Book Reviews

The following books have been reviewed by NAPCE members and have appeared in the NAPCE Newsletter.

Atkinson, Harley. 1997. Ministry with Youth in Crisis.
Barna, George. 1995. Evangelism that works.
Bass, Dorothy C., ed. 1997. Practicing our faith: A way of life for a searching people.
Bernier, Paul. 1992. Ministry in the Church.
Borgman, Dean. 1997. When Kumbaya Isnt Enough: A Practical Theology for Youth Ministry.
Carmody, Denise Lardner. 1996. Organizing a Christian mind: A theology of higher education.
Chaffee, Paul. 1997. Accountable leadership.
Conn, Harvie M., ed. 1997. Planting and growing urban churches: From dream to reality.
Dyck, Elmer, ed. 1996. The act of Bible reading: A multi-disciplinary approach to biblical interpretation.
Dykstra, Robert C. 1997. Counseling troubled youth.
Erdman, Chris. W. 1996. Beyond chaos: Living the Christian family in a world like ours.
Flowers, Ronald. B. 1994. That godless court?
Fraser, Elouise Renich. 1998. Confessions of a beginning theologian.
Keely, Barbara Anne, ed. 1997. Faith of our Foremothers
Kraus, C. Norman. 1998. An intrusive Gospel? Christian mission in the postmodern world.

Lawler, Michael. 1990. A theology of ministry.
Marsh, Clinton M. 1997. Evangelism is . . . 
Martin, Frank. 1995. War in the pews: A foxhole guide to surviving Church conflict.
Melchert, Charles F. 1998. Wise teaching: Biblical wisdom and educational ministry.
Moran, Gabriel. 1997. Showing how: The act of teaching.
Pollard, Nick. 1997. Evangelism made slightly less difficult
Ratcliff, Donald, ed. 1992. Handbook of childrens religious education.
Rogers, William B. 1996. Being a Christian educator: Discovering your identity, heritage, and vision.
Schner, George P. 1993. Education for ministry.
Stonehouse, Catherine. 1998. Joining children on the spiritual journey.
Swatos, Jr., William H., ed. 1998. Encyclopedia of religion and society.
Van Rheenen, Gailyn. 1996. Missions: Biblical foundations & contemporary strategies.
Westerhoff, John. 1994. Spiritual life: The foundation for preaching and teaching.
Whitehead, James D., and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead. 1990. Method in ministry: Theological reflection and Christian ministry.
Wilkerson, Barbara, ed. 1997. Multicultural religious education.
Wimberly, Edward P. 1997. Recalling our own stories: Spiritual renewal for religious care givers.
Zikmund, Barbara Brown, Adair T. Lummis, and Patricia Mei Yin Chang. 1998. Clergy women: An uphill calling.


Atkinson, Harley. 1997. Ministry with Youth in Crisis. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press. 254 pages. ISBN: 0-89135-099-3. Reviewed by Mark A. Lamport, Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

The title may mislead a mere browser. It would appear to be a work about ministering to youth with severe trauma inflicted either as a consequence of some social or physical act or even by personal choiceand it is, to some extent. But the reader needs a fuller explanation of what the author means by "crisis" before the book can be properly pigeonholed.

Harley Atkinson, a Canadian, a former youth minister, a professor of educational ministries at Toccoa Falls College, Georgia writes about seven situational and developmental crises which, to varying degrees, relate to adolescents: self-identity, family life, social relationships, sexuality, suicide, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

The writing is lucid, replete with solid research documentation, and demonstrates familiarity with Christian and other authors on the topics discussed. Yet, Im curious as to the (perhaps picayune) reasoning behind the use of the seemingly synonymous terms youth worker, youth minister, and youth religious educator. Are they randomly scattered by an editor to relate to a potentially diverse audience who may read the book? Perhaps. Yet, this many years into a developing field of academic inquiry, is not the usage of "youth minister" the most accurate term given the context of this book. (For example, youth "worker" implies a broader scope than a religious orientation.) Enough of this. If this is all this reviewer can unearth to banter about, you know it is a fine product.

This would make a nice textbook for the purposes of helping students understand the issues endemic to the stage of adolescence as well as the cultural influences which shape the experience. Finally, the book gives cogent clues for how those who care about youth can practically serve the needs of youth. Nice job.


Barna, George. 1995. Evangelism that works. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. ISBN: 0-8307-1739-0. 176 pages. Reviewed by Mark W. Cannister, Associate Professor of Youth Ministries, Gordon College.

George Barna declares in the introduction that this "is not a book of theology, doctrine or even statisticus." This is a book about the Church which is called to evangelism, yet has lost the evangelistic hunger which first gave it life. It is based on Barna's years of experience and 32 interviews with evangelistic churches across the U.S.A.

Evangelism examines the state of evangelism in our nation today by answering seven critical questions:

This is a very well done analysis of evangelism in America and would be an excellent read for students in evangelism and/or discipleship courses.


Bass, Dorothy C., ed. 1997. Practicing our faith: A way of life for a searching people. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 232 pages. ISBN: 0780787903367. Reviewed by Gary Parrett, Assistant Professor of Youth Ministries, Gordon College.

