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Topical Bibliography

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This is not a definitive bibliography. It simply lists the books and pamphlets on my book shelf. When I've read something I put a brief annotation which gives my own impression or synopsis of the work. I've also included hot links to Amazon wherever possible, or else to the appropriate website. It comes in two versions, one in alphabetical order of authors and the other, on this page, in which I've tried to group the books by topic, though this is inevitably rather loose. In some cases the same book appears in more than one section as many won't fit neatly into my modernist categories! If I haven't made notes on a publication myself I will try to include the publisher's blurb, in quotes.

Alternative Worship [TOP]

Alternative worship is both an eclectic 'postmodern' style of worship and also an approach to being church. The offerings below reflect both strands.

Baker, Jonny & Gay, Doug 2003, Alternative Worship, London: SPCK.

Jonny Baker is one of the leaders of Grace in Ealing, Doug Gay is is minister in the URC. This is a really good and useful book: as well as a brief but good introduction to the alt.worship scene this book contains a number of worship resources based around the church year. There is some excellent material and a CD-ROM is provided with words, images, movies and songs.

Howard, Roland 1996, The Rise and Fall of the Nine O'Clock Service: A Cult Within the Church?, London: Mowbray.

Detailed and seemingly fair account of the success and failure of the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS) which was started by Chris Brain at St Thomas, Crookes in Sheffield. Offers a warning for the church about the abuses possible in fresh expressions of church but also points to the pioneering work done by NOS.

Kimball, Dan 2004, Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations, El Cajon, CA: emergentYS Books.

Lings, George (2001d), The Enigma of Alternative Worship, “Encounters on the Edge 12”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

George Lings visits a number of alternative worship congregations including Sanctuary (Bath), Revive (Leeds) and Visions (York). As well as describing his experiences he makes an interesting distinction between 'Seeker' worship and Alternative worship: seeker takes the mysterious out of evangelical presentation to outsiders; alternative puts ritual and worship at the centre for insiders; seeker subjugates church culture to engagement with secular culture, alternative rejoices in the the richness of church culture as a way to live in secular culture; seeker puts evangelism at the top of its agenda, alternative puts worship top; seeker tries to convince and persuade, alternative is laid back and non-directive. Everyone will no doubt disagree with these distinctions, but I find them salutary and helpful; after all, as the statistician George Box put it, "All models are wrong. Some models are useful."

Lomax, Tim & Moynagh, Michael 2004, Liquid Worship, Grove Worship Series W181, Cambridge: Grove Books.

In liquid worship members of the congregation choose which of a number of prayer stations or worship zones they will visit, and in which order. After exploring a number of examples and options for liquid worship—whether for a small group or whole church; whether for a whole service or part of it—Lomax & Moynagh explore the rationale for this kind of approach. They claim that it can have a number of positive benefits including reducing self-indulgence, offering a chance to develop good liturgical principles; offering possibilities for all-age worship  and recognising that the Spirit ‘never leaves identical fingerprints’. They also argue that liquid worship encourages us to re-think our notions of community and can help us develop closer and more authentic communities. They end by suggesting some principles for getting started with liquid worship. The accompanying website gives plans of a layout for liquid worship and an example of a Mothering Sunday service.

Roberts, Paul 1999, Alternative Worship in the Church of England, Grove Worship Series W155, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Roberts characterises alternative worship as having the following characteristics: multi-media environment resulting from intense creativity; use of visuals; use of sound; collaborative leadership; breadth of liturgical resources. He traces the history of the movement from its roots in NOS and then considers the underlying philosophy, seeing the inevitable parallels with postmodernist approaches to text and the importance of shared interpretations of the Bible. He ends with a consideration of the role of alt.worship within the more formal and regulated structures of the C of E.

Rollins, Peter 2006, How (not) to Speak of God, London: SPCK.

I loved this book. It's in two parts: the first looks at the nature of God and how we might know/encounter him; the second gives a number of 'scripts' from sessions of Ikon, an alternative worship community in Belfast, of which Rollins is a leader. Pete Rollins teaches philosophy and brings interesting insights to this book. Rollins starts with two epigrams, one from Wittgenstein, the other from his charismatic evangelical background: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." and "God is the one subject of whome we must never stop speaking." He finds a resolution of these two apparent opposites in an apophatic approach to God—that we cannot ever know about God but that we can experience God. He sees Christianity as a/theistic, citing Anselm, amongst others, on his side: "Therefore, Lord, you are not merely that than which a greater cannot be thought: you are something greater than can be thought."

This sense of radically engaged unknowing pervades the book. Rollins dissolves the debate between the transcendence and immanence of God by asserting that God is immanent and it is the brilliance of his closeness which leads us to experience Him as transcendent, just a really bright light will blind us. There is much more to engage and startle the reader. You don't have to agree but if it doesn't make you think afresh I'll be surprised.

Sylvan, Rob 2005, Trance Formation , London: Routledge. 

A fascinating book in which the author explores the spiritual aspects of rave culture. Sylvan did his doctorate looking at the African tribal religious roots of rock music. When he became involved in the rave scene in the US her decided to do some research. He suggests that rave culture has seven characteristics:   A combination of sacred and secular;  Expression within the arts; Expression within popular culture;  Emphasis on experience over content; The central importance of the body; Use of digital technology, multimedia, and global communication systems; and Postmodern, hybrid, cut-and-past nature. The similarities with some alternative worship values will be no surprise, given the roots of the alternative worship movement.

Tarrant, Ian 2003, Scripture-Based Liturgies, Grove Worship Series W 175, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Tarrant presents a selection of liturgies which are strongly based on particular passages of scripture. The aim is to match the narrative structure of the Bible text with a corresponding liturgical structure. This is an approach of used and developed in alternative worship. Five sample services follow: Luke 24, an ecumenical Easter communion; John 6, a communion liturgy; Acts 8, service of the word with baptism; Philippians, an office; Hebrews, morning prayer. The accompanying website gives further examples and resources.

Tarrant, Ian & Dakin, Sally 2004, Labyrinths and Prayer Stations, Grove Worship Series W180, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Tarrant & Dakin start by offering a few definitions and then move into a brief history of labyrinth and prayer journey, such stations of the cross, in Christian worship. The rest of their booklet is practical, offering ideas and encouragement for creativity. They end with some examples of labyrinths they have created. An excellent introduction to the topic. The accompanying website gives further examples and resources.

Ward, Pete (ed) 2004, The Rite Stuff: Ritual in Contemporary Christian Worship and Mission, Oxford: Bible Reading Fellowship.

Chapters from Jeremy Fletcher ('Text, Authority and Ritual in the Church of England'), Maggi Dawn ('The Art of Liturgy'), Pete Ward ('Personalized Ritual'), Anthony Reddie ('Black Styles, Rituals and Mission for the 21st century'), Ana Draper ('Curiosity... Gave the Cat Nine Lives'), Mike Riddell ('Deep Currents of the Heart') and Jonny Baker ('Ritual as Strategic Practice').

Base Ecclesial Communities [TOP]

Base Ecclesial Communities started in South America. The leading exponents of this approach in the UK is the New Way of Being Church movement. All of the publications below come from them.

Hinton, Jeanne (ed) 1999, A Tapestry of Stories: A New Way of Being Church, Resource Booklet 5, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

A series of short pieces including a brief account of New Way in Plymouth (see Summers 2003), a small group on Broadwater Farm, working with non-church goers, moving to dialogue sermons, communities of households in the Northampton area, free lunches and other ‘gospel projects’ in Cambridge, church in a pub in Sheffield, a small group in Tiptree.

Hinton, Jeanne 1998, Small and In Place: Practical Steps in Forming Small Christian Communities, Resource Booklet 2, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

Advice on developing and growing small Christian communities of the base ecclesial type. Includes a check list of pointers and an account of the New Way Pastoral Cycle: Experience—Analysis—Reflection—Action—Celebration—Experience…

Hinton, Jeanne (ed) 2003, Stepping Stones: Small Steps Pave the Way to a New Way of Being Church, Resource Booklet 13, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

Another anthology, with a Methodist minister who learned by listening, building A New Way in South Devon, doing a social audit in an inner city, change catalysed by the arrival of refugees, Peter Price thinking about the future, change in service pattern leading to community change, being church on a traffic island, being at the heart of community-led regeneration, a pets’ service, exploring forgiveness amongst the unchurched, the need to take risks.

Hinton, Jeanne & Price, Peter 2003, Changing Communities: Church from the Grassroots, London: Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Price, Peter 1998, Telling It As It Is: Interactive Learning for Churches Building Small Christian Communities, Resource Booklet 4, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

Sets out the need for interactive communication between church and community, seeing small groups as complementary to the gathered church. It looks for a ministry capable of constructing local theologies which will lead to effective engagement with the local community.

Price, Peter 1998, To Each Their Place: Developing Roles and Tasks in Small Christian Communities, Resource Booklet 3, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

“[Small groups] are not better than other church, social or political groups. It is simply that their function and their focus of gathering or meeting is to seek the welfare of the neighbourhood.” (p. 8) There are certain ministries which need to be exercised within the small group—welcome, time keeping, co-ordination, memory recollection, worship, biblical reflection, news sharing & celebration. Looks at each and ends by reflecting on the pastoral cycle.

Price, Peter 2001, Living Faith in the World, through Word and Action: Reflections on Matthew's Gospel for Small Christian Communities, Resource Booklet 11, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

A series of brief bible studies on Matthew’s gospel, divided according to the Revised Common Lectionary. Each study contains an invitation to tell personal stories around the theme, a brief comment on the text, and invitation to reflection and action and a suggestion for prayer.

Sichel, Stephen and  Slessarev, Helene 2001, A New Bridge: The Contribution of Broad-Based Organising and Saul Alinksy Goes to Church, Resource Booklet 10, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

An introduction to broad-based organising, the process pioneered by Saul Alinsky in Chicago in the 1940s. Stephen Sichel offers some insights and gives brief case studies of a few British broad-based organisations, which have usually been started by church groups but broadened to include community and other faith-based groups. Helen Slessarev writes about Alinsky in an article originally published in “The Sojurner.” [May be out of print.]

Summers, John 2003, A Fresh Start: The Story of a New Way for an Anglican Parish, Resource Booklet 14, Groton, Suffolk: New Way Publications.

Tells the story of introducing New Way into St Barnabas in inner city Plymouth. Doesn’t go into much detail and looks at principles of base communities—neighbourhood groups, as they call them. Also gives a brief note on his current work with Rattery in the South Hams, Devon, a scattered village of about 500 with an electoral roll of 17, mainly 1662.

Bible Study [TOP]

Reading and studying the Bible in a postmodern world is different from doing the same thing in a modern world. The are a number of old and new ways of engaging with scripture which may resonate with a postmodern sensibility.

Brueggemann, Walter 1993, Texts Under Negotiation: Bible and Postmodern Imagination, Minneapolis, Fortress Press.

In three parts. The first looks at the demise of modernism and suggests that we should ‘fund’ the components out of which a new world can be imagined. The second part looks to find an evangelical (as an adjectival form of ‘gospel’) imagination, focusing on memory, covenant and hope. In the third part six pieces of exegesis are offered as example of the approach, honouring the ‘little story’ at the expense of the ‘great story’.

Ingram, Doug 2004, Ecclesiastes: A Peculiarly Modern Piece, Grove Biblical Series B34, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Ingram argues that the ambiguity of Ecclesiastes  is intentional and very much in tune with postmodern sensibility. For instance, we can read 1:4-11 as showing the futility of life or as the wonder of creation. Both readings are valid.

Lees, Janet 2007, Word of Mouth: Using the Remembered Bible for Building Community, Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications.

Bible study without Bibles? That's what Janet Lees recommends. In this book she offers an approach which enables collaborative work within a group to build up shared remembered versions of biblical texts. By focusing on what is remembered people also come to share their own stories, especially those which resonate with the text. Lees offers a number of different ways of working with remembered texts, some giving more aids to memory than others. She uses this approach in Sunday worship. I haven't but I have found it to be very effective in small group work. There is an egalitarian feel to the approach which helps everyone to engage and participate.

Cafe Church [TOP]

Cafe Church is a bit of a catch-all title describing a range of approaches from conventional worship done with people seated at small tables to cafes in secular premises open several days a week.

Glasson, Barbara 2006, I Am Somewhere Else: Gospel Reflections from an Emerging Church, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

Barbara Glasson is a Methodist minister. She started 'Somewhere Else', usually known as the 'bread church' in Liverpool. There, in rooms above a radical bookshop in the heart of Liverpool, people come together to make bread and also sometimes to study, pray and worship together. What makes the bread church special is its inclusiveness and the depth of conversation and sharing which is engendered by the act of bread making. Barbara Glasson has now moved on to another post and this book is a series of reflections on community and what it is to be church, based around the process of making bread. Do not expect to find too many facts or details about how Somewhere Else actually operates or its history. Instead, let Barbara confront you with a vision of God's kingdom which may be uncomfortable to some but which I found inspiring and challenging.

Lings, George 2007a, Cafe Church 1: Caffeine, Croissants and Christ?, “Encounters on the Edge 33”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

An account of two cafe churches, Soul Cafe in Chester Green, Derby and Cafe Church @ The Well in Sheffield. Soul Cafe runs once a month from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm in the church building of St Paul, Chester Green. According to Lings, the evening has the feel of a folk club with songs, chat and informality. Soul Cafe has two another, related, event each month—Soul Space, where people can meet to explore further—and an Open Mic night two or three times a year where anyone can come and contribute. Cafe Church at the Well, the worship complex of St Bartholomew's in Sheffield met monthly at 5:00 pm but numbers quickly dropped and it struggled to continue. Lings ends by reflecting on the nature of cafe church.

Lings, George 2007b, Cafe Church 2: Double Jesus With Cream and Sugar?, “Encounters on the Edge 34”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

In this issue George Lings visits Cafeplus+ in Haddenham and Pendleford Oasis run by St Paul, Tettenhall in Wolverhampton. Cafeplus+ meets once a month in the village hall and runs from 09:30 am to 12:30 pm. There are a number of spaces available in the hall and Cafeplus+ provides a quiet space, room for teenagers, a large hall for displays as well as the cafe. Pendleford Oasis is different; it is a permanent church-run cafe built in a new housing estate as part of a church and community initiative. Food and drink are cheap and Fair Trade and community groups meet there regularly. Lings then offers a taxonomy of cafe church, depending on purpose and 'target audience' on the one hand and location on the other.

Lings, George 2010a, The X Factor Within: Rural Cafe Church  “Encounters on the Edge 45”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

I'm a bit biased about this one since it's about the fresh expression which I oversee: Xpressions cafe in the Chet Valley Benefice in South Norfolk. George came to visit us twice and his incessant gentle questioning was hugely helpful to the whole team. It seems to me that he has provided a very fair reflection of what we do and why we do it. He also offers some helpful theoretical understandings and challenges us to think about how we can take the Cafe forward.

Cell Church [TOP]

The principle of Cell Church is that small groups are the basic unit of church and that as they grow in size they will divide (as biological cells do). The idea came from the Far East and has spread throughout the world. There is a huge literature on cell church, some of it quite prescriptive and modernist in style.

Astin, Howard 2002, Body and Cell: Making the Transition to Cell Church - A First-hand Account, London: Monarch Books.

An account of St John’s, Bradford’s move to cell church. Their version of the ‘four Ws’ is welcome, worship, word, works (cf Lings 2003b). The book is good on principles but sometimes a bit short on detail.

Freestone, Ian 1995, A “New” Way of Being Church: Establishing Networks of Multiplying House Churches, Baglowah, Australia: Sold Out Publications.

Hopkins, Bob (ed) 2000, Cell Church Stories as Signs of Mission, Grove Evangelism Series Ev 51, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Hopkins argues that cell is an important strand in church life (Acts 2:24—met in homes & temple) and offers this definition of church: “a Jesus community of disciple-making disciples.” The rest of the study offers four case studies, written by local leaders, showing how cell can be used flexibly in different contexts at Holy Apostles, Leicester (cell outreach on estate); St Alkmund’s, Derby (youth cell in non-cell church); St Mark’s, Haydock (‘big bang’ transition from home groups to cells) & Harvest, Margate.

Lings, George (1999c), Has Church Reached Its Cell Buy Date?, “Encounters on the Edge 03”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"In the paramilitary town of Lisburn, Northern Ireland, Capt. Martin Garner (CA) began a Cell Church Plant in an attempt to reach beyond religious and tribal labels. This issue tells this story alongside answering the questions “What is cell?”, “Where is it rightly different from existing church?” and “How do cell and existing church work together?”"

Lings, George (2003b), Soft Cell, “Encounters on the Edge 20”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Account of the cell experiment conducted at St Winfrid’s, High Wycombe by Paul Bayes (appointed National Advisor for Mission & Evangelism in 2004). Instead of adopting the recommended ‘big bang’ approach to introducing cell principles, they adopted a parallel approach, starting with one cell and adding others when demand from existing members required. Cells use the Faith Community Baptist Church of Singapore approach with emphasis on a set of core values—Jesus at the centre; everyone in ministry; every member growing; multiplication; sacrificial love, loving community & honesty. They also use welcome, worship, witness & word rather than the more usual Western versions (see Astin 2002).

Lings, George (2005d), Rural Cell Church: A New Wayside Flower “Encounters on the Edge 28”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"For fresh expressions of church, is it better to start something alongside the traditional rather than reform it radically?  Cells seem to be a natural home for people coming to faith through process evangelism courses.  However, how well does cell suit the countryside?  Could it be significant for the rural church of the future?  I went to see…"

Church Planting [TOP]

Church Planting is not a precise term. For some it means taking the 'DNA' of an existing church and cloning it elsewhere. For others it is about replicating the DNA in a rather more flexible and contextualised way.

Carey, George et al 1991, Planting New Churches, Guildford: Eagle.

Down, Martin 2003, Building a New Church Alongside the Old, Eastbourne: Kingsway.

A critique of current church structures. Down claims that the parish system is geared to maintenance and that it hinders mission. He writes from a conservative charismatic and modernist perspective and draws from his own experiences in Fountain of Life and from others such as Carpenter’s Arms in Deal, Oak Tree Fellowship in Acton and Norwich Community Church. He also argues that maintenance churches need pastoral leadership while missionary churches need apostolic leadership. The traditional parish church will not change—one strategy is to leave it; another is to build a new church alongside the old.

Lings, George & Murray, Stuart 2003, Church Planting: Past, Present & Future, Grove Evangelism Series Ev61, Cambridge: Grove Books.

