CBF Book Club
Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life
By Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed
In Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life, Eileen R. Campbell-Reed informs and inspires the practice of ministry through slices of "on the ground" learning experienced by seminarians, pastors, activists, and chaplains and gathered from qualitative studies of ministry. Each of the fifty chapters explores a single concept through story, reflection, and provocative open-ended questions designed to spark conversation between ministers and mentors, among ministry peers, or for personal journal reflections. The book provides a framework for understanding ministry as an embodied, relational, integrative, and spiritual practice.
Pastoral Imagination is closely integrated with the author's Three Minute Ministry Mentor web resource, which introduces the topics in the book through brief video presentations. The book serves as a coaching guide and a ministry mentor in its own right by expanding on these topics through the author's reflections, observations, and questions. Addressing the importance of the practice of ministry, Campbell-Reed states: "Ministry itself, like most professions and complex practices, is dogged and driven by a rush to achieve. Yet to focus on achievement can be disastrous, especially if we skip over the steps for learning. To learn the practice of ministry--a multifaceted professional and spiritual practice--takes time and preparation, risk and responsibility, support and feedback."
The book can be used by individuals for personal growth; with groups in new-pastor retreats, CPE training programs, ministry peer groups, or supervision settings such as internship or field education; for devotional inspiration at staff meetings; and in seminary classrooms that prioritize teaching ministry as a practice.
Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World
By Katharine Hayhoe
Called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on climate change” by The New York Times, Katharine Hayhoe knows how to navigate all sides of the conversation on our changing planet. A Canadian climate scientist living in Texas, she negotiates distrust of data, indifference to imminent threats, and resistance to proposed solutions with ease. Over the past fifteen years Hayhoe has found that the most important thing we can do to address climate change is talk about it—and she wants to teach you how.
In Saving Us, Hayhoe argues that when it comes to changing hearts and minds, facts are only one part of the equation. We need to find shared values in order to connect our unique identities to collective action. This is not another doomsday narrative about a planet on fire. It is a multilayered look at science, faith, and human psychology, from an icon in her field—recently named chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy.
Drawing on interdisciplinary research and personal stories, Hayhoe shows that small conversations can have astonishing results. Saving Us leaves us with the tools to open a dialogue with your loved ones about how we all can play a role in pushing forward for change.
Rethinking Life: Embracing the Sacredness of Every Person
By Shane Claiborne
Drawing on Scripture, church history, and his own story, Shane Claiborne explores how a passion for social justice issues surrounding life and death--such as war, gun ownership, the death penalty, racial injustice, abortion, poverty, and the environment--intersects with our faith as we advocate for life in its totality.
Many of us wonder how to think about and act on issues of life and death beyond abortion and the death penalty--yet the heated debates in our churches and the confusion of our own hearts sometimes feel overwhelming. What does a balanced, Christian view of what it means to be "pro-life" really look like?
Combining stories, theological reflection, and a little wit with a Southern accent, activist Shane Claiborne explores the battle between life and death that goes back to the Garden of Eden. Shane draws on his childhood growing up in the Bible Belt, his own change of perspective on how to advocate for life, and his years of working on behalf of all people to help us:
- Learn from the Bible and the early church about valuing life
- Deepen our understanding of what a pro-life stance can look like
- Discover ways to discuss topics that are dividing our culture and churches
- Find encouragement when we feel politically homeless
- Renew our hope that there is a good way forward, even in difficult times
We need a new movement that stands up for life--without exceptions. This moving and incredibly timely book creates a larger framework for thinking about God's love and our faith as we embrace a consistent ethic that values human life from womb to tomb.
My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines
By Efrén Olivares
This deeply personal perspective from a human rights lawyer—whose work on the front lines of the fight against family separations in South Texas intertwines with his own story of immigrating to the United States at thirteen—reframes the United States’ history as a nation of immigrants but also a nation against immigrants.
