Friday, September 22, 2006

Vaughan Roberts & Tim Thornborough (eds) 'Workers for the Harvest Field' (Good Book Co.)

This is a massively useful book, primarily aimed at those considering some form of paid gospel ministry within churches or missionary organisations. As VR says in his introduction:
We all have different gifts. Some are suited to this kind of work, others are best used in other ways. We must resist the idea that some jobs are better or more 'spiritual' than others. But we should all be asking ourselves the question: 'What is it that I could do, as the person I am and with the gifts that God has given me, that would bring the most glory to God through the spread of the gospel?' For some that will mean staying where they are; for others it will mean a significant change of direction.
In other words, it is a balanced book, helpfully encouraging such questions, as well as the ones that naturally follow from them, and offering many great insights into what might come next & what life might look like. It is a book I have already recommended to many of the students I work with, and will be buying others for Christmas.

Overview
Even just a perusal of the contents page gets the blood pumping a bit in anticipation:

Section 1: What is gospel ministry?
1. What is Gospel Ministry? (Vaughan Roberts)
2. The Character of Gospel Ministry (David Jackman)
3. The Priority of Gospel Ministry (Richard Coekin)

Section 2: Varieties of gospel ministry
4. The pastor-teacher (Andy Gemmill)
5. The realities of being an evangelist (Roger Carswell)
6. Church planters for the harvest field (Tim Chester)
7. Gospel ministry overseas (Andy Lines)
8. Cross-cultural ministry in the UK (Andrew Raynes)
9. Women's Ministry (Carrie Sandom)
10. Youth and children's ministry (Roger Fawcett)
11. Building the urban church (Ken Moulder)
12. Student ministry (Nathan Buttery)

Section 3: Getting from A to B
13. Guidance (Christopher Ash)
14. Apprenticeships (Ian Garrett)
15. Theological Education (David Peterson)
16. Where do I go from here? (Peter Comont)

Appendices
I. The other Lord's Prayer (Christopher Green)
II. 9:38
III. Routes to full-time ministry

Towner's Thoughts
Positives:
1)This is a great book - I wish I'd been able to read it 8 yrs ago when I started thinking this stuff through.
2) The list of authors is top class, and the topics covered are (broadly) what you'd hope would be.
3) I love the real-life stories spread throughout.

Negatives:
1) If you read it straight through (which might not be its design) it gets pretty repetitive. This might be weak editing, or just not how the book's meant to be read.
It does just read as if a bit more focussed editing would have helped some of the authors get more into what they wrote.
2) Is there a slight Anglican focus, particularly in the last section? There's not appendix of routes to full-time ministry in the independent church. Might be a slight weakness here.
3) I've a few other small things, but

Conclusion
This is a book that needed writing, and is basically very well written (despite the hyper-critical & perfectionist Towner having a few minor quibbles). I was encouraged & challenged when reading it: I gained some new thoughts and remembered some great old ones...

2 Comments:

Blogger matthew said...

Andrew, I dare you to write a post without using the adjective massively ;-)

Seriously, thanks for all your reviews - they're helpful stuff.

9:17 am, September 23, 2006  
Blogger Celal Birader said...

But we should all be asking ourselves the question: ... It's probably more important to be asking God rather than ourselves.

4:48 pm, September 23, 2006  

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