On Wednesday evening the Academy of Parish Clergy gave an official launch to a new book series for clergy. We're calling this series -- published in partnership with Energion Publications and of which I'm the General Editor -- Conversations in Ministry.The series title emphasizes the hope that the books will encourage clergy to engage with each other in conversations about their ministries. The hope of the writers and editors is not to birth superficial or theoretical discussions on or about ministry, but conversations in – within the context of – ministry. We plan for these books to come in at or under 100 pages.
The first book in this series is entitled Clergy Table Talk: Eavesdropping on Ministry Issues in the 21st Century. It is authored by Kent Ira Groff, the author of nine other books. Unlike the books that will follow, this book covers a wide variety of topics, but in doing so it sets the tone for what is to come.
Kent writes in his "orientation" -- the word chosen for introduction -- how the book can be used:
Ways to use Clergy Table Talk are countless. It’s interactive, with questions in the text and at the end of each chapter, along with Spiritual Practices that can enrich any way you read it:
o For personal and spiritual formation and daily devotions;o For nurturing a spiritual friendship with one other minister;
o For an existing or a new clergy colleague group;o For a short-term lay adult class with a pastor sitting in;
o For lay ministers and church staff members;o For students interested in ministry.
With this introduction as to how the book might be used, consider these chapter titles:
At the end of each chapter, I include a spiritual practice inviting you to integrate the chapter’s theme into contemplative and active life. These resources lend themselves for personal reflection or for use as an opening meditation for a committee meeting or a clergy gathering. Each Spiritual Practice is followed by questions for personal reflection or for group conversation—in person, by texting, Internet, or phone.
- Crisis of Awareness: A Barebones Spiritual Practice
- Loss of Soul: A Crisis of Integrity, Passion and Wholeness
- Restoring the Soul: Nine Lenses for Holistic Spirituality
- Honoring Your Temple: Praying with the Body
- Busy vs. Active: Stillness While in Motion
- Praying on the Go: Practicing Lectio in All of Life
- Clergy Table Talk: God Outside Religious Boxes
- Spiritual Direction: The Yin and Yang of Questions and Stories
- Negative Capability: Prozac Days and Dark Nights
- Grace in the Grit: Exorcising the Demon of Perfectionism
- Surprise! Surprise. Serendipity and Shock in Ministry
- The Digital Divide: When the Younger Becomes the Elder
- Issues Clergy Don’t Talk About: Internet, Addictions, and Integrity
- Postmodern to Primodern: Preaching after the Jesus Seminar
- The Only Way vs. Many Rooms: Mission in a Pluralistic World
Enjoy the book and the future volumes in the series!!