By: Mary E, Speedy

Hearing a Film, Seeing a Sermon: Preaching and Popular MoviesTimothy B. Cargal.WJKP, 2007. Pastors are constantly in search of ways to connect to their parishioners through their sermons, and one of the most effective ways is through contemporary movies. In Hearing a Film, Seeing a Sermon, New Testament scholar and pastor Timothy Cargal provides the basics of interpreting films so pastors can integrate insights about popular films into their preaching. He explains how people see and think about movies and then demonstrates how this connects with the way parishioners comprehend Scripture and theology. In addition, he offers several of his own sermons as examples of effective ways to use movies, including The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, The Passion of the Christ, In Her Shoes, and Bruce Almighty, in preaching.

The Barefoot Way: A Faith Guide for Youth, Young Adults, and the People Who Walk with Them, Dori Grinenko Baker. WJKP, 2012. “I hope that this book encourages you to take off your shoes, kick off your flip-flops, or step out of your stilettos. May it remind you to touch the holy ground on which you stand.” From the Introduction. We each have our own faith journey replete with stories. Stories may be funny, tragic, uplifting, or heart wrenching. They help us to connect with God and each other as we journey together and share our experiences. The Barefoot Way is about our spiritual journeys. Inside you’ll find an array of stories from writers young and old, who have found God in the most unexpected places: a walk on the beach, a conversation with an old friend, a bus ride to school, and so much more. Walk with them, tell your own story through journaling, and reflect on these experiences in this twenty-one day field guide through the realities of life.

For All the Saints: Evangelical Theology and Christian Spirituality, Timothy George and Alister E. McGrath. WJKP, 2003. How do theology and spirituality relate to one another? How does the Christian heart connect with the Christian mind? This collection of essays from leading evangelical theologians and writers addresses these concerns through scholarly and personal reflections. Here you will find discussion of the integration of theology and spirituality, biblical and classical sources for spiritual formation, a critique of how evangelicals have uncritically appropriated the rhetoric of spirituality, and also the use and abuse of spiritual disciplines by evangelicals.

Praying the Movies: Daily Meditations from Classic Films, Edward N. McNulty. WJKP, 2001. Praying the Movies is a collection of 31 devotions that connect movies with the spiritual life of moviegoers. Each devotion contains a passage from Scripture, a description of a scene from a popular film, and a meditation connecting the themes in the scene to the Scripture passage. Also included in each devotion are questions to encourage further reflection, a suggestion for a hymn, and a brief prayer. Also Praying the Movies, II.

The Spirituality of Bread, Donna Sinclair. Woodlake Books, 2007. This book is about bread—why we make it, how to make it, what it has to teach us, the memories it gives us. Bread offers connection—as Jesus connected with his friends; as we connect with our children; as Demeter, the goddess of grain, bound herself to her daughter. People of every culture are tied together by the breads they bake. Bread helps us remember who we are and whom we love. You can make your own bread (and memories) with this book, or simply contemplate the wisdom of stories found within as you visit your local bakery or make your morning toast.

The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community, Jesse Rice. David C. Cook, 2009. A revolution is taking place, one profile at a time. Online social networks are connecting people like never before. And with millions of users, they’re creating a virtual world that erases all boundaries. It’s a movement that’s changing how we form relationships, perceive others, and shape our identity.
Yet at their core, these sites reflect our need for community, our need for intimacy, connection, and a place to simply belong. Are we seeing the future of the church? Do these networks help or hurt relationships? And what can these sites teach us about God and each other? The Church of Facebook explores these ideas and more. Rice offers a revealing look at the wildly popular world of online social groups. From profiles, to The Wall, to status updates, to “poking,” he suggests what Facebook reveals about us, and what it may mean for the church.

The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church, Bruce Reyes-Chow. Shook Foil Books, 2012. For anyone who has wondered if and how social media can benefit the church, Presbyterian pastor and social media early-adopter Bruce Reyes-Chow steps in with answers. He deftly weaves practical how-to’s with a convincing rationale for why social media matters for the church. Social media novices will find an accessible introduction and ideas for getting started; while more experienced users will discover new ways to use social media in congregations. Readers will learn from Bruce’s experiences managing information overload and navigating social media issues during a pastoral transition. This is a book to pick up for both practical purposes and Bruce’s insightful and inspiring commentary on the ways social media is changing our culture and the church. Learn how social media allows Christians to be in the world in new, powerful, and God-honoring ways.

Tweet If You Heart Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation, Elizabeth Drescher. Morehouse, 2011. Churches everywhere are scrambling to get linked with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But are they ready for the Digital Reformation: the dramatic global shift in the nature of faith, social consciousness and relationship that these digital social media have ushered in? Tweet If You Love Jesus brings the wisdom of ancient and medieval Christianity into conversation with contemporary theories of cultural change and the realities of social media, all to help churches navigate a landscape where faith, leadership and community have taken on new meanings.

Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible, Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson. Morehouse, 2012. Social media provide an opportunity for congregations to open the doors and windows to their congregational life before people ever step inside. It’s no longer all about getting your message out as if people are passively waiting for the latest news from the parish, diocese, or national church. Rather, it’s about creating spaces where meaningful relationships can develop. Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible is a practical resource guide for religious leaders who want to enrich and extend their ministries using digital media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and church or personal blogs. Click 2 Save draws on extensive research and practical experience in church and other ministry settings to provide functional, how-to guidance on effectively using social networking sites in the day-to-day context of ministry.

SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, Douglas Estes. Zondervan, 2009. The meeting place for the church of tomorrow will be a computer screen. Don’t laugh, and don’t feel alarmed. The real-world church isn’t going anywhere until Jesus returns, but the virtual church is already here, and it’s poised for explosive growth. SimChurch invites you to explore the vision, the concerns, the challenges, and the remarkable possibilities of building Christ’s kingdom online. What is the virtual church, and what different forms might it take? Will it be an extension of a real-world church, or a separate entity? How will it encourage families to worship together? Is it even possible or healthy to be the church in the virtual world? If you’re passionate about the church and evangelism, and if you feel both excitement and concern over the new virtual world the internet is creating, then these are just some of the vital issues you and other postmillennial followers of Jesus must grapple with. Rich in both biblical and current insight, combining exploration and critique, SimChurch opens a long-overdue discussion you can’t afford to miss.

Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church Can Learn from Facebook, the Internet, and Other Networks, Dwight J. Friesen. Baker Books, 2009. Networks are everywhere. From our roads to our relationships, from our food supply to our power grids, networks are an integral part of how we live. Similarly, our churches, denominations, and even the kingdom of God are networks. Knowing how networks function and how to work with rather than against them has enormous implications for how we do ministryIn Thy Kingdom Connected, Friesen brings the complex theories of networking to church leaders in easy-to-understand, practical ways. Rather than bemoaning the modern disintegration of things like authority and structure, Friesen inspires hope for a more connective vision of life with God. He shows how those in ministry can maximize already existing connections between people in order to spread the Gospel, get people plugged in at their churches, and grow together as disciples.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle. Basic Books, 2011. Consider Facebook—it’s human contact, only easier to engage with and easier to avoid. Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them. In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. It’s a nuanced exploration of what we are looking for—and sacrificing—in a world of electronic companions and social networking tools, and an argument that, despite the hand-waving of today’s self-described prophets of the future, it will be the next generation who will chart the path between isolation and connectivity.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World, Brian D. McLaren. Jericho Books, 2012. When four religious leaders walk across the road, it’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s the start of one of the most important conversations in today’s world. Can you be a committed Christian without having to condemn or convert people of other faiths? Is it possible to affirm other religious traditions without watering down your own? In this book, widely acclaimed author and speaker McLaren proposes a new faith alternative, one built on “benevolence and solidarity rather than rivalry and hostility.” This way of being Christian is strong but doesn’t strong-arm anyone, going beyond mere tolerance to vigorous hospitality toward, interest in, and collaboration with the other.

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, Brian D. McLaren.Harper Collins, 2011. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the church. Not since the Reformation five centuries ago have so many Christians come together to ask whether the church is in sync with their deepest beliefs and commitments. These believers range from evangelicals to mainline Protestants to Catholics. In this book, McLaren examines ten questions facing today’s church—questions about how to articulate the faith itself, the nature of its authority, who God is, whether we have to understand Jesus through only an ancient Greco-Roman lens, what exactly the good news is that the gospel proclaims, how we understand the church and all its varieties, why we are so preoccupied with sex, how we should think of the future and people from other faiths, and the most intimidating question of all: what do we do next? Here you will find a provocative and enticing introduction to the Christian faith of tomorrow.

The Girl with the Dove Tattoo, Brian D. McLaren. Creative Trust Digital, 2012. Imagine this: You’re on the early shift at the bar and you’re cleaning and setting tables, preparing for the lunch rush. The front door swings open—and four men quickly stumble in as if taking refuge. Taken aback, you study their faces. One is a kind-faced Asian man with a shaved head, another looks as ancient as the hills with shocking white hair and beard, and the other two, well, they look awfully familiar. If you were a betting person, you would put down money that they were Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed . . . but then again, this is Sunset Strip, so it could just be reality TV. Meet Crystal, a waitress who ends up in just this predicament. What seems like the beginning of an old joke turns into the conversation of a lifetime.

