Continuing from what I wrote yesterday, re:fresh08 ended with a united act of worship in Central Park. A reliable estimate of the attendance is 2,500. We had a service that attempted to blend everything from new church to Catholic (nothing terribly emerging or all-age, but what they did manage was quite an achievement). Steve Chalke challenged us to be followers of Jesus after the pattern of a Kirkegaardian parable, which contrasted two different kinds of geese: those who fly and those who sit around feeding themselves, just being fattened up for slaughter. A very powerful parable, capable of all sorts of applications beyond the positive one that Steve made.
Since then, I’ve been trying to deal with some things that have hung around for a while – not least some of my work for Ministry Today. I wrote up some minutes and some book reviews. Here are some highlights of the reviews:
Rob McAlpine, Post-Charismatic: McAlpine explores a number of the dodgy trends that have infected charismatic Christianity, such as the Latter Rain movement, heavy shepherding and prosperity doctrines. His analyses are unsurprising if you’ve grown up with a theological education in a mainstream denomination, but he lays out a positive spirituality for engaging with the charismata in a humble, biblical way. I read the book before I encountered Todd Bentley and the Lakeland healing revival issue. It was illuminating to have read it first.
Jason Gardner, Mend The Gap: a brilliant analysis documenting the growth of adolescence as a phenomenon, with biology now defining adulthood rather than economic independence, and the desires of many social forces to keep people as perpetual adolescents. Gardner argues against separating out youth ministry from the rest of the church as if that ‘s cross-cultural when all we do is cross-cultural today. He advocates cross-generational worship, study and fun in church and family life, and recommends some useful resources to that end.
Richard Burridge, John (The People’s Bible Commentaries): a popular commentary at the level of William Barclay or Tom Wright’s ‘For Everyone’ series. This is a lightly revised edition of the 1998 original, and is currenly being used for the Bible Studies at the Lambeth Conference. Burridge translates scholarship into popular language. He separates the Fourth Gospel into 107 small sections. Each gets two pages, finishing with a prayer. This structure makes it useful for personal devotion and small group use. No-one who has studied theology academically could use it as a first commentary on John, but it is still a very acceptable support volume. Some months ago I preached a couple of sermons where I used it for preparation. Each time it made a difference to what I preached.
What have you been reading recently that is worth a recommendation?