Over the summer months, Acting Associate General Secretary for Mission Resource Development Dr. Al Fletcher has invited leaders to share their recommended “Summer Reading Material” for an Up to Camp series. As you pack for camp this summer, grab one of these books to take along!
Well, winter is packed up. The weather doesn’t seem like it though. Still a bit of a breeze. Time to think about opening up the camp. Summer soon will be here and I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.
I can dream about camp. Wish I owned one. “Up-to-camp” is a fine summer tradition in the state of Maine and I’m sure that in other parts of the country folks have traditions just as meaningful and sacred. Whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains, or camp, one shared tradition is bringing something to read.
I’ve asked several leaders in ABC to provide “Summer Reading Material.” The criteria for recommendation is something that church pastors and folks might find helpful as they begin a new church year in September. “What book would you recommend to folks to take along this summer and why?”
I have been reading, “The Patient Ferment of the Early Church” by Alan Kreider. Tom Wiles, Executive Minister of ABC of Rhode Island, suggested that the New England Regional Executives spend some time reading this book. I have enjoyed it.
Kreider presents a compelling case for why the Early Church grew. There are four things that make up Kreider’s case: the first, patience. Patience is rooted as a high virtue by the early Christian writers. God is patient and embodied patience in Christ. Those who follow Christ should exhibit patience, trusting in God, not trying to control events, not anxious or in a hurry, never allowing the ends to justify the means.
Second, habitus. Habitus are practices that ground a disciple. Early Christian’s behavior was distinctive and intriguing. It allowed them to face harsh realities and intractable problems. Practices offered hope and empowered the enactment of their central message – Jesus has overcome the world. It was their practice that at times spoke louder than words.
Third, catechesis and worship. The habitus of the surrounding culture was so engrained in the life of new converts that patient teaching and training was needed to inculcate a new habitus that would ground the disciple in faith. Baptism was the end result of a long period of training. Catechesis shaped disciples, baptism identified them, and worship sustained them.
Finally, ferment. This is a reliance upon the Holy Spirit to patiently percolate faith in the believing community. It is the invisible power of God at work. Ferment could not be controlled, duplicated, programmed, or forced. Its pace rested upon the grace of God.
What practices ground you in faith? How do you experience that patient ferment of God in your ministry and congregation? How can you encourage patience? How can I teach and train disciples to fully rely upon God?
Good reading to you! May your summer be warm, the breeze refreshing, the swing familiar and comfortable, and the drink in hand at just the right temperature. Read thoughtfully….
Rev. Dr. Al Fletcher
Acting Associate General Secretary, Mission Resource Development,
ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary