also inside: Edition 24 December 2009
2009 – the year in review
A LICC Resource
John Stott – the inside story ASDA and the call of God – on the frontline in Dewsbury
What’s the Big Idea? Mark Greene on Jesus’ design for life
2009 – A Year of Decisive Change at LICC Mark Greene reflects on a year when the whole-life cause moved forward in new and fruitful ways Every culture has its concept of heroism. In contemporary Western culture, our heroes, if we still have any, tend to be individualistic loners, wrestling against dread and mighty forces and conquering them with not much more external help than the tutelage of a benign, greying mentor and the loyalty and pluck of some encouraging sidekicks. Think Skywalker, Bond, Potter… In such a culture it is tempting for any individual, or indeed any organisation, to cast their story in that mythic mould. But the keynote of the last year at LICC has not been about us standing high and
whole-life disciple-making culture in the local church on every Spring Harvest site in every week. And we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to complete original research about the challenges facing some 3,000 Christian adults in the UK. Without the partnership with Elim, we would not have had the opportunity to see 7,000 copies of a special edition of their magazine go out brimming with articles about whole-life discipleship from the LICC team – articles about work as a calling, about changing church culture, and about leadership. Nor would we be learning with them how to inject this
Changing Church, Changing Mission This, of course, is so encouraging. After all, our goal at LICC is not merely to envision and equip those who we connect to directly, but to work towards a deep and decisive change in the culture of the UK church as a whole. We long to see a church gripped by the comprehensive vision for whole-life discipleship that Jesus’ teaching envisages and his commission commands; vibrant communities of people that ‘spur one another on towards love and good deeds’ in every arena they find themselves in.
alone on a rugged hilltop, trumpeting the cause of whole-life discipleship into a gale of cold indifference. No, the keynote has been partnership: warm and purposeful partnership in research and reflection, warm and purposeful partnership in resource development and dissemination.
perspective into pastoral training in their theological college and beyond. Without the partnership of the Baptist Union, we wouldn’t now be working with them on a variety of practical and theological initiatives to help their churches fulfil the Union’s descriptor slogan: ‘encouraging missionary disciples’. Without RUN, and Bishop Graham Cray, Mission Scotland, and many other organisations, and the many churches who have trusted us, we would not have had so many opportunities to learn from others as well as to share what we have learned.
Obviously, such a change requires more than a few lone voices. It requires partners, fellow travellers; people who, whether independently or interdependently, are working to see how the Lord’s mission might be worked out in daily life, to see how his ways might shape all our ways. Indeed, to be effective and sustainable, it requires change not just in individuals and in local churches, but in denominational strategy and in the training of pastors and leaders in theological colleges. After all, if our pastors are not being envisioned and equipped in theological colleges to
Partners in the Cause So, without Spring Harvest’s partnership, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to communicate to around 15,000 new people our vision for how the UK may be reached. Nor the opportunity to share material on how to begin to create a 2
but rather to inject the whole-life gene at all the key points in the formation of Christian mission and discipleship:
Changing Church Culture After two-and-a-half years working with 16 local churches, the Imagine team now nears the end of Phase 1 of the Pilot Project. We have learned a great deal about the dynamics of creating a wholelife disciple-making culture, both from successes and failures, triumphs and
The Word for Today Antony Billington’s arrival has enabled us to go deeper in our Scriptural engagement, and to begin to shape and pass on resources that demonstrate the centrality of the whole-life missional gospel. In April 2009, he, Margaret Killingray and Helen Parry launched a new one-year email ‘Word for the Week’ series with whole-life as its central theme. This material will probably then be expanded and made available in print form. The new website has given Antony the opportunity to contribute a regular piece on biblical themes in our new monthly podcast, whilst Helen Parry will be publishing the first in a series of introductory essays on biblical interpretation later this month. Antony is also a key contributor to the national Biblefresh initiative, looking specifically at how to help bring the Bible alive in group settings.
And this year we have seen that begin to happen in a formal and structured way. It represents a decisive shift in the way we operate – not just as teachers and writers, but also as consultants and co-learners. In all of this there has been the sense
setbacks. The team’s report, due next spring, will not only reflect on the results but also provide a clear pathway for other churches who want to create a whole-life missional culture. In addition, a number of resources have been field-tested and enhanced, and will be made available over the coming year. At the same time, our new North-West pilot, led by Chick Yuill (see page 5), will test our conclusions and enable us to learn how to transfer the facilitation skills that Neil Hudson has acquired over the period. All this will be fed directly into our work with denominations and theological colleges.
