part 3

- A Course For Worship Leaders & Musicians: Part 3 Consolidating and Expanding Horizons

by Helen Bent & Liz Tipple


This book covers the third and final part of the course, containing complete resources for sessions 9-12 plus various end-of-course resources.

As with part 2, it has a 3 page summary table of the course structure at the front, after which it launches straight into the sessions. The format and style is consistent with the previous two parts.

As before, each session has Teachers' Notes, full and detailed lesson plans, resource lists, and photocopiable handouts (though the copies on the CD—which also contains copies of all the Powerpoint presentations in .ppt format—will print and copy much better than ones you will get by pressing the book onto a copier glass).

The book comes with a licence for owners of the book to use the copiable materials "within their organisation".

There are about 320 A4 pages in all. The sessions covered are:-

9 Practical Worship Day: Unlike the other sessions, this one is a full day in length, and aims to draw together everything in the preceding 8 sessions and apply it. As with session 8, its usual sure-footedness deserts it to some extent with the technology coverage, though the bulk of the advice given is good.

10 Worship in the New Testament: this session includes a look at improvisation skills.

11 The Challenge of All-Age Worship: There is plenty of good advice here, as well as some overlap with mission.

12 Worship in a Mission Context: The coverage includes looking at things to consider for visitors and non-believers, and also touches on fresh expressions / alt worship.

The book concludes with an Assessment section and various appendices. There are resources for the review/feedback process, and certificate pro-formas, as well as suggestions for follow-up sessions.

The books are, from beginning to end, a full, comprehensive and complete resource for running what is a very thorough, well-balanced and worthwhile course with a strong Biblical grounding. Even if you're not planning to run the whole thing, or if you're already an expert, you will find much of use and benefit here.



Website:www.worship4today.co.uk

Review by Martin Brasier  (14/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-0-715-12262-4
Landscape A4 Paperback
Price: £24.99

Reflections On Eldership

- Insights From Practicing Elders

by Comp. Laurence Wareing


In this book 30 ruling elders of the Church of Scotland give their answers to a questionnaire complied by the author. The subjects covered include: becoming an elder, the eldership promise, their spiritual life, hopes and dreams, the pastoral role and making decisions.

As I read the open and honest answers I was overwelmed with a sense of sadness. Most seemed completely unprepared for the task. None mentioned the scriptural qualities for an elder that we find in Titus 1. Many spoke about the problem of an ageing leadership and dwindling congregations but few had any ideas what to do about it. There is no doubt that all the contributors are sincerely trying to serve God, but the overall impression is that most are struggling along with the church they love.

The Church of Scotland was founded on the supreme authority of God's word in all matters of faith and practice. Could it be that part of the reason for the church's decline is that there are elders do not meet the scriptural requirements? All those who care for the Church of Scotland would do well to read this book and answer this question for themselves.

Editors Note: This book is aimed specifically at the Church of Scotland. The reviewer has indicated that they are not a member of the Church of Scotland, and therefore found it difficult to engage with. We would appreciate any if members of the Church of Scotland would be willing to provide a "User Review" for this title.



Review by Alan Hill  (29/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Saint Andrew Press
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-0-861-53821-8
Paperback
Price: £12.99

What Clergy Do

- Especially When It Looks Like Nothing

by Emma percy


 

The old adage of 'six days invisible.....' when referring to clergy used to be regularly spoken of. Thankfully those days are long gone. Here in this rich and loaded text from Emma Percy is one of the most helpful theological works on the pattern of parish life taking the maternal metaphor as the dominant lens. This a beautiful and chewy work that deserves not to be read quickly.  

I loved the 'food is in the fridge' metaphor as it was well explored by Percy. There is challenge, realism and failure visited thoroughly in this rigorous work. Few pastoral ministry titles grapple with 'constant interruptablity' and the palpable realities of never being finished, for there is always more to do. 

Percy engages with the focus on church growth as the primary marker of success and the need to ‘keep the show on the road,’ nurturing a congregation in its faith and growing in community. Never defaulting to advocate church in club mentality, but recognising that much of the daily work is not measurable as an easy output or performance indicator. Percy's prevailing idea is the need for a change of language, quantifying comfort, engaging pastoral faithfulness and making peace with the reality of failure too.

Value is explored well. This is rich in analysis, complexity and care. This is a weighty brilliant vocational work of discovery. I trust the gender lens will not spoil the receptivity of this vital and important text. This is an anglican must-read, for ordinands, clergy and churchwardens. Rarely is the pivotal role of clergy and the nurture they can offer in Christ so well explored.

Because "we are owned by eternity" we are invited to serve realistically well in the light of this. This is top-class stuff. Thank-you Emma Percy. 

 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (20/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07024-4
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Canterbury Preachers Companion 2015

- Lectionary Based Sermons For Sundays, Festivals and Special Occassions

by Michael Counsell


This is the newest edition of the perennial favourite of many time-poor vicars and preachers containing, as it does, a lectionary based sermon for the whole of Year B throughout 2015.

A very handy book to have on the shelf even if not something you are going to be intending to use regularly. You just might find it comes in very handy for those emergency moments of drawing a blank in your sermon preparations—it happens even to the best of preachers.

A must-have guide for anyone who preaches or teaches from the Common Lectionary, and an invaluable resource even for those leaders in non-liturgical churches.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (14/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25608-8
Paperback
Price: £18.99

Services Of Reconciliation

- For Communal use During Advent and Lent

by Nuala Gannon


Within my tradition (the Church of England), the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) rarely features in the life of most congregations outside the Anglo-catholic community. This collection of communal services from the Roman Catholic tradition is precisely what is needed within Protestantism to help us reassert the importance of individual and corporate acts of penance. 

The book consists of 14 outline orders of service—7 for Advent and 7 for Lent—each exploring a different aspect of penance.

All utilise the practice of lectio divina—in the author’s words , “the services are rooted in the word of God, where we find the assurance of God’s steadfast love, compassion, mercy and loving kindness…here we shall discern our true selves and the immensity of God’s love…”

Each service is similarly structured with suggested hymns, music, prayers and the use of symbols to take our engagement beyond words. After opening prayers and scripture reading there is an Examination of Conscience followed by the celebration of the sacrament itself. Sharing the peace features prominently towards the end of each service.

The Roman Catholic origins of the services come through clearly in the choice of prayers and hymns but not in a way that constrains their use in other traditions.

This is a super collection that many will find useful. A CD of the text enclosed at the rear of the book would be an added blessing.



Review by David Ford  (01/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-856-07795-8
Paperback
Price: £8.50

Psychology For Pastoral Contexts

- A Handbook

by Jessica Rose


This is a comprehensive and clear book that gives a simple, yet studied, overview of psychology as it effects pastoral work within a churched setting—though 'churched' here does not mean only a church building but more an framing expression that would encompass christian pastoral work, including Chaplaincy, hospice and other pastoral settings.

It is beginner friendly, and yet also would work well as a refresher for those perhaps moving into a new role or pastoral outreach.

There is also a good section within it that deals with a number of key mental health issues—again these are addressed clearly and simply with an overview of symptoms and suggestions for helpful interaction. Finally it closes with a section dealing with Betrayal and Forgiveness which is a section well worth looking at for any in a ministerial or pastoral function as surely this is a likely topic many will encounter.

A very well balanced and helpful book indeed.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (26/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04552-6
Paperback
Price: £19.99

At All Times And In All Places

- Prayers And Readings or Themed Celebrations Of The Eucharist

by Compiled by Simon Jones


A beautifully bound book with some material that will be very helpful for anyone involved in preparing Eucharistic celebrations within the Anglican church.

