April 2022 Selection

April 2022 Selection

This selection includes several books on church ministry. 

Auckland Catholic writer Neil Darragh asks What is the Mission of the Local Church?

Andrew Root tells us that instead of resisting decline, congregations must remain open to divine action.

Catherine McNiel urges us to keep declaring and demonstrating God’s love and to follow Jesus in practicing love over fear, even in unsafe times and places.

We are delighted to now be able to offer Timaru writer Rosie Staite’s book Faith Bright Shining as a PDF eBook. Rosie’s Tried and True Resources for All-Age Worship Volumes 1 & 2 are also available from us in PDF format.

I’m looking forward to reading John Dominic Crossan’s new book Render Unto Caesar.

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 3 April 2022]

Fearing Bravely:
Risking Love for Our Neighbors,
Strangers, and Enemies
Catherine McNiel.
Pbk. 224pp. ISBN 9781641583268.

NavPress. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

God instructs us to welcome strangers. We are not to withhold hospitality or help from anyone in need. So why do we fear strangers, especially those needing hospitality, afraid that their presence may threaten what we have?

Jesus taught us to love our enemies. We are to pray for those who actively harm us. Instead, we create enemies in our minds, seeing anyone who thinks, believes, looks, or lives differently from us as dangerous, a threat to our way of living.

The Christian community exists to declare and demonstrate God’s love and to follow Jesus in practicing love over fear, even in unsafe times and places. It’s time to reclaim our brave fear of God and risk transformative love for the sake of our neighbours, the strangers among us, and our enemies.

Catherine McNiel writes with conviction, wisely guiding us to recognize our fear and, with God’s help, not let it limit us to love courageously all who are among us.

Trauma-Informed Pastoral Care:
How to Respond When Things Fall Apart
Karen A. McClintock.
Pbk. 196pp. ISBN 9781506480718.

Fortress Press. (2022).
1 only in stock at $30.00.
(When that copy has sold, the new regular price will be $53.50.)

Pastoral psychologist Karen A. McClintock offers clergy competence and confidence as they care for trauma victims in their congregations and communities, provides practical skills to lower the risk of secondary trauma, and suggests culturally sensitive models for healing.

Collating the latest insights about trauma-informed care from the rapidly shifting disciplines of neuropsychology, counselling, and theology, she explains the body’s instinctual stress patterns during and after trauma, guides readers through self-reflection and self-regulation in order to care for others.

McClintock particularly attends to the fact that across a lifetime in ministry, clergy accumulate and need to regularly heal multiple traumatic wounds. As a pastor and psychologist, she is perfectly positioned to help clergy recognise symptoms of trauma and commit to healing individual, community, and generational trauma with care and cultural sensitivity.

But What Is the Church For?:
What is the Mission of the Local Church.
Neil Darragh.
Pbk. 204pp. ISBN 9781666732917.

Wipf & Stock. (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

What is the church really for? Some people are members of the church because it’s part of their family tradition or their culture or their identity. Others have left the church because that’s all it is in fact. Is it the best way to salvation or a way of coming closer to God?

In any case, the church is not just for us or the benefits we get out of it. Very few of us would say that this is what the church is really for. There is surely something more here, something more generous, life-giving, outgoing, and gracious than what we personally get out of it.

This book is about the church’s outreach beyond itself – its purpose beyond any benefits for those already its members. This book is not about a church looking inwards and worrying about itself, but about a church looking outwards. The local Christian community that we belong to is part of that much bigger, much more exhilarating project of the evolving realm of God.

“But What is the Church For? asks a very important and challenging question essential for any follower of Christ today… My hope is that this book will be read, prayed with, reflected on deeply, so that in living the gospel, all will work for the good of one another, our society, our world.”  John Cardinal Dew, Archbishop of Wellington.

Churches and the Crisis of Decline:
A Hopeful, Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age
(Ministry in a Secular Age #4 )
Andrew Root.
Pbk. 320pp. ISBN 9781540964816.

Baker Academic. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

This book pushes the church to be a waiting community that recognizes that the only way for it to find life is to stop seeing the church as the star of its own story. Instead of resisting decline, congregations must remain open to divine action. Root offers a rich vision for the church’s future that moves away from an obsession with relevance and resources and toward the living God.

