By: Mary E. Speedy
Check out resources from Annual Event speakers and others who will open your eyes to God’s new things.
When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church, Lillian Daniel. Jericho, 2013.
Playing off the cliché “I’m spiritual but not religious,” Daniel asks if it’s possible (and worthwhile) to search for God through religion? Humorous and sincere, this is a book about people finding God in the most unexpected of places: prisons, airports, yoga classes, committee meetings, and, strangest of all, right there in church. Through stories of what a life of faith can really be: weird, wondrous, and well worth trying—from a rock-and-roller sexton to a BB gun-toting grandma, from a church service attended by animals to a group of unlikely theologians at Sing Sing—Daniel shows us a portrait of church that is flawed, fallible, and deeply faithful. With poignant reflections and sly wit, Daniel invites all of us to step out of ourselves, dare to become a community, and encounter a God greater than we could ever invent.
Tell It Like It Is: Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony, Lillian Daniel. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
This book is about testimony—people standing before brothers and sisters in faith and sharing stories of how God has moved in their lives. Tom Long says this about the book: “With candor, theological insight, and pastoral wisdom, Daniel describes how testimony can deeply affect, and finally transform, the life of a congregation. Prepare to learn here about the practice of testimony, but prepare also to be touched by the courage and honesty of people speaking aloud their experiences of faith.”
20 Ways to Add More Prayer to Your Life, Lillian Daniel. Pilgrim, 2011.
Part of the YOUR LIFE, BETTER series, this book by Daniel offers 20 practical suggestions for making prayer a more regular, rhythmic part of your daily routine and thus to nourish your spiritual side.
This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, Lillian Daniel and Martin B. Copenhaver. Eerdmans, 2009.
This Odd and Wondrous Calling offers something different from most books available on ministry. Two people still pastoring reflect honestly here on both the joys and the challenges of their vocation. Anecdotal and extremely readable, the book covers a diversity of subjects, revealing the incredible variety of a pastor’s day. The chapters move from comedy to pathos, story to theology, Scripture to contemporary culture. This book is both serious and fun and is ideal for those who are considering the ministry or who want a better understanding of their own minister’s life.
The Gospel According to The Wiz: And Other Sermons from Cinema, Otis Moss III. Pilgrim, 2014.
Moss describes himself as, “a jazz-influenced pastor with a hip-hop vibe, committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rooted in love and justice.” And he admits he can talk endlessly about theology, popular culture, and movies, even in his sermons. This collection of sermons features movies such as 12 Years a Slave, The Butler, The Book of El, The Color Purple, The Wiz, Avatar, Flight, and For Colored Girls. Discussion questions are included, making the book ideal for individuals or groups, movie nights and book clubs.
Preach! The Power and Purpose Behind Our Praise, Otis Moss III and Otis Moss, II. Pilgrim, 2012.
Those who long for a refreshing touch of prophetic preaching will have their spirits filled by the penetrating words in Preach! Dynamic father and son preachers Otis Moss, Jr. ,and Otis Moss III share their intuitive words of hope, insight, and inspiration in their first-ever book of sermons. The sermons, which are based on a variety of contemporary topics, include: God Loves the Lost; When Black Men Speak Up for God; The Greatest Invitation: R.S.V.P.; From Moses to Joshua; How to Become a Next-Level Man.
Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality, Cláudio Carvalhaes. Pickwick, 2013.
The ritual of eating and drinking together is one of the most important Christian events. Often called Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, or Communion, this sacrament is about the presence of Christ transforming not only those who participate in it but also the world. In this book, the author engages this Christian liturgical act with movements of people around our globalized world and checks the sacramental borders of hospitality. The author calls our attention to the sacramental practices of Reformed churches and, from this liturgical practice, challenges Christian churches to expand the borders of hospitality.
Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives: Only One is Holy, Cláudio Carvalhaes, ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
The liturgical movement has reached a new and novel turn in its development. The movement was begun to wrestle with what has not yet been engaged—issuing a call to expand itself into other connections and possibilities. This volume brings together Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars from different fields and locations to expand the dialogue between the field of liturgy and postcolonial/de-colonial thinking. Connecting main themes from both fields, the author explores what is at stake in this dialectical scholarship.