A sober review of church planting by most of the major denominations and new churches during the 1990s, together with a reasonably optimistic look forward to its possibilities in the future. [May now be unavailable]

Emerging Church [TOP]

Emerging Church is another imprecise term. Nowadays it is often used as a blanket term for any form of church which aims to engage with postmodern unchurched culture. Ian Mobsby argues that only the only forms of emerging church which come under the Fresh Expressions banner are alternative worship groups, cafe church, and network church. Others would disagree!

Brewin, Kester 2004, The Complex Christ: Signs of Emergence in the Urban Church, London: SPCK.

I found this a difficult book to read. Brewin is a leader of Vaux, an alternative worship community in London and includes some examples of their work throughout the book. He is looking to build a radically emerging church and turns to complex systems theory as a framework to organise some of his thoughts. He doesn't see alternative worship communities as emerging church as they are not 'conjunctive'. It felt a bit polemical to me; Brewin is struggling for a new vision of church, which is good, but this didn't inspire me in the way that it should have.

Gibbs, Eddie & Bolger, Ryan K. 2006, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures, London: SPCK.

An excellent book. Gibbs and Bolger very firmly identify emerging churches with postmodern churches and then offer nine areas which they have in common. The book is based on a five-year project in which they interviewed 50 emerging church leaders in UK & US. A feature of the book is the mini-autobiographies of those leaders, which gives added depth to the work.

They identify three core practices: identifying with the life of Jesus; transforming secular space; and commitment to community as a way of life. These lead to six other shared areas: welcoming the stranger; serving with generosity; participating as producers; creating as created beings; leading as a body; and taking part in spiritual activities. The book is enlivened throughout by frequent quotes from the practitioners.

Kimball, Dan 2003, The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations, El Cajon, CA: emergentYS Books.

Surveys differences between ‘seeker-sensitive’ (modern) and emerging (postmodern) approaches. Helpful thoughts on relationship between Jesus (positive affect) and Christians (negative affect) as perceived by emerging generations. Sections on worship, preaching (notes that for moderns: FACT influences BELIEF influences BEHAVIOUR, whereas for emerging culture: EXPERIENCE influences BEHAVIOUR influences BELIEF), evangelism (focus on being a co-worker with Jesus in the kingdom as a way of finding purpose in life) & leadership. Quite a strong conservative evangelical bias and written for a similar audience though much of use for others.

Larson, Bruce & Osborne, Ralph 1970, The Emerging Church, Waco, TX: Word Books.

The first book I have found to use the term ‘emerging church’. It's out of print now though you can get it from various second-hand dealers. Larson & Osborne do not use the term as we use it today; their book is basically a look at church in the 1970s and an attempt to discern some of the emerging trends. A quote: ‘Renewal is a concept foreign to the emerging Church.  Renewal implies that the Church was once what God intended it to be and that our task is to bring back that golden age.  From its earliest beginnings until now, the Church has been in the process of becoming, and it shall always be so.  If the Church is true to its Lord, it may never properly say that it has “emerged.”’ Key themes are new forms of worship, development of lay ministry and so on.

Murray, Stuart 2004, Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (After Christendom), Milton Keynes: Paternoster.

Stuart Murray is an Anabaptist and writes from a radical non-establishment perspective. He documents the rise and fall of Christendom and notes a number of shifts which are now happening. The church, he argues, is moving centre to margins; from majority to minority; from settlers to sojourners; from privilege to plurality; from control to witness; from maintenance to mission; and from institution to movement. It's a penetrating analysis which needs to be heeded by the church.

Rollins, Peter 2006, How (not) to Speak of God, London: SPCK.

I loved this book. It's in two parts: the first looks at the nature of God and how we might know/encounter him; the second gives a number of 'scripts' from sessions of Ikon, an alternative worship community in Belfast, of which Rollins is a leader. Pete Rollins teaches philosophy and brings interesting insights to this book. Rollins starts with two epigrams, one from Wittgenstein, the other from his charismatic evangelical background: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." and "God is the one subject of whome we must never stop speaking." He finds a resolution of these two apparent opposites in an apophatic approach to God—that we cannot ever know about God but that we can experience God. He sees Christianity as a/theistic, citing Anselm, amongst others, on his side: "Therefore, Lord, you are not merely that than which a greater cannot be thought: you are something greater than can be thought."

This sense of radically engaged unknowing pervades the book. Rollins dissolves the debate between the transcendence and immanence of God by asserting that God is immanent and it is the brilliance of his closeness which leads us to experience Him as transcendent, just a really bright light will blind us. There is much more to engage and startle the reader. You don't have to agree but if it doesn't make you think afresh I'll be surprised.

Evangelism & 21st Century Mission Background [TOP]

The research into the spirituality of those who do not go to church reveals how scared so many unchurched people are of being 'brainwashed' by Christians. This section contains links to some of this research. Given what has been discovered, is there any future for evangelism in the 21st century? Some people think so and you can find the fruits of their labours here.

 Booker, Mike & Ireland, Mark 2003, Evangelism - Which Way Now?: An Evaluation of Alpha, Emmaus, Cell Church and Other Contemporary Strategies for Evangelism, London: Church House Publishing.

Excellent survey of a wide range of contemporary approaches to evangelism including Alpha, Emmaus, other process evangelism courses, community ministry, Natural Church Development, cell church, church planting and the search for spirituality. It offers a practical and even-handed critique of the different approaches, arguing that local churches must find the balance of approaches which works best for their circumstances.

Church Army, 2004, Inside Out: The Report of the Church Army’s Theology of Evangelism Working Party 2004, (available as a pdf), London: SPCK.

Croft, Stephen & Others 2005, Evangelism in a Spiritual Age: Communicating Faith in a Changing Culture (Explorations), London: Church House Publishing.

The first three chapters are from Nick Spencer and Yvonne Collins, outlining their research with those who have little or no contact with church. The second part of the collection consists of four 'responses'. Ann Richards looks at contemporary spirituality and the evangelistic encounter; Mark Ireland offers practical suggestions for the local church; Rob Frost explores alternative spirituality; and Stephen Croft looks at listening and speaking in contemporary evangelism.

Donovan, Vincent 1982, Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai, 2nd ed, London: SCM.

Donovan worked with the Masai in Kenya. Starting with his realisation that, for all the good things that the mission was doing, there were no conversations about God with the Masai, he realised that, “Evangelization is a process of bringing the gospel to people where they are, not where you would like them to be.” So he decided to just go and talk with them. Putting practice before theory, he discovers the importance of stripping away all the cultural accretions of Western Christendom and retranslating the gospel into the culture of the people. Despite its focus on Africa in the 1960s, this is a seminal book for approaching emerging church and postmodern proclamation.

Finney, John 2004, Emerging Evangelism, London, Darton, Longman & Todd.

Finney argues that there are three approaches to evangelism in the Bible, focusing on kerugma, euangelion and musterion. All three are needed for a balanced approach. He offers a brief and interesting history of evangelism up to 1980 and then looks at the ‘new evangelism’ with its emphasis on nurture groups, and nurture courses such as Alpha & Emmaus (Finney was one of the authors of Emmaus). He then moves on to explore the implications of ‘evangelising Athens’, which requires us to start with something other than sin and forgiveness such as creation, hospitality of mystery (sample addresses on these themes are provided in an appendix). The new monasticism (such as St Thomas, Sheffield) follows, and some helpful thoughts on leadership, ritual and the emerging church.

Hollinghurst, Steve 2003, New Age, Paganism and Christian Mission, Grove Evangelism Series Ev64, Cambridge: Grove Books.

A review of New Age and Pagan beliefs, showing their similarities and differences. Hollinghurst also offers some helpful suggestions on ways of connecting with new agers and pagans and how the gospel might be authentically shared.

Hollinghurst, Steve; Richmond, Yvonne & Whitehead, Roger (2005), Equipping Your Church in a Spiritual Age: A Workbook for Local Churches, London: GfE.

An A4 photocopiable workbook with lots of good ideas and resources. Sections include: The Emerging Spiritual Age; Listening to the World Around Us; Rites of Passage; Times and Seasons; Developing the Church as the Spiritual Focus of the Community; Wholeness and Healing; Going Out to Our Communities; Sacred Britain; Being With People of Alternative Spiritualities; Moving Into Action. There are also a number of good and pointed cartoons from Chris Morgan and also the questionnaire that Yvonne Richmond used for her Beyond the Fringe research.

Hopkins, Bob & Breen, Mike 2007, Clusters: Creative Mid-sized Missional Communities, 3dm Publishing.

Really interesting book about medium-sized communities (between cell and congregation) which exist for a specific mission-focused purpose. Clusters developed in St Thomas, Crookes in Sheffield. According to the book, "Clusters gain identity and purpose from a united mission vision, being called to a clear geographic or network focus and engaging with the social patterns of that culture and context." (p. [6]) Members of a cluster will probably belong to different cell group or different congregations because they are chosen (often self-selecting) on the basis of shared interest. The book offers case studies of a number of different implementations of the cluster principle.

Hunter III, George 2000, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Win the West...Again, Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Fascinating book looking at the methods of missionaries like St Patrick, arguing that many of their methods are appropriate for a postmodern generation. Hunter shows the differences between the Celtic and Roman approaches and suggests that the Celts relied on hospitality and a group-based outreach. They were offering an atmosphere of constant prayer (though specific prayers for many of life’s daily tasks), a radical understanding of the culture of those amongst whom they worked and an acknowledgement of the ‘excluded middle’ (from “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle” by Paul Heibert, Missiology: An International Review 10:1, 1982, which argues that enlightenment Christianity focuses only on earth (realm of reason) and heaven (realm of sacred) and ignores the middle ground (realm of superstition). Yet increasingly, the new age is offering people solace here. The church should offer authentic comfort by engaging with people where they are now, just as the Celtic missionaries did.