Dorothy Bass edited volume, Practicing Our Faith, offers a needed reminder that the Christian life is not a merely cerebral exercise: a faith not only to be believed, but to be obeyed, lived and shared. Ten Christian practices (described as "things Christian people do together over time in response to and in the light of Gods active presence for the life of the world") are discussed by the various authors. Topics include "Honoring the Body," "Hospitality," "Household Economics," "Keeping Sabbath" and "Dying Well."

As important as its message is, however, the book is not as helpful as one might hope. Like many edited works, this collection suffers from uneven treatments of the various topics. Some chapters are well-grounded biblically and theologically, yet in others such grounding seems peripheral at best. There is an unevenness in the choice of the "practices" themselves. Not all seem to fit the definition of "things Christians do together."

The book is not helped by the fact that the first two practices, "Honoring the Body" and "Hospitality," are the weakest chapters in the book, perhaps discouraging one not to read on. That would be unfortunate, however. There are some insightful elements in the chapters that follow, especially the editors chapter on "Keeping Sabbath."

In spite of its shortcomings, the book may prove helpful for use in courses that deal with the educational implications of the entire life of the church, the family, and the faith community. There are enough challenging stories and good chapters to make this book worth the read.


Bernier, Paul. 1992. Ministry in the Church. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications. ISBN: 0-896225364. Reviewed by Gary Newton, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Denver Seminary.

Bernier, a Catholic scholar from the Philippines, challenges us to consider new forms of ministry in the church based upon a careful analysis of culture, lessons from history and the commission from Jesus christ. He critically analyzes the development of the role of church leaders throughout history. With remarkable openness he reveals the cultural and his thorough research and documentation provides the reader with accurate pictures of the major distinctives of ministry in the church within various historical periods.

This book provides a much needed balance to the "protestant bias" within our discipline of Christian education. (I actually found myself saying "amen" at several points in the book.) This text would be appropriate as supplemental reading for courses in the History of Christian Education, Historical Foundations of Pastoral Ministry, or The Historical Foundations of Leadership in the Church.


Borgman, Dean. 1997. When Kumbaya Isnt Enough: A Practical Theology for Youth Ministry. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. 234 pages. ISBN: 1-56563-247-8. Reviewed by Mark A. Lamport, Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

Dean Borgman, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has gathered together the experience of many years in the classroom as well as the wisdom that comes with age to write his definitive statement on youth ministry. This is a treatise which looks at various topics in the field through theological lenses: culture, human development, social relationships, media, humor, music, and sexuality. To the authors credit, I wonder how many other youth ministry texts have chapters on exegesis and contextualization!

This substantive volume skillfully weaves Borgmans knowledge of Scripture and theological discourse with an up-to-date wealth of commentary on pop culture. The bibliography is diverse. Each of the eleven chapters ends with a series of thought-provoking questions, which could easily be the basis for classroom discussion and/or writing assignments.

As someone who continues the struggle to find substantial texts in the field of youth ministry, I am pleased that this one will add another very viable option. I heartily recommend it.


Carmody, Denise Lardner. 1996. Organizing a Christian mind: A theology of higher education. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International. ISBN: 1563381656. Reviewed by Darwin K. Glassford, Montreat College, Montreat, NC.

Denise Lardner Carmody, writing in the Thomistic tradition, provides a marvelous vision for Christian liberal arts education. This vision seeks to give the theological enterprise its proper place both theoretically and practically in the curriculum.

In spite of her noteworthy effort, her Thomistic roots provide some incipient difficulties. She attempts to transcend the difficulties, dealing with them honestly and forthrightly. The most significant difficulty is her dualism. She bifurcates. For example, when discussing the physical nature, she claims that creationism–if viewed as "philosophy of science"–is alien to the natural scientist. She fails to recognize that philosophical assumptions guide, influence and inform the natural scientist's endeavors. Philosophical assumptions according to Ian Barbour, Thomas Kuhn, Francis Schaeffer and Phillip Johnson cannot be excised so neatly.

A liberal arts curriculum, according to Carmody, should be divided into four areas: human nature, physical nature, politics and divinity. One could take issue with her divisions, but her attempt to preserve a liberal arts curriculum and guard against its metamorphosis into a professional or vocational one is refreshing.

In spite of the book's shortcomings, it asks penetrating questions and provides searching answers that are

worthy of examination. Her discussion of the nature of a liberal arts education is insightful. Organizing the Christian Mind is a worthy read punctuated with thoughtful and enjoyable insights.


Chaffee, Paul. 1997. Accountable leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. ISBN: 0787903647. Reviewed by Gary Newton, Associate Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

As a veteran pastor and institutional leader, Chaffee writes from a reservoir of experience on how to deal with a broad range of ethical, financial and legal issues in ministry. Summarizing the advice from a wide range of denominational experts, the book provides hundreds of valuable resourcesbooks, periodicals, training programs, agencieswhere church and parachurch leaders can find additional sources of information.

The text would prove invaluable to students entering ministry who are ignorant of the complex legal issues of ministry in todays culture. It would also serve as a resource for leaders working with church or organizational boards. Topics relating to legal requirements, the governing board, financial management, employment practices, clergy misconduct, abusive behavior and contracting are covered thoroughly and clearly. The resources provided at the end of each chapter provide current sources of additional help and information.