Sticky Learning: How Neuroscience Supports Teaching That’s Remembered, Holly J. Inglis, Kathy L. Dawson and Rodger Y. Nishioka (Contributors). Fortress, 2014.
Educators are engaging with neuroscientists to reshape classroom practices, content delivery, curriculum design, and physical classroom spaces to enhance students’ learning and memory, primarily in elementary and secondary education. Why not in seminary education? Inglis provides an overview of how learning occurs in our brain, what the different types of memory are, and how the way memory is created serves as a framework for suggesting pedagogical tools. These brain-friendly tools are specifically applied to individual academic disciplines, enabling instructors to make concrete modifications in the structure and content of what is taught, making learning more ‘sticky.’ This synopsis of the use of neuroscience in the classroom and suggested action is followed by a collaborative dialogue with Dawson and Nishioka. They provide practical commentary regarding the successful implementation of Inglis’s proposed approach.
The Hospitality – The Sacred Art: Discovering the Hidden Spiritual Power of Invitation and Welcome, Nanette Sawyer. Skylight, 2007.
We may think of hospitality as merely being polite to guests, but the ancients understood the profound potential hospitality holds for building and transforming lasting relationships—for binding families together, making strangers into friends, even turning enemies into neighbors. This practical book provides you with the tools you need to cultivate the spiritual power of invitation and welcome in your life. You will discover the qualities of hospitality—receptivity, reverence, and generosity—and how these qualities can significantly deepen your self-understanding as well as your relationships with others and with God. Drawing from sacred texts and spiritual practitioners from all faiths, this book also addresses major stumbling blocks that prevent you from becoming truly hospitable.
(Roots of youth ministry series) Rodger Nishioka may be updating this series. Watch for more information.
Rooted in Love: 52 Meditations and Stories for Youth Ministry Leaders, Rodger Y. Nishioka. Bridge, 1997.
This book’s title says it all—providing a resource for leaders in youth ministry.
Roots of Who We are, Rodger Y. Nishioka. United Church, 2009.
A down-to-earth, easy-to-read exploration of youth ministry and Reformed Theology.
Bible Gateway, www.BibleGateway.com
This site has been around for twenty-plus years, allowing viewers to quickly find Bible passages in different versions as well as to search the Bible by keywords or topics. Today it is a part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing and provides 180 versions of the Bible in 70 languages; about 50 versions are available in English. There is now an app for Gateway.
Presbyterian Governance Comes to Life. Youtube.com
This 2:31 minute overview of how our Presbyterian polity works focuses on General Assembly and how we make decisions. Good discussion starter, especially for new member and confirmation classes. The PCUSA provides other videos that that may also be helpful.
Journey with Jesus – www.journeywithjesus.net
This is a weekly webzine for the global church. Each week the webzine offers a new essay based upon the Revised Common Lectionary, along with a film review, book review, and poem or prayer. The Eighth Day, a column by Debie Thomas, is posted weekly as well.
Bigger on the Inside: Christianity and Doctor Who, Gregory Thornbury and Ned Bustard, eds. Square Halo, 2015.
Like the TARDIS itself, the fanatically popular series Doctor Who is bigger on the inside, full of profound ideas about time and history, the nature of humanity, and the mysteries of the universe. The stories are full of wonder and hope. Perhaps these sci-fi parables can even illuminate the mysteries of faith. This book explores key episodes of the series to discover what light they shed on the contours of Christian thought. Topics include: God the Father, Baptism, Time, Transformation, Evil, Savior, Incarnation, Prayer, Faith, Sanctity of Life, Temptation, Suffering, Story, and Scripture. This could be a great book discussion for the Whovians within our congregations.
God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality, Daniel C. Matt. Skylight, 2014.
