FREE eBOOK: 54 Leaders Under 50 Share 50+ Ideas to Revitalize Your Congregation

This morning I received a note announcing the release of a new FREE eBook from Luther Seminary and their Lilly Foundation funded Vibrant Congregations Project. I have not read it yet, but just by walking through the list of contributors, my guess is that everyone should be able to find SOMETHING useful.

While this combination of names may not always be seen in the same group, our common connection is that we are still part of the under-50 crowd and we see some hope and movement in the church. I doubt that any of us naive about what is going on, but merely do not want doom and gloom to define the whole story, especially for a people who claim to believe in new life even out of death.

Here is a little from Editor, David Lose, as he talks about the origin of Renew 52,

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of people complaining about the decline of the church.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as aware of the dismal statistics as you are. But I’m tired of hearing them for two reasons. First, precisely because we already know them, I’m just not sure how helpful it is to repeat them to ourselves endlessly. Second, because it’s not the whole story. There is a lot of growth, a lot of potential, and a lot of hope in our congregations as well as decline. Moreover, the Spirit is moving in exciting ways and I am firmly convinced that we are on the cusp of exciting, if unpredictable, renewal.

And yes, this is a FREE eBOOK that you can read on your Kindle, Nook or iPad. Just head on over to www.luthersem.edu/renew52 to download your copy today. And if you are a contributor and want to share your contact info, please feel free to leave it in the comments section so folks can find you.

The 54 contributors to Renew 52 are as follows:

Eric D. Barreto, Kate Blanchard, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Kurt Borgmann, Dan Bredberg, Theresa Cho, Adam J. Copeland, Wayne E. Croft, Lillian Daniel, Keri Day, Nathan Dungan, David L. Everett, David Gambrell, Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Sara Hayden, Christopher A. Henry, Jodi Houge, Terrance Jacob, Rolf A. Jacobson, Sandhya Jha, Tony Jones, Verity A. Jones, Salim Kaderbhai, Karoline Lewis, David J. Lose (editor), Ronnie McBrayer, Joy L. McDonald Coltvet, Meg Peery McLaughlin, Michael D. McLaughlin, Carol Howard Merritt, Joy J. Moore, Martha Moore-Keish, Roger S. Nam, Amy E. Orstad, Anjeanette Perkins, Christian Piatt, Rozella Poston, Russell Rathbun, Nick Reed & Kathy Wolf Reed, Amy Reeder Worley, Peter Rollins, Andrew Root, Kara K. Root, Ryan Sato, Christian Scharen, Amy Thompson Sevimli, Jeffrey Small, Alan Storey, Adam Thomas, Deanna A. Thompson, Daryl Thul, Peter J. Walker, Sarah Walker Cleaveland and me.

Five Reasons to “Animate” Your Church’s Adult Education Program

Tony Jones recently posted some info about a project that I am part of, the new Animate Faith Formation Series, from SparkHouse. I have already been compensated for my part in the project, so my gushing over the project is not so much about sales as it is about hoping people take advantage of this resource that I am truly proud of.

From what I can tell, the folks at SparkHouse wanted to bring together seven of the greatest Christian thinkers in the universe in order to create an adult formation curriculum that was, not only theologically solid, but engaging and thoughtful. As the tagline reads:

Seven leading Christian voices.
Seven big conversations about faith.
All you need is seven weeks.

As it would turn out the seven greatest thinkers were already booked, so they scraped together seven other folks who have been known to flap their gums about God, faith and life:

And over about six months we wrote, procrastinated, wrote, submitted, re-wrote, gathered, critiqued, re-wrote and finally recorded our thoughts on God, Jesus, Salvation, Spirituality, The Cross, the Bible and Church. The results of our efforts can be seen in this first of many teaser videos:

YouTube Preview Image

Here are five quick reasons why I think you should order it today:

  • We invite rather than instruct. While we each give our perspective on faith, these are not offered in order convince anyone of anything, but rather to present a compelling reason to think about each topic and then explore what this means for each person.
  • We were allowed to be ourselves. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we were each encouraged to bring our own stories into this project and the process. The danger in this kind of openness is that our personalities and styles might not always jive with the hearer, but the potential for folks to hear a genuine invitation to conversations about faith hopefully comes through.
  • We modeled what we encourage. Part of the process was to engage with one another through a script read-through and workshop. Gathered in one room over two days, we each read, critiqued, received and eventually left with a better message than we could have developed on our own. This mutuality and respectful exploration was an important part of this project and we hope this same kind of interaction will take place for the participate in the series. And in case you were wondering, YES this was a tad bit intimidating.
  • Not everyone will be happy with what we say or who we are. There will be some who will try to place the seven of us into some theological box from which we are collectively destroying Christendom and perverting the Gospel with our false theology in word and deed. And while there are times when I WISHED for that kind of power, rest assured that I stand proudly with these folks, not because I agree with everything that is said, but because we have each entered into a liberating journey to make faith real in a world where too often Christianity is experienced as anything but freeing.
  • It just looks awesome. Okay, I have to admit that when I was told that there was going to be animation, I thought to myself, “Cool” and immediately hoped for some Speed Racer version of myself. Well, not only is the artwork and graphical layout great looking, after previewing my own segment, folks will be moved by how the animation helps fill and form the words and thoughts that are trying to be expressed. Also, the journal that tis part of the series is one of those rare “workbooks” that people will keep on their bookshelves, not as a reminder of a moment in time, but as a way to look back on their journey of faith.

So, thanks to Tony Jones, Paul Soupiset and Team and the rest of the SparkHouse crew for their vision, leadership and support during this project. It was a blast. For more information about the “voices” of Animate including bio’s, links and trivia, click HERE and here are the various Social Media  links of interest: FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

 


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