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Emerging Church / Fresh Expressions

Current trends and future direction.

Accidental Saints

- Finding God In All The Wrong People

by Nadia Bolz-Webber


A brilliant beautifully written, insightful, engaging and enjoyable follow up to 'Cranky, Beautiful Faith'.

Using the wonderful, real and perfectly flawed people of her own congregation and knowing, Bolz-Webber weaves a book that takes us deeper into the mysteries of church, liturgy and worship. We encounter and find out about major themes like sin, incense, good friday, reconciliation, grace, love, forgiveness, mercy, and above all we see how words and action are at the heart of both human iinteration and relationships and our churches lives.

A really enjoyable read that is deeper and more profound than you might at first think

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/01/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1-848-25823-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Bad Christian's Manifesto

- Reinventing God (And Other Modest Proposals)

by Dave Tomlinson


As brilliant, fun and insightful as his first Bad Christian book.

This book is powerful because it is real and digs past the obvious gloss of being a Christian and going to church, it begs us to face up to the reality of who and what we are at heart and mind, and asks us to question what we should be doing as real Christians with all our truth … and doubts… hanging out there for everyone to see.

In a way he shows that being a bad Christian with all our idiosyncacies and less than stellar performances of love and compassion are where real faith is, where we really encounter and experience God, where we wrestle with angels and reflect Gods glory.

God does not want perfect people he wants real people, people that live fully with compassion, mercy, love and acceptance—even if they don’t get it perfect. A wonderful manifesto and a book so many  need to read and pass around.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/08/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: 13 August 2015
ISBN: 978-1-444-75227-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Questions Are The Answer

- nakedpastor And The Search For Understanding

by David Hayward


 A seriously intelligent, amusing and enjoyable book that to my mind deals honestly, wryly, rawly, and insightfully with how one transitions from being 'churched' to 'dechurched' maybe, or perhaps it's more honest to say it's about how one goes from being slap bang in the centre of a faith community to being instead one of the rising number of 'Nones'... that is not to say someone of No Faith but rather someone who chooses not to have an affilliation to one faith or denomination but is instead None of the above on the tick box sheets... but perhaps for all of that even more deeply effected by your own faith and spirituality than you were before.

It's a really helpful and fun book to read if you are one of those questioners and journeyers yourself, it's an insightful book to read if you are churched person trying to understand those that have journeyed away, it's an essential book for anyone dealing with fringe church or Fresh Expressions and wanting a good grounding in the questions and thoughts of those happily outside, and actually the cartoons make it a great book for anyone that likes humour with a smidge of truth about the faith journey and a way to start any number of group discussions!



Review by Melanie Carroll  (31/07/15)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: 30 July 2015
ISBN: 978-0-232-53188-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

New Life

- Rediscovering Faith Stories From Progressive Christians

by Ed. John W H Smith & Rex A E Hunt


I wasn't sure what to make of this book which originates out of the "Uniting Church in Australia". It contains stories by people who have left traditional Christian orthodoxy behind and have become so-called 'Progressive Christians'.

For 'Progressive Christians' traditional orthodoxy is to be challenged. Everything the Church teaches is to be questioned and the real Jesus is to be rediscovered. It views the orthodox understanding of God as being one who is "a vengeful and judgmental God controlling the universe like some giant puppeteer" (p.30). 

That certainly does not accord with my personal experience of the Church in over seventy years. Do all faiths/religions lead to the same destiny? Are there many paths leading to the same goal? These stories seem to point to that being the position of 'progressive Christians'. 

For some of us that is a troubling proposition in the light of much New Testament teaching. Progressive Christians seem to have a generally negative view of the clergy, emphasize that how you live is more important than what you believe. Many have forsaken the church and have sought their reason for living in other directions. 

Its theology is decidedly progressive-liberal—as is the tradition it comes out of—and is based on some very questionable modern scholarship. For those who are not already part of this stream, this would be a hard book to recommend



Review by Graham Wise  (03/07/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Mosaic Resources distributed by Alban Books
Published: October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-743-24109-7
Paperback
Price: £20.99

City Of God

- Faith In The Streets

by Sara Miles


Sara Miles writes with conviction, love and rootness. There is a disarming simplicity to the work of faith made alive on the streets and through this story of compelling ministry.

There is a genius line in the book: "I don't even know what 'this' is 'but I could do this forever.” That's the descriptor given to offering ashes to people in the neighbourhood of San Francisco.

It's about this public impact moment during a day, in 2012, with the anticipation, preparation and resulting patterns of ministry that resulted. Miles is inspirational when describing the beauty of the liturgy which made this possible in the local church. She is also adept at describing her city, her perspective and her neighbourhood. She loves her place, and is committed to it.

So this is not merely about the imposition of ashes, but a story of local mission. It is about the beauty of public liturgy and a world in need of "more forgiveness." There is inconvenience, theology and much provocation. Sara is a bit special and a gift to the kingdom of God.

Really worth the questions, boundaries and discomfort that this books asks of its readers. 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (10/07/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-848-25621-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Immeasurably More

- To A Dehydrated Church, Jesus Has Immeasurably More To Offer

by Cris Rogers


This book really is 'Immeasurably More'—it's a spiritual journey, a guide book, an activity book, a prayer book, a challenge and a companion, and above all it is lush and beautiful and pulls you into it with it's coffee table style of pictures and words that make you want to dip in and out of it and yet also grabs you and keeps your attention.

