We need a renewed parochial theology in the Reformed faith.
I am about to teach a summer intensive course on church planting and revitalization. I share with our readers some recommendations I have for the D.Min. students’ required reading. These selected volumes are a mix of old and new. The select bibliography includes classic works on mission by Roland Allen and Lesslie Newbigin, as well as the influential study by Alan Kreider on “The Patient Ferment of the Early Church.” I am particularly delighted to suggest the reading of “The New Parish” as a corrective to some movements in church planting that are subject to criticism for celebrity-centered, blue-lit theater-ambiance designed for impersonal but crowd-effective spiritual rock concerts. Nothing against all rock concerts here. But can we expect the cultivation of spiritual disciplines through such venues?I believe that a parochial theology (“lower theology” or “theology in the community”) is not only Biblical but is possible and undoubtedly necessary in our “Secular Age.” I think Kreider’s “Patient Ferment” and “The New Parish” go hand-in-hand. A parish theology remains an unexplored possibility for much of the Western Protestant churches. The patient ferment of the faith of believers, living out the life of Jesus in Word, Sacrament, and Prayer, with a heart for enfolding others through these ordinary means (or “rule of faith”) is a satisfying return to the “slow discipleship” of our Lord. Maybe, a parish theology in Reformed churches and other Protestant churches will renew a “‘slow,’ ‘fermenting’ church planting movement” that seeks discipleship as the goal over “glam.” Lord send us more Christian shepherds to plant parish churches.
Perhaps you differ. Nevertheless, we are happy to recommend these books as fodder for discussion and a deeper learning experience for our students.
I believe that a parochial theology (“lower theology” or “theology in the community”) is not only Biblical but is possible and undoubtedly necessary in our “Secular Age.”
These books on church planting transcend the “how to” (nothing against “how to” by the way) and help the reader with commentary, ideas, concepts, historical lessons, and author insights that support a thoughtful, often-counter-intuitive approach to the Gospel work of new church development.
Allen, Roland. Missionary Methods: God’s Plan for Missions According to Paul. 3 edition. Aneko Press, 2017.
Bolsinger, Tod. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. Expanded edition. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2018.
Newbigin, L. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. https://books.google.com/books?id=q6tEnRYaHI8C.
Newbigin, L., and P. Weston. Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian : A Reader. W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. https://books.google.com/books?id=OHJThcUAYWEC.
Newbigin, Lesslie. “Foolishness to the Greeks : The Gospel and Western Culture.” Last modified in 1986. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=1143676.
_____. The Household of God : Lectures on the Nature of the Church. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2008.
_____. The Open Secret : An Introduction to the Theology of Mission. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995.
Paas, Stefan. Church Planting in the Secular West: Learning from the European Experience. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2016.
Sparks, Paul, Tim Soerens, and Dwight J. Friesen. The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2014.
If you would like more information about this Summer Intensive Online course in Church Planting and Revitalization, see Miss Robin Broome or Mr. David Cathcart in Admissions for Erskine Theological Seminary.