February 2020 Selection

February 2020 Selection

Here are books on preaching, sermons, church leadership and ideas about Christianity today.

There is also a biography of John Henry Newman who has recently been canonised, and Paula D’Arcy’s book finding a way through grief.

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 1 Feb 2020]

Alive in God:
A Christian Imagination.
Timothy Radcliffe.
Pbk 432pp. ISBN 9781472970206.
Bloomsbury Continuum (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

** Previously advertised in our
email newsletter, in error at, $14.00. 

Timothy Radcliffe considers the strength of the Christian imagination in its ability inspire others.

How can we touch the imagination of our contemporaries with our faith? The disciples returning from Emmaus (Luke 24) said that when they met the stranger on the road, their hearts burnt within them as he expounded the Scriptures.

What blocks the reception of Christianity today is not so much secularism or atheism but the banality of contemporary culture – what could be called, “the globalization of superficiality.” We need the help of creative people to open up our minds to the transcendent. We will only excite people about our faith if we show that it is the response to an invitation to live fully.

Christianity is an adventure which takes the puzzled disciples to Jerusalem. Radcliffe describes aspects of being alive that the disciples encounter along the way: healing, struggling with negativity, growing up and forgiveness. These all relate to our coming alive in Christ.

Winter of the Heart:
Finding Your Way Through the Mystery of Grief.
Paula D’Arcy.
Pbk 64pp. ISBN 9781594717635.
Ave Maria (2018).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

D’Arcy lost her young husband and toddler in a violent car accident more than four decades ago. She understands your grief and can also help you look to what’s on the other side – hope, acceptance, recognition that what you are experiencing is both common and unique, and the essential counsel that you need not ever, “get over it.”

Winter of the Heart is a companion for anyone early in grieving process–for the person experiencing shock, emotional pain, an inability to move, guilt, intense anger, and a range of other emotions that might be new to you.

What Jesus Said about Power, Success and Counting Stuff.
Emma Ineson.
Pbk 160pp. ISBN 9780281080120.

SPCK (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks]

What is the theology around notions of ambition and success? Why do they sit so uncomfortably in a Christian context? After all, growth is not the preserve of big business when viewed through the lens of the story of God and his people. So, we need to ask, what is right about ambition for the Christian leader? And what were Jesus’ views?

Inevitably (because everything interesting is paradoxical), success and failure are close bedfellows. The single most successful event in the history of humankind – the victory of love over sin and death – looked very much like one man, naked, shamed and abandoned by most of his followers, hanging on a cross.

“Be encouraged by Bishop Emma’s advice and inspired by her wisdom and humour,” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Extraordinary Ministry in Ordinary Time:
An Invitation to Renewal for Pastors.
James A. Harnish.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780835819121.

Upper Room Books (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

What energizes someone in pastoral ministry for the long haul? Holy days like Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost are the exception. Ordinary Time, the longest season of the Christian year, is where pastors spend most of their ministry.

James Harnish invites pastors and other ministers to see Ordinary Time as a metaphor for the ordinary days of ministry. “Whether we thrive or merely survive depends on what we do with the ordinary days,” he writes.

Harnish encourages ministers to develop spiritual disciplines and personal relationships to nourish their souls for long-term ministry. He highlights the importance of reflection on scripture, spiritual reading, journaling, prayer, and spiritual conversation with trusted friends.

This 6-week study focuses on themes Harnish found crucial in over four decades of ministry: Power, People, Places, Proclamation, Perseverance, and Promise. Daily readings help readers develop their own spiritual formation practices to sustain their life and ministry.

Reclaiming Church:
A Call to Action for Religious Rejects.
J.J. Warren.
Pbk 112pp. ISBN 9781501896064.

Abingdon Press (2020).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Warren continues his call to reaffirm the Church be welcoming to all, including young people like those he led at Sarah Lawrence College who “didn’t know God could love them because their churches said God didn’t.”

The book addresses three points of importance to young people looking to be part of a church community, and a call:

  1. The identity and nature of God
  2. The role of Scripture in discerning God’s call
  3. The author’s own experience of God, church, and identity


  • Affirms to the LGBTQ community and those who love them that the Church is for all.
  • Inspires younger progressive people to stay within the Church and work to renew the call of ministry.
  • Explores the Church’s beginnings and emphasis on community.
  • Calls readers to focus on practical and positive steps to reclaim Church in their lives.

To Light a Fire on the Earth:
Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age.
Robert Barron.
Pbk 288pp. ISBN 9781524759520.
Image (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

As secularism gains influence, and increasing numbers see religion as dull and backward, Robert Barron wants to illuminate how beautiful, intelligent, and relevant the Catholic faith is.

Touching on everything from Jesus to prayer, science, movies, atheism, the spiritual life, the fate of Church in modern times, beauty, art, and social media, Barron reveals why the Church matters today and how Catholics can intelligently engage a sceptical world.