In the summer of 2018, Efrén C. Olivares found himself representing hundreds of immigrant families when Zero Tolerance separated thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Twenty-five years earlier, he had been separated from his own father for several years when he migrated to the U.S. to work. Their family was eventually reunited in Texas, where Efrén and his brother went to high school and learned a new language and culture.
By sharing these gripping family separation stories alongside his own, Olivares gives voice to immigrants who have been punished and silenced for seeking safety and opportunity. Through him we meet Mario and his daughter Oralia, Viviana and her son Sandro, Patricia and her son Alessandro, and many others. We see how the principles that ostensibly bind the U.S. together fall apart at its borders.
My Boy Will Die of Sorrow reflects on the immigrant experience then and now, on what separations do to families, and how the act of separation itself adds another layer to the immigrant identity. Our concern for fellow human beings who live at the margins of our society—at the border, literally and figuratively—is shaped by how we view ourselves in relation both to our fellow citizens and to immigrants. He discusses not only law and immigration policy in accessible terms, but also makes the case for how this hostility is nothing new: children were put in cages when coming through Ellis Island, and Japanese Americans were forcibly separated from their families and interned during WWII. By examining his personal story and the stories of the families he represents side by side, Olivares meaningfully engages readers with their assumptions about what nationhood means in America and challenges us to question our own empathy and compassion.
Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us
By Mark Yaconelli
Stories tether us to what matters most: our families, our friends, our hearts, our planet, the wondrous mystery of life itself. Yet the stories we've been telling ourselves as a civilization are killing us: Fear is wisdom. Vanity is virtuous. Violence is peace. In the pages of Between the Listening and the Telling, storyteller, author, and activist Mark Yaconelli leads readers into an enchanting meditation on the power of storytelling in our individual and collective lives. We tell stories to remember who we are. We tell stories to savor the pleasure of living. Stories can be medicine, and they can transform entire communities.
Through his work with The Hearth nonprofit, Yaconelli has spent thousands of hours listening to people as they grieve loss, deepen friendships, strengthen families, shed light on injustice, and recover hope. In this moving exploration he shows us how individuals and communities can recover the practice of storytelling to address the despair of climate change, the trauma of school shootings, the tragedy of undocumented immigration, and the daily struggle for meaning.
With a foreword by Anne Lamott, Between the Listening and the Telling offers an alloy of story, commentary, and meditation. In an era of runaway loneliness, alienation, global crisis, and despair, sharing stories helps us make a home within ourselves and one another.
Dancing in the Darkness: Spiritual Lessons for Thriving in Turbulent Times
By Otis Moss
Once again, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first observed in the 1960s, it is midnight in America—a dark time of division and anxiety, with threats of violence looming in the shadows. In 2008, the Trinity United Church in Chicago received threats when one of its parishioners, Senator Barack Obama, ran for president. “We’re going to kill you” rang in Reverend Otis Moss’s ears when he suddenly heard a noise in the middle of the night. He grabbed a baseball bat to confront the intruder in his home. When he opened the door to his daughter’s room, he found that the source of the noise was his own little girl, dancing. She was simply practicing for her ballet recital.
At that moment, Pastor Moss saw that the real intruder was within him. Caught in a cycle of worry and anger, he had allowed the darkness inside. But seeing his daughter evoked Pslam 30: “You have turned my mourning into dancing.” He set out to write the sermon that became this inspiring and transformative book.
Dancing in the Darkness is a “life-affirming” (Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown) guide to the practical, political, and spiritual challenges of our day. Drawing on the teachings of Dr. King, Howard Thurman, sacred scripture, southern wisdom, global spiritual traditions, Black culture, and his own personal experiences, Dr. Moss instructs you on how to practice spiritual resistance by combining justice and love. This collection helps us tap into the spiritual reserves we all possess but too often overlook, so we can slay our personal demons, confront our civic challenges, and reach our highest goals.
In My Grandmother's House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit
By Yolanda Pierce
"In a world eager to promote the newest wunderkind, grandmother theology carries us two or more generations back: to the kitchens, hair salons, gardens, and church basements of older Black women who are often invisible in theological discourse but without whom the American Christian church would cease to exist."