Work in Progress Work continues to be one of the main practical areas we address, and the team of Workplace Associates and I have fulfilled a large number of training engagements all over the country. In addition, the team has been working on a variety of new resources. The third in the IVP work series I am editing – Jago Wynne’s excellent Working without Wilting – has now been published, whilst James Featherby’s The White Swan Formula has met with much appreciation here and abroad, with a Korean edition in process.
make whole-life missionary disciples, then the bulk of local churches will not change. If denominational leadership is not encouraging a whole-life disciplemaking culture, then it is unlikely that such a focus will be sustainable in the long-term. Our goal is not just to influence individuals and some local churches:
of God’s favour. One sows, one waters, but it is God who gives the growth. And, personally, I stand amazed at what the Lord has done. And I am enormously grateful to him. As indeed I am to our supporters and many trusts, without whose generosity in terms of prayers and wisdom, thoughtful critique and financial support, none of this would have been possible. That’s the overview – the inauguration of a new season at LICC. And that has had implications for every area of our work. How do we serve our partners in our joint mission?
LICC FUNDING SOURCES 2009/10 UNKNOWN/ SPONTANEOUS INCOME
ASSURED INCOME Investments
Regular individual gifts and standing orders
Events, courses, speaking donations, book sales, etc
£50k Rent of St Peter’s
Supporting Christians in Education continues to find favour – and Salisbury Diocese is the latest organisation to make it available to their clergy. Special editions are planned for Singapore, Australia, and parts of the former Soviet Union. Still, we have not been able do everything we had hoped. In particular, we were not able to appoint a Director of Workplace Ministries. This remains a pressing need if we are to make the most of the wisdom of the Associate Team, distilling it and disseminating it as widely as it merits.
forum for practitioners to share ideas and hone praxis. A number of key issues have been identified: a lack of input from churches into the vocational training of their young people, limited success in nurturing spiritual maturity in young people, and very little engagement with school subjects from a biblical perspective, to name but a few. This research is being fed into his national work on ‘Youthwork: the Conference’ and into the development of new resources.
We are intensely aware of the urgency and depth of need for the gospel in our land
Discipling Young People Today The habit of seeing and living life missionally is best acquired young. Jason Gardner, our Lecturer in Youth Discipleship, has been engaged in researching best practice in discipling young people, as well as in creating a 4
Getting the Word Out This year, Nigel Hopper, alongside his work on culture, re-launched our website. There’s now more capacity and flexibility, and it’s enabled us to begin a monthly podcast, featuring interviews with practitioners and explorations of biblical and cultural themes.
Fuel for the Journey – Finance & Prayer Financially, it’s been a hard year for many people, so it’s with enormous gratitude that I can report that in the financial year 2008-2009, LICC had a small surplus. This year, due to our rent increase, our budget has risen to its highest ever – £840,000. Based on standing orders, historic giving, and trusts, we began the year knowing where around £420,000 of that total might come from. That left a gap of £420,000. At the time of writing, the gap has narrowed to £160,000, which we need to fill by 31 March 2010. It’s a big number. LICC does have a group of regular prayer partners and, we trust, many others who pray for us and occasionally offer insight. We are very grateful to them. If you’d like to join the regular group who receive a monthly email and have volunteered to pray in emergency, do let us know. Otherwise, prayer updates can be found on the website at licc.org.uk/about-licc/support/pray The Year Ahead At the moment, we have more opportunities to serve, and more avenues to explore, than we can possibly pursue. However, we do not want to be driven by demand but, rather, guided by the Spirit. We are intensely aware of the urgency and depth of need for the gospel in our land – millions who do not know Jesus are, day by day, hour by hour, closer to hell. At the same time, we are conscious that the overcoming of the sacredsecular divide and the development of a church in the UK that is committed to whole-life missionary discipleship is a long-term project that needs deep roots and careful tending. Discernment is vital. For your partnership in this, thank you. May the Lord be with you wherever he has called you to show and share his ways at such a time as this.