This book provides well thought out votives—and a very nice introduction that explains what a Votive is and why and how to use them, and in turn the book—with full readings, prayers and collects for a number of occasions.

These cover church occasions such as Holy Baptism, Trinity Sunday and other celebrations within the church year, however also included are material for things of a much more global or community minded bent—so social justice, the environment etc.

The book then finally also a series of material for those more pastoral situations— homelessness, natural disaster, war and conflict etc.

This book therefore provides an incredible range of material that can be used simply and easily as is virtually straight from the book.

It is also helpful that each individual celebration section includes at the beginning a short context synopsis of the purpose of that Eucharist, where to find additional appropriate Common Worship texts, and finally what liturgical colours should be used.

Almost a must have for any Anglican Minister, ordinand or church resources shelf I would think.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25043-7
Hardback
Price: £16.99

Eucharist As Covenant

- An Aid To Christian Unity

by Pat Seaver


Leading a Church of England confirmation group recently, I was surprised by the look of shock on several faces when I explained that many Christians sincerely believe that at the Eucharist the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. On explaining the range of theological viewpoints that exist within mainstream churches, not one candidate saw the Eucharist as anything other than a simple act of remembrance.

Pat Seaver, a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland sets out to overcome many of the theological differences that exist between, and within church traditions. He does this by viewing the Eucharist not as a shared meal or as a sacrifice, but as a covenant.

Drawing on some of the most ancient examples of covenantal religious practices, Seaver traces the evolution of the Eucharist as covenantal drama in which everyone present is an active participant, not solely the priest observed (or even hidden).

This approach has enormous merit, not least, as Seaver intends, in terms of ecumenical dialogue, as clearly the Eucharist remains a significant point of separation, if not division, between catholic and protestant.

The book is written with an assumption that the reader is a Roman Catholic and perhaps it is with his own community that Seaver seeks to communicate. Others though may find it reassuring to know that there are active voices within Roman Catholicism seeking to bridge the continuing divide within Christ's church.

This is a useful contribution to that ongoing dimension of Christian mission.



Review by David Ford  (11/02/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-18098-2
Paperback
Price: £8.50

Creative Worship

- 20 Bible-Based Service Outlines For All-Age Church

by John Guest


An excellent collection of 20 service outlines for all-age worship that really are creative and fun. Of course for a lot of them you've got to have brave folks willing to stand up and do the ‘slapstick' presentations.

Don't worry though there is no slipping on banana skins going on, just somewhat cheesy skits utilizing ideas like a game show host.

They are not all slapstick either. The sketches are broken down into slapstick, storytelling, signs & symbols, surrogacy, and slant-looking from a different angle. Between them, they cover the major church themes and festivals as well as more ordinary services.

They are well presented with discussions of the theme, suggested songs and prayers and bible links-and that's before you get to the bit where it all but gives you the order of service and words you can use as a lead in. It of course gives a suggestion of age appropriate activities too.

A great addition to any service leaders shelf-and pretty good for youth and childrens workers too, even if they don't give services, for some of the creative ideas inside.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (15/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Barnabas imprint of BRF
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-0-857-46165-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Facilitiation Skills For Ministry



by Jo Whitehead, Sally Nash & Simon Sutcliffe


This is a fresh resource, excellently crafted for the sake of others. This book is rightly positioned in the marketplace, to enable a leadership culture that has shifted from hierarchical models to a place of enabling others to grow and flourish.

That's the theory anyhow! The boundaries and values of a context that is created as a safe and productive place are powerfully and plainly constructed here. The vision is painted well.

Though stemming from youth ministry and fresh expression streams of the church, the usefulness and reach of this new SPCK ministry resource deserves a wide readership.

There are endless gems woven throughout this title, most fundamentally rooted in the concept, "People support what they help create!" Every reader will be convinced that when people work together there can be more than just beginnings, more than just progress, indeed success can be discovered.

The supplementary action and reflection questions that follow each chapter are really helpful. I'd forsee a lot of individual use of this volume but believe that this would have even greater usefulness in the context of open-minded teams who want to grow in capacity and effectiveness.

Most ministry courses do not teach facilitation skills and many often are left to flounder in an interpersonal wilderness of hopefulness. The richness of the research, voices and source material that shape this work are a testament to the quality of these three authors.

I particularly enjoyed Jo Whitehead's chapter about culture setting, as this remains one of the biggest churches and organizational enigma's. Hospitablity, space, attitudes and real plans for best seating plans, are well detailed. I would have wished more than just a paragraph on permission giving.

Theology, skills, wisdom and values are substantively served up here for all to engage with. A celebration if somewhat technical of all that is highly participative in our culture! A truly top-class resource.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (23/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06877-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Preaching The Hard Words Of Jesus (Preachers Toolbox)



by Steven D Mathewson


This is a book aimed at helping preachers understand, and then explain some of the hard sayings of Jesus. Each of the nine chapters look at a different aspect of Jesus’ teaching such as hell & judgement, sex and marriage, and the end times.

Drawing on his own experience and the wisdom of others, Dr. Mathewson provides a wealth of thoughtful advice. He emphasises the importance of being faithful to the text and the context. He provides not only an explanation of the sayings of Jesus, but also gives examples of how to present that truth in a sermon.

A particular highlight for me was the chapter covering God’s sovereignty and human freedom. He emphasises that we must not allow an Arminian or a Calvanistic view to diminish the plain meaning of words of Jesus that do not sit well with our theology. He urges us to preach the text rather than our theological system.

Overall this is an excellent resource. It will help the serious teacher to communicate God’s Word with honesty and clarity.



Review by Alan Hill  (30/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-1-619-70101-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Preaching The Four Gospels With Confidence

- (Preachers Toolbox Series)

by Steven D Mathewson


Preaching the four gospels with confidence is written for those who love Jesus and want to proclaim Jesus in this world.

Right from the off, this book gets my attention with a
spirited exploration of the optimum length of a sermon. Mathewson offers something quite unique concerning unity, range and convictions about the person of Christ. There's lots of hermeneutically rich reference material here, solid counsel and pastoral insight. The sections covering conflict, paradox and contrast for me are worth the price of the book.

It will renew your gospel confidence as you read and re-read the gospel through the gift of this book. Steven Matthewson thank you for this helpful teaching.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (15/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-1-598-56702-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Echoing The Word

- The Bible In The Eucharist

by Paula Gooder & Michael Perham


Here is a book I didn't know I needed to read until I read it.  And now I think more people should read it, not just those that are involved in saying the Eucharist (though I hope most of them have some understanding of what this book addresses, though they might want to have a quick refresh too!) but also those that attend church and hear and participate in the Eucharist. For there within the liturgy of the Eucharist (C of E Common Worship, Order One in particular, but I think much of this book would hold weight for any liturgical Eucharist that follows the same or similar form) is a lot more than you might really expect and it's deeply entrenched in the Bible - not just the passages about the Last Supper, not just the prayers drawn from the Bible, but deeper in the very way it is set out, the pauses and movements and arrangements, that all have a richer biblical significance. This book really helps you see how the Eucharist is not just mere ritual but is in some ways an active embodiment of the word of God.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/10/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06913-2
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Influential

- Women in Leadership at Church, Work and Beyond

by Jo Saxton


Are you a woman of influence in your workplace, church or local community? And do you sometimes have questions about your leadership role, yet don't know where to turn for answers? If so, Jo's book is for you. It seems to me that you can dip into this book in almost any order, after the introduction. In every chapter there is a Biblical text as a foundation, some practical advice and some reflections by others in leadership. She looks at women in the Old and New Testaments, mentoring, navigating in a man's world, coping with marriage and leadership and lots of other relevant topics.