McLaren, Brian 2002, More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism as Dance in the Postmodern Matrix, Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Written in McLaren’s easy narrative style this book explores how to do evangelism by being a spiritual friend, walking with somebody on their journey, not trying to lead but just to be there listening and caring. He illustrates this with the story of his interaction, largely through e-mails, with ‘Alice’, who he met briefly and who he nurtured through her struggle to faith.

Savage, Sara, Collins-Mayo, Sylvia & Mayo, Bob 2006, Making Sense of Generation Y: The World View of 15- to 25-year-olds (Explorations), London: Church House Publishing.

Savage, Collins & Mayo interviewed 135 young people, mainly between the ages of 15 and 25, in 26 focus groups throughout England. Of these, 52% were female, 48% male; 94% were white, 6% Black or Asian; 60% defined themselves as non-Christian, 40% as Christian. Their findings showed significant differences between this generation and those which preceded it. For instance, researchers have often spoken of a hunger for spirituality in Gen-X and Boomer people—a ‘God-shaped hole’ in their lives. None was found for the Gen-Y young people in this study. Instead, the major finding was of what they call a ‘happy midi-narrative’: “My aim to be happy will be realised through me being myself, and connecting to others and the universe (without harming them). As I do this, I will create a meaningful and happy life. This happiness is meaningful in itself; it is the Ideal." They also look at what is absent (God, religion, romance, fear of death, sin, etc.) from the happiness narrative and what is present in it (family, friends, celebrity, caring for life, etc.). The key importance of soap operas, music and clubbing are also noticed and commented on.

Simmonds, Paul 1997, Reaching the Unchurched: Some Lessons from Willow Creek, Grove Evangelism Series Ev19, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Basic account of Willow Creek approach, which focuses on non-Christians, designing  ‘seeker-friendly’ services (more like presentations) which are very professionally produced and which attract thousands each Sunday. The main Christian service is held mid-week. Simmonds offers his reactions to the experience, together with some reflections on the implications for British churches.

Spencer, Nick (2003), Beyond Belief: Barriers and Bridges to Faith Today, London : London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

Survey of non-believers’ beliefs, based on focus group discussions. Christians are seen as hypocritical and intolerant—though individual Christians are not usually perceived as such; , belief is a private ‘pick and mix’ affair which cannot be articulated. Science—which is not understood—has disproved religion. But many have had ‘spiritual’ experiences, which they are reluctant to speak of. They regret falling public standards of morality and wonder if the church might help improve things.

Spencer, Nick & Tomlin, Graham 2005, The Responsive Church: Listening to Our World - Listening to God, Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.

This book attempts to offer 'double listening': listening to the world and listening to God. Each section (God; Christianity; Christians; Church) has two chapters. The first is by Spencer outlining some of his research with Beyond Belief (see above) and also Yvonne Richmond's Beyond the Fringe project in Coventry. In the second Tomlin offers a theological response and seeks to hear what God is speaking into the situation today. An interesting concept and well worth reading.

Sylvan, Rob 2005, Trance Formation, London: Routledge. 

A fascinating book in which the author explores the spiritual aspects of rave culture. Sylvan did his doctorate looking at the African tribal religious roots of rock music. When he became involved in the rave scene in the US her decided to do some research. He suggests that rave culture has seven characteristics:   A combination of sacred and secular;  Expression within the arts; Expression within popular culture;  Emphasis on experience over content; The central importance of the body; Use of digital technology, multimedia, and global communication systems; and Postmodern, hybrid, cut-and-past nature. The similarities with some alternative worship values will be no surprise, given the roots of the alternative worship movement.

Thorpe, Kerry 1997, Doing Things Differently: Changing the Heart of the Church, Grove Evangelism Series Ev40, Cambridge: Grove Books.

About change, loss & responsibility—“There is no growth without change and there is no change without loss” (p15). The call is to evangelise the heart of the church and to do things differently. One example: Thorpe had three congregations—BCP, family service & evening service; each had its own leadership team and all decisions relating to life and ministry within that congregation were taken by the congregation. In effect, three different expressions of church. There is a centrally agreed vision but each congregation is encouraged to develop its own mission statement.

Warren, Rick 1995, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission, Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Not really emerging church, but often referred to by American emerging church writers. Warren argues that church health is the key issue, leading naturally to growth. Despite the fact that many US churches have adopted Saddleback’s principles as a programme, Warren focuses on process rather than programme. The book is full of consultant-style models, mnemonics and aphorisms (see table on p119) and has some sound common sense about dealing with the unchurched.

Webber, Robert 1999, Ancient-future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World, Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Writing for American evangelicals, Webber argues that of the five ‘paradigms’ of church history (ancient, medieval, reformation, modern, postmodern) the ancient is of most relevance to the postmodern. He then offers a primer on Christ (focusing on Christus Victor), church, worship, spirituality & authority. Despite its constant references to postmodernity, I found the approach to be disappointingly modernist in many ways (emphasis on a knowable metanarrative, etc.)

Fresh Expressions: Case Studies [TOP]

There's nothing like reading a practical account of how people actually go about trying to find new ways to be church in the 21st century. Here are some accounts.

Dalpra, Clare (2009), Hidden Treasures: Churches for Adults With a Learning Disability, “Encounters on the Edge 44”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Clare Dalpra visits a number of Fresh Expressions dedicated the culture of adults with a learning disability (and their carers) including Fenland Community Church and Focus Service: Sheffield Church. She also reflects on the learning such churches offer to other Fresh Expressions.

Gaze, Sally 2006, Mission-shaped and Rural: Growing Churches in the Countryside, London: Church House Publishing.

Sally was a member of the team which produced the Mission-Shaped Church report and has practical experience of fresh expressions in the countryside. She is aware of the particular issues facing the rural church but she does not exaggerate them. The book recognises the power of inherited expressions in the countryside and argues strongly for the mixed economy—we should nurture inherited church and also start fresh expressions for those who would not be at home with traditional styles.

The book is very practical, full of case studies and stories of rural initiatives. There is enough to encourage anyone in the countryside that change and growth are possible with prayer, faith and hope; plus a fair amount of perseverance. Sally also offers some useful thoughts on how to restructure the church for mission in the countryside.

This is a very useful book. It offers a good introduction to the principles and practice behind mission-shaped church and will be of particular use to anyone who is in rural ministry or who just has a passion to see the church grow in the countryside.

Lings, George 2000a, Across the Pond, “Encounters on the Edge 6”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Account of outreach activity in Blackheath onto an estate. Charts the changes in strategy from ‘Come’ to ‘Go’ and from ‘doing to’ to ‘working with’.

Lings, George 2002a, The Eden Puzzle, “Encounters on the Edge 14”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

The Eden Project in Manchester is part of the Message Trust. It grew out of a big youth event run by Andy Hawthorne and ‘The Worldwide Message Tribe’ in Manchester in 2000. At the time of writing there were 10 teams of full-time & volunteer youth workers who move to estates in Manchester and live and work in deprived areas. The scheme has now been extended nationwide. They aim to partner with local churches and also to grow youth congregations where appropriate.

Lings, George 2002b, Mass Planting, “Encounters on the Edge 16”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Story of anglo-catholic Damian Feeney, who sees the Eucharist as the heart of mission and spent 18 months doing a Sunday Eucharist at Asda in Preston, at 10:00 in the 30 minutes before the store opened. It was also broadcast over the store tannoy. The ministry also had a prophetic edge, as when the harvest service at the store challenged shoppers about fair trading. Father Damian then moved to a pub for a year and then into a newly-built local Millennium Hall with a 5:30 Eucharist on a Saturday evening (between Grandstand & going out to the pub).

Lings, George 2004b, New Housing, New Partnerships? “Encounters on the Edge 23”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Lings has always been sceptical about ecumenical church plants. Here he investigates two multi-denomination (not quite the same thing) developments on new housing estates. By respecting one another’s traditions fruitful partnerships can be created. Other key qualities are emphasis on community, shared & lay ministry, leaders with overseas mission experience and prime sites for development on the new estates.

Lings, George 2004d, Oasis: Work in Progress “Encounters on the Edge 24”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

OASIS is Edinburgh-based, working with working people. It has a link person in each of 80 offices in the city and began by running lunchtime talks at St Cuthbert’s Church. It then moved to running seminars on relevant topics, such as the introduction of e-commerce. They also run BAE (Business Alpha Edinburgh). Some move on to find an existing church but for others OASIS is their church. Lings also looks at Oasis Uxbridge, started after June Hughman, the incumbent, came across the Edinburgh experience on a sabbatical.

Murray, Stuart & Wilkinson-Hayes, Anne 2000, Hope From the Margins: New Ways of Being Church, Grove Evangelism Series Ev49, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Reflections on the nature of church with illustrations of initiatives ranging from three nuns who started working on an estate and ended up with a ‘church’ to groups which met in each others’ homes to children-led groups. Argues that the margins are where the creative stuff is happening.

Pagitt, Doug 2003, Church Re-imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith, El Cajon, CA: emergentYS Books.