A New Steer on Stott Ahead of John Stott’s final book, The Radical Disciple, due in January, IVP recently published a new biography of LICC’s founder. Christine Hughes, recently appointed PA to Executive Director, Mark Greene, has been reading it… Inspirational and informative, this fresh account of John Stott’s life and ministry encapsulates the warmth, compassion and intellect of the man who, whilst arguably the most influential evangelical of the twentieth century, is known to many as ‘Uncle John’. Roger Steer portrays the spirit of discipline and dedication that characterised the young John and enabled him, through the church, to give his life in service to his nation, the world and to God. Thoroughly researched and clearly written, this biography gives a concise overview of a full and active career. John Stott may be unique in his nearly ninety-year link with the same parish church, but his career has been far from limited to the parochial. As we follow in Stott’s footsteps, we are taken round the globe from preaching tours in Australia to preaching workshops in Uganda; from visits to Buckingham Palace in his role as Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen to visiting Mother Teresa in Calcutta. Both All Souls Langham Place and St Peter’s Vere Street are
brought to life as vibrant places of worship, the latter being the venue for Stott’s first sermon, and where many have been brought to Christ not only through his preaching, but also through his care for the vulnerable. John Stott has been a role model for all that he has preached, the essence of which he summed up in typically evangelical style during what was to be his last sermon at the Keswick Convention in 2007: ‘God’s purpose is to make us like Christ. God’s way to make us like Christ is to fill us with his Spirit. In other words, it is a Trinitarian conclusion, concerning the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ The reader is welcomed into Stott’s favourite place, his private retreat in Wales called ‘The Hookses’, where many happy hours have been spent digging the garden, entertaining friends and indulging his great passion of birdwatching. Written with genuine affection, this book is a joy to read and will make readers wish they knew John Stott better, and could count him among their personal friends. Inside Story – The Life of John Stott, by Roger Steer is available from licc.org.uk/shop/books, or by calling 020 7399 9555.
More to Imagine For many years a pastor, teacher and leader in the Salvation Army, Chick Yuill has spent the last two-and-a-half years working as a freelance speaker, writer and broadcaster. From September 2007 to September 2009, he chaired HOPE 09 in Greater Manchester. Here, Chick explains why joining LICC’s Imagine team to develop the project in the North-West is a timely move – for him and for Imagine… Like many others, for far too long I assumed that the most important question facing us was: how do we get people in the UK to come to church? Gradually, it began to dawn on me that there were two things wrong with this question. Firstly, most people in the UK simply aren’t coming. Secondly, and more importantly, the New Testament is all about going with the gospel, rather than waiting for others to come to us. That’s when I began to think what we really should be asking was: how do we take the church – and the Lord of the church – out into the world where people are? But as time has gone on and I’ve become a little wiser, I’m increasingly convinced that the real question is this: how do we discover what the risen Christ is doing in the world, in order that we can share in his work and ministry as committed and effective disciples? That’s why, when the opportunity came to be part of LICC’s Imagine project, with its focus on whole-life discipleship, I jumped at the chance. Rejoicing in the splendid title of Regional
Church Life Consultant, my mandate is to work with individual Christians, church leaders and congregations in the North-West, to encourage and facilitate a transition in church culture to the point where equipping men and women for 24/7 discipleship is central to all we do. When we get serious about asking how we get involved in what Jesus is doing out in the world and outside the walls of our churches, we are confronted with a whole series of questions: Do we really value what Christians do with the great proportion of their time that is spent outside of church activities? Does the way in which we do church really equip and prepare them to live as disciples in their everyday lives? What does the follower of Jesus bring to family, work and leisure more than simply being a decent and moral person? These questions have shaped the development of the Imagine project. Over the next couple of years I’ll be working with my fellow Christians in the North-West to build on what’s been learnt. Together, we want to find ways in which we can create momentum within this region, inspiring churches to embrace the challenge of whole-life discipleship, and to shape their community life around this central calling. My hope is that the lessons we learn here will translate into wisdom for application elsewhere. To read more about our vision for church, and for life lived well with God on the frontline, read Chick’s sermon at the service in Manchester for the 2009 Conservative Party Conference. Follow the Quick Picks link at licc.org.uk/imagine 5
The Best Idea in the World? Mark Greene’s new book makes a big claim, but he thinks Scripture is on his side. EG editor, Nigel Hopper plays Paxman… Nigel: What’s the big idea?