This text would be especially useful as a supplementary resource book in a college or seminary class in administration or leadership.


Conn, Harvie M., ed. 1997. Planting and growing urban churches: From dream to reality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 272 pages. ISBN: 080102109X. Reviewed by Doug Barcalow, Associate Professor of Educational Ministries, Taylor University.

Harvie Conn spent twelve years as a missionary in Korea. Since 1972 he has served as professor of missions at Westminster Theological Seminary. Planting is the compilation of 17 essays from the quarterly journal Urban Mission. It creates a handy introductory book on reaching urban centers. Conn begins with an insight from the 19th century into the evangelical view of the city. Contrasting those who saw the city as evil with those who saw it as strategic for reaching the lost, Conn proceeds to guide the reader into a fuller understanding of why the Church must again view the city as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission as we enter the 21st century.

The essays are arranged in four categories: research, strategy planning, targeting and samples. Each section concludes with a collection of resources. The essays are concise and well-documented, providing the reader with valuable material. The only disappointment with the essays is that some include citations which are dated. In a rapidly emerging field such as this, current research is essential. The suggested resources at the end of each section help to overcome this problem, however.

This is an excellent text to introduce students to this field.


Dyck, Elmer, ed. 1996. The act of Bible reading: A multi-disciplinary approach to biblical interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 182 pages. Reviewed by Clair Allen Budd, Associate Professor of Christian Ministries, Asbury College.

In "The Act of Bible Reading," Dyck has collected six formidable essays on how we can read God's Word meaningfully and skillfully. All contributors are members of the faculty at Regent College, and include Gordon Fee and J. I. Packer.

The first two chapters address reading Scripture in the context of history and canon, respectively. Packers' chapter on reading Scripture in the context of theology as a safeguard to spurious interpretations deserves a careful reading. The next two chapters certainly are heavier reading: one from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge with its concern for who says what is true and what they have to gain from it, and the other facing the challenges of postmodern assaults on truth. Both authors recognize a concern for the authority of Scripture and a god who makes Himself known. The final essay reviews the practice of Scripture reading from the first century, focusing on reading as spiritually formative rather than scholarly productive (reminiscent of Palmer's "To Know as We Are Known").

The book has excellent possibilities as a supplemental text for courses in Bible study and teaching, though probably better for upper-division and graduate students.


Dykstra, Robert C. 1997. Counseling troubled youth. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN: 0-664-25654-6. Reviewed by Dan Lambert, Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry, Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary.

Weaving some specific personal experiences and professional counseling case studies together with theological precepts and social commentary, Dykstra uses this book to make his case for an approach to adolescent pastoral counseling he calls "the eschatological self." Taking James Mastersons concept of developmental object relations theory and combining it with the self psychology work of Heinz Kohut and Jurgen Moltmans doctrine of Christian hope, the author lays a foundation for the construct of his theory, then uses four case studies in an attempt to support it.

What is exciting about Dykstras idea is the much-needed reminder that salvation through Christ ultimately offers hope to the hopeless. What is troubling, however, is that he uses some very specific and relatively obscure (at least to the field of Christian education) psychological and theological theories to support it. The eschatological self, by Dykstras way of thinking, is who people are as a result of who they will be. He poses the question, "Might ones future actually create ones present and past experiences?" (p.15). Of the four case studies used to illustrate his theory, only two are actually of teenagers, and one of those is a reflection on the youths biography rather than an actual case study.

For readers to appreciate this book, its best use would be in a setting where students are well schooled in various psychological and theological theories. While its stated purpose is to give pastoral counselors working with youth a new way of approaching troubled kids without hope, it seems more likely to find a welcome place in classrooms with graduate-level Christian psychology students.


Erdman, Chris. W. 1996. Beyond chaos: Living the Christian family in a world like ours. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Reviewed by Ed Robinson, Nazarene Theological Seminary.

"Beyond Chaos" is not another book about the Christian family coping with issues of contemporary life. It explores the nature of those issues. "Beyond" is not another book about planning quality church programs. It is a book which probes the spirituality of family life. "Beyond" is not another book which addresses the need for better interpersonal communication, discipline, and home management. It is a book which seeks for criteria to determine whether the home is authentically Christian. In fact, "Beyond Chaos" is not really a book about helping the family. It is a book which challenges the family to be an authentic witness of Christ through the Church to the world.

Erdman, a parish pastor, poignantly exposes the cultural milieu which is squeezing the contemporary family into its mold. This milieu is characterized by the loss of identity, the privatization of religious faith, the rise of spiritual pluralism. By utilizing the biblical themes of Exile, Babylon, and Exodus, Erdman challenges the Christian family to accept the mission of rejecting the values of the milieu. Central to his challenge is reality that Christian families must recognize their alien status, be unafraid to name and challenge the secular idols of society, and live in the power of the Gospel to provide divine hope for a downward spiral of despair. The writing genre is a good example of the integration of ancient biblical themes with the cultural and religious realities of the present. Perspectives reminiscent of Brueggemann, Willimon, and Moltmann are evident.

