I need some suggestions – top 3-5

I am moving into the next phase of my life (slowly…), where I am to be the senior minister at a church. Since the vast majority of Christians that I know either can’t remember what was taught at their baptism/confirmation/communicant’s class, and they haven’t really bothered to pay much attention since, I feel like I have my work cut out for me in terms of taking a congregation in maintenance mode and moving them towards being on mission with God.

If you were to recommend 3 to 5 books as resources for either broadening a believer’s horizons to encompass the scholarly responsible Jesus, or simply a great introduction to our faith, which would they be?


2 thoughts on “I need some suggestions – top 3-5

  1. David

    I have a hard time giving recommendations like this because I believe book suggestions are deeply specific to each individual context, church, and person. So based on a where a person is, would be what I would suggest. For a church class on a topic, I normally roll my own book and make a “compendium” of articles and then talk about and discuss the articles. I like to think of the compendium as strategic interventions with the hopes of cultivating a curiosity for learning more, asking questions and then following up on the topic.

    Still I don’t wish to be totally obtuse so some “starter” conversation books that I think can be helpful are:
    my favorite devotion ever that is very helpful for spiritual contemplation and reflection:
    The Artists Way

    For hymns:
    Jann-Alderidge Clanton’s wonderful hymns
    C. Michael Hawn’s – Halle, Halle and other ones

    Amy-Jill Levine – Jesus the Misunderstood Jew. for all churches a solid text that can work for many people.
    John De Gruchy – Liberating Reformed Theology for those in the reformed/Presbyterian tradition. This should be read with the super short South African – “Kairos Document”
    Serene Jones – Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Themes: A Project of The Workgroup On Constructive Christian Theology. Solid intro with multiple interludes on a variety of topics. I like that it is an easy read, compelling and each section has a different author, voice and perspective.

    Those would be my three suggestions. Still I think the Q&A approach works well have people write down the questions they are wondering about, or have doubts about and work from there, with a strong focus on the actionable, political, ethical, and spiritual components of the reflection. Often I find that it is easier to work people up to books by doing like teaching and reflection journals and using smaller digestible pieces.

    For example if a congregation has never dealt or thought about the role of women as ministers Leonard Swidler’s classic “Jesus was a Feminist” is a good place to start. It’s highly problematic contemporarily but it is worth working up to.

  2. RodtRDH

    In working with a congregation in my experience, I believe that walking them in baby steps is the way to go. Why is knowing Jesus’ history important in the first place? We live in history, God lives in history, God acts and is be-ing a certain way, and that is Jesus.

    I have always dreamed of starting with The Politics of Jesus for a congregation, especially chapters 1 & 2.


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