a couple of books

I am looking to pick up soon:

Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in Church, Society, and Family: Essays in Honor of Ray S. Anderson (Wipf & Stock, 2009).  About the book:

How does the reality of the incarnation inform and shape the nature of Christian ministry? What is the church’s impact in the world when its members embody the powerfully redemptive presence of Christ-in personal as well as corporate witness?

These key questions are addresses in ‘Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in the Church, Society, and Family’-a volume honoring the significant contributions and personal witness of Ray S. Anderson to a theology of incarnational ministry. The essays explore three central themes: (1) the church’s nature and life as the ministry of the incarnate Savior; (2) the church in mission and service, witnessing to Christ’s solidarity with the world; (3) the church in ministry to families and as family to all of humanity.

The diverse voices in this volume harmonize in a shared passion for the church to engage in the “hard theological thinking and costly personal practice that should flow from its doctrine of the incarnation.”

The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Jossey Bass: 2008).   About the book:

According to a recent survey, of the nine in every ten Americans who identify themselves as Christian, only a third of these actually participate in a faith community with any regularity. Many faith seekers have tried different churches, methods, programs, leaders, teachers, and styles only to discover that nothing holds their interest.

Written for those who are trying to nurture authentic faith communities and for those who have struggled to retain their faith, The Tangible Kingdom offers theological answers and real-life stories that demonstrate how the best ancient church practices can re-emerge in today’s culture, through any church of any size. In this remarkable book, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay—two missional leaders and church planters—outline an innovative model for creating thriving grass-roots faith communities.

Starting from nothing, Halter and Smay began meeting in homes, coffee shops, and anywhere they could. Their goal wasn’t to attract people to worship services, but to be the faithful church in small pockets throughout their city. Based on their experiences, the authors offer some intentional activities and habits of life that can help a faith community make God’s kingdom more tangible. Halter and Smay call for churches to take a leap from their safe environments of their buildings and truly enter into the real world—God’s reality….

I am looking at these two books to get more thoughts on the nature of incarnational ministry as it has been a focus of mine since Christmas and something I have been preaching about in our services using the example of the Lord Jesus in the “Christ-hymn” in Philippians 2: 1-11.  I am realizing more and more what it it means to follow the downward path of Jesus in humilty, obedience and with a servant’s heart, who and that not just the “leaders” of the congregation, but really, every Christian needs to be intentional in following Jesus with completely dependence upon the Holy Spirit, otherwise it’s just too hard to be a causal Christian. 

If we want to be and do all that God wants us and requires of us to be and do as followers of Jesus, we need to become humble obedient servants, just as Jesus himself was (a humble, obedient, servant).   Otherwise, we’ll just go with the flow and live nominal Christian lives – lukewarm and not on fire for the Lord.

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