Mark: The big idea is Jesus’ big idea. The best idea in the world is the great commandment – love God, love your neighbour. And love is about relationship. So, Jesus is telling us is that what is most important to him is the quality of our relationships – with him and other people. And he is commanding us to bring those criteria to bear in every decision in our everyday life, at work, at home, at school. How does this decision affect my relationship with God? How does this decision affect my relationship with other people? So, for example, what happens to relationships in a family if you buy your child a TV for their bedroom? No one talks to each other. It’s obvious. And yet 65 per cent of children have TVs in their bedroom. Lots of parents didn’t ask the obvious question. What happens to an urban regeneration area, like the Oxhey Estate near where I live, if you close down the secondary school and bus kids to five different locations? Well, as one resident said to me, ‘it tore the heart out of the community’. Yes, it may have made sense to the Department of Education, but I’m not sure that the Police and Social Services, never mind the people on the estate, would now see it as a helpful decision for the overall community. Nigel: What made you write this book?
Mark: I read Michael Schluter and David Lee’s The R Factor in the early 1990s and it completely revolutionised the way I thought about the great commandment and its application to living life. Still, despite my enthusiasm for The R Factor, I actually never finished it. Its applications were primarily to social policy so, almost from the first time I 6
met Michael, I began to nag him to write a popular version of the book with a broader set of applications. I tried for eight years. And failed. Eventually, Michael suggested I write it. And then he started nagging me. The point is that I really, really wanted this book written because I believed that the thinking would be so helpful to people. So when Michael turned the tables on me and asked me to do it, I could hardly refuse. Nigel: Who did you write this book for?
Waterman and Peter’s In Search of Excellence, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, for example. But Jesus’ ‘big Idea’ has so much more traction than any of those. It’s passed the test of time, it works in every area of life and, if you’re open to a relationship with him, it offers the resources to actually live it out. So we very much wanted to produce a book that Christians could give to their non-Christian friends, hoping that they would enjoy the style, pace and content of the first half, that focuses on relationships with people, and that when they got to the sections about the distinctive nature of Christianity as a relational faith and about loving God, they’d be sufficiently engaged to keep going. And if they don’t, well, they’d probably still be grateful to their Christian friend, and perhaps convinced that Jesus has something practical to offer the twentyfirst century world.
In Search of Excellence, The Tipping Point… Jesus’ ‘big idea’ has so much more traction than any of those
Mark: We’ve addressed it to two main groups of people: those who know Jesus and those who don’t. The reality is that you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from relational thinking. And there has long been a demand for ‘big idea’ books, ones that purport to help you see the world differently and live differently as a result –
A splendid Christmas present, short enough not to feel overwhelming, inexpensive enough not to create too great a sense of obligation, light enough to… Nigel: I sense the resurgence of the old adman in you…
Mark: Alas, you can take the adman out of advertising in the blink of an eye, but it takes longer to take the advertising out of the adman… but you can get 2 for £10 from LICC. Nigel: Many people would agree that relationships are important, but find it hard to live lives that way. How does the book help?
Mark: You’re right. Loving others, thinking selflessly is actually very hard. And writing a book like this certainly gets me on the short list for ‘Hypocrite of the Year’…
data has been mounting over the last two thousand years that when it comes to sacrificial love for people beyond our own communities, the Christian record is extraordinary. Whether reaching out to plague victims in the second century when everyone else ran away, or in transforming areas of extreme poverty and oppression in Africa today. Of course, there’s no room for self-regarding complacency here, there’s more to be done and many an opportunity missed. Nevertheless, as Matthew Parris, the atheist journalist, famously wrote in The Times, many agencies may bring aid or hospitals or education, but if you are looking for deep, positive, sustainable change in a community, look for where
the Christians have been. Knowing Jesus’ love is transformative and it brings transformation to others. Parris’ conclusion was that the only hope for Africa is evangelism. Which, logically, of course, suggests that the gospel is the only hope for the world, and the only hope for Matthew Parris. That’s why the great commandment is the best idea in the world. It’s God’s idea. And his love is the only love that has the power to turn our selfishness into sustained sacrificial generosity.
