Equipping your Church in a Spiritual Age
Steve Hollinghurst, Yvonne Richmond, Roger Whitehead, Church House Publishing, 2005,64pp, £9.99, ISBN 085169314 8
This is a photocopiable A4-sized three-stage workbook designed to help local churches to discern and engage with the spirituality of those around them. It starts with listening to the six big questions identified in Beyond the Fringe. The first principle is encapsulated in the quotation in Chapter one, about starting from people’s own spirituality: ‘If God can use astrology to bring mystics from the East to worship the newborn Saviour, he can use anything to draw people to himself’.
The authors acknowledge that this may feel risky but suggest that we need to look for opportunities to enable people to have an experience of God, and then take it on from there. Chapters three to nine, the meat of the workbook, are about discerning what God is saying by discussing different ways of enabling people to have an experience of God, such as through rites of passage, festivals, healing and alternative therapies. There are examples of people putting the various approaches into practice, along with suggestions of things to do between meetings. Chapter 10 is about acting, or putting into practice what has been identified as appropriate for the local situation. It seems to me that Chapter 10 should be read after each of the main chapters!
This workbook is for those who are serious about understanding and engaging with the spirituality of those around them, and it will be demanding if followed through - although the amusing cartoons will help us on our way!
Reviewed by Margaret Parker, a counsellor, member of the Cliff College Committee and former Vice-president of the Methodist Conference
Headline, Winter 2005/6 p29