Jo does not write from a 'know it all' position, but acknowledges that there is always more to learn. I like her final emphasis on wisdom in the chapter 'The art of living skilfully'. I can heartily recommend this book.



Review by Jackie Rowe  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-340-99535-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Good Worship Guide

- Leading Liturgy Well

by Robert Atwell


This is an excellent resource for anyone new to leading a service of worship and doing liturgy. It is clear, concise and best of all simple to understand and use.

The first section is a fantastic look at the idea and style of worship within the Anglican Church and as such gives a great overview of ideas such as mission-shaped worship, worship and spirituality, and what worship is and why it matters, and rounds that all out with a useful worship audit that many churches could probably benefit from.

It then looks at the different types of worship service that are held within the Anglican Church, covering the different Common Worship orders of Holy Communion and on into the other pastoral services too - brilliantly brief but concise and understandable overviews that explain and suggest, thus helping you to grasp the real root concepts and hopefully lead services well. From there we look at seasons and holy days, useful chapters that again explain and suggest an understanding and basic framework for each service. Finally we go behind the scenes and look at the accoutrements and people involved in making worship and liturgy what it is and what it could be.

An essential tool, I would think, for anyone involved with leading worship or doing a course of study leading to licensing or ordination, but it's also a good read for anyone wanting to know more about the Anglican Church and why it does what it does.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-853-11719-0
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Encountering God Together

- Biblical patterns for ministry and worship

by David Peterson


"I am often disturbed or disappointed by what I experience when I 'go to church'," says David Peterson. Here is a dense tool-like exposition of church based ministry. As Peterson writes, "We encounter God by listening to what he has revealed to us in Scripture and by responding to the work of his Son, as the gospel directs." This title offers more uses of the word "edification" that you might expect in a year of reformed theological education. So conservative it is: creative it isn't! It covers a broad range of topics including prayer, scripture reading, preaching, bodily expression, liturgy, evangelism, and emotion. It's tight and hot on being theologically precise throughout.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74607-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Look Before You Lead

- How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture

by Aubrey Malphurs


Culture is so much a part of us that often we are not aware of how much culture is influencing our work in any organization. Malphurs is a prominent church leadership specialist with the goal to define, discover and design church culture that wins people to faith in Jesus Christ. He brilliantly deconstructs the many misconceptions about culture, using the illustration of the apple, with the skin (appearance), meat (values) and core (beliefs), mostly lucidly detailing how culture might be. Dr Malphurs explains that this crucial aspect of any congregation consists of three elements: behaviour, values, and beliefs.

Malphurs provides a three-part guide to help us discern and shape church culture. He borrows widely from different leadership and management sciences, as well as his own learning and experience to help readers understand culture as comprehensively as possible, to read culture as intelligently as possible, and to shape culture as wisely as possible. Part Three may be of keenest interest and most inspiring as it offers meaningful change strategies.

The language of pastor as "church sculptor" may not translate as well across the pond yet withal his thawing strategy for the current culture is very clear. Inflicting pain, asking make or break questions, developing opportunity eyes and recruiting a strategic leadership team are brilliantly mapped out. In Look Before You Lead, hard questions are asked. Do we care enough to change? Do we practice what we preach? Does change mean compromising Biblical beliefs or does it mean we find new ways to present them? Its rigorous working format offers much to church leaders and their leadership teams.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (BPG)
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-801-01507-6
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Go In Peace

- The Art of Hearing Confessions

by Martin L. Smith, Julia Gatta


The sub-title of this wonderful volume points to an important consideration when it comes to hearing another's confession. It is a ministry that should be part of what every priest offers and yet it involves skills that few of us naturally have - in other words, it is an art that takes time to nurture. This sleek volume provides all that the prospective confessor needs to step forward into this role with confidence.

Divided into two sections, the first part of the book deals with the history, liturgy and practicalities of hearing confessions. In today's climate priests may be anxious about the confidentiality involved in hearing another confess their sins. On this the authors are clear, advocating counsel that requires the penitent to take the necessary action expected of them by society. When exercised well, the sacrament of confession leads the penitent towards the exercise of responsibility for their actions; it is not a substitute for it.

The closing section of the book comprises a dozen confessions from a variety of contexts presented in a verbatim style inclusive of the confessor's response. In some respects this section is the jewel of the book for here is modelled excellent practice for the new confessor to emulate.

Written for an American Episcopalian audience the phraseology at times feels alien. Yet overall this is a superb book for which I believe there is no contemporary UK equivalent. This is an excellent addition to every priest's reading list.



Review by David Ford  (29/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25196-0
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Unreached

- Growing churches in working-class and deprived areas

by Tim Chester


This is a jewel of a book that every urban minister should read. True, Tim Chester writes as if the only churches worth writing about are evangelical. But once you've risen above such ecclesial parochialism Chester's writing is 100% relevant for every Christian minister in every urban environment.

Chester takes six key themes - contextualisation, culture, key gospel themes, evangelism, discipleship and teaching the word in a non-book culture - and explores their relevance and application to working-class and deprived areas. The author's writing is crisp, his analysis clear: the church is essentially a middle-class institution that has a great deal still to learn about how to share the gospel amongst communities whose culture is so different from that which the church assumes is the norm.

As a minister in a growing church in an urban area north of Nottingham this book is causing me to engage in some deep reflection. To what extent do churches grow as a mirror image of the prevalent culture of the church leadership? Most of the growth at our church is amongst aspiring middle class incomers to the town, rather than amongst the indigenous working class community. Is this simply like being attracted to like? Chester writes insufficiently for me about the importance of indigenous church leadership and perhaps this is an area for further study.

A remarkable book that deserves to be much more widely read than by the narrow evangelical market alone for which it was clearly written.



Review by David Ford  (21/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74603-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Creating Community

- Ancient ways for modern churches

by Simon Reed


This book works on so many levels! In fact I almost want to just say this book works - read it, find that out for yourself. But then that wouldn't be a very helpful review would it? Whatever words I say here probably won't do it justice - just so we are clear…

This is a foundational guide to doing church, to becoming community and more importantly to living community - something it could perhaps be said we have lost a little. This book guides the reader back onto the track of experiental living, where everything is community rooted and where everything is in its own way an act of prayer, where we live not only our lives but our faith together - even when we are apart!!

It's a guide book for individuals and a study book for churches and real communities - it reflects on ancient ways, yes, but it pulls in the very real and modern life we live using solid examples from the Community of Aidan & Hilda, and also reflection from other communities including the Northumbria Community, L'Arche, The Franciscan Third Order and others - demonstrating the pull towards community, the need for it and the lessons we can learn from it.

So ok perhaps I'm a tad biased, I'm a member of a new, small but real, fresh expressions community here in Lincoln called Luminous... but I still think that this book works and will talk to many, even those that aren't community-centric already because the heart of our gospel, our faith, is community and this book helps lead us into that journey and insight.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (23/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 19 April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46009-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Great Evangelical Recession

- 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church… and How to Prepare

by John S Dickerson


Ecclesiastical recession is real. John Dickerson brings breadth and depth insight to bear on the state of the American church. Dickerson has taken research from many experts. He has used the information to describe what is changing, why it is changing, and how to prepare for it.

