It has been a whirlwind of a week, delivering books to the Christian Adventure Association (where we offer books about rock-climbing, backwoods safety, creation-care, and devotionals inspired by the awe of creation, and some important things on experiential education), a UCC retreat on spirituality (using icons, so we sold some of our wonderful books on iconography), a book display with the prestigious scholar Philip Jenkins (Derry Presbyterian in Hershey brings in the best speakers! We were the first place in the country to get his brand new Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses [HarperOne; $26.99]), and our beloved yearly trek to Wee Kirk, an event for leaders of small, often rural, congregations. And we got boxes of books up to First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Erie, PA, where Eric Metaxas will be speaking, lecturing on his book on Wilberforce, his book on Bonhoeffer (now out in paperback) and his brand new spectacular collection of lectures by famous Christian thinkers (which I advertised on facebook, Socrates in the City:Conversations on “Life, God, and Other Small Topics.”) I might even be able to swing an autographed copy of any of his stuf if you email us in the next few days.
If you follow me on twitter you may have seen, too, that I spoke three times on Saturday at Shippensburg University to a gathering of students wanting to relate faith and life, thinking Christianly about their callings and college careers, and how to see God’s Kingdom as a key to shaping their vision for passionate, meaningful, culturally-relevant faith. The CCO staff over there put it together so of course we celebrated the launching of the new Jubilee 2012 website; the new slogan reminds us of God’s care for all of life: “Everything Matters.” I loved meeting these young collegiates and thank them for allowing me into their lives. I meant it when I read an excerpt of Gabe Lyon’s great book The Next Christians (Doubleday; $19.99) and said it was a book about them!
Today we are busy ordering books on family life for a resource center at a great mainline church in Townsend, MD and researching titles we’ll take to a palliative care conference for nurses and hospice workers (sponsored by our local hospital) and I’m trying to work on book reviews that I do regularly for Q: Ideas, Comment magazine, and CPJ’s Capitol Commentary. And–oh yeah–Beth is packing a rented truck which we will drive to one of the coolest things we do all year: the Christian Legal Society’s annual conference for lawyers and others working in the field of law. What an inspiring, important organization!
All of this reminds me not only of how many friends we have all over and how grateful we are to partner with folks who need books provided for events, conference, book tables and such.
DO OTHERS REALIZE HOW GREAT THIS ALL IS?
And it makes me wonder if most Christians get to see what we see—a vibrant and robust living out of faith in such varying venues and areas. From conversations about making a living in farming in small towns (at Wee Kirk) to struggling with questions of global peacemaking and responsible interfaith dialogue (Jenkins) to how church and society can be transformed by learning about the radical social witness of evangelical leaders like Wilberforce or Bonhoeffer (or Metaxas himself, as his innovative work in NYC through Socrates in the City shows.) The books we have and the way we are invited to get them to various sorts of faith communities and the good folk we meet along the way illustrates to us that God is alive and well, that the reign of Christ is bringing hope and renewal and new social initiatives to the fore, as a modern-day reformation is quietly bubbling here and there.
My friends David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyon wrote in UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why It Matters (Baker; $17.99) several years ago about how, despite all these good ministries, an abundance of quality folks, and grace-filled, innovative Christian witness going on, many younger adults remained convinced that the church is stuffy (at best), irrelevant, even mean. Of course there is enough truth in the accusation that we must sadly shake our heads and agree and say we are sorry. Unchristian documented both the negative stereotypes and reputations which Christians and churches have these days and also offered stories and examples of folks who are working hard–out of faithfulness to Christ for the glory of God–to change the public reputation of the Christian community.
DAVID KINNAMAN RELEASES NEW RESEARCH: YOU LOST ME
As I said in my review of it in last month’s monthly review column, David Kinnaman has a brand new book out, in some ways a follow up to the best-selling Unchristian. It is called You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith (Baker; $17.99) which is specifically a study of young adults who were once part of a faith community and who now reject their faith or have at least significant reconsider its role in their lives. That is, it is about 20-somethings who have drifted or dropped out of their previous church involvement.
This is a tragedy, and it is an epidemic. Kinnaman’s book gives us good tools to understand these youth and their reasons for leaving the church of their youth. In my review I offered a link to a video of David describing one part of the book (the part where he groups many who have left the church into one of three categories which he calls, Nomads, Prodigals, and Exiles.) I also had embedded a cool promo video of him describing You Lost Me inviting us to start a conversation about, and hopefully with, those who have doubts or dissents about church, and want us to talk with them “without freaking out,” as one guy puts it. It is worth watching, and worth sharing. I am very, very excited about this book and think it deserves to be read in every church who has any youth still coming. Parents? Teachers? Campus ministers? Twenty-somethings who worry about their own friends? This book can help.
Will you do us a favor? We would be very, very grateful if you passed that page of my review on to others so they can see that we are promoting this new, important book.
We are sponsoring “An Evening with David Kinnamon” hosted by the Liquid Tuesdays young adult group over at Living Word Community Church. LWCC is on Rt 24 outside of Red Lion, PA, just a few miles from our shop here in Dallastown. Other groups or churches might have hosted this for us, but LWCC has long been supportive of our work, has this great young adult group, and, frankly, serves the best coffee of any church around. I’m not kidding, about the coffee or about that being part of my reason for wanting them to partner with us to host it. As is the case in so many things, LWCC does a great job. The event is free, open to the public, and there is ample parking. There will be some worship music, a talk by David, some conversation replying to his presentation and then time to purchase his books and get them autographed.
Beth and I opened Hearts & Minds as an indie business in South-Central PA 30 years ago next month. In October ’82 we were renovating the building with friends from Pittsburgh who moved here for a bit to help us. It is amazing to think of God’s faithfulness, our fantastic staff, and the many great customers we have had over the years. This public event with Kinnaman sort of feels like an anniversary celebration of sorts, even though it is addressing a topic that is for some of use, profoundly heartbreaking.
God is so good, the Kingdom way of living so exciting, and Christ’s gospel so precious that I cannot imagine folks not wanting in on it. But, still, so many teens and young adults, including ones we all know and love, have said “you lost me.” In the last 30 years of bookselling, including a lot of time spent with young adults through the CCO and other campus ministry organizations, we’ve seen post-high school age folks whose lives have been transformed by the gospel, who are active in good congregations, who through God’s grace have found their way to serious faith. Some of our best customers are youngish. We know there are ways to keep students from drifting, ways to keep young people involved, ways to attract twenty-somethings to congregational life and real faith.
Won’t you come and join us as we listen to David Kinnaman, the owner of The Barna Group, author of You Lost Me, as he speaks on Tuesday, October 25th, at Living Word Community Church, at 7:00 pm. If you aren’t in the area, could you help us spread the word? Thanks.