Originally titled, "Reimagining Spiritual Formation" this is an inspiring account of the life of Solomon’s Porch, a new church in Minneapolis. By telling stories of how the church tries to engage with people in new ways the pastor, Doug Pagitt, shows us how they approach spiritual formation through worship, hospitality, physicality, dialogue, hospitality, bible study, creativity and service. What gives the book an added depth is the diary entries from a number of SP members. These mostly confirm but sometimes contradict what Doug is writing.

Fresh Expressions & The Future of Church: Background and Theory [TOP]

This is another 'catch-all' section, where I put anything related to Fresh Expressions or emerging church which doesn't seem to fit anywhere else. Most of the items here are reflections on the theology and theory underpinning new ways of doing church. It would be worth looking at the 'Postmodern Theology' section as well.

Bayes, Paul 2004, Mission-shaped Church: Missionary Values, Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church, Grove Evangelism Series E67, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Cray, Graham et al 2004, Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Missionary Context, London: Church House Publishing.

Church of England report, surveying a range of ‘emerging church’ initiatives (they prefer the term ‘fresh expressions of church’) and making some suggestions for the future shape of the church.  It has been hugely influential and is still an excellent introduction to the whole area of missional church.

Frost, Michael 2006, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, Hendrickson Publishers Inc.

In some sense a follow-up to ‘The Shaping of Things to Come’, Frost explores some of the implications of living missionally in a post-Christian culture in four sections: dangerous memories, dangerous promises, dangerous criticism and dangerous songs. Frost is part of a new monastic community called ‘smallboatbigsea’ which has a rule of life known as BELLS: they will Bless at least one other member of the community each day; they will Eat together every Sunday evening and with one or more members on two more occasions each week; they will Listen to God every day; they Learn from the Gospels each week; and remember that they are Sent into the world to share the Good News.

Frost, Michael & Hirsch, Alan 2003, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church, Peabody, Ma: Hendrickson.

Stimulating and provocative book which urges a change from Christendom mode to missional mode. This involves moving from being attractional, dualistic and hierarchical to incarnational, messianic and apostolic. Although a little heavy at times the book is full of ideas and provocative propositions. For instance, a missional church needs APEPT leadership (apostolic, prophetic, evangelical, pastoral and teaching) as per Ephesians 4, rather than just a pastoral and teaching leadership which serves to (try to) maintain the status quo of the Christendom church.

Gaze, Sally 2006, Mission-shaped and Rural: Growing Churches in the Countryside, London: Church House Publishing.

Sally was a member of the team which produced the Mission-Shaped Church report and has practical experience of fresh expressions in the countryside. She is aware of the particular issues facing the rural church but she does not exaggerate them. The book recognises the power of inherited expressions in the countryside and argues strongly for the mixed economy—we should nurture inherited church and also start fresh expressions for those who would not be at home with traditional styles.

The book is very practical, full of case studies and stories of rural initiatives. There is enough to encourage anyone in the countryside that change and growth are possible with prayer, faith and hope; plus a fair amount of perseverance. Sally also offers some useful thoughts on how to restructure the church for mission in the countryside.

This is a very useful book. It offers a good introduction to the principles and practice behind mission-shaped church and will be of particular use to anyone who is in rural ministry or who just has a passion to see the church grow in the countryside.

Jackson, Bob 2002, Hope for the Church: Contemporary Strategies for Growth, London: Church House Publishing.

Excellent book, which analyses UK church attendance statistics (especially C of E from 1989-1998) to go beneath the overall figure of decline. Jackson points out that one in five churches is either static or growing; that small churches are more likely to be growing than large ones; that growth can be found across all styles of churchmanship; ethnically mixed churches are more likely to grow; children's & youth workers have a major impact on attendance; that growth is most likely when the incumbent has served between seven and thirteen years and when the incumbent is younger. Jackson offers practical suggestions to encourage all congregations to face and tackle the issue of decline.

Jackson, Bob 2005, The Road to Growth: Towards a Thriving Church, London: Church House Publishing.

Lings, George 2006b, Discernment in Mission: Navigation Aids for Mission-Shaped Processes “Encounters on the Edge 30”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

George offers a number of models to help with thinking about mission-shaped church, including Acts 1:8—Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth., which corresponds to the fringe, the dechurched and the unchurched. His concern is that too much of what passes for fresh expressions & mission-shaped church is actually working only in Judea. Very stimulating and challenging.

Lings, George & Hopkins, Bob 2004, Mission-Shaped Church: The Inside and Outside View, “Encounters on the Edge 22”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Summary of ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ with commentary.

Mountstephen, Phillip & Martin, Kelly 2004, Body Beautiful? Recapturing a Vision for All-age Church, Grove Pastoral Series P99, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Nelstrop, Louise & Percy, Martyn (eds) 2008, Evaluating Fresh Expressions: Explorations in Emerging Church, Norwich: Canterbury Press.

 A stimulating collection with papers ranging from those enthusiastic in different ways about fresh expressions and emerging church (Stephen Croft, Louise Nelstrop, Sara Savage etc) to the sceptical (Martyn Percy) and critical (Pete Rollins). I got something out of every contribution and reading this book broadened my horizons and helped sharpen my focus on what we are trying to do in Xpressions Cafe.

Sine, Tom 2008, The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

In 1981 Tom Sine wrote a book called "The Mustard Seed Conspiracy" in which he painted a grim picture of the future unless individuals behaved like the mustard seed and conspired to bring the kingdom into being. In this book he continues by looking at the new forms of church arising throughout the world (but mainly focused on the US). Sine suggests that there are four kinds of new church movement: Missional (most Fresh Expressions would come into this category), Emerging (alternative worship, etc.), Mosaic (black, hip hop, multicultural) and Monastic ('new monasticism'). It's an interesting typology and is backed up with some good stories and illustrations.

Ward, Pete 2002, Liquid Church, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson & Carlisle: Paternoster.

Stimulating and provocative book. Stresses fellowship rather than ‘the’ fellowship. Solid church focuses on attendance at services, size matters, one size fits all and joining the club. Liquid church is networked, dispersed, consumer-oriented and evanescent. Following Dunn’s views on Paul, Ward sees the importance of the phrase “in Christ” to suggest that anyone in Christ is in the church, so that the church can effectively be thought of as a star network with Christ as the hub. Shopping is seen as a search for meaning rather than materialism—the church should accept the challenge. Liquid church moves from meeting need (the need for God, etc.) to satisfying desire—since consumerism is essentially about desire for meaning and spirituality.

'Healthy Church' Development [TOP]

Natural Church Development, developed by Christian Schwarz, is an approach to church growth which argues that paying attention to some key areas of church life will naturally lead to healthier congregations. Robert Warren has developed his own version.

Booker, Mike 2001, Exploring Natural Church Development, Grove Evangelism Series E55, Cambridge: Grove Books.

A critique of Christian Schwarz’s ‘Natural Church Development’ which argues that churches will grow if they are healthy in eight dimensions: empowering leadership; gift-oriented lay ministry; passionate spirituality; functional structures; inspiring worship services; holistic small groups; need-oriented evangelism; and loving relationships. These are measured by means of a computer-marked questionnaire. A key principle is that churches should work on their lowest scoring dimension since this is a limiting factor. Booker offers a couple of case studies as well as some criticisms of the approach. He is broadly sympathetic and supportive.

Warren, Robert 2004, The Healthy Churches' Handbook: A Process for Revitalizing Your Church, London: Church House Publishing.

Healthy Churches are Growing Churches. That is the premise of Robert Warren's Healthy Churches' Handbook. Using a similar approach to Christian Schwarz’s Natural Church Development (NCD), Warren suggests that healthy churches will be strong in seven values, goals and characteristics (as opposed to eight activities in NCD). These are: energised by faith; outward-looking focus; seeks to find what God wants; faces the cost of change and growth; operates as a community; makes room for all; and does a few things and does them well.

The second part of the book contains practical material to help churches become more healthy, including a questionnaire which enables you to develop a profile of your church and to see which areas need the most work. Robert Warren is an experienced mission-oriented priest (he was team rector of St Thomas, Crookes at the time of the Nine O'Clock Service) and much of the material was developed while he was involved with the Church of England's Springboard project.

Leadership [TOP]

Leadership in new forms of church cannot replicate the traditional 'vicar knows best' command and control approach. This is so out of kilter with postmodern ideas of participative inquiry that new forms of church leadership must evolve.

Dawswell, Andrew 2003, Ministry Leadership Teams, Grove Pastoral Series P93, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Written by one who is in favour of the principle of shared leadership but sceptical about many of its manifestations. It sometimes seems that he protests against a rather shallow view of ministry teams but his warnings should be heeded by everyone who is starry-eyed about the ease and effectiveness of collaborative leadership. An accompanying website offers more background and detail.

Lings, George 2001a, Leading Lights: Who Can Lead New Churches?, “Encounters on the Edge 09”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"Who can lead new churches?  Lay leaders exist across the spectrum of emerging churches.  As many as one third of church plants have been lay led.  Is this a welcome throwing off of the shackles of clericalism?  Does it work? Where it has proved too much, can we make church simpler? "

Shaw, Peter 2004, Mirroring Jesus as a Leader, Grove Ethics Series E135, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Skilton, Chris 1999, Leadership Teams: Clergy and Lay Leadership in the Local Church, Grove Pastoral Series P78, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Does not appear to be currently available

Williams, Richard & Tanner, Mark 2004, Developing Visionary Leadership, Grove Renewal Series R17, Cambridge: Grove Books.

"Visionary Leadership is a gift of God given to enable churches to grow and express the life of the kingdom. But what is involved in developing vision, and what skills are needed to turn vision into reality? This study, the collaboration of a church leader and a business leader, outlines the key issues, obstacles and ways forward."

Network Church [TOP]

Traditional Church of England has a geographical focus. Network churches are supposed to be focused around networks of interest (which is a bit odd because networks don't have a focus). In practice there is usually a network component in most traditional parishes. Perhaps the distinction is about relative strength of the network and geographical components.

Lings, George 2000b, New Canterbury Tales, “Encounters on the Edge 7”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Accounts of two network churches in Canterbury diocese—The Carpenter’s Arms in Deal & Harvest in Margate.

Lings, George 2003a, Net Gains, “Encounters on the Edge 19”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Studies of two network churches—The Net in Huddersfield & B1 in Birmingham—both of which were formed with strong diocesan involvement.

Lings, George 2009a, Do Network Churches Work?, “Encounters on the Edge 41”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

A review and reflection of the position of a number of network churches. Using some good figures from Harvest New Anglican Church in Margate (see Encounters No. 7) Lings analyses the nature of network church noting, for instance, that network church has a much smaller fringe than geographical church. Network churches appear to have a higher than average turnover and need to be equipped to cope with that. In particular because the strength of a network depends more on its few highly connected hubs rather than the overall number of nodes (members), the loss of key people can be very damaging.

New Monasticism [TOP]

In a letter to his brother, written in 1935, Dietrich Boenhoffer said, "The restoration of the church must surely come from a new type of monasticism, which will have only one thing in common with the old, a life lived without compromise according to the Sermon on the Mount in the following of Jesus. I believe the time has come to gather people together for this." New Monasticism is an umbrella term given a range of initiatives designed to find ways of living a truly Christ-like life in a postmodern context.

Dalpra, Clare 2008a, Chasing the Dream: Starting Community, “Encounters on the Edge 37”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"Many of us long to be part of a church that goes beyond mere shallow acquaintance to caring for one another as lives are shared together. Is this kind of community as elusive as sometimes it can seem? What can we learn from intentional Christian communities that have turned the dream into reality? What would they say were the classic mistakes to avoid? How does community aid them in their mission task? What will help us plant fresh expressions of church whose community life is authentic?"

Dalpra, Clare 2008b, The Cost of Community: Issues of Maturity, “Encounters on the Edge 38”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"What might help the communities in fresh expressions of church grow beyond good starts to longer lasting effectiveness? What can we learn from intentional Christian communities that will help fresh expressions of church grow mature community? What were their catalysts for deeper growth? What would they say were indicators of a mature community? What level of personal cost does being part of such a community require of us?"

Lings, George 2006a, Northumbria Community: Matching Monastery and Mission, "Encounters on the Edge 29", Sheffield: The Church Army.

The Northumbria Community is a 'new monastic' group; it is dispersed rather than focused on communal living. They have also, like similar groups, dispensed with (or reinterpreted) the vows of chastity and poverty. After some reflections on the rise of new monasticism, Lings gives an account of the history and development of the Northumbria Community. He then suggests that the Community offers a number of gifts to the wider church, which are characterised by pairs of words: availability and vulnerability; alone and together; monastery and mission; abbot and bishop; worship and charism.

Lings, George 2009b, Seven Sacred Spaces: Expressing Community Life in Christ “Encounters on the Edge 43”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

George Lings is a companion in the Northumbria and spent a sabbatical there and with the Anglican Franciscans at Hilfield in Dorset in September 2009. He also visited Taize and Citeaux. Out of his experiences he proposes that monastic community has seven spaces—Cell; Chapel; Chapter; Cloister; Garden; Refectory; Scriptorium—and that each has a vital part to play. Lings examines the role of each and their part in the monastic rules of life. He also argues that, "God always raises up the monastic to show the Church what it sould look more like." (p 32)

The seven spaces could be a useful lens for looking at Fresh Expressions. For instance, when a group of ordinands came to Xpressions cafe, one said that he would have a problem doing what we did as their church hall was 100 yards away from the church (ours are joined). I suggested that he make the walk part of the experience. The notion of cloister would have been useful here. Indeed, as we look to build community, I can see some, but not all, of the seven spaces in Xpressions Cafe. Can and should we try to add the others? There are further resources on the Encounters website including a comprehensive set of notes. There is also an issue of The Sheffield Centre Research Bulletin dedicated to this topic, where each of the seven members of the team reflect on one of the seven spaces.

Simpson, Ray 2009, High Street Monasteries: Fresh Expressions of Committed Christianity, Stowmarket: Kevin Mayhew.

Ray Simpson is the founder of the Community of Aidan and Hilda and lives on Lindisfarne. He provides a comprehensive history of the new monasticism starting in the 1930s with Bonhoeffer, Iona and Taizé, and running through five different waves coming up to date with 24-7 Prayer, the Eden Project and Monos. He then outlines some visions for the future, including the 'Village of God' where the new monastic community is central to a web of interconnections within the wider community.

Postmodern Theology [TOP]

I don't really know what postmodern theology is but this seemed as good a title as any for some of the works which have been foundational in the development of the emerging church, as well as others which help to add to the rich mix.

Caputo, John 2007, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (Church and Postmodern Culture), Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic.

"This provocative addition to "The Church and Postmodern Culture" series offers a lively rereading of Charles Sheldon's "In His Steps" as a constructive way forward. John D. Caputo introduces the notion of why the church needs deconstruction, positively defines deconstruction's role in renewal, deconstructs idols of the church, and imagines the future of the church in addressing the practical implications of this for the church's life through liturgy, worship, preaching, and teaching. Students of philosophy, theology, religion, and ministry, as well as others interested in engaging postmodernism and the emerging church phenomenon, will welcome this provocative, non-technical work."

Cray, Graham 1998, Postmodern Culture and Youth Discipleship: Commitment or Looking Cool?, Grove Pastoral Series P76, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Glasson, Barbara 2006, I Am Somewhere Else: Gospel Reflections from an Emerging Church, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

Barbara Glasson is a Methodist minister. She started 'Somewhere Else', usually known as the 'bread church' in Liverpool. There, in rooms above a radical bookshop in the heart of Liverpool, people come together to make bread and also sometimes to study, pray and worship together. What makes the bread church special is its inclusiveness and the depth of conversation and sharing which is engendered by the act of bread making. Barbara Glasson has now moved on and this book is a series of reflections on community and what it is to be church, based around the process of making bread. Do not expect to find too many facts or details about how Somewhere Else actually operates or its history. Instead, let Barbara confront you with a vision of God's kingdom which may be uncomfortable to some but which I found inspiring and challenging.

Horseman, Colin 1996, Good News for a Postmodern World, Grove Evangelism Series Ev35, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Exploration of postmodernism and Christian responses to it. “…I was brought up to believe that everything essential to the gospel…was present in the New Testament, I still believe that, but in a different way…Rather it is like a seed which contains the whole plant but which unfolds different aspects at different times.

McLaren, Brian 2001, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The fictional account of conversations between Dan, a disillusioned pastor, and Neo his guide and mentor into the world of postmodern Christianity. Very readable.

McLaren, Brian 2003, The Story We Find Ourselves in: Book 2: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

An exposition, with Dan & Neo from ‘A New Kind of Christian’ of the story we find ourselves in—Creation, Crisis, Calling (of Abraham & Jews), Conversation (with priests, prophets, poets & philosophers), Christ, Community (of the church) and Consummation. Tends towards a kind of universalism or justification by works in its final stages but has many striking insights and offers a way of inviting people to make sense of their own lives by seeing them as part of this greater story.

McLaren, Brian 2005, The Last Word and the Word After That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The third and final part of the 'New Kind of Christian' series.

McLaren, Brian 2005, The Secret Message of Jesus, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

An excellent popular account of 'kingdom theology' and an exploration of some of its implications.

Murray, Stuart 2004, Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (After Christendom), Milton Keynes: Paternoster.

Stuart Murray is an Anabaptist and writes from a radical non-establishment perspective. He documents the rise and fall of Christendom and notes a number of shifts which are now happening. The church, he argues, is moving centre to margins; from majority to minority; from settlers to sojourners; from privilege to plurality; from control to witness; from maintenance to mission; and from institution to movement. It's a penetrating analysis which needs to be heeded by the church.

Rollins, Peter 2006, How (not) to Speak of God, London: SPCK.

I loved this book. It's in two parts: the first looks at the nature of God and how we might know/encounter him; the second gives a number of 'scripts' from sessions of Ikon, an alternative worship community in Belfast, of which Rollins is a leader. Pete Rollins teaches philosophy and brings interesting insights to this book. Rollins starts with two epigrams, one from Wittgenstein, the other from his charismatic evangelical background: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." and "GodHe argues for a apophatic approach to God—that we cannot ever know about God but that we can experience God. He sees Christianity as a/theistic, citing Anselm, amongst others, on his side: "Therefore, Lord, you are not merely that than which a greater cannot be thought: you are something greater than can be thought."

This sense of radically engaged unknowing pervades the book. Rollins dissolves the debate between the transcendence and immamence of God by asserting that God is immament and it is the brilliance of his closeness which leads us to experience Him as transcendent, just a really bright light will blind us.