What is refreshing about this is its principled commitment to deep truth-telling and analysis, yet offering engaging possiblities, solid hope and real strategies to stem the tide of loss.

In the first part of the book Dickerson identifies the six trends of decline.
Inflated: the church isn't as large as we have been told.
Bankrupt: donations are declining, the giving generation is dying.
Hated: cultural change is accelerating, we are in a post Christian age.
Dividing: the church is dividing over issues, reacting to the religious right.
Bleeding: we are losing the next generation, over half the kids born into the church are leaving.
Sputtering: the engine of discipleship making is not keeping pace with population growth.

In the second part, Dickerson casts visionary solutions for recovery.
Re-valuing: Holy Spirit.
Solvent: ministry funding.
Good: proactive ambassadors.
Uniting: evangelical unity.
Healing: discipleship.
Re-igniting: personal evangelism.

There is scripture, wisdom and inspiring to serve the flagging and faithless. I was particularly struck by the Pentecost impact of the early church beginning with 120 individuals empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Don't just read the first part of this, for it could discourage you, or just the second half, for it may have you idealistic beyond reality. Read all of it and engage fully with what applies to your context. All in all remembering that Christ is building His church, and nothing will prevail against that!

Dickerson brilliantly echoes the original mandate of King Jesus in restoring genuine, selfless discipleship to ignite a passionate faith.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (25/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-801-01483-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Gospel Commission

- Recovering God's Strategy for Making Disciples

by Michael Horton


Horton is from the USA, has a PhD from Coventry University in the UK, and is now professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. This book comes with commendations from the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. It's a comprehensive look at the Great Commission from the standpoint of an evangelical (Presbyterian Reformed) American context and it makes many good points. It is however a bit of a ramble, and on the way Horton conversationally offers his opinions on everything from the sacred nature of Sunday to the vacuous nature of the goal of evangelical reunion.

His basic thesis is that the church suffers from mission creep – that is, it does all sorts of things it hasn't been mandated to do, and neglects those which it has. "Disciples" is a bit of a catch all term - the book is really about what the church is and should be doing, or rather not doing.

If you were raised in a conservative evangelical background with an emphasis on getting saved, an individualistic approach to your faith and a desire to build the kingdom through your own efforts; and if you are comfortable with the kind of rather in-house vocabulary used in that kind of setting, then this book will offer a helpful and detailed challenge to your assumptions.

Review by Alison Morgan  (25/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01390-4
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Women and Men in Scripture and the Church

- A Guide to the Key Issues

ed. Steven Croft & Paula Gooder


This is an excellent guide or study book to a heated and topical issue - that of women and men in scripture and in turn of their roles and positions within the church, noteably of course how they can minister as highlighted by the ongoing debates over the role of women. This book is designed to be used as a group study but can just as well be used as a personal study guide, however I think the benefits of using it in a group setting would far outweigh the personal use. You are going to want to talk about what you read in here with someone, regardless of your personal stance.

It must be clearly highlighted, however, that this book does work from a starting bias (as can most clearly be seen in the answers to the Frequently Asked Questions section at the back) of being inclusive, or as some may say pro the full ordination of women. This though should not immediately make you reject this book if you hold a different stance, because it is a clearly written, well articulated guide to the key issues, and a very good study on a thorny topic.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (23/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25510-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Art of Curating Worship

- Reshaping the Role of the Worship Leader

by Mark Pierson


Mark Pierson has been involved in curating worship for over a decade, living on the blurry lines between art, installation, stations and traditional church based worship, whilst seeking to provide a safe place for experiencing God in the midst of them all. The Art of Curating Worship is his rallying cry to the church to begin to dip its toes into the water he has well trod. The basic premise Pierson is presenting is several-fold: the church needs to embrace artists and the arts in worship; the church needs to think deeper and better about how they curate (not lead) worship events; the church needs to take seriously the fact that God engages with people through ways which the church has traditionally ignored. This is a very helpful book, full of illustrations and examples of how Pierson and his church have learned to engage the arts whilst creating space for people to meet with God - whether they be Christians or not. Even though it reads as if it were slightly rushed into publication, and some of the examples lend themselves to being both expensive and time consuming, overall, this is a very important book with a very important message. Key to his thinking is that too often we invite people to come to a set worship event each week, with no understanding or deep thinking into what we do with them whilst they are there. His questions throughout the book are helpful for all who are involved in bringing people into the presence of the living God: ‘What do I want to say?’ and ‘How do I want to say it?’ This book needs to be read.

Review by Tim Goodall  (18/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25194-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

The U-Turn Church

- New Direction for Health and Growth

by Bob Bouwer; Kevin G Harney


This resource for churches seeking to grow and reach the un-churched has much to recommend it. Written by two experienced American pastors, it might at first sight appear irrelevant to most churches here in England; however, much of what is offered is readily transferable.

The book is written for leadership groups and offers exercises and activities at the end of each chapter which are designed to help groups relate what they have read to their own situation. Throughout the book the reader is referred to excellent resources relevant to the points covered.

The authors pastor two very different churches and are very clear that there is no absolutely right or wrong way of doing things, suggesting that their experience and advice is adapted to suit the reader's situation. They share their experiences very frankly giving practical advice and encouragement.

Some of the ideas they offer are simple yet very powerful. I particularly liked the one where the whole church meeting encourages people to list their dislikes in relation to the new situation (p. 74). Two columns were drawn up, one was headed "Bible absolutes" and the other "personal preferences" and the meeting discussed which heading each complaint should be placed under. It proved an excellent vehicle for helping people to see that what was being done was Biblical and that most objections were actually selfish in origin.

Any church that is struggling to grow and move forward in response to Christ's command to make new disciples will find much to challenge and encourage them in this book.

Review by Chris Low  (23/03/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01488-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Festivals Together

- Creating all-age worship through the year

by Sandra Millar


A joy of a book, which even before the real beginning of the material gives a verbal framework which can be used for all worship: "creative ways of hearing God's story that open up the possibility of encounter with his love".

What follows is accessible, possible but not "dumbed-down" worship; it is worship for whoever is there as Sandra Millar says. Her ideas can be used as detailed or be adapted for local circumstances such as building type and size, congregational age-range and availability of leaders. Preparation is stressed, as is rehearsing readings, drama etc., for as the author says, we rehearse for a wedding to make sure it goes smoothly and those taking part feel at ease, so the same attention should be paid to worship. In Millar's view we are creating "a space of possibilities for encounter" where the congregation can meet with God whatever their age and be involved in worship. A very useful resource for those of us in multi-parish rural ministry in small churches as well as colleagues in larger urban surroundings.

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06631-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Gaining Heaven's Perspective

- A Guide to Hearing and Seeing the Voice of God

by Julian C Adams


The author of this short book (104 pages of actual text) subtitled A Guide to Hearing and Seeing the Voice of God is based at The King's Arms Church in Bedford. The book consists of his experience in the gift of prophecy and he writes about how we can encourage this gift as well as about the pitfalls and dangers of this ministry. This is the author's first book and, understandably, it lacks the fluency and flow of an established author's work. Whilst this is by no means a systematic treatment of the topic of prophecy in the church it nevertheless is the product of someone with considerable experience in this area and is worth reading for that reason alone.

Review by Roger Coode  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39322-7
Paperback

The Measure of Our Success

- An Impassioned Plea to Pastors

by Shawn Lovejoy


A book written by a man for other men, of which my first impressions were that it is alien and very male. Deeper into the book, I found some valuable advice about being a pastor and the pitfalls we can encounter, even though the concept of "success" which recurs struck a wholly discordant note with me.