Only Christianity offers the resources to love your neighbour
Mark Greene’s The Best Idea in the World is available from LICC at £5.99, or 2 for £10 (exc. p&p). Order online at licc.org. uk/shop/books, or call 020 7399 9555.
CD of the Quarter How Christians can Bring About a Social Revolution: The Relational Agenda Dr Michael Schluter CBE This brilliant address begins by asking whether Christianity needs a new narrative, a new way of telling the gospel, because so many people in our society can’t hear us anymore. They see
Nigel: I couldn’t possibly comment…
Christianity as hierarchical, individual, and without
Mark: …Still, the book offers some ways of looking at relationships that help us see what’s likely to be healthy and what isn’t. In addition, one of the book’s big points is that we can’t actually do it – without God. Lots of faiths or philosophies would agree with the axiom to love your neighbour, but only Christianity offers the resources to do it. It is only through a relationship with God that we can possibly love our neighbour in the way that we are called to. It is only as we grasp how loved we are that love can flow out to others. As John puts it, ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). And whilst you could point to plenty of individuals who don’t know Jesus who do many great and loving things, the
credibility. Michael then explores how relational thinking might offer such a narrative and looks at the relational dimension at the heart of God himself, the Scriptures, the cross, and the church. He concludes by coming back to the question of how Christians might bring about a social revolution, and looks at how relational thinking may provide a lens for a different way of viewing the world, and a language for how we speak and define –and perhaps reframe – issues like development, poverty and social action. Friends of LICC will find the CD enclosed with their copy of EG. Additional CDs can be ordered online (licc.org.uk/shop/tapesand-cds), or by calling 020 7399 9555.
The Church Has Left the Building… Dewsbury Elim has been involved with LICC’s Imagine Pilot Project since 2007, wrestling with how the church can equip its members to make a difference on their frontlines. Two years on, the Imagine team’s Ben Care finds out how they’ve been getting on… ‘I’ve had to change the most,’ Pastor Paul Hudson explains when discussing the reassessment of perspectives and priorities that exploring whole-life discipleship in his church involved. ‘For many years we had been an ‘attractional’ church – the central focus was on getting people into the church building. And over the years we’d done well, filling the church building and putting on great services. But gradually we began to realise there was a disconnection between what was happening in the building on a Sunday and what was happening in people’s lives during the week. It was as though once we left the building, the really important business was over. I needed to be reminded that for the church members it was just beginning.’ Attempting to bridge that gap, the leaders made numerous small changes that expressed their commitment to whole-life discipleship. Paul continues, ‘up to that time, if anyone went on the mission field or to Bible College we would pray and commission them because it was “God’s call”. And it is God’s call. But seeing things in a new light, we changed. Now, if anyone gets a new job, gets promoted or goes to university, we pray because that’s “God’s call” too. So, if someone gets a job in ASDA, we get them up on stage to commission them and to pray for them – that they would be the best ASDA worker that ASDA has ever had in Dewsbury!’ 8
The whole-life vision has been worked through the life of the church so that, from the youngest to the oldest, from playgrounds to old people’s homes, people are equipped as missionary disciples. And it is having an impact. Talking to church members there is a renewed
sense of confidence. ‘It’s a fresh outlook,’ one member remarked, ‘its taken away the guilt complex that has built up over the years that I should be constantly witnessing openly, aggressively, or I wasn’t doing my part as a Christian. I’ve felt very released rather than condemned.’ Peter works for an engineering company. He said, ‘you know what a factory is like; the place is filled with lads. I’ll go in on Monday morning and they’ll say, “Have you prayed for me this week?” making a joke of it. But now I can say in all seriousness, “I have prayed for you.”’ He continues, ‘I struggle with my boss, and sometimes I feel like throwing the towel in or not giving 100 per cent as a Christian. But since this teaching, it’s made me realise I’ve got to do my bit and I just have to think “You might not appreciate me, and I sometimes don’t like you, but I’m going to give it my 100 per cent anyway because this is where God has called me to be.”’ People have clearly discovered a sense of purpose in living alongside friends and
work colleagues as agents of mission. As one member put it, ‘we are church to our friends. Half of them won’t come to church and wouldn’t like it if they did. But they are potential disciples and so we need to disciple them… Our church has changed in a good way, it’s more obvious now that it’s not just about us lot, but about everybody else. So people are not coming to church just thinking, “I need to do this, I need to have this done to me” but instead with other people and situations in mind.’ A remarkable way of looking at things – particularly from a member of the youth group! Other ministries have also been reinvigorated. Nowhere is this clearer than for Nicky, who annually spends six months in Sierra Leone as a missionary. As the church’s focus has changed she has felt increasingly supported as a whole person, whether working in the UK or abroad. Further, she reflected that as church members began to see themselves as missionaries in their daily lives, ‘people are beginning to own what is happening abroad more, as an extension of their ministry. It’s not just what I’m doing but what we are doing.’ The decision to explore whole-life discipleship has meant radical changes. Yet, as Paul says, ‘we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re on a journey which we can never recover from. We can never go back!’
