Bob Cornwall reviews The River of Life, a recent release. While not agreeing entirely with the author, Bob appreciates the call for dialogue leading, we hope, to less division. He concludes:
The world is fragmented – as noted by my own denomination (we call ourselves a “movement of wholeness in a fragmented world”). If the church is to be a movement of wholeness – bringing a word of healing to the world – then it is definitely problematic that the church is as polarized as the rest of the world. Lee wants to issue an invitation for a conversation. He’s laid out his vision – now he invites a response.
Elsewhere on our book list, we have the book Walking in God’s Grace, which has collected a couple of 5 star ratings on Amazon.com. One reader says in his review:
The book is a common sense, thought provoking whole Bible look at “Grace.”
“Common sense” and “whole Bible” are good adjectives to have used about a book. We invite you to take a look at the World Prayr page on this book. That page includes a list of the chapters and a video, which is also available on our retail site, Energion Direct. If you’re thinking of using this book as a study for a small group or church class, we offer deep quantity discounts and free shipping on all orders of $10 or more.
Seven Marks of a New Testament Church has been getting a great deal of attention. Dave and I recently exchanged some thoughts on the early church and what it means for Christian ministry. You can read my rant on my threads blog, and Dave’s response on The Jesus Paradigm.
What does it mean to be the church? What is the role of the ordained persons? What is the role of every member? In the image above you can see four books that work on answering this question, though they do so in somewhat different ways. Nonetheless each author is looking back to the New Testament church and asking what we can learn for today from that. The authors come from four different denominations and they differ in their theology. They do not differ in their desire to discern what God is saying to the church today.
I mentioned Seven Marks of a New Testament Church above. I want to publish books from different perspectives, as you can discover from my Why Energion? video. On the other hand, I’m always concerned that someone will miss some really excellent material because the reader is conservative and the author liberal (or vice versa), or perhaps the author is charismatic, and the reader not. Seven Marks is not a book for conservatives or liberals. It has material to offend you no matter where you are on the spectrum. It also has material to challenge you, encourage you, and build you up.
And so does Transforming Acts: Acts of the Apostles as a 21st Century Gospel by Bruce Epperly. Different denomination, different perspective, same source material. Here’s a brief extract:
I believe that Acts of the Apostles provides a fluid, open-spirited, and holistic faith for twenty-first century people as well as a vision for congregational transformation and renewal. Anything can happen to those who follow Jesus. Life is adventurous, surprising, and interesting. Worship leads to mission and mission challenges narrow-mindedness and self-imposed limitations. For those who embrace the spirit of Acts of the Apostles, worship will never be boring and every day will be a holy adventure. (p. 5)
Bob Cornwall (Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening) believes in every member ministry. He also believes that we must allow the Spirit to work in the church to experience awakening:
Yes, I believe that the Spirit of God is alive and at work empowering communities of faith to live fruitful lives of faith in this world – but we must be willing to let the Spirit move. We mustn’t quench the Spirit, even though we must be discerning as to where the Spirit is truly at work in our midst. We must be willing to admit that too often the institution, especially the clerical hierarchies, suppress the movement of the Spirit. My prayer, therefore, is that this book can stir the hearts of the people of God to recognize that we mustn’t try to fetter the Spirit, but instead allow the Spirit freedom to break down the barriers that keep the church from experiencing true spiritual awakening. (p. xiii)
And I dug into my way back machine to find my own entry, Identifying Your Gifts and Service. At the time I wrote this book I would have suggested that we simply “ordain” people for every spiritual gift. Whatever one’s ministry, we needed to set them apart for that particular work, so everyone would be “set apart” for something.
Part of my own answer to my rant of yesterday is that when people come into a church congregation we should not wait for them to ask what they can do. We shouldn’t hand them a bundle of paperwork, asking that they fill out a survey. I’ve filled out numerous surveys, and haven’t really gotten invited to serve based on any of them. It has always been the personal contact. So what we need to have is a congregation that is filled with gift spotters, who find what people are gifted to do and invite them to get busy doing it.
So what’s coming up?
On Monday I’ll have a post here about our end of the year rush and what it will bring you!
— Henry Neufeld, Energion owner/editor