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A Toolbox For Small Churches: A spiritual & practical guide to small church life

Author: Hilary Taylor
Published By: Thankful Books (Seaford)
Pages: 256
Price: £7.95
ISBN: 978 1 905084 14 2

Reviewed by David Faulkner.

During my last sabbatical, I sat in on a course at a theological college about leadership and management in ministry. It was led by a senior lay member of a large Anglican church, who had also held a prominent position in industry. Most experienced ministers would have identified much of the content as basic common sense. However, there was also uncritical use of material from the American megachurch movement, especially Bill Hybels, without any recognition either that such approaches have come in for severe criticism as being unduly consumerist, or that most of the ordinands on that course would not end up ministering in such churches. I suspect this book by Hilary Taylor would be more relevant.

Drawing on research within the Baptist Union and the Small Church Connexion, she has written a thoughtful guide that recognises church life as it is for the majority of congregations and members in the UK. She reiterates basic theological material on areas such as worship, mission and vision, then illustrates it with real life case studies (often written by other ministers and leaders) and concludes each chapter with some practical ideas and questions. She tries to adapt her language to make it suitable for non-Baptists, and while she does not always succeed, this is not generally a problem. What may need more translation for some is the theology, which is wrapped in evangelical assumptions of the more conservative kind. While, as an evangelical minister, I can cope with this, I often minister with congregations that are not, and in this respect the book will need more adaptation in order for people to hear the message. But, having said that, I am about to move to an appointment where one of the two churches I shall be serving will numerically be in the categories envisioned by this book, and I can well see the possibility of buying several copies to work through along with key church leaders. Highly recommended.

David Faulkner

Methodist Minister, Chelmsford Circuit

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You are reading Issue 48 of Ministry Today, published in March 2010.

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