Single-book ministry, church admin, theology?

There’s a thread at MetaFilter entitled “What single book is the best introduction to your field (or specialization within your field) for laypeople?” It concerns the hard sciences and mathematics in the main, but the same question is fair for the ministry, church administration or even theology.

Not that any one book would be perfect or comprehensive, but these questions help people find resources when they would otherwise risk failure, sunk under a wave of competing resources. Additionally, there is a traditional of Universalist practical manuals I wouldn’t mind seeing revived. These were 16mo pocket-sized books that had a little theology, spiritual guidance, history, statistical information and oftentimes polity justifications and model constitutions for forming churches and state conventions.

So, what single book would you give a layperson considering (lay?) ministry, church administration and theology respectively?

4 Replies to “Single-book ministry, church admin, theology?”

  1. Great question! Hope you get some great answers. In my field (webmastery), the answer is easy: “Don’t Make Me Think.” I sure hope that’s not the answer for theology.

  2. This might not answer the question you’re asking, but the one book I would recommend — not for the church I see, but for the one I want to — would be “Doing Justice” by Dennis Jacobsen, which is an introduction for pastors and churches to working prophetically and powerfully in their own communities.

    (I think this is especially valuable for religious liberals, not because we’re more interested in doing justice–our protestations to the contrary, we’re not, at least in my experience–but because we so often confuse “prophetic” with “having-a-chip-on-my-shoulder,” and mistake being annoyed and being annoying for righteous, holy anger.)

    I have a bias, since I’m a community organizer, but I definitely see myself as working for the Church, if not for a church, so maybe this counts as an introduction to lay ministry. An easy read, but a rich one, and highly recommended.

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