This book is the perfect companion for anyone looking to journey deeper into their spiritual growth, wanting to find out more about how they can be revived and go deeper still into the waters of faith. It looks at new ways of doing old things, alongside the old ways we do new things. With it's blend of real stories that highlight realities, and it's blending of bible study, theology and modern day life reflections and thoughts, it cause you to ask questions and helps give insight to the journey that can be faith. It's a joy to read and share.

This book is brilliant for using with small groups as it has at the end of each chapter a small group study and the activities are something worth doing—however don't limit the book to small group settings as this book really would be perfect to give as a confirmation present, or to anyone starting their journey of discipleship or spiritual engagement, or indeed to anyone just on the fringes and wanting to know more, because there is a delight in the style and yet a depth in the words that allows one to sink deep but surface with ease.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (27/04/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: 20 March 2015
ISBN: 978-0-857-21637-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Bad Christians Manifesto

- Reinventing God (And Other Modest Proposals)

by Dave Tomlinson


As brilliant, fun and insightful as his first Bad Christian book.

This book is powerful because it is real and digs past the obvious gloss of being a Christian and going to church, it begs us to face up to the reality of who and what we are at heart and mind, and asks us to question what we should be doing as real Christians with all our truth … and doubts… hanging out there for everyone to see.

In a way he shows that being a bad Christian with all our idiosyncacies and less than stellar performances of love and compassion are where real faith is, where we really encounter and experience God, where we wrestle with angels and reflect Gods glory.

God does not want perfect people he wants real people, people that live fully with compassion, mercy, love and acceptance—even if they don’t get it perfect. A wonderful manifesto and a book so many  need to read and pass around.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (01/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: November 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-75225-0
Hardback
Price: £13.99

Generous Ecclesiology

- Church, World and The Kingdom Of God

by Julie Gittoes, Brutus Green & James Heard


Anyone who has followed the progress of legislation to enable women to be Bishops in the Church of England will be aware that the church – certainly at its legislative level, General Synod – has undergone something of a revolution these past 18 months. In place of the adversarial debates, in which there are inevitably winners and losers, a process of intentional listening and conversation took place. It is this process that arguably has led to agreement between people whose views about women’s ministry remain very different. It is a practical example of a generous ecclesiology in practice.

 

As every Christian knows being part of the Body of Christ requires that we learn to live with people who are not like us. The Kingdom of God calls us to move beyond tolerance of difference to recognise that it is in the space created by difference that the Holy Spirit can work creatively; it is out of difference that something new, vibrant and energising emerges, to obscure the narrowness of our polarised attitudes. As we are reminded in the book’s Foreword, faith is not about us, but about God.

 

These nine essays – from a variety of viewpoints – explore the importance to the church’s mission of remembering that church life should reflect the generous abundance of God’s grace. Beginning with the polarisation of debate surrounding Fresh Expressions versus Traditional Church the authors seek to identify a fresh vision for the church’s mission that embraces both tradition and innovation. It is a tough objective in an area that generates strong emotions. Yet it is also a critical one. For modelling God’s generosity to us in our relationships with one another is foundational to our ability to be relevant in our missional work beyond the boundaries of church. There are no options here. If the Church cannot live as if the Kingdom is here, how can we proclaim it with any sense of credibility or integrity?

 

This is an important collection of essays that deserve to be read widely, and not just by English Anglicans.



Review by David Ford  (09/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04662-2
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Gadfly

- Reading Church Through Reading Jesus

by John George Arthur


Wow! what a wonderfully intense but beautiful journey that will buzz around in your head not only as you read it but long after it too -  - and yes at times it will leave you feeling a little like you've been bitten by some gadfly with a sudden sting, welt and deep burning itch, but it's worth it.


It's written in such a way that the words flow off the page, deep theological consideration of hermeneutics and todays church mixed with down to earth insights, questions and agenda so that you feel you have sat by a river on a warm summers day and come away with both the bites and joy that such a thing brings - it's a book thats both theology and contemplation, rigourous but engaging too.


Seriously this is a book for a questioning generation and is certainly one that should appeal to those involved in Fresh Expressions, but it does to my mind demand a wider audience than that - it should be read by any one involved in church (regardless of demonination or authority) that is wondering why there is a disconnect between church and people, between spirituality and sacrament, between the bible and the ordinary.

Gadfly certainly doesn't have all the answers, indeed in some way it leaves as many questions as answers for the church, but it's a book about faith, doubts and relationships and it's a beautiful study in working through the issues and certainly worth the time to read and consider.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (02/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: 30 May 2014
ISBN: 978-1-782-79325-0
Paperback
Price: £18.99

Beyond The Edge

- Spiritual Transitions For Adventurous Souls

by Andrew D Mayes


The starting point for this book is "the concept of liminality or crossing a threshold to a new place of discovery". This concept is explained in the introduction and the reader is encouraged to see transition in life as an opportunity for spiritual growth.

The author describes physical journeys that Jesus made, with good attention to geographical detail. He then comments on the spiritual significance of each of these journeys, both for the disciples then and for modern day Christians now, with particular reference to the believer’s prayer life.

Prayer is seen as a journey towards God, and the author draws on material such as ‘The Interior Castle’ by St. Teresa of Avila. This mystical approach to a personal relationship with God dominates the questions for reflection and the prayer exercises which come at the end of each chapter.