Gathered and Scattered Ian Hamlin, a Baptist minister based in Kent , recently chose to spend some of his sabbatical learning alongside LICC’s Imagine team. Here he sheds a personal light on the challenge of whole-life discipleship to the church… The crowd waits expectantly for the match to begin. The players are bound together in a closed circle, arms tightly around each other – they’re a team. Confirming their tactical plan and enthusing one another, they must soon disperse to actually play the game… I am a Baptist. I believe it was part of the intention of Jesus to call, create, and establish a specific community of people, from within any and every nation and culture, who would bear primary allegiance to him. Vital to that is a regular and prioritised commitment to meet together. I believe in the gathered church. More than that, I’m a Baptist minister. Much of my life is devoted to ensuring that the gathering goes smoothly. The church is my workplace. I know, of course, that it’s not the whole game. And I genuinely hope that some of what happens when we gather makes a difference when we leave. Nevertheless, it’s still hard to think, practically and seriously, of church as anything other than the who, when and where of our meetings. I know the theology of the church scattered – disciples being as salt, light and yeast. Often, though, that’s applied only to what we do, not what we are; function rather than identity. Even when I think of those things we do as mission activity, I confess I tend to measure success in terms of how many people we manage to get to come along and join us at our gatherings. I am convinced, though, that the balance has to shift, and our mindset
has to alter. I’m under no illusions that it will be hard, not only because I’ve got used to how things are, but also because I know it will be costly. Let me share a couple of stories… A woman in my congregation – active, involved in lots of things – comes to me, and shares some concerns from within her family. There are issues around illness, pregnancy, and care needs. She wants to be more fully involved, providing support for her family, but
feels guilty that this will mean being less involved in church activities. I try to reassure her, to release her to serve her own. She lays down a number of church responsibilities, some of which are difficult to reassign. We see less of her. She helps immeasurably, but she still feels guilty. Someone else, an experienced youth worker, wanted to do more. We talk about her becoming a school governor. Again, I seek to encourage her, to commission her, even, and she takes the role. She’s very good, and makes a significant contribution to the improvement of the school community. We seldom see her on a Sunday, or any other time. Her own faith is struggling.
Success stories? Hardly. Rather, these are stories full of failure and pain. And yet both are characterised by a heartfelt desire to do more – to go further with the good news. There’s a push-pull rhythm to the life of discipleship; church leaders like me are often more comfortable with the latter – pulling people towards the life of the church; the programmes, meetings, events and services we arrange. Pulling people towards God, we say. We may struggle with it, and though it may not work very well and frequently frustrate us, nevertheless we know what we’re supposed to be doing. Pushing, or sending, disciples out into God’s world to interpret him ‘out there’, on the other hand, is an altogether different, scarier, task. There is, of course, a need for both – a need for the church to be gathered and scattered. To allow each of these modes of church to inform the other is, essentially, a leadership challenge. One that requires us to wrestle with recognising the scattered as a legitimate expression of church – with a mission priority – not at the expense of the gathered, but as a motivation towards a renewed role and significance for our meeting together. This rethinking of the church is hard. It will leave holes in the gathered community of most congregations; the demands on personal faith will be high; new forms of pastoral care will be required. But it’s always tougher actually playing the game than talking tactics. 9
Contact Top titles for engaging with the world Have a Little Faith: A True Story
The latest book by the author of the best-selling Tuesdays with Morrie, this is as beautiful, poignant and compelling as its predecessor. Albom, a Jew whose faith is largely peripheral to his everyday life, is asked by his aging rabbi (Reb) to write his eulogy. A journey of wonder, questioning and discovery follows, as Albom’s own apathy is challenged by the devout, yet earthy faith of the rabbi. Along the way, he also meets Henry, an inner city pastor, who further challenges his preconceptions about God and faith. Neither preachy nor proselytizing, this book will inspire you to live life to the full, whilst gently prompting questions about your own faith journey. Becca Sampson
