New Youth Ministry Resources

Do you minister to youth or their parents? Several newly published resources offer both useful tools for youth ministry and big picture strategies.

Cultivating Teen Faith: Insights from the Confirmation Project. If you’re looking for an overall plan and strategy for effective youth ministry, this is the book for you. Lisa Kimball and Kate Siberine’s article on mentoring relationships in youth ministry is a must-read for anyone doing youth ministry. Release date of November 13, paperback for list price of $22.

Find Your Fit: Unlock God’s Unique Design for Your Talents, Spiritual Gifts, and Personality by Kevin Johnson; Jane Kise; Karen Eilers. This is the book I wish had been around during my own teen years. This interactive guide includes a spiritual gifts & talents inventory, a values inventory, personality inventory, plus career interest inventory – all in one place. Great for older teens and young adults to figure out where they’re going in their lives. Release date of December 4, paperback for $15.

Tough Stuff Parenting: Helping Your Kids Navigate Faith and Culture by Paul Basden, Jim Johnson.  This excellent book takes a brutally realistic approach to all the hot topics we as parents must discuss with our kids. Drugs, sex, parties, alcohol, same-sex attractions, racism, porn, suicide: the authors bravely tackle how to discuss all these issues from a Christian perspective. They don’t get preachy or judgmental, however, and I appreciated this. They acknowledge that young people and adults drink, have sex outside of marriage, and have issues of all kinds. Coming early Jan. 2019, $15 pre-order price.

How to Connect with Your Troubled Adult Children: Effective Strategies for Families in Pain  by Allison Bottke. If parenting has gone seriously amiss and your child has gone completely off the rails, this book is for you. The author lets you know you aren’t alone, gives you sound advice on how to deal with your child’s manipulations, financial demands, and repeated bouts with the law. Just published in paperback for about $12.

Blessings on your ministry to youth, as parents or as church professionals,

Cindy

 

 

 

New Resources for Adult Christian Formation

Several new resources have just been released, all appropriate for adult Christian formation groups or individual use. Here’s my list of recommendations of new resources.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. A wonderfully written invitation to do ministry right where you are, in your own neighborhood and with people you encounter each and every day. This young woman and mom of several kids tells how her own concept of “ministry” changed after she moved to a low income urban area. She urges everyone to go and seek out neighbors – and ministry – among the forgotten corners of their own cities and towns. Just published, available in e-book, paperback, audio, and CD.

The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart. The author does a great job of connecting the current trend of minimalism with Christian ethics. She tells the story of moving out of a suburban home in Florida to truly minimalist digs on a farm in Texas (compost toilets included). Great for church groups in connecting Christianity to environmental stewardship. Published September 2018, available in paperback and Kindle.

Dreaming with God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God’s Lead by Sarah-Beth Marr. The author uses her former career as a ballerina to encourage readers to follow new calls and go forward in their life journeys. Beautifully written and excellent for those feeling “stuck” in their lives or careers and ready to do something new. Available in both e-book and paperback for about $10 – a bargain.

Coming this spring…

Purpose by Jordan Dooley.  This book truly inspired me. The author addresses woman going through all kinds of everyday stress and challenges: frustration, perfectionism, shame, rejection, insecurities, and other obstacles to peace and well-being. Her audience is younger women, but this middle-aged gal found it helpful as well. Dooley is a terrific storyteller and uses metaphors from everyday life that anyone can relate to. Perfect for church women’s groups. Coming in March 2019.

Enjoy some great reading this fall! Blessings, Cindy

New Books on Christian Living and Spirituality

Hello Readers!  After taking the last several months off to complete two first-draft manuscripts, I’m back to blogging. Now that I’ve come up for air, I’m delighted to report that I’m also back to reviewing new books and sharing my thoughts and recommendations.

I know many of my followers are Episcopalians, and I want to let you know about several new books on Christian living and spirituality that have been published lately or will be published soon. Here are some new titles you’ll want to check out (and possibly use in adult forums, book clubs, or just for personal devotionals):

Richard Rohr, Just This. Highly recommended for fans of Richard Rohr. This book includes brief one-page devotionals; it would be great for daily use or to take on a retreat. I would recommend this for the spiritually mature. For “seekers” or those unfamiliar with Rohr, I would read one of his other books first.

Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Retreat. Highly recommended, especially for retreat leaders, adult Christian formation leaders, and conference or retreat center staff.  This book makes the case for taking quiet, alone time for yourself to discern what’s working (and not working) in your life, what God might be calling you to do, and what you might need to let go. The book covers both the “big picture” concepts and more practical advice for your own retreat. The imagery of this book was particularly helpful.  I appreciated that this book reached out to all Christians. The author includes nods to those in more Evangelical traditions, Episcopalians (including references to the Book of Common Prayer), Roman Catholics, and anyone seeking spiritual growth and refreshment. Liturgies and suggestions for retreat reading materials are included, along with differentiation between silent retreats, “preached retreats,” or purely solitary retreat time in your own space. (Coming in September, available for pre-order now.)

Bob Goff, Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People.  I loved this book. Bob Goff is a terrific storyteller who tells marvelous stories of “becoming love” to neighbors, a homeless guy who shacks up in his truck, and even witch doctors. (Yes, witch doctors. The fingerprints on the cover are from actual witch doctors in Uganda.) Highly recommended for uplifting, inspirational, engaging stories about daily living-out of the Christian faith. Perfect for seekers and mature Christians alike. Great for adult forums, book clubs, and for personal use.

Cynthia Coe is the author of several resources to introduce children, youth, and adults to environmental stewardship. Visit her author page on Amazon here.   

 

 

 

Done With Church – Listening & Understanding Why

Many of you reading this either work for the Church or attend regularly and enthusiastically. But you know, deep down, that the number of people attending church in the US continues to drop.

A recent report on Knoxville’s WBIR announced that 80% of Knoxvillians either identify as having “no religion” or are “done” with religion – and this is in the Bible Belt!  Forty percent of those surveyed in a study commissioned by a local mega church showed that of this 80%, 40% are “dones” – those who once faithfully attended church but are, literally, done with it all. Often, these “dones” were among the most active members of their church right before they walked out the door.

In my mind, the rise of the Dones – especially those of whom were very active church members – is a puzzling and potentially disastrous situation church leaders really need to pay attention to. Losing the “nones” is one thing; losing people who once devoted their time, talents and money and then completely walk away is a whole different kind of culture shock that ought to get the church’s attention. Denial about the situation won’t do any good (and I think that’s the pervasive response at the moment.)

Instead, the church might well listen to those who have left the church – and perhaps look in the mirror at their own behaviors that are killing the institution they love. Yes, we all know some of the reasons for the “dones” – the lack of time for church, increasing competition for children’s afterschool and weekend hours, and the disillusionment of churchgoers after a small minority of clergy commit crimes or totally drop the ball when it comes to basic morality.  But I think there’s more behind the “done” movement.

People Are Exasperated with Church Tribalism: In the book Church Refugees: Why People are Done with Their Church But Not Their Faith, sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope found that the main reason active church members became “dones” was a lack of opportunity for growth within the church. Church bureaucracy gets in the way of getting meaningful work done. Churchgoers are tired of the church power structure, which often is primarily concerned with keeping the church hierarchy in place.

I would add to this what I’ve experienced as exasperation with the tribalism and clique-ishness of churches, at local, regional and national levels. Getting work done in the church is almost always dependent on whether you’re part of one clique or another. A lot of potentially great ministry has been nipped in the bud by leaders who feel threatened by others (particularly newcomers) or don’t want to acknowledge the gifts of people in competing tribes.  For an institution that prides itself on “inclusion,” a lot of us sure have felt excluded time and time again.

I suspect people have always felt hostility and resentment against this kind of tribalism in past years. But now, it is socially acceptable to say “no” and to simply walk away. People are fed up, and finally, they are taking on meaningful activities outside the church.

Ministry Really is Out in the World: Churches preach Jesus’ commandment to “go ye into all the world,” but the church definition of “ministry” almost always involves ministering to others solely within the context and framework of the institutional church. The reality is that people do ministry each and every day in their jobs, in their personal lives, and as part of other organizations – medical professionals, social workers, caretakers of the elderly, full time moms, Scout leaders, people simply sharing acts of kindness to strangers and neighbors alike. Yet the church rarely acknowledges these contributions or “counts” them as ministry connected to Christianity.

I wish The Church would acknowledge the “ministry” many church goers and non-church goers alike do outside the walls of the church. I wish The Church would acknowledge the many financial contributions people give to worthy charitable organizations or even to family or friends in need.

The Church is not one-stop shopping for giving, doing, and believing. And the Dones and Nones have already figured that out.

Recommended Books on the Dones and Nones:

Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope, Church Refugees: Why People are Done with Their Church But Not Their Faith (This is by far the most insightful book I’ve read on the subject of Dones and why they’ve left the church. Highly recommended).

Elizabeth Drescher, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones.

Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration:How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking A Better Way to Be Christian.

Linda A Mercadante, Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.

Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies: Finding Peace & Harmony with the Everyday World Around Us and two novels. For more information, please see her Author Page on Amazon.