Smith, James 2006, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Church and Postmodern Culture), Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

"The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K. A. Smith claims that their ideas have been misinterpreted and actually have a deep affinity with central Christian claims. Each chapter opens with an illustration from a recent movie and concludes with a case study considering recent developments in the church that have attempted to respond to the postmodern condition, such as the "emerging church" movement. These case studies provide a concrete picture of how postmodern ideas can influence the way Christians think and worship. This significant book, winner of a Christianity Today 2007 Book Award, avoids philosophical jargon and offers fuller explanation where needed. It is the first book in the Church and Postmodern Culture series, which provides practical applications for Christians engaged in ministry in a postmodern world."

Vanhoozer, Kevin 2003, The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology (Cambridge Companions to Religion), Cambridge: University Press.

Ward, Pete 2002, Liquid Church, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson & Carlisle: Paternoster.

Stimulating and provocative book. Stresses fellowship rather than ‘the’ fellowship. Solid church focuses on attendance at services, size matters, one size fits all and joining the club. Liquid church is networked, dispersed, consumer-oriented and evanescent. Following Dunn’s views on Paul, Ward sees the importance of the phrase “in Christ” to suggest that anyone in Christ is in the church, so that the church can effectively be thought of as a star network with Christ as the hub. Shopping is seen as a search for meaning rather than materialism—the church should accept the challenge. Liquid church moves from meeting need (the need for God, etc.) to satisfying desire—since consumerism is essentially about desire for meaning and spirituality.

Wright, Tom 2005, Surprised by Hope, London: SPCK.

The Bishop of Durham may be surprised to see himself categorised here as a 'postmodern theologian' and I do not intend to so pigeonhole him. But there is no doubt that his work is hugely influential in the thinking of emerging church leaders such as Jonny Baker and Brian McLaren. This book is one of Tom Wright's masterpieces - a 'must read' for anyone who is grappling with the meaning of Christianity.

Preaching [TOP]

Preaching can be effective in a postmodern context but it needs to resonate with the culture. For that reason I suggest that the three key emphases should be Story, Testimony and Performance. The books below follow up some of these themes.

Childers, Jana 1998, Performing the Word: Preaching as Theatre, Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Performance has always been important in preaching; today it is even more so. I rate it as one of the three key aspects of effective preaching to a 21st century audience—the triumvirate being story, testimony and performance. Jana Childers offers insights from the theatre to illumine the preacher’s art. She addresses a number of topics including preaching and dramatic form; preaching as performance; preaching and the creative process; skills preachers can learn from actors; attitudes preachers can learn from the actors ‘habitus’ (‘body techniques’) and worship as theatre. As well as discussion of the links between preaching and theatre, Childers also offers a lot of practical advice on such areas as breathing, articulation, eye contact and so on. A useful book which will proved a good resource for any preacher wishing to engage better with his or her listeners.

Florence, Anna Carter 2007, Preaching as Testimony, Louisville & London: Westminster John Knox Press.

A brilliant, rich, and thought-provoking book. Anna Carter Florence explores the rich heritage of women preachers in the US. Partly because of their lack of learning and their lack of formal authority they learned to preach from the heart, sharing their own responses to the text. Florence explores the work of some of these preachers, draws on Ricoeur and Brueggemann and offers some practical approaches to preaching as testimony, which she argues is an invitation to believe rather than a command to obey. Testimony preaching is not about the preacher; it is much more than simply talking about your own life and experiences. It is all about God’s word; it is about what happened to you when you encountered this text at this time—what did you really see or experience, rather than what your training or the commentaries or your concept of orthodoxy tells you that you ought to have seen or experienced.

There are some really practical tips and exercises offered to help with a three part process. Firstly, attend to the text, live in it. Florence offers a number of exercises to help, including writing the text out, carrying it in your pocket, memorising it, underlining words & phrases which strike you and so on. Next describe the text by making a list of the images which appear and reflecting on them, or write a dialogue between the characters, or even rewrite it the way you would like it to have been! Finally, testify. Reflect on your own response and decide how much to share, how much you dare, how much your listeners can bear. Testimony preaching is risky—perhaps too risky for some preachers and some congregations—but can be a great way of connecting with those postmodern people who reject authority but who respond to authentic testimony.

Johnston, Graham 2001, Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-first Century Listeners, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

After an examination of what postmodernity means, Johnston offers four ‘rules for engagement’: don’t engage at the expense of the message; communication takes two—and time; risk involvement; address where you live. He continues with chapters on challenging listeners; obstacles to postmodern preaching; how to make inroads into contemporary culture; and some practices for engagement.

Jones, Kirk Byron 2004, The Jazz of Preaching: How to Preach with Great Freedom and Joy, Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Do you read your sermon from a prepared text? Is everything you preach ‘nailed down’ before you start speaking? If so, how can the Holy Spirit ever get through to lead and inspire you in the moment of delivery? (Maybe that thought is just too scary!) On the other hand, do you just ‘let it all hang out’, arriving with just a vague idea of what you intend to say? If so, how can you hope to have your listeners come with you on your journey without getting either lost or seasick? Kirk Jones might argue that jazz offers a way through this dilemma. Jazz is structured and disciplined yet free and improvisatory. Byron argues that preachers can learn a lot from listening to jazz and studying the way jazz musicians work.

I am not a great fan of jazz myself, blues and some modern jazz being the only forms which I really connect with, but I find Byron’s arguments persuasive. He stresses the need to preach with freedom and joy and offers insights into how we might do this, with chapters focusing on dreaming; creativity; improvisation (I particularly liked the story about Winton Marsalis and the mobile phone which he recounts on page 80); dialogue; blues and joy.

Lowry, Eugene 2001, The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Eugene Lowry is Professor of Homiletics at He is also a preacher and a jazz pianist - the latter two being not unconnected. He has written a number of books on narrative preaching, of which this is the best known. The Homiletical Plot suggests that preachers should structure their sermons according to the basic structure which underpins many stories. After all, Jesus told stories far more often than he gave three-point sermons!

According to Lowry's scheme the basic narrative plot has five parts: Oops!--upsetting the equilibrium; Ugh!--analysing the discrepancy; Aha!--disclosing the clue to resolution; Whee!--experiencing the gospel; and Yeah!--anticipating the consequences. Lowry explains these in the chapters which form the heart of the book. It's good but  it's a bit too theoretical for my taste. I would have liked some examples of sermons which used the format; these would have helped bring the ideas to life. I have never constructed a sermon in exactly the way that Lowry outlines; nevertheless, I do sometimes use his schema to check the structure of my own sermons and I find that they often follow his structure. In such cases the book can be useful for refining what I've already done. Overall a good book; any preacher will benefit from reading it.

Lybrand, Fred 2008, Preaching on Your Feet: Connecting God and the Audience in the Preaching Moment,, Nashville TN: B&H Academic.

I encourage my students to preach without notes. They are often horrified at first but when they give it a try many find the benefits. Lybrand argues that there is nothing in the Bible to support preaching with notes; all the examples are to the contrary. He claims that 'preaching on your feet' can be learned by anyone, rather than being an innate skill gifted only to a few. There are number of pre-determined structures, or templates, which can help the noteless preacher - without a clear sense of structure there is danger of wandering off or drying up. Preaching without notes facilitates good performance, which is so important in a postmodern context; whoever came across a stand-up comedian who used notes? Lybrand is not really concerned with postmodern preaching, however, and I found the book a bit dry and too focused on great preachers of the past such as Spurgeon. Nevertheless there are some good tips here.

Miller, Mark 2003, Experiential Storytelling: (Re)Discovering Narrative to Communicate God's Message, El Cajon, CA: emergentYS Books.

Mark Miller is the founder of ‘The Jesus Journey’, an experiential retreat. He argues that the postmodern generation needs more than the traditional sermon. His suggestion is the experiential story—a presentation where attention is paid to environment, engagement of all the senses, use of symbols and participation by the ‘congregation’. Thus the sermon becomes more of an event or a happening. There are some good ideas but for some reason I was a bit underwhelmed by this book.

Standing, Roger 2004, Finding the Plot: Preaching in Narrative Style, Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press.

Standing, Roger 2002, Preaching for the Unchurched in an Entertainment Culture, Grove Evangelism Series Ev58, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Drawing on Standing’s experience of youth services, looks at changes in communication style & importance of narrative. Gives results of a small experiment into perceived differences between topical and expository styles of preaching (younger people prefer topical) and impact of multimedia (helps memory retention). Standing explores narrative preaching in some detail, including a lengthy section on Lowry’s work. The book contains a number of sample narrative sermons and also contains insights from a number of interviews which Standing conducted with narrative preachers. [This may no longer be available.]

Thomson, Jeremy 2003 (2nd edition), Preaching as Dialogue: Is the Sermon a Sacred Cow?, Grove Pastoral Series P68, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Thomson makes a clear distinction between preaching and sermon. By looking at preaching as a social phenomenon and examining the setting and format of the interaction between the participants he argues that the monologue was rarely the form in which preaching occurred in the New testament. The sermon was a later social development which needs now to be challenged. God's relationship with humans is essentially dialogic and so must our preaching be. One implication is an extension of our common views on preaching: the conversations in a mid-week small group about a Bible text are as much preaching as any set piece sermon on a Sunday morning. Furthermore, the Sunday sermon must be repented of and reformed so that dialogue becomes a natural and productive part of our preaching life.