In my opinion the reader would need to be relatively secure in their faith as well as open minded to accept the challenges of this book, as the subtitle suggests, it is for adventurous souls!



Review by Heloise Hearn  (24/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07114-2
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Rediscovering The Ministry Of Blessing



by Russ Parker


You sneeze and someone says, "Bless you!" It's a response that goes back to at least the 2nd century AD. "Bless", "Blessings", "Bless you" easily trip off the tongue and mostly don't mean very much to most people. However, the Bible teaches that blessing others is a unique ministry from God through his people for the good of others.

Russ Parker provides an in-depth but very readable examination of the ministry of blessing as set out in the Bible, through characters, events and teaching in both Old and New Testaments. He demonstrates how and why this ministry can be used in the daily life of the church today. For those willing to engage, a ministry of blessing others brings new experiences of God's blessings in both difficult and ordinary life situations.

This very practical book suggests ways whereby we can learn how to bless others and concludes with a section of blessing prayers for various occasions. A bibliography and maybe a scripture index would have been useful, but this is a thoroughly recommendable book to encourage the development of a ministry already familiar, or to step out into something new.  



Review by Graham Wise  (10/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-06981-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Messy Church Theology

- Exploring The Wider Significance Of Messy Church For The Wider Church

by Ed. George Lings


Messy Church Theology is set out in a series of chapters from a range of contributors involved and active within the thriving Messy Church community.

As such it sets out ideas of what Messy Church is, and isn't, in relatively clear language—though to be fair there are times when as you might expect it becomes a little tautologous as the same idea is expressed by multiple contributors.

It also attempts to show models of how Messy Church works, and can work in parishes, communities and churches up and down the country by using case studies that ground the idea of what Messy Church is and the idea or 'theology' behind it. It then attempts to broaden this out a little to demonstrate how this can, would, and should look in a wider sphere of 'Church'. 

It is largely anecdotal in feeling and format, though there are in here real figures, representations, graphs, and studies too, but much like the feeling of Messy Church the book retains a much more anecdotal or personal feel to each chapter. The same can be said of the 'theology' in it. There is not here an overarching highbrow academic view but instead it is again the personal insights, the day to day realities, the man on the ground, and those being outreached style at work here that aims to make 'theology' something we all can do and understan.

And herein that lies the reason why this book would be an interesting book for those outside looking in at what Messy Church is and can be and how perhaps they might want to consider it more in context for their own settings.

A book I think would be recommended for any outside the Messy Church arena to read to see a deeper picture of Messy Church.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Messy Church imprint of BRF
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46171-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Re-Storying Your Faith



by Suzanne M. Coyle


Re-Storying Your Faith is a wonderful little book that looks at the nature of stories, the stories we tell each other and ourselves everyday in our relationships, in our conversations and in the basic nature of our thoughts and minds.

Our whole lives are a series of stories lived out in reality and imagination and many of these stories are deeply spiritual in nature and scope, indeed some of our most important and foundational stories are our religious ones, however this doesn't always make them our best stories...

Coyle goes on in this book to look at how we probably need to approach the stories we know and tell ourselves and in effect repurpose them, or rework them entirely - we need to look beyond the surface story to the deeper hidden meanings we have overlooked or lost sight of.

For anyone interested in the nature of story then this book is probably a must read. For anyone aware of the fact that perhaps there are dissonances between what they were told and what they believe, then again this book would probably be a great tool too.

This book could well be used in a group setting but would as easily be a good work book for individuals too.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-79231-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Cranky, Beautiful Faith

- For Irregular (and Regular) People

by Nadia Bolz-Weber


What an incredibly rich, honest and enjoyable book - one that is completely down to earth and bites with a wicked edge of satire that is almost entirely aimed at the reality of the author's own life but that resonates so strongly with pretty much everyone else I would think.

There is here no bland patina of do gooding, no cover over of self-help talk and smiley feel better faces that say God makes it all shiney, instead there is honesty and raw truth in the fact that we are all saints and sinners and coming to faith does not change this, that we ourselves are constantly a work in progress and that facing that truth is one of the hardest things we will ever do but in doing so we are set free indeed.

I loved this book, I can entirely understand why this book was a New York Times Bestseller (under the title Pastrix) because it contains within it all the things a book on faith needs to in order to meet a generation disenfrachised with it - it contains humour, honesty and insight without the overtone of holy roller but rather with the reality of misfit - something I think Jesus knew all about and that's why this book really does talk gospel for a doubting generation.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25531-9
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Churches in Exile

- Alternative Models of Church for Ireland In the 21st Century

by Cathy Higgins


Cathy Higgins offers a weighty punch here that straddles history, ecclesiology and prophecy as to the witness of the gathered church in Ireland. Higgins navigation of conflict, ambiguity and division is particularly useful. Her lens on history and scripture are well woven in the substantive and content mapped out here. The emergent patterns of gender and post-everything were my favoured chapters, in the conclusion of the book.

Discipleship of equals could sound curious until you engage with the content Higgins offers. The scriptural and historic female character portraits are authored with conviction.

Grassroots movements hope and transformation is the thread constructed for a living vibrant witness to Christ in Ireland. Though understandably incomplete, Higgins offers more fuel for the Kingdom of God in that precious land.