The practical section, which seeks to describe what the Christian family would look like if it took this challenge seriously, is much broader in its application than simply the home. Erdman uses ordinary family stories to illustrate this extraordinary virtue of authentic faith. But what Erdman describes is not really about individual families. It is about the congregation (i.e., the congregate of families) becoming the Church both in its gathered and dispersed state. He is calling family to be church well. Concerns for the validity of marriage and singleness, authenticity and honesty, personal and corporate greed and the poor, discipline and nurture, forgiveness and acceptance represent some of the countercultural issues Erdman finds compelling for this contemporary witness of Christian families.

"Beyond Chaos" will not satisfy the professor who is looking for a survey text in family ministry. Its themes are too narrow, and its program too abstract. This is no weakness, however, for the author had no intentions of providing this kind of resource. The work wasn't written for the classroom. It was written for the congregation. "Beyond Chaos" would provide a strong supplemental resource for a course which seeks to avow the power of authentic congregational life to nurture authentic Christian faith in its own constituents and model the Gospel day by day with passion and integrity wherever they are.


Flowers, Ronald. B. 1994. That godless court? Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press. ISBN: 0-664-25562-0. Reviewed by J. Gregory Lawson.

Flowers is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Texas Christian University. He is also the coauthor of a casebook on Supreme Court decisions on church-state issues. According to the author, the purpose of this book is to analyze whether the Court is "godless" or is simply trying to maintain neutrality between church and state. The author covers such important topics as an overview of the Supreme Court and constitutional principles, scope of religious freedom, congregational fights and pacificism, aid to church-related schools, religion in public schools, complexity of establishment clause cases and future church-state issues.

This book is worthwhile reading for the Christian education, but the reader must understand that the author is a strict separationist in his view of church-state relations. Also the author is concerned with the political agenda of the Christian Right and some of their positions which, in his opinion, have tended to polarize society. Whether you agree or disagree with the philosophical bias of the author, there is some good factual information that can be utilized in Christian education.


Fraser, Elouise Renich. 1998. Confessions of a beginning theologian. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN: 0830815198. Reviewed by Bob Whittet, Gordon College, Wenham, MA.

Dr. Elouise Renich Fraser is a professor of systematic theology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. An accomplished theologian, Renich Fraser takes the reader in an honest heartfelt journey of faith in her life. She shares the many struggles, both personal and institutional, encountered over the years. She allows us to take a peak at the roadblocks she worked her way through and over on the way to her mature faith and love for the Bible. The development of one's personal theology is shaped by a variety of factors, and Renich Fraser shares these factors with the reader.

This book reminds veteran theologians of the issues they once wrestled with as they began their own studies in theology. At the same time it also points out that in theological circles, some of the toughest battles have been those fought by women seeking to enter the formerly closed world of formal theological study. Confessions of a Beginning Theologian opens the curtain to reveal some of the struggles encountered by women as told through the author's own struggle. For women, the difficulty is not always deciding the meaning of a specific text as much as struggling with institutional prejudices placed in their way.

The text would be helpful as a supplemental book in a course on beginning theology or a class which deals with issues faced by women in ministry.


Keely, Barbara Anne, ed. 1997. Faith of our Foremothers. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-25721-6.
Reviewed by Jackie L. Smallbones, Assistant Professor of Christian Education & Religion at Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa.

Faith of our Foremothers is the story of twelve women, primarily from non-Evangelical positions, who have influenced 20th century Christian Education in the United States.

In her introduction, Keely, professor of CE at United Theological Seminary, emphasizes that the purpose of the book was not only to "hear one another into speech," but also to demonstrate how these women contributed to the feminist approach to education. She suggests eight ‘threads’ that are woven into the tapestry of women’s work in religious education. They range from universal Christian concerns such as the importance of the community and relationships within them, to issues considered problematic by some, dealing with power struggles in the church and how language shapes religious knowing. By and large, I find her eight ‘threads’ a helpful outline for doing Christian education.

The greatest strength of the book is its narrative approach. I gained a new perspective on the history of Christian education in the U.S. through these women educators. Hilda Niebuhr sounds wonderful. She taught in the classroom and practiced it in a compassionate life committed to the poor. Iris V. Cully’s story affirmed me in my approach to CE. I learned from Sophia Fahs’ practice, albeit not from her theology! I could ‘listen’ to all these women and evaluate my own story.

The greatest weakness of the book was the insistence on the feminist agenda. Not all the women considered themselves feminists, a fact admitted by the contributor. But all were forced into the feminist mold.

Keely’s book will make provocative reading in a foundational issues or history of CE course, enabling us to reflect on CE from the much-needed women’s perspective.


Kraus, C. Norman. 1998. An intrusive Gospel? Christian mission in the postmodern world. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN: 0830815465. Reviewed by Darwin K. Glassford, Montreat College, Montreat, NC.

What should the church's understanding of her missionary endeavors be in a postmodern context? It is this question C. Norman Kraus explores in a lucid and refreshing manner from an Anabaptist perspective.

He begins by exploring the challenges wrought by postmodernism and examining what the church can glean from it. Historically the Gospel message has been deeply shaped by western cultural standards, including the promise of upward mobility. Postmodernism reminds the church that all cultures are dynamic and relative to the biblical teaching on the Kingdom of God, and that the church must reconsider the nature of the Gospel message and how to consistently communicate it cross-culturally.