Mysticism and science: What do they have in common? How can one enlighten the other? By drawing on modern cosmology and ancient Kabbalah, Matt shows how science and religion can together enrich our spiritual awareness and help us recover a sense of wonder and find our place in the universe. Drawing on the insights of physics and Jewish mysticism, Matt uncovers the sense of wonder and oneness that connects us with the universe and God. He describes in understandable terms the parallels between modern cosmology and ancient Kabbalah. He shows how science and religion together can enrich our spiritual understanding.
Our Religious Brains, Ralph D. Mecklenburger, Skylight, 2012.
This is a groundbreaking, accessible look at the implications of cognitive science for religion and theology, intended for laypeople. Avoiding neurological jargon and respectful to all faiths, it examines current theories on how our brains construct our world in order to guide us safely through life, creating and appreciating meaning as we go. The following are among the topics included: What religious experience is as it plays out in our brains; What cognitive science reveals about our need for community; How modern science challenges historic ideas about free will and undermines the religious concept of the soul as a meta-physical entity separable from the body; Why we should be loyal to one faith if, in fact, all major religious traditions deal effectively with universal human needs.
Brain Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry, Charles Stone. Abingdon, 2015.
Leadership demands constant reframing and reappraisal of the situation at hand. It requires focus, objectivity, honest appraisal of self and others, and evaluation of available resources. An effective Christian church leader must also align the congregation’s vision and practices with God’s vision and the teachings of Christ. Perhaps most importantly, the church leader must love others. Stone uses recent neuroscience research to show how basic brain processes affect leadership. He writes in layperson’s language, with memory-boosting illustrations and acronyms, helping readers to increase productivity, handle stress, create and sustain healthy teams, and manage change in the church. Brain science complements and reinforces Christian teaching on life and leadership; this book will help equip readers to use that science as a tool for improvement for life and for the church.
Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain. Random, 2012.
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. In this book Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
Searching for Sundays: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Rachel Held Evans. Nelson, 2015.
Like millions of her millennial peers, Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals–church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to church. And so she set out on a journey to understand church and to find her place in it. Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest.
Praying with the Body: Bringing the Psalms to Life, Roy DeLion. Parclete, 2014.
Pray with more than just your mind—learn how to use your whole self. In this innovative prayer book, readers are invited to do more than read—they are asked to move in prayer by expressing the Psalms with motion. DeLion explains that this way of praying helps deepen and broaden a relationship with God. It allows the pray-er to better come to understand God as “Holy One”—and in other timeless expressions of the psalmists. This volume provides readers with both prayer tools and companionship. Black and white drawings, showing the postures and expressions of the body, accompany the Scripture texts and explanations. Working together, these elements invite readers to taste, explore, and discover a new and different way of knowing God.
Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers, Michael G. Long. WJK, 2015.
Fred Rogers was one of the most radical pacifists of contemporary history. We do not usually think of him in those terms. We have restricted Fred Rogers to the realm of entertainment, children, and feelings, and we’ve ripped him out of his political and religious context. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and although he rarely shared his religious convictions on his program, he fervently believed in a God who accepts us as we are and who desires a world marked by peace and wholeness. With this progressive spirituality as his inspiration, Rogers used his children’s program as a platform for sharing countercultural beliefs about caring nonviolently for one another, animals, and the earth. The invitation of this book is to see and understand Rogers’s convictions and their expression through his program which, as it turns out, is far from sappy, sentimental, and shallow; it’s a sharp political response to a civil and political society poised to kill.
Rhythms of Worship: The Planning and Purpose of Liturgy, Michael Waschevsk and John G. Stevens. WJK, 2014.
There are many books written for liturgical experts, but not many for laypeople. This book bridges that gap. In clear, everyday language, Waschevski and Stevens describe why Protestants worship and help to equip worship planners and leaders for excellence in their tasks. The authors explore the different elements of the worship service and how each expresses our Christ-centered faith. They also describe the feasts and festivals of the liturgical year, helping the reader understand and appreciate these special times and seasons in worship. An additional chapter considers music and arts in worship. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter invite discussion in local congregations. This book will be a valuable resource for pastors, worship committees, members, and all who engage in worship planning and leadership.
What They Don’t Tell You: A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies, Michael Joseph Brown. WJK, 2015.