Read this book next to a roaring fire surrounded by family. Why? Because it is possibly the most harrowing, cathartic experience available in paperback. Beautifully told against a backdrop of rugged coastline in the small community of Monkshaven, the tale charts the loves, losses and betrayals that mark Sylvia’s life. Although charged as melodramatic by some, the story provides an honest account of the pain and cost of redemptive love that challenges readers to examine their own capacity to forgive. N aomi C arle
Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty-First Century City
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Alain de Botton
McClelland and Stuart, 2009
If one of the skills of being a disciple is godly curiosity – watching and taking notice of the everyday all around us – then some of us need to learn from those skilled in this venture. De Botton is one such master. In a series of essays concerning people engaged in diverse occupations from cargo shipping to biscuit making to painting, he asks how their experiences help us understand our world. You’ll learn more about the things you take for granted, but more importantly it’ll encourage you to listen intently to people’s experiences on their frontlines. Neil Hudson
A well-researched but readable account of the modern built environment looking at the city, the home, and civil society. Minton argues that the creation of cities within cities, stripped of local history and culture, complete with up-market housing, gated communities and private security forces, has generated a culture of authoritarianism and control, the effect of which is to make the city a more fearful place where the pursuit of profit threatens to undermine the quality of urban life. Antony Billington
Pilate – The Biography of an Invented Man Anne Wroe
The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. Mark Twain
This dazzling, speculative book covers every aspect of Pilate’s life, looking at both the contemporary evidence – the NT, Josephus, one inscription and a few coins – and the mystery plays, apocryphal writings, traditions and legends that have followed. Wroe’s select bibliography covers 12 pages and is fascinating in itself. Her writing is sometimes moving and lyrical – ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews… Pilate repeats, like some ghostly bureaucrat, in the three great languages of the civilised world of the time, the statement Jesus makes in sweat and blood.’ Margaret K illingray
Choice Highly recommended Christian titles Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership
Ruth Haley Barton
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a book is good, or whether it’s just resonated with your own situation. Using Moses’ life as an example of a leader of God’s people, Barton’s concern is for the contemporary leader who can get so engrossed in being a leader that they burn out, and lose their soul in the process. I appreciated the insights into the motivations that drive leaders, the emphasis on discernment and life-rhythm, and the many great quotes and stories peppered throughout. A book to read slowly. Neil Hudson
My 15-year-old sister cried when she read this book: no one had ever spoken to her so resonantly about herself before. Despite coming from a strong, loving Christian family and knowing her uniqueness in Christ, she hadn’t fully understood her true worth until she read Cherished. Rachel Gardner’s easy, chatty style speaks wisdom and encouragement from a genuine empathetic love for her audience. Each section ends with space to pray and reflect. Everyone who knows, or is a teenage girl should read this book, soak it up and be ready to pass its wisdom on. Naomi Carle
God and Government Nick Spencer and Jonathan Chaplin (eds.) SPCK, 2009
Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action
A thought-provoking collection of essays from a joint project between Theos, the public theology think tank, and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, showcasing – from different perspectives – the interface between theology and politics. It helpfully explores biblical and theological foundations for Christian political thinking and considers different ideas about the role of government. This could be valuable contribution not only in encouraging Christians to see politics as an honourable vocation, but also in demonstrating something of the wealth of material in Scripture and Christian political thought. Antony Billington
The Lost History of Christianity:
Inspiring Women, Discovering Biblical Role Models
The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia – and How It Died
The book version of Hybels’ sermon series on Proverbs, this is, in fact, a new format of an earlier publication. However, its insight, directness and ability to engage the imagination haven’t diminished with time. Whether it’s a life context like work, or a virtue like truth-telling, or a key decision that’s troubling mind and spirit, this could be a timely gift for those reflective moments at the turn of the year – especially when read in parallel with the source material itself. Tracy Cotterell
