Monthly Archives: May 2008
1. I was thinking about small group leaders at St Paul’s, and the training thereof. I was thinking about a way of providing stimulation for their faith, a deepening and shaping that was a bit different to the sort of course that teaches small group leading skills 101.
2. I had been part of a brief experiment with an online bookclub at my previous church, which used a discussion forum format. It sort of worked, but ran out of energy after a while. It was a good idea though (not mine – thanks Roger). The advent of Facebook, with a free, powerful interface, that many, many peoples eemed to have signed up for and check regularly made it an attractive option to try and utilise.
3. I attended a conference last year at which Don Carson was speaking. He was talking about the Gospel Coaltion. One of the things they were aiming to do was share resources. He gave the example of Mark Dever, who runs a reading group at his church that works through only Christian classics throughout a year. I though that was a great idea, to try to get Christians into reading great classic books that form part of their heritage.
4. I have several friends who are part of other bookclubs. They always rave about the group gatherings where they discuss the book, and the friendships that have formed out of those. It made me think that only online interaction leaves something lacking. After all, the Christian life is about relationships, and relatioships form through face to face contact. Also, the exercise of reading, thinking about arguments, and articulating opinions to others is great training in patience and godliness (and it doesn’t hurt small group leading either 😉 )
We’re trying something new for St Paul’s this year. It’s a bookclub.
Now, that’s not new in itself. But its not quite the typical ‘Jane Austen’ style bookclub.
Here’s how it works:
– I pick 4 books for the year, 1 per school term (since that is the way the church year is generally structured). The aim is to cover a range of topics and interests, including 1 which is a ‘classic’ author. People can choose to opt in for 1,2,3 or 4 books.
– people sign up, and we source the books for them. The bookclub members pick up their books from our College of Ministry table after church, or from our office during the week.
– once people have the books, they can interact with each other in 2 ways
* a Facebook bookclub group. It is a ‘secret’ group, so all members know that their
comments can only be seen by others in the bookclub’.
* 1 supper during the term at someone’s house. This provides both an avenue to interact
for those who aren’t online, as well as an opportunity to explore theology together in
face to face relationships.
The idea behind this initiative was to provide another opportunity to stretch people who may have been Christians for a while, in a self-guided educational model. It also serves as a means for people to get into reading Christian books. Lots of people have said to me that they have wanted to get into reading, but didn’t know where to start. One the advantages of this system is that someone else has chosen the book for you, and you have the extra incentive to read it in that you know that others are reading it with you and you can chat with them about it.
The books for this year are:
Term 1 – 666 and all that, Greg Clarke and John Dickson
Term 2 – On Christian Liberty, Martin Luther
Term 3 – Living with the Underworld, Peter Bolt
Term 4 – The Reason for God, Tim Keller
We had 75 for the first term. A few teething problems with te Facebook and the suppers, but a pretty good start.
Thoughts, comments, questions, suggestions?