I have three books that I would like to recommend for some of you this month. Andrew Root has written a thoughtful analysis of how churches can obsess with the need to be youthful, and the dangers that such an obsession poses for lifelong faith formation. The book is called Faith Formation in a Secular Age (Baker Academic, 2017). It is not just about youth ministry, but about a broader analysis of faith formation, and how we can reset our practices to better reach this secular age we live in. Thanks to Drew Colby for introducing me to this book.
Walter Brueggemann is a familiar name to many who have read his books about the Old Testament. Now in his eighties, he has co-authored a book with his son, John Brueggemann, who is a sociologist. They have combined their two disciplines to give new perspectives on social issues and relationships that speak relevantly to where the American church finds itself. The book is Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and Contemporary Culture (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017). It includes chapters on care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. You may not always agree with their insights, but the method of turning to the scriptures for understanding the dynamics of modern life is very valuable for teachers and preachers.
The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry hosted a colloquy of seminary professors and other scholars last March, as part of the work of the Commission on the Way Forward. The presentations from that colloquy have now been published in a 550+ page book called Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality (GBHEM, 2018). If you are looking for some in-depth theological, historical, and ecclesiological reflection, then you will find here much to feast on, from a wide range of perspectives.