Authentic writing more than radically alternative.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (31/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-856-07838-2
Paperback
Price: £12.50

Making Disciples in Messy Church

- Growing faith in an all-age community

by Paul Moore


Written with clarity and conviction, Making Disciples in Messy Church is a timely and helpful book for a movement that is deeply serious about discipleship. Drawing on biblical, monastic and catechetical approaches, the book contains much wisdom and inspiration for those seeking to make disciples in all forms of church, not just the phenomenon that is Messy Church. The affirmation of the places of family and community in discipleship formation is especially welcome. I warmly and wholeheartedly commend this book.
Andrew Roberts, Methodist Minister and Director of Training for Fresh Expressions

Review by Publisher's notes  (02/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46218-3
Paperback
Price: £6.99

The Last Word and the Word After That

- A tale of faith, doubt and a new kind of Christianity

by Brian D McLaren


McLaren polarises opinion. The Last Word is the final part of Brian McLaren's New Kind of Christian trilogy, and retains the proceeding two books' characters, narrative flow, and 'creative nonfiction' style. Pastor Dan has been suspended by his church for being a potential heretic, his friend Neil invites him to be part of a neo-monastic community, lots of people get married, and everyone is talking about hell. This final book brings the church crisis to a head but first forces Dan to deal with the most painful part of the Christian story - the teachings of Jesus on hell.

Many will consider McLaren's writing and this series of books nothing more than liberal universalism but having been and still considering myself to be entirely convinced of the validity of the Bible for "teaching, correcting and rebuking" I think these arguments hold little water for clear thinking mature readers. This book will challenge your theology, your faith and your compassion for your fellow man and for most Christians none of these will be a bad thing. A brave and uncertain write for the exploratory heart.

Sometimes the book suffers from the painful insertion of really deep theology into a story which groans from the effort of carrying so much meaning. Illustrations are pushed too far. It is provocative, helpful and unresolved.



Visit the author's website:brianmclaren.net/archives/books/brians-books/the-last-word-a.html

Review by Johnny Douglas  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06997-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Messy Church 3

- Fifteen sessions for exploring the Christian life with families

by Lucy Moore


I have to admit that I did not know what Messy Church was all about. I had seen notices outside churches and thought it meant simply messy activities.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to read this book and see how the Messy Church ministry has developed.

This is book 3 for those who do this ministry and it contains fifteen sessions, which churches can use or adapt to their own environments and people. Each session is grounded in the Bible with a particular theme or teaching in mind. There are many activities within each session that are indeed messy, but are designed to appeal to a variety of people, children, older people; in fact anyone who turns up for Messy Church. However, Messy Church is more than getting people into the church to "glue and stick" together. The aim of this ministry is to reach out to the many who would not ever enter a church and would not feel comfortable attending a traditional service. And this ministry is successful, starting from one church in Portsmouth to over 1,000 registered Messy Church expressions around the world. Messy Church has become the Church for many.

This book, obviously, follows on from books 1 and 2 therefore how to do Messy Church is not explained in this book.

Review by Catherine Clark  (03/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46120-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom Of God



by Various


The third book in the Ancient Faith, Future Mission Series that looks at and arises out of the Fresh Expressions movement within the UK. This is a series of articles from well known contributors that look at the movement as it is happening and practiced, but also look with a critical eye, noting at times the tensions between intent and action, between saying and doing. This is extremely important, not least to help set up a framework of understanding and argument against what critics may say, but also as a checks and measures balance within the movement itself. As someone from within the Fresh Expressions movement, as it were, I found this book to be intelligent and erudite in its theology and outlook. Especially noteable for me were the chapters by Cray, Tickle and Harvey, although the others were still very good and spanned a range of ideas within the movement. Certainly one for any involved or interested in Fresh Expressions of Church, but probably also good for those outside the movement too.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25091-8
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Fall To Grace

- A Revolution Of God, Self, and Society

by Jay Bakker


Fantastic book on grace written in part as testimony and from personal experience but so much more than that! Jay Bakker is the son of the notorious TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and is now a pastor in his own right, but an alternative pastor with a reach that is welcoming, open and founded on the principle of radical grace. His church meets in a bar, is gay-friendly and is a place of healing - the place he believes and so strongly advocates that Christ would see church be, a place of radical love and forgiveness. He teaches grace magnificently in this very honest book that deals with his own experiences, warts and all. He then moves past his own experiences to demonstrate the Biblical principles underlying such radical grace, hospitality and acceptance and puts forward an incredible alt. view for why being gay-friendly and positioning for the word "homosexuality" to be removed from the Bible is the only right way to go - the only Christ-like thing for us to do. This book is a must read for anyone looking for an interesting and understandable book on grace, but also for people looking to better understand the argument as recently put forward by Steve Chalke that evangelicals can and indeed must have a welcoming stance on the issue of homosexuality if they are truly to live out the message of love put forward in the Bible.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (22/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-446-53949-4
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Emergence Christianity

- What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters

by Phyllis Tickle


I love it when a book actually lives up to its title, or in this case its subtitle. This book really does explain what emergence Christianity is and where it came from, where it's likely going and why it matters and it does it clearly, concisely and in lovely bite sized chapters that you can really think about before moving onto the next one. One of the other good things about this book is that the footnotes at the end of each chapter are comprehensive and yet written in an engaging style, so much so that they almost seem like an interesting and often amusing extra insight into the chapter and act as a summary overview. The author points out in the preface that this book should be considered a report, an interim report as it were, to a changing phenomena, and as with any good report therefore we get an overview of what went before, of how things have changed and of where things are going. It's a good clear series of articles, well worth the reading for anyone with even a passing interest in Fresh Expressions, the new monastic movement, or as termed here emergence Christianity. Admittedly the book is unashamedly based on US history, but given much of the foundation and development of these ideas is US based, this is no bad thing and many will fully recognise our own UK movements and experiences here also. A good read for those without firsthand knowledge of emergence Christianity who'd like to understand it a little more.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (BPG)
Published: 01 October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-01355-3
Hardback
Price: £12.99