A sermon on Hebrews 11 began ‘These faithful men…’ and, of course, there are a lot of prominent men in that chapter – and some women. This booklet encourages us to look at lesser-known characters, with small parts in the narrative, who provide role models for women and men. The author provides some fascinating case studies, encouraging us to learn from all those in the ‘great cloud of witnesses’. Margaret Killingray
Jenkins’ earlier works have documented how Christianity is exploding in unprecedented ways outside Europe and North America in the global south. Here he shows that if we read church history carefully enough, we will see that Christianity – in its various forms – has always been a global religion. Especially helpful for those whose sense of history is predominantly Western, Jenkins writes of a time when churches stretched eastwards from Jerusalem to the Pacific, taking in India, Tibet, and China along the way. Antony Billington
Christmas Cards from LICC If, like many, you find it hard to track down a card that captures the essence of Christmas in a way that is clear and contemporary, then why not send your family and friends one of LICC’s limited edition Christmas cards? You can choose from two designs – ‘Gravity’ and ‘The Invitation’ – each featuring a different poem by LICC’s Executive Director, Mark Greene. Perfect for those wanting a card that will catch people’s attention amidst the festive bustle, giving them cause to stop and reflect on the reason for the season. Cards are 145 x 145mm, and are available in packs of 10 (£5), 20 (£9), and 50 (£17) – all prices exclude p&p. Available from licc. org.uk/bookshop, or by calling 020 7399 9555.
Supporting Christians in Education on Education Sunday LICC has teamed up with Education Sunday for 2010 to offer our publication Supporting Christians in Education (SCIE) at a significant discount for bulk purchase. Education Sunday 2010 is on January 31, so it’s not too late to take advantage of the special offer and purchase a copy of SCIE for every teacher, school governor etc. in your church. Order your specially discounted copies via our online store (licc.org.uk/shop/books) or call 020 7399 9555.
Coming Up @ LICC Young Disciples: The Big Picture With Antony Billington Friday 4 December, 10.30 am –-1.30pm (doors open at 9.45am), at LICC
‘Tell me a story’ and ‘Once upon a time’ – a four-word request and a four-word opening. Both phrases capture something of the human desire for stories, the power of stories to engage our minds and hearts, and their capacity to make sense of life – to provide a way of linking our individual stories into some larger scheme.
Along these lines, an increasing number of Christian thinkers are exploring the significance of the Bible as providing one such ‘big story’ which claims to make sense of the world over and against the other, competing ‘stories’ of different worldviews. Helping our young people to see the coherence and relevance of the biblical narrative in a modern Western context is a chief goal of discipling today. Combining teaching with discussion, this workshop provides an opportunity to dig deeper into Scripture and explore the implications and benefits of paying attention to the shape of the ‘big picture’ of the Bible, and to see how a Christian worldview is shaped by an understanding of Scripture as one unfolding story, from the garden of Genesis to the city of Revelation. We’ll also be surveying the latest resources aimed at encouraging young people with no prior faith to engage with the Bible. Cost: £10 (concessions £7)
Toolbox ‘Exceeded my expectations and challenged me greatly... Given me resources and tools to engage culture and lead my church to do so.’ ‘Very helpful, encouraging, and lifechanging... Given a wealth of information and insights. Truly renewing and energising.’ ‘More confident to engage with the world at work and in my family on cultural issues.’ These are just some of the comments from past delegates on LICC’s acclaimed Toolbox course. To find out why the course inspires such passion and enthusiasm, book yourself a place now. The next Toolbox runs 14–18 June, 2010. The week-long course in biblical and cultural engagement costs £295, which includes tuition, meals and cultural adventures. For more details, visit licc. org.uk/toolbox, or call 020 7399 9555.
Connecting to LICC If you would like to find out more about LICC – how to become a ‘Friend’ of LICC, receiving our mailings or our ever-popular, bi-weekly emails, please call 020 7399 9555, email mail@licc. org.uk or write to us at the address below.
The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity St. Peter’s · Vere Street · London · W1G 0DQ (t) 020 7399 9555 (f) 020 7399 9556 · (e) firstname.lastname@example.org · (w) www.licc.org.uk Editor: Nigel Hopper · Executive Director: Mark Greene · Designed & printed by x1.ltd.uk All articles ©LICC – use only with prior permission from the publishers. LICC Ltd is a registered charity No. 286102