If you didn’t gather from my last few posts, I can say it bluntly: our founding vision here at Hearts & Minds included selling books about, and trying to generate conversations about, the most basic ways in which the Christian faith shapes and informs daily life, ways of being in the world, and how a Christian worldview can help us see as God sees. (Ahhh, that Bono line from that U2 song haunts, doesn’t it? …to see as you see…) And, in seeing aright, to live
throughout our days in a way that is consistent with the truths we say and sing in worship. That is, we hope that our books can help you honor God by connecting the worship of Sunday liturgy and the worship of Monday work. I hope you don’t think we are eccentric for believing that books like Living at the Crossroads can make significant impacts in how we understand and live out faith. We think it can make a difference. We are very proud, and think it says something of our intent 25-some years ago that among our first “in-store” author appearances was Brian Walsh, who wrote one of the very first books on a Christian world-and-life view (The Transforming Vision.) If you appreciate our reviews and our efforts to be a different sort of religious bookstore, this will help you understand why.
I hope you give such worldview books to your pastor, as it is something that, I am confident, he or she did not study in seminary. If they were fortunate, they perhaps had some talk about the role of their laity in the marketplace, how to affirm folks in their callings and careers, and some reminder that the Kingdom of God includes more than the renewal of the institutional church. Maybe they gave a nod to social action, works of mercy, a reminder that homelife is the setting for most ordinary Christian living. Mostly, although they studied Greek and doctrine, counseling and worship, they haven’t been well trained in honoring the engineers, film-makers, cubicle workers or physical therapists in their churches.
That is (obviously) not to say they don’t care. It is only to say that they, too, need to be nurtured in the wide-as-life gospel and the worldview books we sell might help get at that. It could remind them what it means to be agents of the Kingdom, not the church, and how to equip folks not just for service within the congregation, but within the worlds of work, education, media, neighborhood and civic life. Many are using the language of “missional” these days, but they still sometimes forget how that includes ordinary folks in their real world jobs and callings. Thank God for pastors that do that, even though their intuitions about this were squeezed out of them in seminary.
And so, in speaking at two pastor’s conferences this fall, I highlighted a recent book published by the Faith as a Way of Life Project at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture . Called Faith as a Way of Life: A Vision for Pastoral Leadership by Christian Scharen (Eerdmans; $15.00) it is the only book I know of that is based on research done among working pastors asking how they, indeed, equip and nurture and inspire their congregants to see faith not as an “add on” to life, but as a very way of life. I have the privilege of knowing a few guys who were consultants this project and who served on a scholarly team to help ask the right questions of pastors. Just how do they invite parishioners to think about faith as the lifeblood of daily living, not just an optional activity or one more thing they do, religious services they “buy” as busy, consumeristic Americans?
As I’ve mentioned before here at the blog, this good book is useful for pastors to help remind them that they are not alone in this daunting task of making disciples who can serve God, non-conformed to the pressures of the current culture, but who “think Christianly” as business men or women, medical caregivers, sports fans, writers, parents, teachers, cops or cardiologists.
To make it easier, it focuses on four main spheres of culture, four arenas or contexts for discipleship. How can pastors think faithfully, and help their people think and live faithfully, in work and business, civic life and politics, family life and relationships, recreational life and entertainment/leisure/the arts?
Does pastoral excellence center on the ability to foster and shape communities who embrace God’s give of grace in such a way that it compels them to life out faith 24/7, as they say, forming, together, a way of life that is informed by Biblical values and Christian insights? Does pastoral excellence help people make meaning, integrate faith and life, see Christianly and life faithfully? Few would doubt it. Few, though, have learned the practices of that kind of pastoral care. We are happy to suggest this book as a resource towards worldviewish churches, and pastoring to foster faith as a way of life.
WHILE I’M AT IT:
Lasting Investments: A Pastor’s Guide for Equipping Workplace Leaders to Leave a Spiritual Legacy by Kent Humphreys (NavPress; $11.99) is a mostly unknown little gem that, as Steve Hayner has said, is “Explosive!” For pastors with a keen desire to serve their business leaders, equipping them for marketplace ministry, this is a must.
The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for Those Who Serve God, The Church and the World by Mava Dawn (Eerdmans; $16) seems appropriate to mention tonight. Marva wrote the spectacular and seminal book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly where she invites us to think through four aspects of refreshing sabbath keeping, and here, a decade later, she revisits them for the rest of the week. For pastors, for those who want to live out a restful and healing way of life, for those who are thinking about both sabbath and calling, spirituality and society, the relationship of prayer and politics, the inner journey and the outward mission, this is clear-eyed and visionary. Mark Buchanan calls it “prophetic and pragmatic” and it seems a wise and weighty ally in this project of nurturing faith as a way of life. This is worldview rich, although I doubt she uses the word more than once. Great for pastors.