After providing the framework, he challenges the reader to think through the relationship between a mission’s presence and the message it proclaims. Intervention into a culture must be holistic, not merely the transference of a model or program from one culture to another. The intervention model he proposes is indirect and vicarious. It is indirect in the sense that we cannot go with preconstructed solutions to be imposed on the situation.

 

It is vicarious in the sense that we must become one with those whom we serve. He labels his position the transformational paradigm. The remainder of the book explores the implications of this paradigm for doing missions and development work in a culturally sensitive and spiritually nourishing manner.

An Intrusive Gospel? is an enlightening introduction to the challenges of mission work in a postmodern context. This book would be a suitable addition to any class that addresses working in a cross-cultural context and a necessary introduction for any student planning to work cross-culturally.


Lawler, Michael. 1990. A theology of ministry. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward. ISBN: 1-55612-301-8. 130 pages. Reviewed by Dean G. Blevins, Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Trevecca Nazarene University.

Lawler's "A Theology of Ministry" is probably the most "catholic" in language and resources, but may also be the most interesting in the classroom. He sees ministry as a derivative of ecclesiology and begins with the nature and purpose of the church. Lawler then discusses the nature of ministry. Though he takes the traditional understanding of the priesthood, there is an interesting chapter on women in ministry. Each chapter has reflection questions and suggested readings. Since the test is Catholic, it may present interpretation problems in an evangelical classroom. This dilemma is disappointing since the author offers considerable insight into an understanding of ministry, a point that many develop an analogical discussion between the text and the students' experience ("how is this view of ministry similar or different from our evangelical view?").


Marsh, Clinton M. 1997. Evangelism is . . . Louisville, KY: Geneva Press. ISBN: 0664500137. Reviewed by Greg Carlson, Grace University, Omaha, NE.

Evangelism Is . . . contains some well_tested concepts for evangelism via the local church with a pleasing philosophical base of fresh ideas and proven principles. The author, Clinton M. Marsh, served as a pastor in an African_American Presbyterian Church (18 years) and 12 years in various roles as missionary and denominational staff member for evangelism. His purpose is to help persons understand the Why? Who? How? When? and sometimes Why not? of an evangelism team in the local church.

 

While some will struggle with the staid examples, and a bent toward more liberal viewpoints like theistic evolution and perhaps a nonliteral hell, Marsh almost accomplishes the task of updating some well_seasoned advice. The book may foster some good theological debate.

The book is prophetically polemic at times, and in this may be its greatest value. Chapters four and five on "Crossing Barriers" and "Faith in Action" are especially thought provoking. As a black Presbyterian minister, Marsh shares insights of dealing with barriers which seem imposing. Using John chapter four as the basis for his observations, the author presents some pastoral and practical advice in the area of evangelism. The book is most likely a companion text for evangelism or pastoral practice courses.


Martin, Frank. 1995. War in the pews: A foxhole guide to surviving Church conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN: 0-8308-1640-2. 191 pages. Reviewed by Steve Mullen, Williams Baptist College.

Church conflict resembles a cancer. While no one like to admit its existence, camouflaging the relatiy of such conflict can be terminal. Martin poignantly addresses this insipid issue in a manner that is genuine, yet nonconfrontational.

Martin strategically divides the book into three sections: "When the battle lines have been drawn," "A six-step plan for survival" and "In defense of a little unity." Each section contains biblical as well as practical aplication regarding church conflict. His six-step plan for survival includes inestimable advice for those who find themselves involved in church conflict: "Go to your knees." A valuable discussion for those who choose to leave as well as those who choose to remain in a church replete with conflict is also contained.

Christian education can ill-afford to placate this issue. We would be wise to consider using this text in orientation courses as well as courses focusing on interpersonal relationships.


Melchert, Charles F. 1998. Wise teaching: Biblical wisdom and educational ministry. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press. 336 pages. ISBN: 1563381397. Reviewed by Mark A. Lamport, Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

Chuck Melchert is to APRRE what Dennis Williams is to NAPCE. Melchert is the Executive Secretary of the Association of Professors and Researchers of Religious Education, and serves as adjunct professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

Frankly, not too people many could have written this book. One must be sufficiently conversant in two content areas: biblical literature and educational ministry. Wisdom skillfully answers the question: what do the literary forms and content of the wisdom texts (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Synoptic Gospels and several intertestamental books) presuppose, entail, or imply about the reader-learners about the learning and teaching processes? As the reader discovers, they say a lot and so does Melchert, very profoundly.

This reviewer attended a Melchert-led seminar at a recent APRRE conference. Chuck spoke on the provocative topic in chapter six, "Why Didnt Jesus Tell Bible Stories?" (He is right by the way, Jesus didnt.) Whereas, many professors may be tempted to over-emphasize principles of teaching from social science, we are reminded here of the substantive material the Bible presents to those of us who teach teaching. I had long been impressed with Robert Steins, The Method and Message of Jesus (Westminster, 1978) as a way of culling biblical principles of teaching and learning for the purpose of the contemporary application. There appears to be no close rival to this book in its subject matter. Some may be curious about the space given to Sirach, Tobit and Sophia, nonetheless, but they are very welcome and needed contributions to the educational ministries discipline.