In this compelling new book – drawn from conversations with and narrated by award-winning Vatican journalist John L. Allen, Jr. – Barron proclaims in vivid language the goodness and truth of the Catholic tradition. Through Barron’s smart, practical, artistic, and theological observations as well as personal anecdotes – from engaging atheists on YouTube to discussing his days as a young diehard baseball fan from Chicago – he covers prodigious ground.

Face to Face:
Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger.
Samuel Wells.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9781501899010.

Abingdon Press (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Pastors, priests, and pastoral caregivers often accompany people who are struggling to negotiate experiences of sickness, bereavement or anxiety. There are no easy answers in such situations, no formulaic remedies, and no slick theological explanations. The process of being present, listening, and responding is demanding. It can require skills and wisdom beyond the ministers’ own experience. Often, caregivers feel they receive as much or more than they give to the care seekers in such encounters.

Wells reflects theologically and pastorally on 20 such encounters in care giving that were both challenging and instructive for him. The result is a book of profound practical wisdom and understanding that will inform and enrich pastoral ministry for all who read it.

An extended introduction on the nature and practice of pastoral ministry provides the foundation for the telling of these memorable and moving accounts.

John Henry Newman:
A Very Brief History
Eamon Duffy.
Hbk 176pp. ISBN 9780281078493.

SPCK (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

Saint John Henry Newman was one of the most controversial and influential thinkers of his day, and his many writings have remained highly influential since his death in August 1890. He is also widely regarded as one of the finest prose stylists of modern times, as well as a popular poet and hymn-writer.

Published to coincide with Newman’s canonization by Pope Francis in October 2019, this engaging and judicious introduction to Newman’ life and legacy will be welcomed by newcomers and seasoned enthusiasts alike.

Simplify the Message:
Multiply the Impact.
Talbot Davis.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9781501884603.

Abingdon Press (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Davis helps preachers break through the noise of culture and the cauldron of church to deliver sermons with clarity, passion, and boldness. New preachers developing their skills who need structure, a process, and hope, and more seasoned preachers who may have “settled” needing tools to invigorate their preparation and inspire their delivery, in particular will benefit from reading this book.

Davis shares the insights and habits that will empower the reader’s preaching and teaching to be:

  • Both creative and disciplined;
  • Both carefully prepared and thoroughly spontaneous; and
  • Both rooted in history and connected to modernity.

Simple is the opposite of simplistic. Sermons with clear & unmistakable focus are best able to plumb the depths not only of Gospel beauty but of the hearers’ lives.

Leading with the Sermon:
Preaching as Leadership.
William H. Willimon.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9781506456379.

Fortress Press (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Willimon makes the compelling case that two key pastoral tasks – preaching and leadership – complement, correct, strengthen, and inform one another.

Preaching is the distinctive function of pastoral leaders. Leadership of the church, particularly during a challenging time of transition in mainline Protestantism, has become a pressing concern for pastors.

This book shows how the practices, skills, and intentions of Christian preaching can be helpful to the leadership of a congregation. It will also show how leadership is an appropriate expectation for sermons.

In preaching, pastoral leaders can help a congregation face its problems and coordinate its God-given resources to address those problems. Sermons can be an opportunity to articulate, motivate, and orchestrate God’s people in doing God’s work in the church and in the world.

7 Challenges Pastors Face:
Overcome Common Struggles and Thrive in Ministry.
David Horner.
Pbk 288pp. ISBN 9780801094750.
Baker Books (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks]

An experienced pastor helps people in full time ministry stay effective and avoid burn out by offering practical guidance to meet seven common challenges:

  • balance the demands of your calling
  • sharpen your vision
  • grow a team
  • cultivate humility
  • learn through failure
  • embrace change
  • fight spiritual dryness

If you have served on a church staff for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly dealt with unhealthy expectations. Too many pastors embrace a hard-driving ministry that hurtles them toward burnout even as they convince themselves they are being obedient to God’s will. In reality, putting too much energy into one area of life or ministry causes you to neglect others.

Developing a well-balanced approach to responsibilities and passions will equip you to thrive in the face of the many challenges of ministry. This book can show you the way..

Another Way:
Living and Leading Change on Purpose.
Stephen Lewis, Matthew Wesley Williams, Dori Baker.
Pbk 208pp. ISBN 9780827200838.
Chalice Press (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Engage wholeheartedly in leading profound change that is deeply connected to your inner well-being and that will support the communities you want to succeed.

Another Way describes a new way of leadership for the 21st Century, one that inspires people to delve deeply into their own selves and that creates a mysterious relatedness among strangers.

When this leadership happens, we remember people are created to experience community, to find joy in one another, and to create a better world out of a deep reservoir where the soul resides. Written by the leaders of the Forum for Theological Exploration, the internationally recognized leadership incubator for emerging Christian leaders, Another Way will shape the way you look at yourself, your leadership, and the communities that hold you accountable to making the world a better place.

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.

Are you looking for a specific book?

Please also ask us to find any other books you are interested in. We will give you a price and time to deliver. Emailing us at bookspgpl@gmail.com works best.