I don't think I'm the intended audience for this book. Halter seems to think he's saying controversial things, but, for me at least, he isn't. I don'tI don't think I'm the intended audience for this book. Halter seems to think he's saying controversial things, but, for me at least, he isn't. I don't disagree with his arguments, I just don't find them as shocking or challenging as he seems to think they are. I also disliked the tone of the book, which I found a bit too casual and self-focused....more
Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger argue that a simple process for making disciples—a process marked by clarity, movement, alignment, and focus—is crucialThom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger argue that a simple process for making disciples—a process marked by clarity, movement, alignment, and focus—is crucial for church vitality and growth; their research indicates that simple churches are more vibrant than complex ones. They make a compelling case for why and how churches can make disciples more effectively through simpler process.
It’s surprising to note their research did not include churches beyond the evangelical church world; why ignore the mainline? Further, the whole notion of a “straightforward” process of discipleship gives the impression that spiritual formation happens in a linear way; I would argue that spiritual growth is not as neat nor as predictable as the authors seem to assume. Additionally, though the authors make it clear that what they are talking about is a process, not a model, it seems that all of their example churches have some very similar understandings of how to incorporate a simple process; I’m left wondering if a simple process could mean something other than a model of worship moving to small groups moving to ministry teams. ...more
I found this to be a very engaging and practical resource to help me think creatively and proactively about what an externally-focused church can lookI found this to be a very engaging and practical resource to help me think creatively and proactively about what an externally-focused church can look like and how to move in that direction. The nine missional concepts were accessible yet inspiring, and the leadership challenge at the end of each chapters asked provocative questions that can help congregations really see how these concepts can apply to their own situations. While I found this book to be extremely helpful, and I will continue to refer to it in my ministry, I noticed two glaring weaknesses: one is that the churches Swanson and Rusaw work with (and used in their interviews for this book) all seem to be of one type (conservative and fairly large – at times I found myself wondering how smaller churches could truly pull off some of the initiatives that were being suggested); and secondly, the fact that in 216 pages, only two women were quoted (in the midst of many many quotes from church leaders), and neither of them were church pastors, was disappointing to me. I feel like the writers for this movement speak a lot about moving beyond the church walls, but they don’t seem to move much beyond their own theological walls. ...more
I found this book to be poorly written and weakly documented. The research methods involved in this book were not entirely clear, but it seems the autI found this book to be poorly written and weakly documented. The research methods involved in this book were not entirely clear, but it seems the authors primarily relied on surveys of a small pool (1000 "church dropouts"), with no indication of how this pool was selected. Though Rainer and Rainer repeatedly hammer home the results of this survey (the top ten reasons young adults leave church), I am unconvinced.
This is not to say I found nothing good in this book (which was required reading for a Doctor of MInistry course). The authors made four points I found compelling (possibly because they confirm what I already believe): 1 - young adults begin the drift away from church while they are still youth, starting around age 16; 2 - the role of the pastor in retaining youth and young adults is key; 3 – one of the most critical ways the pastor connects with youth and young adults is through the sermon; 4 – relationships with other adults in the congregation is also hugely important.
The second half of the book focuses on how to retain young adults - churches need to simplify their structure, deepen their content, raise their expectations (of young adults), and focus beyond their own fellowship. None of this is earth-shattering information, and all of it is said better elsewhere.
For those truly interested in getting a better feel for what's going on with youth and young adults outside the church, I would recommend unChristian by David Kinnaman and Tribal Church by Carol Howard Merritt....more
2.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this book. I was not a huge fan of Winner's debut book (a spiritual memoir) Girl Meets God - I found the writi2.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this book. I was not a huge fan of Winner's debut book (a spiritual memoir) Girl Meets God - I found the writing too clever, too self-conscious, and, while she comes across as honest in a way that is meant to be real and raw, I often felt that what was passing for honesty was still a studied attempt at creating a particular image of who she had been and who she had become. Of course, to some extent, that's what memoir is, I suppose.
Still is not as glib as Girl Meets God and not as self-certain as Real Sex (which I admit I refused to read). Winner's approach to her faith and her experience of God have clearly changed, and she is honest about her doubts and her failings. And there are a few things in the book that I liked very much - some great reflections on what it means to be in the middle of life and of the spiritual life, including a wonderful bit on the middle voice in Greek, as well as some nice allusions to other works, including my beloved Emily Dickinson. But in the end, I felt like the book didn't take me anywhere.