Christians and Jews have a rich heritage of wisdom literature whose purpose is to instruct people in the skillful application of truth to daily living. In fact, I have decided to use Daniel Estes, Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning from Proverbs 1-9 (Eerdmans, 1997) as one text in an undergraduate course on "teaching." Melcherts book requires a careful read and may be too lofty for undergraduates, but I would certainly consider it carefully for a graduate course or as great background lecture material for undergrads.


Moran, Gabriel. 1997. Showing how: The act of teaching. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International. 250 pgs. Reviewed by Bob De Vries, Professor of Church Education, Calvin Theological Seminary.

Moran, who is generally acknowledged to be a leader in the field of religious education, turns his attention in this latest work to the philosophical and ethical aspects of teaching. Rather than settling for a simplistic answer to the question "Why teach?," Moran pursues the epistemological and ethical aspects of the issue"How do we know? How are we able to communicate that knowledge to others? Ethically we must ask about the morality of effecting change in others. What are the moral implications of indoctrination and/or teaching morality?"

The book is divided into three principal parts: what does it mean to teach, what are the languages of teaching, and what are the implications of this teaching for education, the school, and the morality of teaching.

Moran's volume, like so many of his other works, breaks the pattern of traditional thought. He asks hard questions and especially challenges those rooted in the evangelical tradition. But the questions are valid insofar as they are necessary questions for all educators to consider.

This book is likely best suited for use in upper level college and seminary courses on the philosophy and theology of Christian education. The text is well footnoted and contains a full index of topics.


Pollard, Nick. 1997. Evangelism made slightly less difficult. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1908-8. 178 pages.
Reviewed by Greg Carlson, Grace University, Omaha, Nebraska.

Nick Pollard is a campus evangelist who does a great service to campus and student pastors. Pollard is current, concise, and practical in addressing those along the following spectrum of evangelistic effort. The four sections of the book speak to: 1) Those who are not interested in the gospel (positive deconstruction); 2) Those who know very little about Jesus (gospel proclamation); 3) Those who have questions and doubts (apologetics) and 4) Those who are ready to receive Christ. (Gospel presentation).

Pollard writes in a simple, practical style with plenty of personal illustrations both positive and negative. He clearly has a heart to equip our generation to be more effective in evangelism. Youth groups, college ministries, churches and parachurch ministries will be strengthened as a result of studying this book. It is up to date, challenging, and insightful.


Ratcliff, Donald, ed. 1992. Handbook of childrens religious education. Religious Education Press. Reviewed by Dave Rockwell, Bible Baptist College.

Ten chapters makeup this handbook. Several of them develop traditional concerns of children's ministry, e.g., "Characteristics of School-Aged Children" by Gary A. Buzzelli, and "General Procedures of Teaching Religion" by James Michael Lee. Additional chapters expand the children's workers competency through a consideration of less common topics. These workers include "Faith Development and the Language of Faith" by Jerome W. Berryman and "Assessment, Placement, and Evaluation" by Donald Ratcliff.

A strength of the handbook lies in the contributors' attention to bring to their respective contributions the more pertinent material of particular value to the thoughtful children's worker in religious education. Cary Buzzelli and Kevin Walsh, for example, present several models of discipline setting of the child's training in faith.

The handbook could best be used in upper level and master's level courses in Christian education where an emphasis on philosophy for practice is given. It could also prove valuable to the practitioner in children's work who is seeking substantial support for either continuation of ministry practice or significant reasons for change in ministry practice.


Rogers, William B. 1996. Being a Christian educator: Discovering your identity, heritage, and vision. Macon, GA: Smith & Helwys Pub. 100 pgs. ISBN: 1-57312-092-8. Reviewed by Kevin Lawson, Associate Professor of Educational Ministries, Talbot Theological Seminary.

This book is the first in the "Faith Growth" series by Smith & Helwys, overviewing the work of Christian education. In it, Rogers develops a philosophical perspective built on his understanding of the dynamic synergism of various components that are foundational to educational ministry (faith growth): the curricular tasks (worship, community, Bible study, discipleship), church functions (administration, witness, teaching), and the groupings (family, children, youth, adult), that are utilized in its accomplishment. He also addresses issues and raises questions regarding the locus of authority for faith growth and the roles of discipline and historical and personal experience in the spiritual growth process.

Rogers provides a helpful basic structure for examining foundational issues, and responds to the issues raised with positions that are at times simple and profound, and at other times vague or not well developed. His evaluation of other positions and historical practices tends toward caricature, while his own position is presented as a dialectic between others' extremes. In some respects the text raises significant issues and provides a glimpse at how they might be approached. Ultimately, the work suffers from its brevity and the attempt to interact with so many ideas in so little space. It could serve as supplemental reading in a philosophical foundations course to raise issues for discussion.


Schner, George P. 1993. Education for ministry. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward. ISBN: 1-55612-566-6. 195 pages. Reviewed by Dean G. Blevins, Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Trevecca Nazarene University.

Schner's "Education for Ministry" draws from a broader selection of Protestant and Catholic sources, but has the least impact on the CE classroom. Instead his text is quite appropriate for a discussion amony religion faculty on the nature and purpose of ministerial education. Schner begins with a discussion of three foundational questions about ministers today (are they professional? practical? devoted?), follows with a theological discussion of ministerial identity and authority, and finishes by discussing how theological education might be implemented through pedagogy, faculty development and institutional curriculum. Of particular note is his treatment of formal theological education as a moment between the initial call to ministry and the conferring of that calling in ordination. Schner's final three chapters will raise considerable debate among faculty, particularly his critique of traditional models of pedagogy and his novel alternative of teaching parenting.