Church for Every Context

- An Introduction to Theology and Practice

by Michael Moynagh with Philip Harrold


This book is extremely thorough – it has 490pp. It contains much useful information, particularly on the theological underpinnings of the pioneer church movement. It is however much longer than it needs to be – a whole chapter is devoted, for example, to saying in complex vocabulary that pioneer ministers need to be good at getting on with people. It is also weak on actual practice, particularly in section three, which is devoted to ‘a series of hypotheses that combine theory and experience-based wisdom’ – the authors tend to slither into clauses beginning ‘perhaps’, and painting vague pictures of what might be, with no clear indication of how one thing (e.g. outreach to mothers and toddlers) might ‘perhaps’ morph into another (e.g. a more recognisable form of church). If you are a pioneer minister it’s probably a handbook you must read – but for the ordinary reader a short theological introduction followed by specific examples of actual pioneer situations, successful or not, and some analysis of the key features, might be more helpful.
To be specific, it is in 4 parts: Past and Present; Towards a Theological Rationale; Bringing Contextual Churches to Birth; and Growing to Maturity. The first provides a helpful overview of contextual churches in scripture and history, and offers some sociological perspectives. The second considers the theological underpinning of the Fresh Expressions movement. The third is the vaguest and the most full of technical vocabulary. The fourth looks at the key elements of discipleship, worship, community and sustainability. It’s well researched, but perhaps lacks its own voice.

Review by Alison Morgan  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 01 June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-334-04369-0
Paperback
Price: £30.00

Reimagining Discipleship

- Loving The Local Community

by Robert Cotton


This is a book for anyone with an interest in the Fresh Expression movement, in counter-cultural Christianity - and it's a book for those with no involvement in these things as well, because it's a book that deals with discipleship and church from a new stance whilst being firmly rooted in the established Anglican church.
It addresses the diversity of what church can be, of what we within the church are called to be and should do, but it does so not stridently or argumentatively but gently and encouragingly, starting with us as we are, with the places we find ourselves and asks us to look beyond those, to look at how gentle shifts and small actions can really change things from the outside in and inside out. How church growth is not at all about building bigger better congregations but rather about growing actively out into our communities, ministering to the least and growing those within our boundaries to be confident assured disciples, disseminators in words and action of the gospel - actors on the stage of local community.
It is beautiful in it's simple proclamation, and profound in it's gentle stories of change and encouragement. Told with interspersions from real life moments and experiences, and reflections on the past, art, history, hymnology, biblical studies and theology amongst other subjects, that mould with the reality of today’s modernity.

Reimagining Discipleship is a book that will speak to many, because it talks of a place we all know and a feeling probably at the heart of most churches though not formally acknowledged. The words flow off the page in a lyrical considered way that really feels as if the author is personally speaking to you, neither too academic or too simply glossed, there is instead a considered passion to them that reflects I think the authors desire for us to be reached and changed, 'to find the courage to be in this moment the mouthpiece of our faith... not changing what is believed by others, but adding some specific personal details so that others are touched over again by the excitement of God' Pg149.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06719-0
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Pioneers 4 Life

- Explorations in Theology and Wisdom for Pioneering Leaders

Edited by David Male


Contributors are Richard Bauckham, Graham Cray, John Drane, Lucy Moore, Mark Russell.
This book includes article-length offerings from various authors, interwoven with stories from pioneering leaders engaged in grass-roots level church and evangelism. The articles are generally well-written and informative; they include an assessment of the contemporary scene by Graham Cray, insights from Paul and Acts by John Drane and Richard Bauckham respectively, as well as contributions from Mike Moynagh and George Lings. However, it was the selection of stories from practitioners which most caught my imagination! Details about some very exciting pioneer work are recorded here and these would be an encouragement to many others who are working at the coal-face of such ministry or contemplating a call to do so.
If you are interested in pioneer ministry, this book will be well worth your while, both for its Biblical and theological thinking as well as its stories. It also includes a helpful list of web-based resources for pioneers which would help you explore this topic further.

Related website:www.freshexpressions.org.uk

Review by Chloe Lynch  (04/05/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-841-01827-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Church in the Present Tense

- A Candid Look at What’s Emerging

by Scot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin Corcoran & Jason Clark


Brought together in this wonderful little book on the emerging church are four thinkers, theologians, writers and practitioners who all have a long history within the emerging church, and significant interaction with it on an academic level. In my years of reading books from the emerging church, there is no doubt that this collection of eight essays is by far the most incisive discussion of the fundamental changes and challenges that the emerging movement presents to the rest of the church.
Spanning philosophy, theology, worship, and doctrine, this collection gets right into the depths of the issues in each area - providing a level-headed discussion and argumentation along with an appreciation that the whole church is on the same side, which is a pleasant and vital change from the often-too-sharp rhetoric that emanates from some in the emerging camp.
Particularly impressive within this collection are Jason Clark's essays deconstructing consumerist liturgies whilst emphasising the fact of liturgy in everyday life, and Scot McKnight's essays on Scripture and Atonement that make small steps towards bridging the divide between more traditional evangelicals and the emerging church.

