Hopecasting by Mark Oestreicher – A refreshing book that manages to unravel the tangled web of christian cliche to impact the heart and provide fresh perspective. A great book for those in tough situations who want to see a brighter future and need some solid thinking to assure them. 9/10
A Man on Fire, The Story of Maynard James by Paul James – The story of an evangelist preacher who was a key leader in the UK Holiness Movement during the 20th century. A personal account that talks of the strengths and weaknesses of a man of faith as he sought to share the gospel message. 7/10
Reading the book Am I Missing Something which is also subtitled “Christianity through the eyes of a new believer” was quite fun. As someone who has been a Christian for a number of years, it is very easy to forget what a challenge our faith and it’s practices can be like for those who are new to its strange ways. Ruth Roberts, a journalist, has an easy style of writing and in a wonderfully conversational way deals with the “Christianity that seems constantly at war with itself” whilst having made “a commitment to God…..to try to find Jesus and keep my eyes fixed on him”.
The book is simple, yet effective, in reminding us how ‘odd’ our church practices and beliefs can seem to those who are not familiar and it resonates with how many of my friends feel at my church and my beliefs. Ruth does not give theological answers but shares her own experiences and how she overcame some of the tensions. My favourite story was when Ruth was challenging herself to be more proactive in her witness, felt guilty for not being as upfront as she felt she ought but saw a great response as she sat silently with someone and their response was “thank you for noticing me”, a precious moment.
I was given this book by Ruth in a twitter giveaway, not a book that I would necessarily have chosen but one that prompted me to think differently, I enjoyed it as a refreshing reminder as we look to disciple new believers in the church. Ruth’s honesty and openness was appreciated and I imagine her thoughts and feelings would be shared by many who have begun their new life in Christ.
As a collection of shorter articles for Christianity magazine, this book is the completed selection.
The tag line for this book is ‘growing churches in working class and deprived areas” – it will prove a decent seller in the Christian world as it promises to scratch where many evangelicals have started to itch.
The book was an easy read and was certainly competent in its work, that said, it did not inspire me in the way that I had anticipated, there was just something lacking. For those that have engaged in ministry in areas mentioned, there will be little new, rather a recognition of practices that will already be embedded in your life. For those that are exploring, it will be a useful guide.
There are plenty of anecdotes from those in the trenches (a limited few practitioners) that help to earth the theory and there are ideas that will be useful to those dipping their toes in the water. In truth this is a valuable volume with a poor working title – the book is worth reading as it will help you to think through mission in a particular context. However, the whole book could be summed up in one paragraph found halfway through;
“You don’t need a social science degree to work in urban contexts. You don’t need a theory of contextualisation. You need love. Love is the New Testaments core missiological principle” (p74)
Glad I read it, Yes! Although a day with one of the practitioners listed would teach you far more.
Being missional is quite a trendy thing these days. The difficulty is understanding what people mean by ‘missional’ – there are far too many interpretations and ideas that people ‘put out there’ are often beyond the average church member. This book, Right Here Right Now seeks to put things straight and is an excellent read.
There are 3 sections, after a lengthy scene setter, from getting our hearts into it, understanding it and the finale of actually doing something. The book itself is an easy to read example of theory and practice intertwined and this is why it is such a good book. You can’t simply read and ignore what has passed your eyes, you need to respond. Simple actions as being aware of your environment, living what you believe, showing hospitality, all shine like beacons of hope from the pages. Is there anything revolutionary here – no! However, it is a practical wake up call to get out of the pew and actively seek to engage in our community with the gospel. Hirsch and Ford give a great mix of theory, illustration and practical output.
There is a need to read (or at least understand) the previous Hirsch books to aid your reflection but it is not an absolute necessity. My personal view is that you should go and read it – it will be worth the investment.