I am not sure if this is theological, ecclesiological, national or gender-based discord; perhaps a mixture of them all. When Lovejoy talks of how Jesus "measured success", of how he and his fellow pastors and the American 100 most successful churches measure their success, I find myself thinking that the intended reader of this book is not a female full-time Anglican parish priest working in rural ministry, but male, preferably "Conservative Evangelical" (sorry about using a label) and working in an environment where there is a large number of potential church members.

As someone who has a background in sociology [many years ago], I found this book fascinating from a sociological perspective; how the culture in which we are born and nurtured affects how we are as Christians and how it affects how we write about it, even though we are often unaware of these affects.

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01460-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Dem Dry Bones



by Luke A Powery


This deserves to be an instant classic. This challenges the fluffy preaching that is so common in many contexts and instead proposes that we deal with death if we want to offer authentic hope and eternal life.

While forms of prosperity gospel are both popular, and achingly speak to the aspirations of many the question still remains, how does it minister to one's soul in the midst of actual life with all its hardships? Soul, spirit, life, death and integrity all converge in this gritty honest volume.

Powery proclaims that :- "preaching hope is inadequate without taking death seriously. Not only is death the context for preaching hope, but hope is generated by experiencing death through the Spirit who is the ultimate source of hope." This is a meaningful and enduring engagement with Ezekiel 37 in particular and the spirituals. Beyond superficiality and with real grit!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (18/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Fortress Press from Alban Books
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-69822-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Developing in Ministry

- Handbook for effective Christian learning and training

by Neil Evans


Growth and openness to challenge and development is vital to healthy pastoral leadership.

Neil Evans offers a robust and engaging volume in the SPCK Library of Ministry series. It seeks to apply learning and training to development with a clearest application for Anglican clergy. There is insight, functionality and context strongly explored in this dense new title.

There is particular wisdom in the culture and communities that are engaged with. Scripture, story and service are well tied together also. There is something for most in this title, and with much value in application.

With a light academic touch, this workbook format in content will doubtless go on to be a reference book of much helpfulness for many a study long into the future. This is thoroughly practical and gently provocative.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06398-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Leading Small Groups with Purpose

- Everything You Need to Lead a Healthy Group

by Steve M Gladen


Small group life, can be a blessing or a bane! Shape and good help is offered here by a seasoned pastoral specialist. Gladen helps leaders articulate success clearly, develop a personal leadership plan, increase group membership, and pastor through fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship. The framework and values of Saddleback are unmistakeable but there is a humility, warmth and flexibility that permeates this resource. Gladen has possibly the best chapter given over to addressing problems - addressing them as catalysts for growth.

This is reference rich as a resource for transformation in community. There's plenty of reality, context, and understanding as well as aspiration. I love the emphasis of "the goal of discipleship is transformation" which is deeply embedded in this new book. This will usefully resource small church, to its maximum capacity. This is practical, gritty and expansive in the range of topics covered.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 28 February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-801-01496-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

A Clergy Husband's Survival Guide



by Matthew Caminer


"However much or little you decide to be involved - you are part of her journey and it will affect you." Matthew Caminer offers a broad guide to the trials, tribulations, pitfalls and peculiarities of being married to an ordained woman. As a husband of a newly ordained priest I recognised a great many of the potential problems, challenges and events discussed and can safely say that the past couple of years would have been traversed more smoothly had this book been read whilst my wife was still in training! Useful not only for identifying these challenges and offering advice and wisdom, this book also gives insights into what can be expected from others – your wife; the congregation; the Church – and could be informative and enlightening for all of these. Worthy to be read by all, not just for those finding themselves in the new (and not especially well defined) role of clergy husband.

Review by Tim Hupfield  (14/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06790-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Friends In Christ

- Paths to a New Understanding of Church

by Brother John of Taizé


This is an absolutely wonderful book on friendship, and through that friendship on how the church could be and should really be. It is beautiful in its simplicity of heart and message and amazing in its depth of understanding, conviction and well reasoned argument. This book does not fail to address the issues that arise from friendship, the problems of friends falling out, of who is a friend etc.. It also does not fail to acknowledge that a church based on friendship could have problems with leadership and authority if not done right, but at the end of the day you are left convicted that only when we truly reach out in friendship will we truly connect to the church as God and Christ wanted it to be. It's also a book that gives you a glimpse into the ethos and day to day understanding of Taizé, and that is a lovely picture. This book is certainly one for anyone who has been touched by Taizé in anyway, but more it is also one for anyone that wants to see the church be all it can be and / or wants to grapple with the real issue of friendship.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-626-98000-6
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Stumbling Blocks

- Conquering the stuff that holds you back

by Gavin and Anne Calver


While the church has been effective over the years at evangelism, getting people in through the front door via projects like Alpha and Christianity Explored, it has been a lot less effective at ministering to those who drift out through the backdoor due to hurts and confusions. Others remain in the church but only go out of habit due to the hurts and questions crowding out the faith they once had. In Stumbling Blocks, Gavin and Anne Calver attempt to deal with these issues in an honest and open way, talking about their own problems and times when they have stumbled and almost walked away. While no book that tackles this issue can be totally comprehensive this is a useful starting point not only for those who are struggling but also for church leaders who want to help them.

Review by Phelim McIntyre  (11/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-21200-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Nine lives

- The Enneagram in life stories

by Eric Foggitt


Nine lives by Eric Foggitt is a welcome addition to books on the Enneagram. These fictionalised accounts of the life of a person of each type, allow you to take in how the lives and actions of the types can be seen both by themselves and in relation to others. This way of telling a series of intersecting stories based around people in the same town and within the same churches really demonstrate how the types, as actual people, can look in childhood; adolescence; at work; and at home in relationships. It also works in identifying and demonstrating the shadow feature of each type, the fears and negatives that can drive and hinder. There is much in the book about how our way of practicing faith can be coloured by our type's outlook and drivers - I also found this helpful. The element of spirituality is central to these stories and views and the questions or 'spiritual exercises' at the end of each section are also very good at both helping to draw out understanding of our type in relation to ourselves, but also at building up a good biblical connection for each type too. Very good and a highly unusual book on the Enneagram and spirituality and very very easy and enjoyable to read.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (08/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: December 2012
ISBN: 978-1-780-99978-4
Paperback
Price: £11.99

101 Great Ideas for Growing Healthy Churches

- A MODEM Guide

by Various


Described as A MODEM Guide, MODEM is an organisation that brings together leaders from business and the churches for mutual learning and support. Healthy churches ought to be growing churches. When you are in a leadership position books of ideas are always welcome, and this is one of them. Ideas here range from the very simple to the more complex and cover a wide range of leadership and church experience. There are ideas about being, about enabling, about learning, about planning and many other topics. It's very much a 'how to' book and the contributors are experts in their respective fields. Some names may be familiar, e.g. John Sentamu, but many others will be unknown. All of them, however, contribute extremely useful ideas, case studies and reflections on a great variety of issues that impinge on what it means to be a healthy church: one that lives, grows and serves together as God's people. This book is a must for any church leader looking for wisdom, insight and fresh ideas, and to find a place on many a ministerial bookshelf.

Review by Graham Wise  (08/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-25045-1
Paperback
Price: £18.99

The Art of Mentoring

- Embracing the Great Generational Transition

by Darlene Zschech


Darlene Zschech writes from her considerable experience as a leader and mentor. Her focus is on building bridges to the next generation of leaders and helping them to grow into all that God has for them. She writes in her introduction: "I've spoken to many leaders who have outstanding dedication to the things of God and yet seem to lack revelation about raising the next generation to serve Him." She invites us to learn from her own journey - mistakes and all - so that we can pour our lives into seeing the dreams of others come true. Her approach is to share 14 'values' that she feels are vital in shaping the lives of both mentor and mentoree. Each value is based around a Scripture passage.

