REVIEWED BY REV. REBECCA CRAVER |
I don’t think it is news for those of us in the Church that things are changing and we do not always feel like we are equipped to meet the changing needs of the world. Many congregations are interested in learning how they can begin the work of transformation that God is calling them into. But how? What can we do to find the way forward as Christians and congregations when things seem to be so different than we remember, if we grew up in the church?
This book offers some tools and reflections to support this kind of exploration. Cornwall shares his personal story through sermon texts that have been used in this book to create space for conversations that engage the reader around their own journey. He shares his belief that by understanding our past we can build towards the future. I think the author presents a compelling case for exploration that holds lightly the things that contribute to our identity like customs and tradition which have been so formative for us but do not seem to have the same impact in current practice. I have found that is more often traditions and customs that seem to be sticking points when we seek to be transformed through Christ, rather than theology. So this book with it’s focus on identity offers guidance on how to understand who we have been and who we are that is complimented by the customs and practices of faith we cherish but not defined only by them.
The idea of DNA that is at the base of individual and congregational identity and if we can use that as a starting point that will allow our future to have roots in where we have come from without being held hostage by the old adages, “we’ve always done it that way” and “well it worked for me, so it is good enough for them.” Cornwall calls for the exploration of a founding vision and deep reflection on the ways that vision has been lived out in the past. He encourages the reader to consider what they can learn from that founding vision in conversation with the present needs and hopes of people. By embracing the founding vision as a starting point, the individual or congregation can find a way to reset the practice of faith in such a way that allows for more movement and freedom to embrace the transformation they seek.
Each chapter invites the reader into Cornwall’s personal story so that the reader might be able to see corollaries with there own experiences. At the end of the chapters there are questions for individuals and congregations to help uncover more ideas to aid in discernment of God’s vision for the future. I found the questions broad and helpful for robust reflection and I imagine they could be very helpful in congregational and board settings to bring about wonderful discussions and energy for the next steps with God.
I recommend this book for individuals and churches who are experiencing the challenge of the changing world and wondering how to move forward.
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About the reviewer
As Director of Congregational Development, Rebecca works with congregations and provincial leadership to provide resources and support their ongoing work towards greater health and vitality. She works to cultivate collaborative relationships between and among pastors, congregations, provincial and interprovincial agencies and other partners. Working with communities of faith, her passion for capacity building and innovation have shaped her 15 year career in ordained ministry. She has led communities in reimagining their structures, practices, and traditions as they embrace Jesus’ call, supporting them through organizational change, worship creation, and adult learning curriculum. Rebecca’s evenings and weekends are often spent investing in good conversation over a mocha, making new connections in the community, or delighting in the laughter of her children and spouse. Email Rebecca.