Stonehouse, Catherine. 1998. Joining children on the spiritual journey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 237 pgs. ISBN: 0801058074. Reviewed by Susan Schriver, Director of Supervised Ministry Experience and Doctoral Programs Coordinator, School of Christian Education and Leadership, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In this new text, Catherine Stonehouse explores a broad array of theorists who have contributed to our understanding of the development of the child. Her primary assertions are ones which are commonly shared by those involved in ministry to and with children: faith development begins in childhood, and effective spiritual education must be grounded in an understanding of the human developmental process.

A large portion of the book is given to an exploration of the theories of Erickson, Piaget, Kohlberg, Fowler and Rizzuto. Jerome Berryman's work in the area of "godly play" is used as a methodological framework for an exploration of how one can effectively facilitate the nurture of faith among children. The work is full of interesting illustrations, anecdotes and life stories which compliment the emphasis on the roles the parent and the faith community play in fostering a child's spiritual journey.

The last two chapters of the book especially caught my attention and left me wanting more. In these chapters the author explores methods for putting theory into practice in such a way that children are assisted in their personal "meeting with God." I found myself wishing at the end of the chapters that the author had addressed how "having the faith of a child" as an adult could be moved from theory into practice as well.

The thoroughness with which the author explores the various developmental theories is both its strength and weakness. The content of much of the text is not "new" material, but rather a re-presentation of popular developmental theories. At the same time, those who are unfamiliar with the material may find this helpful; it will certainly work well in the classroom as an introductory text on childhood development.


Swatos, Jr., William H., ed. 1998. Encyclopedia of religion and society. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. 590 pages. ISBN: 0-7619-8956-0. Reviewed by: Mark A. Lamport, Ph.D. Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

At $125, I am definitely not recommending every professor should buy this weighty volume. It is a 5-pound reference book with over 500 entries by over 100 contributors. This encyclopedia best fits the academic realm of sociology of religion. The compendium attempts to bring together a state-of-the-art summary of the insights gained by the principal social sciences of religion: anthropology, psychology, and sociology. As I skimmed the contributors, only a very few of the names seemed familiar.

Although no past or present NAPCE member is mentioned in this volume, there are articles on some of the requisite stereotypes of conservative Protestantism: Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. "Religious education" is included, but not "Christian education" nor "youth ministry." Limited, banal articles address "evangelicalism" and "fundamentalism." "Liberalism" is not included as a entry; neither is, believe it or not, "Jesus" or "Transcendence," although "Immanence" is. (Do you catch a theological bias?) As I read entries on "Christianity" and "Biblical Studies," I had the image of authors trying to write a biography of someone unknown to themsterile.

Finally, I would have wished for an introductory essay for the uninitiated (such as myself) on the major themes, events and influential persons in American religion and society. An introductory essay would have set the table for the myriad of terms and movements that follow. Probably an acceptable investment for the reference section of your institutions library, but no need to rush out and snatch this one for your personal collection.


Van Rheenen, Gailyn. 1996. Missions: Biblical foundations & contemporary strategies. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. ISBN: 0-310-208909-2. 251 pages. Reviewed by Philip Bustrum, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Cornerstone College.

"Missions" is a primer for present and future missionaries examining the foundation and task of mission work. The book, written by Gailyn Van Rheenen, professor at Abilene Christian University, draws heavily from his thirteen years of missionary experience among the Kipsigis people of Kenya.

In the book Van Rheenen lays a brief but adequate groundwork for missions before moving on to discuss the cycle of missionary service. The majority of the book addresses the question, "How does one do missions?" In response he discusses the issues of cultural identification, learning a new culture, attitudes of cultural superiority, and how to communicate cross-culturally presenting theory and practical illustrations from his own missionary service.

Three of the eleven chapters in the book are devoted to developing stretegy for doing missions, focusing on planting churches and developing church leaders. The book concludes with a balanced answer to the question of what criteria should missionaries and mission groups use to determine fields of service. Each chapter concludes with questions and case studies which could extend learning form the book.

This book would be an excellent introductory text for any college or seminary class for students who are considering mission service. It is balanced, well researched, and presents options rather than solutions. I highly recommend it.


Westerhoff, John. 1994. Spiritual life: The foundation for preaching and teaching. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press. ISBN: 0-664-25500-0. 80 pages. Reviewed by Mark A. Lamport, Professor of Educational Ministries, Huntington College.

The former professor of Christian Nurture at Duke University Divinity School has written one of those books that takes 2 hours to read and a lifetime to practice and perfect. It is peened for those clergy and volunteers who proclaim the gospel regularly in Word and examples. Is it possible for preachers and teachers to have a fully effective ministry if their personal spiritual lives are not vibrant? No, say the author. Westerhoff says, "I became convinced that the spiritual life is the heart of my life as a teacher and preacher, indeed, essential to faithful ministry."

He offers practical suggestions for nurturing the spiritual life and shares his experience on the journey. Here is one of the few places I have seen to speak of the dynamic of personality types and spiritual formation. Could be a wonderful text, although very brief, for undergraduate or graduate classes.