Small Groups in Church [TOP]

Small groups are often the life blood of a growing church. Two distinct forms of small group, each of which has its own section in this bibliography, are base ecclesial communities and cell groups. This section 'mops up' works relating to other small groups in church life.

Croft, Stephen 2002, Transforming Communities: Re-imagining the Church for the Twenty-first Century, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

An Anglican perspective on small communities in church growth and development. He distinguishes ‘family churches’, with fewer than 50 members from ‘pastoral churches’ with more than 50 members. A family church with a full-timer minister may well grow. Others, with only one full-time minister are likely to decline. Therefore small groups are needed to sustain and grow the church. The purpose of a transforming community is to build members’ relationships, to learn together and to support each others’ ministries, sometimes in pursuit of a common task. These groups are to be the ‘building blocks’ of the church. Croft’s communities are not as radically mission-focused as cell church, nor as justice focused as base communities. At times seems a bit like an Anglican fudge!

Frazee, Randy 2001, The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community, Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Frazee comments on rising tide of individualism in the church. He argues the need for a common purpose based around authority, common creed, traditions, standards and common mission. In his church they are working this out by agreeing ten core beliefs, ten core practices and ten core virtues. They then implement these via a four-fold process: the worship service which is to inspire; the Sunday mid-sized groups (50) which are to instruct; mid-week small groups (10) which involve; and personal introspection.

Hopkins, Bob & Breen, Mike 2007, Clusters: Creative Mid-sized Missional Communities, 3dm Publishing.

Really interesting book about medium-sized communities (between cell and congregation) which exist for a specific mission-focused purpose. Clusters developed in St Thomas, Crookes in Sheffield. According to the book, "Clusters gain identity and purpose from a united mission vision, being called to a clear geographic or network focus and engaging with the social patterns of that culture and context." (p. [6]) Members of a cluster will probably belong to different cell group or different congregations because they are chosen (often self-selecting) on the basis of shared interest. The book offers case studies of a number of different implementations of the cluster principle.

Mallison, John 1989, Growing Christians in Small Groups, London: Scripture Union.

Mallison argues that the small group is the basic building block of the life of the local congregation. It has seven basic purposes: to worship & obey Christ; to live under the authority of God’s Word; to be havens of hope; to foster fellowship; to bring people to a living faith in Christ; to minister to each other; to prepare each other for mission in the world. He distinguishes many kinds of group and offers a lot of practical advice for working with and in groups, including a dozen different kinds of Bible study and different ways of praying together. (This book is out of print now; a search on Abebooks might help.)

Myers, Joseph 2003, The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups, El Cajon, CA: emergentYS Books.

Fascinating book, drawing on the work of Edward Hall (proxemics) on the different spaces we all inhabit—public, social, personal & intimate. He argues that we need to be active in all spaces to belong and his conclusions about the value (or otherwise) of small groups in church life are very provocative and worthy of thought and discussion.

Spirituality [TOP]

"Spirituality is the game, religion is the team." Spirituality is increasingly popular, though increasingly vague as a category. There are lots of people on a spiritual journey; few would think that they could find spirituality in church.

Croft, Stephen & Others 2005, Evangelism in a Spiritual Age: Communicating Faith in a Changing Culture (Explorations), London: Church House Publishing.

The first three chapters are from Nick Spencer and Yvonne Collins, outlining their research with those who have little or no contact with church. The second part of the collection consists of four 'responses'. Ann Richards looks at contemporary spirituality and the evangelistic encounter; Mark Ireland offers practical suggestions for the local church; Rob Frost explores alternative spirituality; and Stephen Croft looks at listening and speaking in contemporary evangelism.

Frost, Rob 2002, Essence: Exploring Spirituality, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications.

A six-part course which introduces Christian ideas and principles in a way which is designed to connect with those who are seeking ‘spirituality’. Includes a CD of meditations and music.

Hollinghurst, Steve 2003, New Age, Paganism and Christian Mission, Grove Evangelism Series Ev64, Cambridge: Grove Books.

A review of New Age and Pagan beliefs, showing their similarities and differences. Hollinghurst also offers some helpful suggestions on ways of connecting with new agers and pagans and how the gospel might be authentically shared.

Hollinghurst, Steve; Richmond, Yvonne & Whitehead, Roger (2005), Equipping Your Church in a Spiritual Age: A Workbook for Local Churches, London: GfE.

An A4 photocopiable workbook with lots of good ideas and resources. Sections include: The Emerging Spiritual Age; Listening to the World Around Us; Rites of Passage; Times and Seasons; Developing the Church as the Spiritual Focus of the Community; Wholeness and Healing; Going Out to Our Communities; Sacred Britain; Being With People of Alternative Spiritualities; Moving Into Action. There are also a number of good and pointed cartoons from Chris Morgan and also the questionnaire that Yvonne Richmond used for her Beyond the Fringe research.

Partridge, Christopher (ed) 2004, New Religions—A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities, New York: Oxford University Press.

An excellent reference book, very comprehensive, with coverage of over 200 sects, cults and new religious movements. If you're not sure about the difference between Ramakrishna, Krishnamurti and Hare Krishna then this is the place to find out. If you want to explore some of the different kinds of paganism or see how "The Celestine Prophecy" differs from "A Course in Miracles", that's here too. It's fascinating and enlightening.

Sylvan, Rob 2005, Trance Formation, London: Routledge. 

A fascinating book in which the author explores the spiritual aspects of rave culture. Sylvan did his doctorate looking at the African tribal religious roots of rock music. When he became involved in the rave scene in the US her decided to do some research. He suggests that rave culture has seven characteristics:   A combination of sacred and secular;  Expression within the arts; Expression within popular culture;  Emphasis on experience over content; The central importance of the body; Use of digital technology, multimedia, and global communication systems; and Postmodern, hybrid, cut-and-past nature. The similarities with some alternative worship values will be no surprise, given the roots of the alternative worship movement.

Youth & Children's Church [TOP]

Do young people need their own form of church? If so, what happens when they grow older? This section deals with expressions of church specifically focused on those who are pre-adult (well, up to 30, really).

Clark, Philip & Pearson, Geoff 2001 (2nd ed), Kidz Klubs: The Alpha of Children’s Evangelism? Grove Evangelism Series Ev45, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Cray, Graham 2002, Youth Congregations and the Emerging Church, Grove Evangelism Series Ev57, Cambridge: Grove Books.

Dalpra, Clare 2006, Small Beginnings: Church for Under 5's, “Encounters on the Edge 31”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

"What fresh expressions of church are beginning among under 5s and their families? Why can’t we simply invite them to existing church? How is spirituality nurtured in children of this age? When does work with under 5s qualify as a fresh expression of church and what do they have to teach us?"

Lings, George 1999, Eternity—The Beginning, “Encounters on the Edge 4”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Looks at the work of Eternity, a youth church plant in Bracknell. Eternity is values-based and open to constant change. It uses cell groups, monthly congregational gatherings and events which are designed for seekers to be comfortable in (they moved from café-style to dance-style because that seemed to be where the young people were going).

Lings, George 2001, Never on a Sunday?, “Encounters on the Edge 11”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

Looks at a couple of midweek (Monday, actually) afternoon congregations which serve primary school kids and their parents. Asks whether they are churches or congregations. Argues that there are many people for whom Sunday church is not an option.

Lings, George 2004, Reading: the Signs, “Encounters on the Edge 21”, Sheffield: The Church Army.

The rather messy story of the development of a youth ministry to unchurched young people in Reading. Based in a traditional church building with a small declining conservative congregation the young curate (effectively vicar of the church) has been enabled by the rector and the diocese to perform some innovative youth ministry and church planting (though he eschews this term).

Savage, Sara, Collins-Mayo, Sylvia & Mayo, Bob 2006, Making Sense of Generation Y: The World View of 15- to 25-year-olds (Explorations), London: Church House Publishing.

Savage, Collins & Mayo interviewed 135 young people, mainly between the ages of 15 and 25, in 26 focus groups throughout England. Of these, 52% were female, 48% male; 94% were white, 6% Black or Asian; 60% defined themselves as non-Christian, 40% as Christian. Their findings showed significant differences between this generation and those which preceded it. For instance, researchers have often spoken of a hunger for spirituality in Gen-X and Boomer people—a ‘God-shaped hole’ in their lives. None was found for the Gen-Y young people in this study. Instead, the major finding was of what they call a ‘happy midi-narrative’: “My aim to be happy will be realised through me being myself, and connecting to others and the universe (without harming them). As I do this, I will create a meaningful and happy life. This happiness is meaningful in itself; it is the Ideal." They also look at what is absent (God, religion, romance, fear of death, sin, etc.) from the happiness narrative and what is present in it (family, friends, celebrity, caring for life, etc.). The key importance of soap operas, music and clubbing are also noticed and commented on.

Sylvan, Rob 2005, Trance Formation , London: Routledge. 

A fascinating book in which the author explores the spiritual aspects of rave culture. Sylvan did his doctorate looking at the African tribal religious roots of rock music. When he became involved in the rave scene in the US her decided to do some research. He suggests that rave culture has seven characteristics:   A combination of sacred and secular;  Expression within the arts; Expression within popular culture;  Emphasis on experience over content; The central importance of the body; Use of digital technology, multimedia, and global communication systems; and Postmodern, hybrid, cut-and-past nature. The similarities with some alternative worship values will be no surprise, given the roots of the alternative worship movement.

[TOP]