Albers, Robert H., William H. Meller, and Steven D. Thurber, Editors.Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012). Eighteen psychiatrists and pastoral theologians collaborate to provide recent information about mental illness, to interpret mental illness in the light of faith, and to suggest effective ministerial responses. They also seek to encourage conversation among people in congregations around the experiences of a faith community when someone is diagnosed with a mental illness.

Bennis, Warren and Joan Goldsmith. Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader (Fourth Edition) (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2010). Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith offer a workbook that examines the characteristics of outstanding leaders, the traits most needed in leaders today, and the competencies that result in leadership effectiveness. Each chapter features questions for reflection, individual and group exercises, and tools for tracking progress.

Denning, Peter J. and Robert Dunham. The Innovator’s Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010). Change is difficult, no matter what the circumstances. But when the stakes are high, it’s crucial that people adopt change in life-giving ways. Peter Denning and Robert Dunham define “innovation” as “the art of getting people to adopt change.” Their objective in The Innovator’s Way is to “help you develop an understanding of innovation that guides effective action, and then show you how to attain the skillful levels through practice.”

Gray, David Edman. Practicing Balance: How Congregations Can Support Harmony in Work and Life (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2012). Presbyterian pastor David Gray explains how work-life imbalance interferes with spiritual growth as well as church participation. His suggestions for restoring balance to our lives include caring for our bodies, being intentional about how we use our time, and inviting the Holy Spirit into our daily activities. Reflection questions and a time-use assessment tool are featured.

Hart, Addison Hodges. Knowing Darkness: Reflections on Skepticism, Melancholy, Friendship, and God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009). The pressure to appear happy and healthy at all times afflicts congregations perhaps more than any other community. Hart offers this book to anyone who realizes that incessant positivity is neither sustainable nor honest. He invites his readers to recognize that doubt and despair are both unavoidable and helpful in spiritual formation. This book is for anyone who struggles with life’s darkness and, because of it, knows how to identify the light.

McDuff, Mallory, Editor. Sacred Acts: How Churches Are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate (British Columbia, CN: New Society Publishers, 2012). Mallory McDuff has brought together diverse religious voices to explore climate change and congregations’ responses. The essay topics are framed by four broad lenses: stewardship, spirituality, advocacy, and justice. Congregations may read the book through or focus on specific areas.

Morris, Danny E. and Charles M. Olsen. Discerning God’s Will Together: A Spiritual Practice for the Church (Revised and Updated Edition) (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2012). In this updated edition, the authors explore discernment and explain how it differs from other forms of decision making (such as reasoning, seeking consensus, or plotting strategies). What’s crucial about discernment, say the authors, is that it connects people “with the deeper meanings of their life and faith.” And it does so in the contexts of a church’s vision and its commitment to respond to God’s call.

Saccone, Steve with Cheri Saccone. Protégé: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012). Defining a protégé as someone “who desires to master their craft through the mentorship of another,” Steve Saccone explains the areas of mastery that frequently need to be addressed—including character, relationships, communication, and mission. Each chapter features an “idea” box and set of “mentor tips” for mentors to use as they cultivate protégés.

Williams, Rowan. A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2011). The Archbishop of Canterbury explores how Thomas Merton developed relationships with thinkers, both living and dead, who illumined his life. Williams believes that spiritual friendship can take place across great distances and generations, and his own desire to learn from Merton both proves this and validates the experience of anyone who has ever “befriended” an author while reading a book.








Congregations Magazine, 2013-01-09
2012 Issue 4