April website column: Practicing Congregation

As I hope you know, I do an extended essay at the Hearts & Minds website each month, a column which reviews a particular book or two, or sometimes lists a batch. After some hopefully helpful words on our struggle as booksellers to be both committed to the local church and be known for selling books that are not often available in many other Christian bookstores, we summarized our broad interests in various aspects of God’s Kingdom. We want to be known for selling books that relate faith and all of life—that would be our Kingdom vision, Christian worldview, whole-life discipleship, rejection of neo-Platonic dualism, culture-is-not-optional, Christian faith is wide-as-life perspective talkin’ here—but we also, it seems hardly necessary to say, stock books about the church.*
This month, we list seven of the best new crop of books about congregational life.
We love the church. We sell books about church life, worship, pastoral care, Christian education and all that parish management, body-life, local congregational stuff. We most often review books about culture, philosophy, social change or spiritual formation, so we thought it high-time to post on some new books about nurturing vibrant congregations. Read it here.
*There is conversation over at Comment about whether this cosmic worldview stuff—the legacy of Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, and the movement surrounding the work of Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, now sometimes called neo-Calvinism—in its passion to raise a Godly witness in and for the world, neglects the church, or is somehow uninvolved in church. Please note that my April column was written before Mr. Knauss posted his blistering critique, although my ramblings may seem a response to his concern. I do not know if he is correct, really, but I believe that in principle, the neo-Calvinist worldview is thoroughly commited to solid worship, vibrant church life, good preaching, and caring congregational community. Those that introduced me to this tradition (from the late Francis Schaeffer and Peter Steen, to Al Wolters and Jim Skillen) certainly were/are active in their churches and hold the local body in high regard. Many of us who promote the Lordship of Christ in culture do so in our churches, since we are believe that church revival is essential for cultural reformation.