Compiled by Rob Frost: Kingsway Publications, 2002, £20 (inc CD), ISBN 1 84291 1112
Amongst a plethora of postmodern
are Mind, Body and Spirit. They come as a package, and many people are keen to keep a balance of health in all three areas. What a time for the Kingdom of God - our neighbours desperate to find spiritual fulfilment while they tone their abs and flex their neurons!
Sadly, while the Church has the answer to this craving for spiritual fulfilment, many people try out all kinds of New Age practices in order to find peace... If only there was a resource for churches that wish to share a Christ centred spirituality - pointing seekers to the cross and promoting Christian meditation as an engaging option when it comes to finding holistic balance.
Well, now there's Essence.
Compiled by Rob Frost, Essence provides a step-by-step guide to putting on your own six-week course for spiritual seekers. This is very much a starting point for people - designed to encourage spiritual thoughts, questions and experiences within a Christian context -something that Alpha could lead on from perhaps?
Each week contains ice breaking and community forming games, deep discussion and, naturally, meditation - designed here to be a biblically sound alternative to other, 'perhaps less wholesome', relaxation techniques. The book breaks down each weekly session, laying out potential exercises in order, complete with any relevant poetry and prose extracts, Bible passages, reflections for meditations etc. - there's even a 'shopping list' at the end of each session breakdown, detailing exactly what you need to prepare in advance (and be warned - there can be a lot!)
The Essence pack comes with a CD, containing all the music and meditations referenced in the session breakdowns - so no hunting in HMV for relevant sounds. (although you might like to add to the excellent selection provided: for a gentle orchestral feel try tracks from Braveheart or Bicentennial Man by James Horner; for chillout sounds that an Ibiza crowd will love, have a listen to compilations from Café Del Mar).
The book begins with a short introduction and a few guidelines to get going, although these may be a little brief for some. As a resource pack, Essence contains almost everything you need to run the sessions. However, the pack may not calm every fear as you face this new concept. With this in mind, if you have a chance to go on an Essence training day then grab the opportunity, as you'll have the chance to experience some of the presented material and ask questions.
Essence is a major weapon in the war for souls in Britain. Arm yourselves!
Reviewed by Andy Crofts, Director of project X in the York and Hull District sponsored by the Local Mission Development Office of the Methodist Church.
Headline Autumn 2003 pp 22 & 25.