Biblical studies courses in college and seminary are not the same as Sunday school classes, a realization that can be challenging for many students. This textbook helps students navigate the unfamiliar terrain of biblical studies. The author provides basic information about the Bible and biblical criticism. He defines the jargon and presents the variety of perspectives students will encounter in the classroom. This new edition has been updated to account for changes in biblical scholarship since the first edition was released in 2000. He has also added a new “rule of thumb,” a discussion of contextualized forms of biblical interpretation, and an appendix with suggestions for getting started on the task of exploring and interpreting biblical texts. This helpful guide will prepare students for the oft-disorienting experience of analyzing and engaging the Bible in academic settings.
Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship, Barbara Newman and Betty Grit. CLC Network, 2014.
Looking for some practical ideas on faith formation in relationship to persons with disabilities? This book provides many ideas for creating an environment where you can introduce the good news of Jesus Christ to a family member or friend with an Intellectual Disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Psalms for Families: Devotions for All Ages, Laura and Robert Keeley. Calvin Institute, 2013.
This devotional e-book for the entire family is designed to help parents explore the riches of the book of Psalms with their children and teens. These devotionals will help all learn more about praise, prayer, and lament in the psalms. This resource contains four devotionals on each of the selected psalms as well as notes for adults that provide additional information and background. Psalms included are 1, 23, 63, 136, 13, 145, 51, 103, 22, 133, and 139
Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults, Robert Keeley. Faith Alive, 2010.
Faith formation doesn’t just happen—it’s a Spirit-led lifelong process of shaping and reshaping. In this accessible anthology, twelve experts share their perspectives on faith formation at home, in worship, in education, in intergenerational contexts, in people with developmental disabilities, and more. This is a great resource for pastors, church leaders, education committees, parents, and educators.
Roger is Reading a Book, Koen Van Biesen. Eerdmans, 2015.
This children’s book is a hilarious, lively story that celebrates the joy of reading. All Roger wants is some peace and quiet so he can read his book. Unfortunately, the girl in the apartment next door has hobbies of her own—very loud hobbies! But when Roger gives the girl a book of her own, she discovers that reading can be just as much fun as playing basketball or banging a drum.
Common English Bible, Deep Blue Bible Version. CEB, 2012.
Designed for kids ages 8-12, young readers join three lifelike kids in discovering the Bible and what it means to their lives. This Bible offers four-color icons and illustrations throughout with a wealth of notes, devotionals, Bible trivia, and other interactive elements to capture inquisitive young minds.
“Discover It” introductions to Bible books include things you’ll discover, people you’ll meet, places you’ll go. They also identify main theme, key verse, and basic timelines that connect the text events to history children learn in school. This edition was recommended by Lib Caldwell to participants at the 2015 EAPCE event.
The Disciples’ Prayer: The Prayer Jesus Taught in Its Historical Setting, Jeffrey B. Gibson. Fortress, 2015.
Christians around the world recite the “Lord’s Prayer” daily, but what exactly are they praying for—and what relationship does it have with Jesus’ own context? Jeffrey B. Gibson reviews scholarship that derives the so-called Lord’s Prayer from Jewish synagogue prayers and refutes it. The genre of the prayer, he shows, is petitionary, and understanding its intent requires understanding Jesus’ purpose in calling disciples as witnesses against “this generation.” Jesus did not mean to teach a unique understanding of God; the prayer had its roots in first-century Jewish movements of protest. It was meant to protect disciples from the temptations of their age and, thus, to strengthen their countercultural testimony.
Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, Amy-Jill Levine. Harper Collins, 2014.
In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. In this offering, she analyzes these “problems with parables,” taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them. Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalized understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about us—and when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.
Crafting Calm: Projects and practices for creativity and contemplation, Maggie Oman Shannon. Viva, 2013.
This resource is chock full of ideas—almost a recipe book for integrating prayer and spiritual practice. The author provides five activities in eight chapters: crafting for calm, clarity, comfort, contemplation, creation, community, connection with others, and connection with Spirit. Questions for inquiry and reflection are provided in each activity with additional poems, quotes, articles as well as directions. She also includes a resource section for further helps.