Category Archives: bookclub

how mature christians can keep growing

One of the best ways to keep growing in your walk with Jesus (apart from regular time in the Word) is to be in conversations with others who are walking the same walk. Chatting to others after church, sharing your lives in small groups are vital.

Another method of conversation is reading Christian books. Over the past 2 years, we’ve been running the ‘Digging Deeper Bookclub’ at St Pauls and Glenhaven. Its a chance for a whole bunch of us to grab and read the same book at the same time, and have a conversation about it. One of the side benefits is that we can get books at cheaper than retail prices, and we bring them to you!

The book for term 4 this year is John Ortberg’s, Faith and Doubt. I have chosen it because it ties into some of the themes we will be touching on during the James sermon series, and because Ortberg is a faithful bible teacher & outstanding communicator.

Anyone can join the bookclub, simply by buying a book and giving us your details. We try to run several opportunities per term for people to get together to chat about the book, and we let you know once the term is underway.

Faith and Doubt will be available from this Sunday from the College of Ministry counter at the foyer of St Pauls, for $15.00 (RRP $20). See you there!

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next bookclub book?

This term’s Digger Deeper Bookclub book is Chappo’s, A Foot in Two Worlds. We are about to embark on our round of discussion groups, over suppers or afternoon teas. I am looking forward to it.

Tomorrow I am going to a certain bookstore to scout out the 4th term book. Love to hear your suggestions?

The following are criteria I’m trying to meet:

1. Pitched at a bible study leader level of theological comprehension.

2. Opens up a particular topic or aspect of the Christian life for non-sepcialists (so, eg., that rules out books on the New Perspective or other academic debates)

3. Short enough not to be daunting (we did some 200+ page books which no one finished – the current book is under 100 – I’m thinking 150 might be our upper limit?)

4. Classics could be included – last year we did Luther’s ‘Freedom of a Christian’, which people found encouraging. So far this year, we haven’t done any classics…)


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next bookclub book

Our book for this next term is by English author Tim Chester, called ‘You Can Change’. Here’s the blurb:

‘Many books are written by experts. This isn’t one of them,’ admits Tim Chester. ‘ It was born out of my own struggle to change. My long battle with particular issues set me searching the Bible as well as writings from the past. This book shares the amazing truths I discovered.’
You may be:
· A new Christian, struggling to change former habits
· An older Christian who has plateaued – you grew quickly when you first believed but now your Christian life is much of a muchness
· A Christian who’s fallen into sin in a big way, wondering how you’ll ever get back on track
This book is about hope in Jesus, hope for forgiveness, hope for true and lasting change. God promises liberating grace and transforming power to his people.

Retail price: $15.00. Special Digging Deeper Bookclub price: $12.00. 200 pages, with discussion guides. Available from this Sunday at the College of Ministry table at St Paul’s, and from John Hooton and Glenhaven.

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I have recently finished Peter Bolt’s Living With the Underworld. We did it as part of the Digging Deeper Bookclub at St Paul’s.

I have had a good time reading and discussing this with others, both online and at a discussion group we ran at my place.

One of the things that struck me about the book was the observation about how the fear of death lies at the basis of most human anxiety and behaviour. It is an extended discussion, but here’s a taste:

Now it all comes together! Because of our sin, the world lies under the sentence of death, a sentence we carry around with us in our mortal flesh. This causes a profound disruptive anxiety, a fear of death, that may be expressed in different ways, and masked in different ways, but is always there. This fear of death makes us long for security, for something that will calm our fears. We are security-seeking missles, and this opens us up to believe the lies of the devil, who tells us that our security is to be found in the things of this world. And, of course, these are all his to give, because this world belongs to him. At that point, our fear of death has taken us to exactly where the master of the underworld wants us: we are his slaves.

Peter Bolt, Living With the Underworld Kingsford: Matthias Media, 2007, 98-99.

I reckon he’s right. After I read this, I began looking around for signs of confirmation. And found one in the most bizarre place – the children’s wear department of a local department store. We were looking for clothes for the boys, and I noticed that most of the shirts are covered in skulls. Shirts for 4 year olds, covered in the symbol of death!! What’s going on with that?!

Of course, the designers will print stuff that they think, boy will think is ‘cool’. But I wonder whether the attempt to make death ‘cool’ is just another way of trying to avoid the anxiety that it provokes in us? And why not start that process at a young age?

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Digging Deeper Bookclub #2

The idea for thebookclub came from a number of sources:

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 😉 )

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Digging Deeper Bookclub

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?


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