Prisms

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

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By the Rivers of Babylon

Blueprint for a Church in Exile

By Robert P. Hoch

The language of exile, focused with theological and biblical narratives and coupled with depictions of real-life exilic communities, can equip church leaders as agents in the creation of new communities.

It is commonplace today to hear Christians say we are a “church in exile” or a church in a “post-Christendom” society. But what does this really mean? In order for the church to make sense of this claim, we need some concrete descriptions of exilic life so that, in our reflections on congregational formation, we can begin to develop a more substantive language for our exilic experience.

In By the Rivers of Babylon, Robert Hoch reads the larger North American tradition of Christian worship and mission through the prism of visibly marginalized communities, communities that know the power of Babylon concretely. That is, they know displacement through some combination of physical dislocation, ethnicity, economic marginality, and political stigma. This readable and practical book is an essential resource for pastors and church leaders in these communities.

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Redeeming Fear

A Constructive Theology for Living into Hope

By Jason C. Whitehead

Our brains are hard-wired to experience the emotion of fear. Yet “do not be afraid” is a common refrain from the Bible, used for both comfort and chastening. We have often treated fear as something to be dismissed or suppressed. Being afraid means more than simply fighting or running from a threat; to be afraid is to remember that something in life is worth living for. Whitehead helps us find the roots of hope in the soil of our fears so that we can form lives and communities of hope in the midst of a culture of fear.

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Wide Welcome

How the Unsettling Presence of Newcomers Can Save the Church

by Jessicah Krey Duckworth

While most churches offer 'new member classes' and genuinely seek to welcome visitors, too often the end result is a rush to assimilate the newcomer into formal membership and all of the invitations to participation in committees, choirs, or fellowship groups that go along with it.

In Wide Welcome, Jessicah Krey Duckworth presents the stark differences between the established congregation, which cares for current members and congregational identity, and the disestablished one, intentionally equipped to facilitate the encounter between new and established members. By intentionally extending the time of newcomer inquiry and allowing their questions, insights, and experiences to reverberate through the entire congregation both they and the church are changed. Wide Welcome does far more than point out the faults and weaknesses in current practice. Duckworth intentionally lays out possible designs for newcomer welcome that are local and particular.

At a time when only nine percent of North American Mainline congregations actively and intentionally facilitate newcomer faith formation, Wide Welcome is an essential and timely book.

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