The challenge of this book is to be generous to the younger ones in our churches and to recognize and encourage their unique gifts. If you want to know how to pass on the baton to new leaders, this book is for you.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (05/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 23 August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-764-20935-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Paul as Pastor

- Biblical insights for pastoral ministry

by Patrick Whitworth


Patrick is the Rector of All Saints Weston in Bath, and an established and thoughtful writer on topics to do with the life of the church today. In this, his seventh book, Patrick takes an unusual look at Paul, not as an evangelist and church planter, but as a pastor - suggesting that it was Paul’s ministry as an evangelist which in fact shaped him as the pastor he undoubtedly became. It's full of insight on the task and the tools of a pastor, illustrated from Patrick's own long experience of leading a living community of faith. Particularly refreshing is Patrick's conviction that pastoral care of a Christian community is not an end in itself but simply the consequence of the imperative we are under to share our faith with those who are not yet part of that community.

Review by Alison Morgan  (22/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 19 October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46046-2
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Dangerous Calling

- Confronting the unique challenges of pastoral ministry

by Paul David Tripp


Paul Tripp's book, it seems to me, is a must-read for every pastor, church leader or anyone with a sphere of influence within a church. It is hard-hitting yet tender, exposing yet up building, diagnostic and curative, full of truth and grace. He writes from his own deeply humbling experience about how easy it is for pastors to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. Certain clear themes run throughout the book. One of those themes is nicely summed up by a sentence in the first chapter "Biblical maturity is never just about what you know; it's always about how grace has employed what you have come to know to transform the way you live". Another thread running through the chapters is the problem of the disconnect between the pastor's ministry persona and his private life. The problems are clearly delineated, and then the answers bring hope and healing. For example he talks about finding our identity in Christ and not in the opinions of others; the necessity for a pastor of allowing someone to pastor him and the need to preach the gospel of grace to our own hearts as well as to others. A thoroughly good read.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (15/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 16 November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74602-6
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Get it across loud and clear

- A speaker's practical guide to preparation and delivery

by Ali Martin


Everyone reading this review will have had the awful experience of sitting through a dreadful talk, sermon or presentation; it can be cringingly embarrassing for a congregation or audience. Often it's not that the content is poor, but the structure and delivery of the ideas. Very often indeed, the content can be fantastic, but is entirely suffocated by a speaker who has no idea how terrible he or she is at communicating.

Ali Martin's accessible and entertaining guide to presentation skills for Christian speakers is superb. Comprising the combined wisdom of a dozen or so of the very best Christian speakers, Martin has brought together a wealth of guidance on every aspect of sermon or talk preparation and delivery. Nothing is overlooked from structure to stories, voice to visuals.

The very best place to start reading this book is with Appendix 2 – the script of a talk that Martin gave in December 2002. Reading this alone is hugely instructive for it is engaging, well paced, clearly structured and consistently interesting. Unsurprising given the book's origins – Soul Survivor – but still slightly shocking to this liberal reviewer, is the need to give candid advice to women considering speaking from a position of church leadership. But even here Martin's advice is well-balanced, thoughtful and free of prejudice or assumptions.

A good read of inestimable value to the proclamation of the gospel.

Review by David Ford  (17/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-850-78993-2
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Warnings To The Churches



by J C Ryle


Here is a clarion call to Christians to hold fast to the true Gospel - that is that we are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.
The 8 chapters in the book have been taken from two works of the Victorian minister: Knots Untied and Home Truths. They cover subjects such as the nature of the true church, the dangers of those who want to add to or take away from the scriptures, the fallibility of ministers and the risk of idolatry.
His aim is to warn against error, not win a popularity contest. Therefore he speaks boldly against the errors of the Catholic Church and the Church of England. He urges his readers to leave any church if the minister does not preach the Gospel.
The book breathes the scriptures. Every chapter is an exposition of a verse or passage. As always he writes clearly and simply. His application is straightforward and direct.
Bishop Ryle writes with the Church of England in mind but this does not detract from the book’s relevance. Read this and take heed of his warnings. They are needed now more than when he wrote these words.

Review by Alan Hill  (29/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-851-51043-9
Paperback
Price: £5.50

Redeeming Church Conflicts

- Turning Crisis into Compassion and Care

by Tara Klena Barthel & David V.Edling


God's agenda for his eternal children is not merely a life of comfort, ease, or pleasure. He is fully willing to compromise all of these for the sake of our spiritual growth.
Those who spend time in a church populated by imperfect humans know that church conflict resulting in pain and brokenness can happen.
Tara Barthel and David Edling draw on their extensive experience of healing with compassion and care, all suffering a crisis. Redeeming Church Conflicts thoroughly explores this subject and digs powerfully and deeply into the experience of the New Testament church to discover a model of forgiveness and redemption that can help the witness of the church to shine once again. It deserves to be a go-to manual on the use of Acts 15 as pathway for healing: as ‘a paradigmatic and normative model for the church today’
The gripping way that Tara and David unfold the scripture, saturated with relational principles, with perspective, wisdom, discernment and leadership nouse is really unique. The strengths of the primacy of God’s Word, the centrality of the Gospel, the necessity for humility, the context of eternity and the preciousness of God’s glory are the core elements unpacked in this text.
As the authors pen:- ‘The best question shuts the mouth of opponents graciously because it leads to changed thinking and believing.’
It also leads to meaningful solutions because it goes to the heart of the matter. This is a masterful work of genius for the benefit of many!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 22 June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01428-4
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Simplicity In Preaching



by J C Ryle


This is a little gem. It is only 21 pages long but contains more wise advice about preaching than books many times the length. J C Ryle, the well known Victorian Church of England minister writes about a subject close to his heart: Simplicity in preaching. In all his own writings (as well as his sermons) Bishop Ryle practiced what he preached. This booklet is no exception. It is clear, direct and memorable.
He begins by emphasising that preaching in a simple way is essential but difficult. It takes time, effort and a great deal of thought. He then goes on to give hints as to the best way to preach simply. These include: Make sure you understand your text, use simple words, short sentences, direct speech and plenty of illustrations.
Any preacher or teacher will find this booklet stimulating and challenging. It can be read in 30 minutes but I suggest its contents will not be forgotten. Highly recommended.