Review by Tim Goodall  (02/04/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Brazos Press imprint of Baker Pub from SPCK
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-587-43299-6
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Hospitality of God

- Emerging Worship for a Missional Church

by Mary Gray-Reeves and Michael Perham


Our God is a gracious, kind, welcoming and hospitable God. This title reveals a journey of exploration, celebration and compelling hope regarding our hospitable God. Sadly the church has grown weary or failed in sharing this hospitality to everyone and so this pilgrimage of theory and examples of practice regarding emerging worship for the missional church is a valued contribution. Analysis and cross-Atlantic resources and reflections are well mapped in this fresh and confident fusion of emerging and traditional churchmanship.
A well informed book that sensitively handles the deeply rooted Anglican traditions and gathers them together, through participation and dialogue, with core missional convictions. There is room for questioning and engagement, with grace and generosity, with liturgy, and the worship life of Emerging and Fresh Expressions of church. Truly both inspiring and insightful!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (30/04/11)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-281-06350-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Just Church

- 21st Century Liberation Theology in Action

by Chris Howson


This excellent book marks a detailed renewal in the field of liberation theology. It demonstrates how the church, especially the contemporary stream can learn from a 'theology of the poor'. It deals in practical ways of how Christians can respond to issues of conflict, climate change and the increasing global poverty gap. It links local and global contexts and throws a challenge to all people of faith to work with their neighbours to build fairer and more just communities. Gardening, demonstration protests, regeneration, peace-making, activities, reflection and theology are some of many core qualities that are unpacked beyond theory, rather in the context of a challenging northern urban emerging church expression. The reign of God finds excellent celebration and probable advance in Howson’s chronicles. Attractively delivered and fully justifiable of the subtitle’s boast: 21st Century Liberation Theology in Action! Immensely readable, comprehensive, clear and compelling.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (27/04/11)
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Publisher: Continuum - A Bloomsbury Company
Published: 17 February 2011
ISBN: 978-1-441-19992-8
Paperback
Price: £12.99

New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church

- Ancient Faith, Future Mission

by Graham Cray, Ian Mobsby and Aaron Kennedy


Getting past the title of this volume of diverse contributions will enable the reader to look at one area of the Christian Family, and what might come under the heading of ‘monasticism.’ ‘There are evidently four kinds of monks.’ So begins St Benedict’s famous definition, and the reader can analyse the new communities and movements in the book in terms of the saint’s categories. Stability and time were the factors that either made monasticism flourish or wither, again according to St Benedict. How much the former is evident in the pages of this book can only be determined by time, and the time-scale for these movements so far, is uncomfortably brief. And so we must be patient.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (07/04/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 17 December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-848-25044-4
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Risk-Shaped Discipleship

- On Going Deeper into the Life of God

by Terry Biddington


Biddington offers us a chronological and theme based exploration of our faith that seeks to engage with the diversity, depth and dance of God. This book takes as its starting point the reality of change, and it seeks to explore how the church may see change positively. It also seeks to help reinvigorate its teaching and ministry and the way in which Christians understand their spiritual journey. Change is seen not only as a welcome dynamic of the life of faith, but also as the very source of unexpected and transformative encounters with God and the transcendent.
Through a strong scriptural base, Terry Biddington challenges Christians to redirect their faith in a proactive and risky manner, akin to the way in which Jesus lived out his life on earth. Complacency and a lackadaisical cloud have overtaken the modern day church, leaving little room for active discipleship or pre-emptive religious ministry. Biddington utilizes biblical examples to weave together an attainable and encouraging image of what discipleship within the modern church looks like — and it is a risky business. A flourishing world is the scale of what we are invited to engage with. It is a rigorous, risky, exploratory, hope-filled discipleship for a discerning readership! A gem of a resource for individual use or study groups, this book holds pearls of wisdom that offer revitalization and change to those willing to receive it!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (21/02/11)
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Publisher: Resource Publications from Columba
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 978-0-893-90693-1
Paperback
Price: £18.50

Parishes in Transition



Edited by Eugene Duffy


This collection of essays arises from a conference held in Limerick in 2008. While written for and from an Irish Catholic perspective, Christians in these Islands, and elsewhere, will be encouraged by the discussion and insights offered for the development of congregations.
Thirteen chapters cover the historical setting, geographical, demographic, social and economic factors, experiences of Parishes in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, what is being done and is being proposed about Parochial organisation, and leadership.
'Clustering of Parishes', under various 'models, is seen as the way forward, a cluster being defined as 'a group of parishes committed to the long term relationship of collaboration to plan and provide for the spiritual, sacramental and pastoral needs of their respective communities.' (p. 93); this sixth chapter, on 'Practice and Theology', underpins the authors' thesis.
The tone is 'upbeat', the contributors wishing to strengthen rather than diminish the life of Christian communities. Lay members of Parishes are given responsibilities, while flexibility and appropriate responses to different situations are required to replace the forms of pastoral ministry and Parish life which are no longer possible, or, sometimes, desirable. An excellent contribution to the continuing search for effective Parish ministry.

