I want to write about books.
As my first blog I want to write about books. This summer was the first in a long time that I had time to read Christian books for pleasure (rather than sermon preparation or church management). Geoff and Angela kindly suggested that my unique contribution was not needed at Newday and the preaching was by and large covered by the excellent team of preachers that is emerging in the church and time became available.
Now probably I should have read more books but I am quite a slow reader who likes to try and think through the implications of the author. For some reason I seem to read and re-read chapters thinking I have forgotten what they have said. Add to that a need to highlight sentences and write notes in the margin and you can see why things are quite slow moving. However hopefully I begin to understand the content of what is written and ideally begin to apply it to my life, This leads to a major observation. There are books out there written by brilliant Christian authors that in addition to the Bible can quite literally change your life!
Two books spring to mind in this regard. John Burkes - No Perfect People Allowed is first. This book is a brilliant understanding about evangelical churches’ need to entirely changethe way they incorporate the ‘un-churched’ into their ranks. This can be summed up in the big transition from the idea of Behave, Believe, Belong to the very different concept of Belong, Believe, Behave.
Churches like all organisations can be really proactive in enforcing behaviour that conforms to the norm as a precondition to inclusion but John Burke asserts rightly in my opinion that only Jesus can genuinely achieve that transformation and this occurs over a gradual and extended period of time. There’s a load more to learn but read this book to have your big assumptions deeply challenged.
Just as good is Danny Silk’s - Keep Your Love On
. Again a fundamental book on how we should relate to one another: in marriages, families, church and wider. His big idea is that when we are out of control we can spend our time trying to compensate for that by trying to control others. One of his most memorable quotes is ‘The only person you can control on a good day is yourself,' so by implication give up trying to control others.
I took the book when I went on holiday to Switzerland and by the end of the week Ruth, Rachel, Becky and myself were reading it, quoting memorable idea to each other, discussing it and being profoundly influenced by the Godly wisdom that Danny Silk brought to the wholearea of relationships. I have even been able to put some of his ideas
in to practice with- if I may be bold enough to say - marginal amount of success.
So there you go. The church may get the best value out of me when I am on holiday. A trip to Egypt with Ruth, Nikki and Emily will hopefully provide the opportunity for another book to profoundly influence me but in the meantime, read these two books I implore you.
They will transform the way we reach out to a lost world as well as the quality of our relationships together. Both are critical to the success of this church.