Review by Alan Hill  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-848-71065-8
Booklet
Price: £1.50

Creative Ideas for Using Scripture in Worship With CD Rom



by Paul S Glass


Another resource from the Creative Ideas range produced by Canterbury Press that tie into all three Lectionary years of seasons and feasts; events such as Christmas, Lent, Harvest, Mothering Sunday etc. This is a set of monologues and drama scripts that cover the festivals and seasonal specials in creative and dramatised ways. Some of the monologues are set up as letters, others as stories, contemplations or meditations – but all with interest and keen insight that just may wake up a Sunday congregation and get them thinking. The Drama’s in them are short but well drawn and involve only a couple of people or voices. Again, just right for livening up a service and getting the point across in an interesting way.
To my mind another excellent resource that helps to make arranging a service easier to do – especially an all age service, though these could be used for any service, and indeed could even be tweaked for use at other times.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 31 May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25163-2
Paperback
Price: £19.99

There’s Hope For Your Church

- First Steps to Restoring Health and Growth

by Gary L. McIntosh


This book needs to be in the hands of every trainee minister and every minister moving into a new church leadership post. If only I’d read this book 13 months ago before I moved to my current church!
In 13 fast-paced, anecdote-filled chapters Gary McIntosh explores the steps required to revitalise church life. Yes it’s American and that naturally influences the language and stories that McIntosh employs, but the principles involved are universal as are the lessons the church in Britain needs to learn.
McIntosh’s 13 steps follow a logical sequence from vision to persistence. Rooted in biblical wisdom (without being too scripturally dependent), McIntosh returns again and again to certain key themes: the need for leaders to lead; the importance of ministerial commitment (but don’t stay in post too long); the importance of making hard decisions; and the importance of dealing with resistance. Rightly McIntosh reminds us that certain personality types make church leadership easier.
In many ways perhaps this is a straightforward ‘secular’ self-help book wrapped around a Christian context. Certainly there could be more weight on prayer and listening to God. Discerning God’s vision is arguably more about learning to notice what God is already doing, rather than thinking up ideas you think God wants you to adopt.
Those caveats aside this is an impressive and important book. Modern ministry is extremely demanding and a succinct guide to effective leadership that can inspire, encourage and sustain is much to be valued.

Review by David Ford  (16/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01406-2
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Encircling the Christian Year

- Liturgies and Reflections for the Seasons of the Church

by Barbara Mosse


This is a lovely book of short liturgies, with meditations and prayers for each week of the Church's year, useful for private meditation, as the basis of group discussion or as the inspiration, for instance, of short Evensong services.
Barbara Mosse has chosen a lectionary reading for each week from the three years' readings available, with each day of Holy Week and some Saints' days included. One of the strengths of the book is that, in each case, after a short opening prayer the highlighted Biblical verses are given, often in abridged form but easy to follow. A reflection on the passage of about two hundred words picks up and discusses a theme of importance in our Christian living. So we are challenged by the unexpected appearance of God in our lives as Moses was by the burning bush, or encouraged by the apparent abject failure of the mission of John the Baptist at his humiliating death to hold fast to hope and trust.
There is a bidding prayer to conclude each week, and a new Collect. These form the most moving part of the liturgies, as the words of the prayers are often gracious and beautiful. They are in themselves a valuable prayer resource.
Barbara Mosse's considerable scholarship is evident here, but quietly so, and always subservient to her awareness of the rhythm of the Christian year and our need to spend time simply experiencing the love of God in action in our lives. This book will help many of us to do just that.

Review by Joan van Emden  (30/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 06 June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46045-5
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Leading on Empty

- Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion

by Wayne Cordeiro


‘Learning the difference between a concern and a responsibility may save your ministry, your family, and your sanity.’ Here is a book filled with common sense ideas about living a life intentionally and effectively without burn-out. Cordeiro uses his own time of burn-out and depression to take the reader step-by-step through ideas and Bible principles that bring the right things into focus and allow any believer to live their lives richly and fully in relationship, marriage & in God.
This is full of resources, insight, motivation and inspiration. Brilliant if you don't get stuck on the fact that it is written for Americans. Raw, honest & practical!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 01 April 2010
ISBN: 978-0-764-20759-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals

- Applying the Gospel at the Unique Challenges of Death - Ministering the Master’s Way

by Brian Croft & Phil A. Newton


This is an accessible, easy to read book on the subject of funerals. Written for the benefit of those called upon to conduct a funeral service it is full of practical Biblical-based wisdom.
Requests to take funerals tend to arrive on a minister’s doorstep with little notice and can involve a wide variety of situations. There is helpful advice of how to work with the funeral director, how to deal with funerals for those the minister does not personally know and for those who have died in tragic circumstances.
For me the most helpful part is advice on how to include the Gospel message in services with sensitivity and compassion. There are some excellent examples of funeral sermons in an appendix.
This slim volume will be a special help to those about to enter the ministry but who have never conducted a funeral.
My only criticism is that there are 18 pages of endorsements, prefaces and introductions. For a book that is only 105 pages long this seems a bit excessive!

Review by Alan Hill  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-846-25266-2
Paperback
Price: £5.00

The Beauty of the Word

- The Challenge and Wonder of Preaching

by James C. Howell


A friend of mine once said ‘read a book written by a preacher on the art of preaching and you will get a sense of the sort of preacher they will be.’ If this is true I would welcome a visit to Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina to sit under the ministry of James C. Howell.
Howell’s The Beauty of the Word is a sensitive reflection on the process of sermon preparation and preaching. It is the sort of book I wish I had been introduced to as young preacher as it not only provides insight into the journey from text to sermon but also the passage of the message from preacher to the congregation.
As he seeks to unpack the process of preparing a sermon Howell encourages the preacher to avoid the trivial and trite in favour of a prayerful, well researched and pastorally sensitive gospel message. In advocating this Howell helps the preacher to explore the joys and sadness that often cries out to be expressed through preaching. As he describes the journey from text to sermon Howell also reflects on the feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness that accompanies any serious exponent of God’s word.
With additional chapters on sermon delivery and dealing with the aftermath, this relatively short work (175 pages including endnotes) provides, for the inexperienced preacher, a rounded introduction to sermon craft. Furthermore, for the seasoned speaker The Beauty of the Word provides a welcome refresher course in sermon preparation and delivery.
James C. Howell’s The Beauty of the Word is the sort of book that reminds me why, as a preacher and pastor, each year I should read at least one book on preaching. As such I find no difficulty in recommending it and adding it to my bookshelf.

Review by Steve Langford  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press from Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-664-23695-3
Paperback

50 Masses with Children

- Revised and Updated

by Sr Francesca Kelly


This is the latest of Sister Kelly’s books of masses for children. There include ten new masses as well as an update to the revision of forty earlier ones. The masses are arranged by themes - Prayer, Illness, Family, Happiness, Christmas, Easter and many others of interest to young people. The form of the mass is the classic one all Catholics are familiar with - opening prayers, readings from the Old and New Testaments, blessings and prayers of the faithful. This is not a book to be read from beginning to end, but to be used as a practical handbook. There are themes for every occasion and each mass is complete in itself. There is a short and apposite introduction to each mass by the author which sets the mood and scene. This is an invaluable resource for teachers and priests who are working with primary school children.

Review by John Irvine  (25/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 30 March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07771-2
Paperback
Price: £13.50

Pray, Plan, Prepare, Preach

- Establishing and Maintaining Priorities in the Preaching Ministry – Ministering the Master’s Way

by Iain D. Campbell


This helpful little book is aimed at preachers of the Gospel. Pastor Campbell writes from a reformed evangelical position and therefore has a high view of preaching, believing that when the Word of God is preached, the very Word of God is proclaimed.
In a few short chapters he covers key aspects of preaching including: the preacher’s private prayer life, identifying a text, sermon preparation and delivery. The book is full of godly wisdom and common sense, all rooted in Biblical principles. I particularly liked his discussion on the different ways to preach expository sermons, however every chapter is useful.
I would especially recommend this book to any aspiring preacher and young pastor, but all preachers will find food for thought here.