I felt that, just as with Girl Meets God , Winner's honesty is still a mechanism of control - an attempt to shape an image of herself for the reader: hip, wounded, aesthetically sophisticated, deep. I had the feeling that, even when she was in her deepest crises of faith, she was still outside of it all, studying it, analyzing it, preparing to chronicle it. At times I wondered how fully she actually engaged what was going on in her life (including especially her grief over her mom's death - at one point in the book, she claims to miss nothing about her mother). Winner wants this book to be a helpful reflection on the spiritual themes of desolation and consolation, and she is very uneasy with calling this book a "memoir" - "I don't think this book is really about me" (212). But it very much is. And while it was an easy enough read, and enjoyable at times, it mostly left me cold. ...more
Sweet and earnest and enjoyable enough. If it hadn't been an audiobook, I probably would've just skimmed it. There is a *lot* of detail in here, moreSweet and earnest and enjoyable enough. If it hadn't been an audiobook, I probably would've just skimmed it. There is a *lot* of detail in here, more than necessary (at times it seems she felt the need to include the name of every actor/actress she ever worked with). But it was fun to hear the book read by her, and it was especially fun to hear Carol Burnett read the forward. ...more
I loved everything about this book - a sort of postmodern take on the classic western, beautifully told with a keen sense of dark humor. Such an origiI loved everything about this book - a sort of postmodern take on the classic western, beautifully told with a keen sense of dark humor. Such an original novel, and so engaging. I will definitely be reading more from deWitt....more
"You get towards the end of life--no, not life itself, but of something else: the end of any likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long"You get towards the end of life--no, not life itself, but of something else: the end of any likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long moment of pause, time enough to ask the question: what else have I done wrong?" (p. 163)
This is a book about history, and memory, and responsibility, and remorse. Deceptively easy to read - the prose is smooth, clean, economical, elegant - but the book goes deep, pushing into complex emotional and psychological territory. Upon finishing, my first response was tears. My second was to turn back to page one, and start again.
A worthy recipient of the 2011 Man Booker Prize....more
Brilliant, provocative, disturbing. I am totally wrung out; this story (the entire trilogy) will stay with me for a long time.
I understand why a lotBrilliant, provocative, disturbing. I am totally wrung out; this story (the entire trilogy) will stay with me for a long time.
I understand why a lot of people didn't like this book as well as the others - it was an emotionally difficult read and a lot of things happened that I didn't want to happen. It's not quite as compelling as the first two, and the polemical nature of the book is balder here than in the first two. There aren't enough sweet moments to balance out all the darkness, violence, and cruelty. Still, I'm giving it five stars because I think it's brilliant and thought-provoking. ...more
I added this to my to-read list some time ago, since so many of my friends were raving about it. I don't usually read much Young Adult lit, but I founI added this to my to-read list some time ago, since so many of my friends were raving about it. I don't usually read much Young Adult lit, but I found this completely captivating and totally satisfying. A sharp, thought-provoking dystopian story. On to book 2!...more
LUMINOUS. Stacia M. Brown's debut novel pulled me into mid-seventeenth century England and would not let me go until there were no more pages to read.LUMINOUS. Stacia M. Brown's debut novel pulled me into mid-seventeenth century England and would not let me go until there were no more pages to read. I was absolutely captivated, from first sentence to last.
Under the 1624 Act to Prevent the Destroying and Murdering of Bastard Children, any woman who concealed the death of her illegitimate child was to be charged with the murder of that child, unless there was at least one witness that the child was born dead. Many women were tried under this law in early modern England, and in the Afterword to this book, Brown compares these trials to the witch hunts of colonial North America: Each reflected a shared Puritan concern with the damaging consequences of sin and the concealment of sin - the attempt to hid a trespass. Each also suggested a distrust of persons, especially women, who stood on the margins of the local community, and each attempted to control and regulate these women in ways that reduced whatever imagined threat they posed to the identity, cohesion, and moral order of the community.
Within this historical context is set the story of Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, engaged in an affair with political agitator (and married man) William Walwyn. The story of their affair, and of Rachel's pregnancy, tragedy, and trial, is at once gripping and moving. Brown's grasp of this period of history is rock-solid, her plot is compelling, her prose is stunning, but it was her insight that I found most remarkable. I would read along, devouring the story, only to be halted by something that was just so true. Such as this: They proceeded to quarrel. What counted as a mother was the subject. Rachel spoke first. "Are you a mother if you pluck a snail from the gutters and set it high so the rains will not drown it?" Mary scowled. "No, of course not. Don't mock me." "Are you a mother if you raise a brother?" "No, you are not." "Are you a mother if you wish you were?" "No, no! That is not enough either." "Are you a mother if you are a daughter?" "Now you are being ridiculous," Mary complained. Rachel, more softly: "Are you a mother if you conceive a child?" "Not even then," said Mary. Rachel replied: "When, then, are you a mother?" Mary: "You are a mother when you have lost something. When you have felt the change and cannot hold it."
YES, this. So true. Startlingly so.
I loved this book and cannot wait for more from this author.