Congregations often seek to combat the crisis of decline by using innovation to produce new resources. But leading practical theologian Andrew Root shows that the church’s crisis is not in the loss of resources; it’s in the loss of life – and that life can only return when we remain open to God’s encountering presence.

This new book, related to Root’s critically acclaimed Ministry in a Secular Age project, addresses the practical form the church must take in a secular age. Root uses two stories to frame the book: one about a church whose building becomes a pub and the other about Karl Barth. Root argues that Barth should be understood as a pastor with a deep practical theology that can help church leaders today.

“Perhaps you’ve met Barth the intimidating theologian, but have you met Barth the pastor to pastors? Root introduces today’s church to the Karl Barth it never knew, artfully putting this theologian in conversation with a church that is fearful about the future. If you are worried about the fate of your church (and who isn’t these days?), this is a book you must read.” Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School; United Methodist bishop, retired.

Now in PDF eBook format!

Faith Bright Shining:
A personal memoir of faith and leadership: Stained Glass windows to kitchen tables.
Rosie Staite.
PDF ISBN 9780473598099.

Rosie Staite – NZ. (2021).
Order at our Payhip store
and download immediately

Rosie Staite’s memoir of faith is a clear, insightful story of her work in the churches and out in the community. Her leadership was valued within Canterbury Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches within a context of transition.

“The story is warm, engaging and humble. Rosie is both able to reflect deeply on her wide and varied life experience, and to live fully with faith and gratitude.” Rev. Dr Jenny Dawson

“Because it is so deeply personal and unique to each person, the notion of vocation is best articulated through story. That is precisely what Rosie Staite gives us in this beautifully written memoir, which describes not just her journey into ministry, but also the inclusive, pioneering and ever-evolving shape of that ministry.

Rosie’s narrative makes for captivating reading, but so too does her poetry … full of rich imagery and insight. My hunch is that readers of this memoir will not only be better informed for having read it; they will be encouraged and inspired. Thank you, Rosie.” Very Rev. Dr Graham Redding

Rosie’s Tried and True Resources for All-Age Worship Volumes 1 & 2 are also available from in PDF format for $20.00 each.
The Payhip button above will take you to Rosie’s PDF eBook listings on our site.

On Earth as in Heaven:

Daily Wisdom for Twenty-First Century Christians
NT Wright.
Hbk. 400pp. ISBN 9780063210899.

HarperOne. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

One of today’s leading Bible scholars, Anglican bishop, and acclaimed author N. T. Wright returns with a collection of pastoral excerpts, carefully curated from his widely celebrated books, that will inspire those wanting to cultivate a life “on earth as it is in heaven.”

With reflections on themes such as faith, mission, character, and God’s work in the world, these daily meditations will invigorate and uplift Christians in their search to live their faith authentically and biblically in today’s world.

“Structured around the liturgical year, the excerpts delve into some of Wright’s most profound theological commitments while remaining accessible to readers who haven’t read Wright before. The underlying narrative is how God’s deep love for the world transforms us through Christ.” The Christian Century

Sacred Conversation:
Exploring the Seven Gifts of Spiritual Direction.
Marsha Crocket.
Pbk. 128pp. ISBN 9780835819930.

Upper Room. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Marsha Crockett introduces readers to seven gifts of spiritual direction: awakening, hospitality, story, pilgrimage, silence, meditation, and belonging.

God created humans with the desire to both know others and be known. People weren’t meant to go it alone on their spiritual journeys, and God has provided many fellow travellers to accompany us.

Some of these fellow pilgrims – spiritual directors – are called to walk the spiritual path with others. The spiritual director, however, does not seek to tell their counterpart how to live out the faith. Instead, the spiritual director accompanies others on their spiritual journey and helps them discover how God may be working in their lives.

Each chapter contains reflection questions for individuals to use in conversation with their spiritual director, as prompts for journaling, or for sharing with small groups.

The Good for Nothing Tree.
Amy-Jill Levine; Sandy Sasso Eisenberg; Annie Bowler.
Hbk. 40pp. ISBN 9781947888319.