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (21/02/11)
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Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-856-07706-4
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Pioneer Mission and Fresh Expressions of Church



by Angela Shier-Jones


Here is a book about the Fresh Expressions movement which is prepared to ask questions and provide helpful and informative answers. It is in two parts - the first for the pioneer minister and the second for the congregation. Written from a Methodist perspective, Dr Angela Shier-Jones breaks open all sorts of stereo types like, all pioneer ministers are 'young, energetic, IT savvy, wear jeans'. She also gives advice for people who feel called to start something new outside the church, often with quotable quotes like 'thinking outside the box is best done outside the box' (p33) and 'the church needs to consider how its buildings can be the burning bush that draws people closer' (p89). Lots of stories and advice is offered, for pioneer and congregation alike to consider. This is very helpful as hundreds of churches consider how to reach out to people outside the box.

Review by Jim Currin  (27/11/10)
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Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 19 November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-281-06113-6
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Mission After Christendom

- Emergent Themes in Contemporary Mission

edited by Ogbu U. Kalu, Peter Vethanayagamony and Edmund Kee-Fook-Chia


Mission after Christendom provides a very illuminating update on mission theology and praxis a centenary on from the 1910 World Missionary Conference. Here is a collection of essays looking at mission now being 'bottom up' and about ‘dialogue', and 'from everywhere to everywhere', with such contemporary topics considered as globalisation, the environment and migration. This is more than welcome. It is a valuable contribution to the study of mission and world Christianity today. The contributors come from a wide academic spectrum and the topics tackled are from a practical as well as theological and biblical base - here is an insight into various parts of the world and the 'emergent themes in contemporary mission': it may be broad in its application, but important to address none the less.

Review by Jim Currin  (28/10/10)
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Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press from Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-664-23465-2
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Churchmorph

- How Megatrends are reshaping Christian Communities

by Eddie Gibbs


Eddie Gibbs is well placed to look at the 'megatrends' in mission and church life and writes a classic about how major trends are reshaping our churches. Academic but straightforward to read, illustrated with stories from around the world, and recognisable in our English context he looks at such topics as post-Christian churches, Fresh Expressions, the megachurch in America, urban engagement and resurgent monasticism. Granted he is a research observer, but this is a valuable piece of work for those interested in mission and evangelism. I was surprised to read, for example, that 25% of people surveyed in a megachurch felt spiritually 'stalled' or 'dissatisfied and considered leaving p96. This study gets under the surface and offers insight and information for missiologists and church leaders alike.

Review by Jim Currin  (23/04/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-801-03762-7
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Through the Pilgrim Door

- Pioneering a Fresh Expression of Church

by Michael Volland


This is a page turner about a new 'fresh expression of church'. Telling the story as it is still unfolding; Michael Volland is a young family man and newly ordained priest appointed to start a new congregation linked to Gloucester Cathedral. It is well told, illuminating, and entertaining in parts. You certainly get a feel for the people and the fledgling project, together with some exploration of the issues faced. Although autobiographical this is not self conscious. The Cathedral Dean says it is a 'privilege' to have Michael on the staff team, while Michael says a Cathedral has a lot to offer the Fresh expressions movement. Here is mutual respect at its best, with risks being taken on all sides, and an outcome developing naturally which must be a joy to see. Anyone can read this and gain insights from the story.

Review by Jim Currin  (08/03/10)
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Publisher: Xlibris distributed by Gardners
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-842-91399-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Challenge of Change

- A Guide to Shaping Change and Changing the Shape of the Church

by Phil Potter


As I started to read this book it struck me that it had arrived on my desk about two years too late. I found myself thinking time and again as I read this book, “If you had told me that earlier I could have saved myself, and others, much time and trouble.”
Change is an ever present reality and the church is no more or less resistant to its pressures and enticements than any other group. Phil Potter gives pointers on how to approach change. This is not just a ‘how to’ book (though it does have some useful practical tips), it is, as the subtitle states, a guide to shaping change. In a series of easy to follow steps Potter helps the reader to assess change. He give solid guidelines on avoiding change for change’s sake but embracing it when that is what is required to fulfil God’s mission.
Potter’s approach is clear and logical (maybe a bit too logical seen from the inside of the storm that can quickly blow up around change), with a satisfying mix of the practical and the theoretical. He doesn’t lose sight of the spiritual issues involved, yet keeps his feet on the ground.
This book is not restricted to those who want to move towards a cell-church model. Anyone facing change and wondering how to steer a path through troubled waters, not just avoiding dangerous rocks but looking for opportunities to learn and grow, should take a look at this book.

Kevin Dare, Minister, Beeston Baptist Church, Nottingham

Review by Guest reviewer  (24/11/09)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: Spring 2009
ISBN: 978-1-841-01604-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

GloboChrist

- The Great Commission Takes Post Modern Turn

by Carl Raschke


The Great Commission takes a postmodern turn is the sub heading to Carl Raschke’s book with the strange title GloboChrist. Technical text which some may call dense, this is none the less an exciting book to read if taken slowly. It explores a number of concepts which were new to me, like ‘Semiotics’ and Augustine’s suggestion that the order of signs and language be studied to understand the Biblical text and context better. GloboChrist is shorthand for ‘Global Postmodern Christianity’ and the image and theology of Christ as understood in different parts of the world. ‘The coming of the GloboChrist is far better appreciated by anthropologists and historians of religion, who happen to be specialists in cultural sign-systems ... than theologians.’ (p26)The book provides a flavour and scope of this work which will not be a popular read so much as an important contribution to mission studies. Get past the jargon and irritating invention of new words and you will find this an informative and stimulating study.