Review by Alan Hill  (25/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-25149-8
Paperback
Price: £6.00

The Holy Ground Around You

- Reflective Services for Taking the Church Outside

by Susan Sayers


In this wonderful, if short, book of ‘apt liturgy’, Susan Sayers offers us 30 short services ‘for taking the church outside’. The services are divided into three categories: Times and Seasons, Weather and Places. The first two categories hold few surprises perhaps, but the third – Places – with suggested locations including the end of a pier and the grounds of a historic building, reveal one of Susan Sayers’ motives: the gentle opportunity to evangelise through observing others worship.
Each act of worship is prefaced with advice on how to ‘gather’ and includes responsorial liturgy (often rooted in scripture but sometimes marvellously original), song and reading suggestions, prayers and congregational activities. Sayers has carefully crafted each liturgy with the context uppermost in her mind and simply reading these liturgies through transported me to lakes, gardens, beaches and islands I know. I cannot recall however, worshipping outside in the depth of winter or in pouring rain and Sayers argument that we should is well made.
Earlier this year our church debated having a pet service and then we remembered our new church carpet. We considered an outside service but the lack of a readily available liturgy placed the idea on the back burner. Thanks to Sayers we now have a liturgy to hand. Similarly, although we are in the middle of a town, a beautiful lake is only a short walk away and with Sayers’ help an Easter dawn service by the lakeside is now a possibility.
This is a great new resource, and a reminder to the churches that our official liturgies are often sorely lacking. A CD containing PDFs of all the services would be appreciated.

Review by David Ford  (24/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Kevin Mayhew Publishers
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-67469-1
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Inspirational Preaching

- The Preachers Toolbox series

by Ed. Craig Brian Larson


Here is the best-of-the-best of inspirational preaching help: which combines deep passion with biblical exposition, so that minds are informed and lives transformed. Insight, faithfulness, integrity and genuine emotion are real and potent here in the power of the Spirit. There is so very much that is great in this title...... ‘Only the Holy Spirit can make dry bones live and fruit grow from the hard earth of a human heart. So add your little drops to the Spirit’s mighty downpour of inspiration, and he will ‘do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us!’
Many of the essays in this volume focus on the combination of emotion with truth, integrating theory, practice, character and spirituality, from which all preaching necessarily flows. Conviction, wisdom, experience and real heart abound here that will prove to be a tonic for a weary preacher’s soul. Personal & powerful perspectives on preaching! Simply the freshest, most inspiring book on preaching I have read lately.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (18/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-598-56859-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Pastoring the Pastor

- Emails of a Journey Through Ministry

by Tim Cooper & Kelvin Gardiner


Daniel Donford is a new pastor: excited, filled with bright dreams, anticipating a big future for himself and his new church. Inevitably opposition and obstacles lie ahead. Pastoral ministry is both the very best and worst of times. In this fresh style title full of faithfulness and insight, Dan's Uncle Eldon through emails resources and encourages Dan's journey into the mature, selfless, loving pastor God wants him to be.
The book is a series of these emails exploring potentials and problems in pastoral ministry. The strengths of this book are that it explores realism, character, godliness and disappointment and that gives an insightful probe into pastoral ministry. Proving the need for enduring faith, leadership depth and encouragement to carry on, in abundance!
Christians are not always easy to work with and there are plenty of areas where we need to accept change including changes in ourselves. Realism, encouragement leadership help and the complexity of people are well explored here. Pastoring the Pastor is a realistic manifesto that nurtures wisdom, resolution, and faith in Christian leadership! Great stuff

Review by Johnny Douglas  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-845-50784-8
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Making the Most of the Lectionary

- A Users Guide

by Thomas O’Loughlin


One of the most impressive achievements of the liturgical changes of the 20th century was the compilation of the lectionary? It deserves the stand alone title since it has been adopted across so many churches, with ,of course, greater or lesser modification/revision. Seemingly produced in five years as a result of an initiative of the Second Vatican Council, it has stood the test not only of time, but of repeated use. O’Loughlin guides his readers through many aspects of this phenomenon, including its complexities, in this attractive book which deserves a place on every priest/minister’s bookshelf, and many a lay-persons as well. It will reward regular use.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (07/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06587-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Eucharistic Ministers



by Brian Glannon


The intended readership for this book is necessarily a small group, viz. the ministers who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone who might be interested in this aid to spiritual growth for this group, may well profit from the perusal of say, its extended exposition of the history and meaning of the Roman Catholic Mass. Others may regret that it doesn’t include a history of the development of this ministry, with or without an ecumenical dimension, to examine this form of ministry in other churches. However for anyone in the Roman Catholic Church thinking about this ministry, this may prove to be a very helpful aid.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (16/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 18 February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07766-8
Paperback
Price: £5.99

An Authentic Servant

- The Marks of a Spiritual Leader: Didasko Files Series

by Ajith Fernando


Only 22 pages long but this book, from the Didasko Files a series of resources from the Lausanne movement, is a considered and intelligent booklet dealing imaginatively and surprisingly with some deep questions at it's core, on what it really means to be a spiritual leader. Discussing being willing to subjugate your self, be willing to die, face stress, heartbreak and disillusionment all in the name of being a leader for Christ. Accepting the role of servant over the role of leader is quite an intense challenge and this little booklet calls you to question whether in your ministry, whatever it may be, you have the real marks of being a leader or not.
A considered treatise and well worth looking at wherever you are in terms of leadership. Some excellent questions at the end of the book make it a useful short church group study.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-598-56875-2
Booklet
Price: £2.99

Grow Your Church's Income

- A Guide to Securing Long-term Financial Health

by Maggie Durran


Sensible, workable advice, which looks at frightening words like ‘Risk’ and removes the fear, coupled with good advice.
The importance of a proper Budget is highlighted, with expenditure regularly checked against it; something which the author stresses is not one person’s job. Don’t land everything on the Treasurer!
Pgs 13-14 contain a wonderful list, understandable to non-financial types, of good practice in Financial procedures.
There are practical questions about matters such as heating and lighting and other calls on the church’s finance, with good ideas about improving the stewardship of current resources and how to look to the future.
In all, a thorough look at all that affects the financial management of the church, although occasionally I felt as if the reason for the church being there in the first place was somewhat lost, even though the stated aim is to give church congregations ‘freedom to develop mission and ministry’.

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 31 August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-25039-0
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Creative Ideas for Children’s Worship Year B with CD ROM



by Sarah Lenton


As with the first book in this series, I feel that this is for a very specific churchmanship and tradition (for which it seems excellent, inventive but also reverent), more often seen in an urban rather than a rural setting.
Nevertheless, there is much good material in the book which can be used in other ways. The reflections on the Gospel, as in the first book, will be very helpful for preachers struggling with a sermon; a great plus point is the provision for every Sunday of the year. The ‘Before the Gospel’ material is excellent for All-Age Worship, with useful word pictures/actions which can be adapted for particular situations.
The accompanying CD Rom has much useful material on it, again adaptable for other church traditions.
A valuable resource.

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: February 2010
ISBN: 978-1-848-25112-0
Paperback
Price: £24.99

All-Age Lectionary Services Year C



by Scripture Union


Having just conducted a service in which the use of the Bible Retelling activity by a member of the congregation was greatly appreciated by all, I was delighted to receive the Year C book to review.
If I wasn’t already a user of the series, the Bible Retelling for Advent Sunday would have made me one. Not only do I know how I’m going to use it within the service, I also know two perfect candidates for Gladriel and Rebus, who will make this story ‘live’ for those attending.
We adapt the material as necessary, sometimes using most elements from the material, sometimes using only one or two, but every time we have been able to find material for our monthly service (still called ‘Family Service’) which excites and enthuses those of us who prepare the services.
Another valuable resource, with further resources available online

Review by Pam Sanders  (26/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Scripture Union (SU)
Published: 01 May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-27641-7
Imitation Leather
Price: £19.99