CEM Disciple Formation Team - Book Reviews

The DFT is all about reading. Everyone who is a part of the DFT are keeners when it comes to the printed word. This page highlights books that we believe are useful to everyone. All books are listed in alphabetical order by title:

  • "Called to be a Prophetic People" by Carol Cease Campbell.
  • Carol Cease Campbell has graduate degree in religion from Wesley Theological Seminary and the University of Detroit Mercy and serves as an Evangelist in the Community of Christ. Dr. Campbell has authored "Called to the Peaceable Kingdom- the Mosaic Covenant of Shalom", "The Kingdom of Sod and Zion" as well as Bible Study Lessons and numerous essays and articles.

  • "The Disciple Making Church - From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality" by Glenn McDonald.
  • I return to this text often for excellent advice on how to encourage and develop people who look to me for advice. The Introduction says it is for “pastors and congregations seeking to reclaim formation and discipleship as central to their life and purpose.” I am particularly drawn to the First Part (it’s written in two distinct parts) for its six reflective questions that have helped me enormously to be a better mentor. We are instructed to “go and make disciples” but I have found that very often I don’t know what that means in my life or the lives of my congregation or class. This text offers basic instruction of how to be a better disciple myself and how to ensure my congregation and my church have a future in faithful discipleship. As always, I look for a book that is readable, has good summary lists and practical advice for the average pastor i.e. one who is faithful but has not had professional or seminary training to function in a volunteer position. This book has those qualities. - Marion Smith

  • "The Faith of Leap" by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost.
  • This is a book about putting the tires to the pavement when it comes to mission in churches. It is a book about the theology of adventure. - John Nichols

  • "Feasting on the Word: Year A, Volume 1 - Year C, Volume 4" by David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor.
  • This series of books is not cheap but it can be bought one volume at a time. It takes the lead scripture for each Sunday of the lectionary cycle and gives four different views: a theological perspective, a pastoral perspective, an exegetical perspective and an homiletical perspective. I consider this series a “must have” for congregational libraries and people who are serious about speaking! - John Nichols

  • "Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry: Creative Plans and Programs that Really Work!" by Diana Davis.
  • My wife saw this book and told me she thought it might be a good resource and would likely be very saleable on a Reunion Book Table. I kind of cringed but decided to plunge into it anyway. This resource would be valuable for men AND women alike. This book was written for other “mainline” churches but that should not stop people from using it within the Community of Christ context. Davis takes you on a step by step process for developing a Women’s Ministry and would be an excellent resource for congregations, camps, retreats. Also, with a few adaptations and different ideas, this book could easily be used for “Men’s Retreats” or a Men’s Group, as well. If you are looking at developing ministries of these kinds, I would heartily suggest you pick up this book! My rating: - 4.25 out of 5. - John Nichols

  • "From Pew to Pulpit - A Beginner's Guide to Preaching" by Clifton F. Guthrie.
  • The cover blurb says it admirably: A down-to-earth practical introduction to the ins and outs of preaching for lay preachers, bi-vocational pastors, and others newly arrived in the pulpit. This little, easy-to-read text offers genuine support for preachers who have not had the benefit of intense training or seminary courses. It gives excellent background for scriptural study and preparatory work and tips for your first or fiftieth sermon. It includes ideas for getting started and help for getting better. I will be using this book myself and will use it in future preaching classes. At just over one hundred pages it is a great help! - Marion Smith

  • "How to Mobilize Church Volunteers" by Marlene Wilson.
  • This book was, again, written more for the “mainline protestant group” but with a few slight adaptations is it really good for the Community of Christ! Wilson takes you on a step-by-step journey from assessing the needs, recruiting the volunteers, building the congregational team, training the volunteers, all the way to nurturing and managing the volunteers. Do you need to build a team for specific things in your congregation? How about for your Reunion, camp or retreat? This step by step guide is really useful! This resource could be easily adapted into a workshop and for helping to prevent “burn out”. My rating: 4.75 out of 5. - John Nichols

  • "The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem" by Marcus Borg.
  • Please note, this book may not be for everyone but it is an excellent look at the gospel account from Mark. This book takes a day by day look at Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem and provides background information and a perspective that you may not have encountered before. - John Nichols

  • "Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church" by Kenda Creasy Dean.
  • When I picked this book up I figured it was a “How To” guide for youth and young adult ministry. I was mistaken. Dean is an Associate Professor of Youth at the Tennent School of Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary and this book is more of a scholarly work about “passion” and “youth and young adult” type ministries. It is from a more “fundamental” point of view and does not easily adapt to current Community of Christ Theology. I enjoyed reading this book but it is not an easy read. It tends to be fairly heavy. I feel I picked up a good deal of information and knowledge that I did not have before but would not suggest this book if you were looking for a quick and easy “how to” when it comes to youth and young adult ministries. I do feel it would be beneficial for people who are involved in those ministries to provide them with knowledge and a good background base for these ministries. My rating as a "how to" for getting your ministry going: 2 out of 5. As a resource for background and knowledge: 3.5 - 4 out of 5. It takes a fair bit of stretching to make it Community of Christ friendly. - John Nichols

  • "Radical: Taking Back Your Fatih from the American Dream" by David Platt.
  • This book challenges us to investigate how we manipulate the gospel to fit in with the way we live and our ideas of success and discusses what is happening in a successful urban church. - John Nichols

  • "Reinventing Sunday: Breakthrough Ideas for Transforming Worship" by Brad Berglund.
  • This would be a really good book for a group to get together and start going over. The book is written by Brad Berglund, who I believe is an Episcopal Priest, so the book comes from a bit more of a “liturgical type perspective”, but I found myself wondering, as I went through the book, and then went through it again, “Gee, just how could we adapt this thought to a Community of Christ type approach?" Even if the worship at your congregation is top notch and “couldn’t be improved” it never hurts to keep looking at things to see if you can keep worship “fresh” and “relevant”! Give this book at try! - John Nichols

  • "Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People" by Lance Ford and Alan Hirsch.
  • This book talks about “being” church rather than “doing” church and turns “mission” into a regular reality. - John Nichols