Review by Jim Currin  (09/09/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: 2008
ISBN: 978-0-801-03261-5
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Punk Monk

- New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing

by Andy Freeman & Pete Greig


This book covers the development and thoughts behind the world wide 24-7 prayer movement, including its blend of the earliest forms of monasticism - the Desert Fathers and the Celtic Church - with 21st century life, including Punks!

24-7 as a prayer movement, like monasticism, involves round the clock prayer. Members have formed themselves into cells, but not in enclosed communities, but in unlikely places engaging with the world. As one prays, one 'breathes in' and makes contact with God to centre and then 'breath out' and engage with the needs of the world.

A new way of being Church, and good to hear of a positive and dynamic side to Christian life.

Review by Carole Burrows  (14/11/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Survivor from David Cook
Published: Autumn 2009
ISBN: 978-1-842-91330-7
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Evaluating Fresh Expressions

- Explorations in Emerging Church

Edited by Louise Nelstrom and Martyn Percy


Brilliant. This book has added value. I thought it would be a Haynes Manual exploration and say whether a new Mums and Toddler group counts as a ‘Fresh Expression’. It does explore definitions and examples in the first chapter, but then offers far more. It was such an exciting read I couldn’t put it down! The different contributors bring extra dimensions and ask critical questions. They bring wonderful insights in to the relationship between ‘inherited’ and ‘emerging’ re Rowan Williams phrase about the need for a ‘mixed economy’. The social and psychological studies relating to ‘new and traditional’, as well as ‘large and small’, were particularly stimulating, while the theological and practical questions were explored head on. My copy was well read and margin marked on many pages. A sign of a good book is that it makes you want to write another one. I wish I had the time, as Evaluating Fresh Expressions certainly provided the inclination!

Review by Jim Currin  (06/08/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 2008
ISBN: 978-1-853-11816-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition

- Ancient Faith, Future Mission

Edited by Steven Croft and Ian Mobsby


Starting with the address at a national pilgrimage for Fresh Expressions by Rowan Williams, this book builds on his interesting and inspiring words to provide various examples of how ‘FX’ works out in the ‘sacramental Tradition’. It may be a surprise to many that it does but here we have a variety of examples from ancient Celtic in ‘Contemplative Fire’ to a Eucharist based around U2 and the Millennium Development Goals: called U2charist! This is a highly informative and well written book by a collection of contributors who make the more technical theological explanations very accessible. It is a valuable insight and addition to the various books on ‘FX’ which illustrates how it is becoming accepted, and understood within the wider church context. This should open more doors for churches to engage with the Gospel and Culture questions today, and reach out with greater clarity and effectiveness. Commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, this book will do just that and I am grateful that the ‘FX’ team have brought it together.

Review by Jim Currin  (23/07/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: Spring 2009
ISBN: 978-1-853-11973-6
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Mission-shaped church - second edition

- Church Planting and Fresh expressions of Church in a Changing Context

by C of E’s Mission and Public Affairs Council


This is a superb overview of the changing social trends over the past 30 years, the nature of church planting and an exploration of new expressions of church as it is happening around the country and a challenge to develop a missionary church. It’s a scholarly, but not heavy going, read and a must for church leaders and leadership groups to brainstorm their own mission in the locality. It is very much an Anglican study, there was a Methodist on the working group but the other 10 were Anglican – so there’s little mention of how the free churches have also pioneered imaginative initiatives while addressing the same social changes. That aside, the book is a huge encouragement to the Anglican Communion and those free-churchman that might quip about sleepiness in that denomination. Thoroughly recommended.

Review by Paddy Beresford  (19/06/09)
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Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-715-14189-2
Paperback
Price: £10.95

Messy Church 2

- Ideas for Discipling a Christ-Centered Community

by Lucy More


Messy Church 2 is a great follow on book – make sure you read Messy Church first!
The concept of Messy Church is that families come together once a month to enjoy each other’s company, eat together, make things together and worship together.
Because the idea of Messy Church is that it is church in its own right and not means of increasing Sunday morning congregations, Messy Church 2 sets out to address the issues that will arise once a Messy Church is up and running. Much of the book is focussed on how to disciple people and move them on in their Christian journey when Messy Church meets monthly and the worship session lasts only 15 minutes. The book suggests forming smaller groups to meet in between times, and also has lots of ideas for families to try at home which will help them to pray and learn about God together. It gives much to think about for a new Messy Church community and shares lessons already learnt (both successes and failures) by those that have been established for a while.
If you are buying this book because you have already used all the craft ideas, meal suggestions and worship outlines in Messy Church, then fear not! The back section of the book is loaded with ready to roll ideas and recipes and will take you through your second year and beyond. It even includes a Messy Church Communion and a Messy Church Baptism!
The beauty of these two books is that they really are packed with do-able crafts and worship suggestions. We have been running for a year and have found there have been more than enough ideas for each session in the book, meaning that busy people can do Messy Church without needing to do lots of planning! Well done to Lucy and her team for paving the way for the many Messy Church communities now springing up around the Country!

Visit the publisher's website:www.messychurch.org.uk

Review by Kathy Bland  (17/06/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Messy Church imprint of BRF
Published: November 2008
ISBN: 978-1-841-01602-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99