Flyaway Books (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks]

A tiny fig tree needs time to grow. But how much time? All four seasons go by … and there are no figs. The seasons pass again. Still no figs! Is the fig tree good for nothing?

Inspired by the parable of the Barren Fig Tree, The Good for Nothing Tree reminds us that the sweetest figs, like many other things, are worth waiting for. Not every tree – and not every child  – grows at the same pace. Yet patience, care, and love can change everything, making what may appear good for nothing very good.

A note about the parable’s New Testament origins and a recipe are included.

Means of Grace:
A Year of Weekly Devotions.
Fleming Rutledge.
Hbk. 279pp. ISBN 9780802878700.

Eerdmans. (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Means of Grace is a weekly devotional culled from the sermons of beloved pastor and theologian Fleming Rutledge, organised according to the framework of the liturgical calendar. Each entry, compiled and edited by Rutledge’s friend Laura Bardolph Hubers, begins with a biblical passage and ends with a short prayer.

Those familiar with Rutledge’s work will recognize both her genuine empathy for human experience and her deep reverence for God. Anyone longing for the wise pastoral guidance of an adept veteran preacher – one who views Scripture not as bland life lessons or timeless teaching but as “the living God present and acting in the story of redemption” – will find here a meaningful companion through the seasons of their spiritual journey that they can return to year after year.

Just one reflection per week to mull over and consider what God might be saying at that moment.

Dust in the Blood:
A Theology of Life with Depression
Jessica Coblentz.
Pbk. 248pp. 9780814685020.

Liturgical Press. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

“Honoring first-person experiences of depression – including her own – Jessica Coblentz proposes ways of speaking theologically about depression that make space for the meaninglessness that so many depression sufferers know well.

She turns to biblical stories of wilderness and the unsettling story of Hagar to offer a theological account of living with depression that takes dislocation and isolation seriously.

Even as most of the wilderness stories lack resolution, Coblentz points to ways in which God shows up in those desolate spaces. She also offers a vision for what it means to accompany those who live with depression, including advocating for more access to psychiatric resources and care.

A compelling and powerful addition to theological conversations about those who suffer from depression and all of us who love them.”

Deanna A. Thompson,
Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy, St. Olaf College

Render Unto Caesar:
The Struggle Over Christ and Culture in the New Testament.
John Dominic Crossan.
Hbk. 304pp. ISBN 9780062964939.

HarperOne. (2022).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

“Captivating. Render Unto Caesar is accessible, and inspiring, a true gift to modern people of faith. Crossan’s signature historical analysis provides insights into our modern cultural divisions, showing how modern Christians can work to resist corrupt governments and reform our society for the common good.” Brandan Robertson, Activist and Author

Leading Bible scholar John Dominic Crossan, the author of the pioneering work The Historical Jesus (NZ$48), provides new insight into the Christian culture wars which began in the New Testament and persist strongly today.

In the texts of Luke-Acts, Rome is considered favourably. In the book of Revelations, Rome is seen as the embodiment of evil in the world. Yet there is an alternative to these two extremes, Crossan explains. The historical Jesus and Paul, the earliest Christian teachers, were both strongly opposed to Rome, yet neither demonized the Empire.

Crossan sees in Jesus and Paul’s approach a model for Christians today that can be used to cut through the acrimony and polarization roiling our society and dividing us.

Restless Devices:
Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age.
Felicia Wu Song.
Pbk. 232pp. ISBN 9780830851133.

IVP Academic. (2021).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

We’re being formed by our devices. Today’s digital technologies are designed to captivate our attention and encroach on our boundaries, shaping how we relate to time and space, to ourselves and others, even to God. Our natural longing for relationship makes us vulnerable to the industrializing effects of social media.

While we enjoy the benefits of digital tech, many of us feel troubled with its power and exhausted by its demands for permanent connectivity. Yet even as we grow disenchanted, attempting to resist the digital powers that be might seem like a losing battle.

Sociologist Felicia Wu Song has spent years considering the personal and collective dynamics of digital ecosystems. She combines psychological, neurological, and sociological insights with theological reflection to explore a better way to live faithfully in a digital age.

Each month we choose a selection of titles that we think you will find stimulating and satisfying to read. So come back to the Monthly Selections section of our website regularly.


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