Ploughshares and First Fruits

Ploughshares and First Fruits

Author Chris Thorpe
Publisher Canterbury Press £16.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781786222909

This book is a treasure chest of valuable resources for use throughout the church’s year and it intertwines with the farming calendar. Written for rural parishes and using the author’s own tried and tested rural ministry experience, it offers fresh insights into welcoming and fresh worship. It is mission focussed and recommends inviting local groups and clubs to be involved – riders, farmers, walkers and wildlife groups. Two services per month are described in detail with suggested music, worship songs, intercessions, readings, reflections, conversations, prayers and symbolic actions such as drama, craft, gifts or shared food. As the seasons change so do the themes and much careful planning has gone into these resources. Written primarily for use in the country parish (or group of parishes) it has much to offer city parishes, particularly as we are encouraged to explore our own gardens and parks. We have become more aware of the need to treasure and preserve our resources and are now more connected with the natural world around us. The time is right for this beautiful book.

Reviewed by SUE PIPER

Worship; Environment

 

Beyond the Children’s Corner

Beyond the Children’s Corner

Author Margaret Pritchard Houston
Publisher CHP £16.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781781401644

The author writes about creating a culture of welcome for all ages. Most churches try to welcome people, but few develop the culture. The book examines the changing pastoral needs of modern families and relates them to what it means to belong to a church and worship within it. It offers some ‘quick wins’ such as making a children’s corner truly child-friendly, and addresses deeper challenges with church buildings and leadership. It deals with real issues such as noise, toilets, changing facilities and prams. And there is wise advice regarding consultation, ownership and management of change. It would not be possible to do everything in this book, but there are some strategies which any church could do to improve ministry to children and families. The author writes practically and with empathy for mature church members who remember how things used to be, using case studies and discussion topics. I am lending it to my incumbent and churchwardens so we can pursue what it may mean to my church. I recommend it for yours.

Reviewed by HOWARD ROWE

Pastoral; Worship

 

Reimagining Worship

Reimagining Worship

Authors Anna de Lange, Trevor Lloyd, Tim Stratford & Ian Tarrant (eds)
Publisher Canterbury Press £21.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781848259133  2017

‘What does the ever-present God…desire from us as we worship?’ Is our worship ‘dynamic, on the move, going somewhere’? Do people ‘grow in their faith more through preaching, Bible reading or home groups’? ‘Does our welcome demonstrate a God who cares?’ Put together by a group of twenty, experienced Church of England leaders from the Group for the Renewal of Worship, Reimagining Worship is a comprehensive, practical handbook that methodically examines how worship works (or does not work) in today’s evolving churches. Four main sections correspond to liturgical patterns of Gathering, Word, Responding and Sending. Further subdivisions break up the text into manageable chunks, with boxed examples and suggestions to discuss or think about. This is not a book to read through but to work with. Groups of church leaders, PCCs, ministry or music groups might select relevant parts to discuss together. Probing questions, quoted above, encourage examination of what worship should look like and how to be creative and transformative within the local context. Readers, particularly those in training, should find this material helpful and challenging.

APRIL McINTYRE

Worship, Liturgy

 

Let Everyone Find Their Voice

Let Everyone Find Their Voice

Author Lezley Stewart
Publisher Saint Andrew Press £14.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780715209844

Lezley Stewart’s intent in this useful book is to create a meaningful worship experience which – ‘when done well’ – leads the worshipper to ‘transformative encounters’ with God and with one another. Her approach is to ‘re-imagine’ the Psalms in a shared language for worship today, which the author explains is language that is relevant, and contemporary, inspired by the context in which we find ourselves. It is, she says, very much about today. The Psalms are presented in a thematic and metaphorical framework where the God within the text is revealed, rather than the text itself. So we have sections of Psalms under headings such as Refuge, Refreshment. Each Psalm is followed by questions for contemplation, suggestions for liturgy, and several ‘new’ Psalms. As Lezley Stewart intends, this is a book to encourage new expression and praise of God.

Reviewed by RAYLIA CHADWICK

Psalms, Worship