Whitehead, James D., and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead. 1990. Method in ministry: Theological reflection and Christian ministry. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward. ISBN: 1-55612-806-1. 154pages. Reviewed by Dean G. Blevins, Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Trevecca Nazarene University.

"Method in Ministry" is a revision of Whiteheads' manuscript fifteen years ago. The strength of the text lies in the first chapter. They present their model and method for "pastoral reflection." The model includes a conversation between Christian Tradition (including the Bible), personal experience (personal and corporate) and larger culture. The method has three stages: Attending (each source is listened to with appreciation and critical reflection), Assertion (each source makes claims about the issue) and Pastoral Reflection (decides how to respond).

The rest of the text is primarily an expansion of the first chapter, developing each of the sources of theology and methodological steps. The final third of the text contains examples of "doing theology." while the model provides a helpful paradigm, some evangelicals will feel skittish about the role Scripture is assigned in the model. While the Bible is viewed as authoritative, the contributing authors seems to rely too heavily on historical-critical and form critical approaches. There are some interesting ideas on helping adults to think theologically, viewing ministerial reflection as playful and contemplating missiological issues in ministry. Ultimately whiteheads' text provides an effective means for CE students and professors to reflect theologically on their discipline in the classroom and on the job.


Wilkerson, Barbara, ed. 1997. Multicultural religious education. Birmingham: Religious Education Press. ISBN: 0-89135-101-9. 432 pages. $20.95. Reviewed by Robert C. De Vries, Ph.D., Professor of Church Education, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"We live in a global world." How often haven’t you heard that comment? Yet how often do we not simply continue our ministry as if we were ethnically and culturally isolated? This edited volume by Wilkerson can provide important guidelines and content for assisting you, your students, and Ministers of Education learn to see the world as God sees it. Wouldn’t it be silly if a person lived in a 32-room mansion, yet only actually occupied two of those rooms refusing to enter all the others? God has created many "rooms" on this globe, and we must help others enter and celebrate each one of them.

As with many other publications from REP, this book relies heavily on a social science approach. Divided into four major sections, the reader is exposed to foundational issues, a glimpse at various cultural groups (African-American, Pacific-Asian, Hispanic, and Native American), ministry strategies, and a challenging conclusion by Virgilio Elizondo entitled "Benevolent Tolerance or Humble Reverence? A Vision for Multicultural Religious Education." Here he confronts "the sin of dogmatic ethnocentrism" and then calls us to conversion in Christ and construction on new church homes marked by patient trust, along with a welcoming and inclusive attitude.


Wimberly, Edward P. 1997. Recalling our own stories: Spiritual renewal for religious care givers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 0787903639. Reviewed by Wayne Day, Associate Professor of Christian Studies, Youth and Family Ministries, Union University.

Recalling Our Own Stories came from the experience of providing spiritual renewal retreats. The books purposes are to enable persons to realize how cultural expectations influence them to explore, edit and reauthor attitudes, expectations and convictions about ministry, and to provide a model for spiritual and emotional renewal.

The book addressed specific issues which religious care givers face. Case studies and vignettes are used throughout. At the end of several chapters, the author suggests exercises for reflection, which should lead to questioning the myths in ones own life. In later chapters the book focuses on specific people and their reauthoring process. The four mythologies faced are personal, marital, family and ministry.

I found the stories of others journeys most beneficial. The final chapter of the book is designed to help readers reauthor, rethink and meditate on the way their thinking has been shaped. Volunteer or vocational ministers (clergy or laity) minister out of a healthy sense of self. This book will help them rethink, question and reauthor their spiritual journey with less dependence on culture and more dependence on faith and belief.


Zikmund, Barbara Brown, Adair T. Lummis, and Patricia Mei Yin Chang 1998. Clergy women: An uphill calling. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press. ISBN: 0664256732. Reviewed by Faye Chechowich, Taylor University, Upland, IN.

This volume provides a rich array of data that brings to light both the joys and challenges experienced by women in ministerial roles. Six examples of some of those findings that were of particular interest to me include: 1) women comprised 10% of the clergy in the fifteen denominations surveyed; 2) overall laity opinions of ordained women are positive; 3) clergy are increasingly seeking employment in non_parish ministries; 4) about half of female clergy are in assistant, associate or co_pastor roles while only 14% of male clergy function as assistants, associates or in co_pastorates; 5) age rather than gender is the best predictor of leadership style for both male and female clergy; and 6) maturity and age are positive assets for female clergy in most denominations.

The Center for Social and Religious Research at Hartford Seminary surveyed male and female clergy and laypersons in fifteen denominations across a wide range of theological perspectives. Excerpts from follow_up interviews illustrate the significance of the statistical data, and make this volume an engaging read. Because this work builds on a 1981 study, there are some helpful observations about trends during a period when there has been exponential growth in the numbers of women clergy in some denominations. Even though the data are interpreted with special focus on women's issues, the data describe the male clergy experience as well. In addition, perspectives about the clergy from both male and female laity are presented.

This book is a valuable resource for any woman contemplating the path of ordination. They will find the comparison of denominational policy and culture

helpful. The book could be used as an illustrative, supplemental text in women's ministry courses.


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