The church mothers who raised Yolanda Pierce, dean of Howard University School of Divinity, were busily focused on her survival. In a world hostile to Black women's bodies and spirits, they had to be. Born on a former cotton plantation and having fled the terrors of the South, Pierce's grandmother raised her in the faith inherited from those who were enslaved.
In My Grandmother's House follows Pierce as she reckons with that tradition, building an everyday womanist theology rooted in liberating scriptures, experiences in the Black church, and truths from Black women's lives. Pierce tells stories that center the experiences of those living on the underside of history, teasing out the tensions of race, spirituality, trauma, freedom, resistance, and memory. The paperback features a new readers' guide, written by the author, that is useful for individual reflection and group discussion.
A grandmother's theology carries wisdom strong enough for future generations. The Divine has been showing up at the kitchen tables of Black women for a long time. It's time to get to know that God.
Living Resistance: An Indigenous Vision for Seeking Wholeness Every Day
By Kaitlin B. Curtice
In an era in which "resistance" has become tokenized, popular Indigenous author Kaitlin Curtice reclaims it as a basic human calling. Resistance is for every human who longs to see their neighbors' holistic flourishing. We each have a role to play in the world right where we are, and our everyday acts of resistance hold us all together.
Curtice shows that we can learn to practice embodied ways of belonging and connection to ourselves and one another through everyday practices, such as getting more in touch with our bodies, resting, and remembering our ancestors. She explores four "realms of resistance"--the personal, the communal, the ancestral, and the integral--and shows how these realms overlap and why all are needed for our liberation. Readers will be empowered to seek wholeness in whatever spheres of influence they inhabit.
Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One
By Majora Carter
How can we solve the problem of persistent poverty in low-status communities? Majora Carter argues that these areas need a talent-retention strategy, just like the ones companies have. Retaining homegrown talent is a critical part of creating a strong local economy that can resist gentrification. But too many people born in low-status communities measure their success by how far away from them they can get.
Carter, who could have been one of them, returned to the South Bronx and devised a development strategy rooted in the conviction that these communities have the resources within themselves to succeed. She advocates measures such as
- Building mixed-income instead of exclusively low-income housing to create a diverse and robust economic ecosystem
- Showing homeowners how to maximize the long-term value of their property so they won’t succumb to quick-cash offers from speculators
- Keeping people and dollars in the community by developing vibrant “third spaces”—restaurants, bookstores, and places like Carter’s own Boogie Down Grind Cafe
This is a profoundly personal book. Carter writes about her brother’s murder, how turning a local dumping ground into an award-winning park opened her eyes to the hidden potential in her community, her struggles as a woman of color confronting the “male and pale” real estate and nonprofit establishments, and much more. It is a powerful rethinking of poverty, economic development, and the meaning of success.
We Aren’t Broke: Uncovering Hidden Resources for Mission and Ministry
By Mark Elsdon
What if everything you need is already there?
Many Christian churches and related institutions in the United States are struggling or, in some cases, facing imminent crisis, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendance is down. Funding is harder to come by. People are no longer drawn to traditional church services and programming in the ways that they once were. Often, we feel broke and powerless to do much about it. We settle for doing more with less: Less money. Fewer people. Fewer churches.
But if we reexamine our perceived limits and our assumptions about how resources are supposed to be used, then something remarkable and beautiful comes into view: we aren’t broke at all but have enormous resources at our disposal. Church and missional organizations nationwide own billions of dollars of prime property and investment assets, which, when combined with social enterprise and new expressions of mission, can be put to work for innovation and transformation. And these resources are often available to us right now.
This book is an invitation to envision a different way of putting God’s gifts to work in the world. It draws upon a remarkable story of rebirth at a Presbyterian affiliated campus ministry center at the University of Wisconsin, along with profiles of other creative social enterprises, to describe how church property and investment assets can be put to work for innovation, transformation, and financial sustainability. Theologically rooted but practically minded, it provides guidance and tools for church and nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors of all kinds who are seeking new ways to fund and participate in God’s work in the world.