Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review of Feasting on the Word: Lenten Companion edited by David Bartlett, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Kimberly Bracken Long


Feasting on the Word: Lenten Companion--A Thematic Resource for Preaching and Worship
edited by David Bartlett, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Kimberly Bracken Long
ISBN 978-0-664-25965-5
WJK Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Quietly, Feasting on the Word and Westminster John Knox Press are becoming the go-to resource for pastors and worship leaders who are seeking high quality, biblically-grounded resources to guide them their study and liturgy. This newest Lenten Companion is another great piece to an already irreplaceable series of resources.

The Lenten Companion, like the Advent companion, does not directly follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Instead, provides readings, resources, and commentary based on a set of Lenten readings that focuses on the Gospel of John on Sunays, and on a broad view of fasting through Midweek services. For Weekend services, there is also an old Testament text that is provided, but there is a strong emphasis on the word and works of Jesus during Lent, as is appropriate.

The resources are organized in chronological order. The weekend service materials begin the companion and include liturgical resources, a children's sermon guide, song suggestions, and a fourfold biblical commentary for both the Old Testament and New Testament texts.

The midweek resources are more scripted. They do not include items such as a children's message. They do include a homily that is already written for the preacher to use if they choose.

The Tridium resources are also available for Holy Week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday). They are similar to the midweek service materials, but with a little more depth, in my opinion.

I am not using this resource this year. I was already hard at work planning Lent and its accompanying programs by the time I go to work on it. But if given the opportunity, I do plan to work with this resource in 2016. In fact, I am looking forward to it!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review of Building Your Volunteer Team by Devries and Stratman





Building Your Volunteer Team: A 30 Day Change Project for Youth Ministry
by Mark DeVries and Nate Stratman
ISBN 978-0-8308-4121-9
IVP Praxis
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I was a youth pastor in some form for 13 years. For the last 7 years I have been a solo pastor of churches in Colorado and South Dakota. The last three school years I have been assisting with our youth ministry program while serving as the pastor. If I were to jump back into youth ministry again, I would grab a hold of this book and run with it, implementing the 30 day plan at some point very early in my ministry at my new church.

This book is written by the fine folks at Ministry Architects, a wonderful, thoughtful, research based operation that offers the best in consulting ministry for churches striving to build and grow their youth program. My experience with this organization was very affirming and helpful in my ministry. This book will be a great resource for people eager to build a team of youth ministers, and who at the same time are unsure on how to accomplish that lofty goal of building a ministry team.

Each week has a particular segment of this job to work on, and each day has steps to take in order to build the team in a month. By the end of the month, you should see progress. The back cover guarantees the process. If you purchase the book and don't like the results after thoughtfully implementing the steps, simply return the book and get reimbursed.

This book needs to be on every pastor's bookshelf, and every youth minister's bookshelf as well. It is just that helpful of a book.

Book Review of Faith is Like Skydiving by Rick Mattson











Faith is Like Skydiving And Other Memorable Images for Dialogue with Seekers and Skeptics
by Rick Mattson
ISBN 978-0-8308-4411-1
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

When I was in college, my friend was trying to figure out relationship issues. He became my roommate, and we would check out Gary Smalley videos from the local library and discuss them. Smalley's videos described the process of using "emotional word pictures" with one's spouse and children in order to effectively communicate what was on one's heart. The idea was that the communication was more effective when one used these word pictures than when one simply used concrete statements. Rick Mattson takes a similar approach, and strangely enough he applies this approach to the task of Christian apologetics in Faith Is Like Skydiving.

Each chapter in Faith is Like Skydiving takes on a different issue in explaining and defending the faith. Each chapter has a phrase that is an easily memorable title. That phrase addresses a certain objection to the Christian faith with a word picture than serves as shorthand for an intellectual argument against the objection to faith. It is a brilliant idea. And it helps folks communicate what they believe well and remember what they have learned about defending the faith easily.

This would be a great book to read alone. It would be an even better book to go through in a group and discuss chapter by chapter.


Book Review of The Evangelism Study Bible




The Evangelism Study Bible
Notes by Evantell
ISBN 978-0-8254-2662-4
Kregel Academic and Minstry
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Each year there are several new study Bibles that hit the market. Some of them are oriented toward niche markets (hunters, housewives etc), while others of them are paired with new insights. The Evangelism Study Bible is oriented toward a mission, namely reaching unbelievers and convincing them to place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Somebody did a lot of work in putting the notes to accompany this NKJV bible. There are several "verse notes" at the bottom of the page like a traditional Bible. There are many helpful cross-references. There are several larger articles within each book of the Bible speaking to how specific texts will be helpful to evangelistic endeavors or insightful in showing God's mission throughout Scripture. There are also several helpful devotional articles that one could use even in teaching and preaching.In addition to this, there are evangelism "tips" throughout the notes as well. The back of the bible has a guide to sharing one's faith with others. This study Bible also have a helpful concordance

I think this would be a great study Bible for either a person that wants to become a better evangelist, or someone who wants to use the many resources enclosed to reach their friends and neighbors and teach others to do the same.