A Bibliography – Visual Arts and Worship, Elizabeth Steele Halstead. Looking for resources for worship, this site is one to go to for an abundance of resources neatly categorized into devotional, study, art, artists, architecture and more.

From Memory to Imagination, C. Randall Bradley. Eerdmans, 2012. The relatively recent “worship wars” over styles of worship—traditional, contemporary, or blended—have calmed down, and many churches have now reached decisions about which “worship style” defines them. At a more fundamental level, however, change has yet to begin. Bradley argues that fallout from the worship wars needs to be cleaned up and that fundamental cultural changes, namely, the effects of postmodernism, call for new approaches to worship. Outlining imaginative ways for the church to move forward, this book is a must-read for church leaders and anyone interested in worship music.

Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual, and Theological Dimensions, Robin Margaret Jensen. Baker Publishing, 2012. Jensen, a leading scholar of early Christian art and worship, illuminates the theological meaning of baptism by exploring multiple dimensions of the early Christian baptismal rite. She examines five models for understanding baptism, showing how visual images, poetic language, architectural space, and symbolic actions signify and convey the theological meaning of this ritual practice. Considering image and action together, Jensen offers a holistic and integrated understanding of the power of baptism. The book is illustrated with photos and will be useful to professors and students in courses on theology, ritual studies, liturgy, and sacraments as well as to art historians and archaeologists.

Are Short Term Mission Trips Worth Doing?, John Piper. Life through Shared Ministry: Moving from Volunteering to Mission, Judith A. Urban. Alban, 2013. Urban observes that shared ministry is a way of being church together that creates a distinctive congregational culture. It encompasses the many ways members of a congregation serve their faith community and the wider community. It is based on the concept that all are called to participate in the work of the church, bringing the good news of God’s saving grace to the world. It is also a system of interrelated parts that work together to bring the concept into reality. Congregations that grow a shared ministry culture are able to facilitate the unique work God gives each member and the community as a whole, creating a system that supports the people of God as they carry out excellent, effective ministry.

Greening Spaces for Worship and Ministry: Congregations, Their Buildings, and Creation Care, Mark A. Torgerson. Alban, 2013. In Greening Spaces for Worship and Ministry, Torgerson asserts that greening the built environment of a congregation is a powerful way to achieve and model a commitment to creation care. Green building involves designing and constructing in ways that are environmentally, economically, and socially responsible. The approach considers dimensions of a project from its inception to its re-use or demise, through both initial design choices and gradual, systematic upgrades to existing facilities.

The Lost Art of Conversation, Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma. I was talking with our landlady the other day—I would guess she’s in her mid to late fifties—and she relayed how she had gone to a local coffee shop hoping to find some impromptu conversation, only to find all of the patrons engrossed in their laptops. There were plenty of people, but no conversation was to be had that day at one of the neighborhood’s most popular public gathering places.

It’s All About the Neighborhood, Aaron Fortner. The desire for connections is laced throughout our DNA, and neighborhoods are the perfect size for making these connections meaningfully. You can really get your arms around a neighborhood. You can walk it, you can see it, you can hear it, you can feel it and you can truly know it. While the heart of the church will always be for the world, the hands of the church are the perfect length for the reach of a neighborhood.

On Ambient Knowledge and the Efficacy of Socializing Online, Nick Purdy. In general, I’m on the late end of the early adopter spectrum. So I’m aware of new-ish trends particularly in technology and media, but usually watch curiously for some level of critical mass before investing time or money to participate. For a couple years, I’ve been happily among the millions now participating in the use of web-based social networking tools—Twitter, Facebook and the like. You know the story— users tend to love these tools while nonusers sniff that they are “time-wasters” or just “noise.” Who would want to know the silly or mundane things you learn on Facebook and Twitter? Who’s got the time or interest to be bothered with such trivialities, right?

Come and See: 24 Creative Ideas for Worship VisualsDean Heetderks.Faith Alive, 2013.
This unique resource offers practical, doable ideas for creating visuals to use in worship. You’ll find plans for constructing banners, paraments, installations, and other visuals using a variety of media such as fabric, paper, drawing and painting, and projection. Come and See offers season-specific projects, visuals to celebrate special events, intergenerational projects, and more. It’s an excellent resource for visual arts or worship committees or for anyone who seeks to glorify God through creativity. A CD with downloadable patterns is included.

Taste and See, Beth Jewitt.Faith Alive, 2013. Invite families to attend this two-session course filled with meaningful, hands-on activities to help children understand their baptism and prepare for participation in the Lord’s Supper. This downloadable course (in PDF format) includes complete instructions for each one-hour session—including Bible backgrounds, helpful tips, and reproducible resources—making it easy for a pastor or other church leader to facilitate.
Mary E. Speedy is a retired certified church educator living in Mechanicsburg, PA