Holy Week: Holy Bookshelves day #2

3 Apr

Good morning again.  Reading is an essential part of the field of higher education ministry.  We are constantly being offered new research and new perspective on how our jobs might be focused and directed.  It is with great pleasure that the NCMA has a bookshelf that allows for colleagues to continue the search for more information.  This week we are highlighting some books that our bloggers have offered as suggestions for reading, both during this time of year and throughout the summer as you have a little downtime.  Please consider them and go visit the NCMA website for more resources within our membership tab.


#8 Souls in Transition (Christian Smith & Patricia Snell)

Authors Christian Smith and Patricia Snell try to answer the question; “What happens in the religious spiritual lives of American teenagers when they end high school, and begin to leave home to launch their new adult lives?”  This is the third book in a project that began in 2005 via the National Study in Youth and Religion.  At this point in the series, this group falls into the age range of 18-23 years old.

I admit, I am only a1/3 or the way through this book, but I find that that data and stories of the young adults are very telling of much of what we are seeing in campus ministries/chaplaincies today.

#9 The Future of Faith (Harvey Cox)

A juggernaut in the field of research on faith and religion in U.S. society, Harvey Cox’s relatively new title introduces us to what he calls “The Age of the Spirit,” a time period that has begun in the 20th century and moved into our time but has carried with in the spiritual but not religious overtones that demonstrates that the time of doctrinal witness in the church may be nearing its end.  Cox is articulate, sympathetic, and speaks to the heart of the issues at hand.  With this book in hand, the future of faith doesn’t look at bleak as we may think of it.

#10 Shopping Michelle Gonzales)

This is in the Compass Series on Christian Explorations in Daily Living.  Our campus-wide theme this year is Consumption, so we chose this book as a Lenten study.  The author makes the case that shopping has taken on the qualities of a religion in our culture, and simultaneously has deeply infected our religious practices.  It has challenged us to think about shopping in terms of ethical choices we make by providing information about common labor practices, and examines numerous scripture passages that address consumption and materialism.  Finally, the author presents a constructive reconfiguration of the practice of shopping.  At 111 pages, it is an easy read, but offers ample material for discussion and further action.

#11 Encouraging Spirituality in Higher Education (Chickering and Dalton)

This is an excellent resource for thinking about the difference between spirituality and religious and how that difference affects what we do on campus in regard to both spiritual life as a broad category of human experience and religious affiliation that gathers people who share particular perspectives and practices in regard to the spiritual dimension of life.

#12 Doing Good Even Better: how to be an Effective Board Member of a Nonprofit Organization (Edgar Stoesz)

This primer written by a former chair of Habitat for Humanity International covers the basics of good governance, which can transform a good campus ministry into a great one, and, keep you out of a lot of unnecessary trouble along the way. (sounds to this editor like we should buy these for our board members)

#13 Restless Hearts (Alex Joyner)

The best small group study out there, specifically for college students.  Centered in our common vocation through baptism, this one gets students thinking and talking.  After the last time I led this study the group continued to meet afterwards because they had grown so close in the process.

#14 A spirituality of Fundraising (Henri Nouwen)

This book was submitted several times and as the editor and frequent user of this book, I’d like to say that there is no better guide to fundraising for professors in ministry than this right here.  Simply put, Nouwen calls us to understand our relationship with money and how we as visionaries for higher education ministry can bring into the vision those with the resources to help make the vision happen.  In this model, we are all campus ministers and chaplains.

#15 Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All (Landon Whitsitt)

This book, in ways, describes what many campus ministries have been doing and which is applicable to the emerging church movement.  Whitsitt uses the analogy of Open Source vs. Closed Source software as a model for church (ministry) leadership, structure, and organization.  In addition, he suggests that Wikipedia is model for “Wikicclesia: The church that anyone can edit.”  It is the “wisdom of the crowd” that can best inform how we go about reflecting on our faith and best way to build community – always editing and being open in appreciation of differences, not allowing a debate format to evolve that insists on one right answer.  Also, Whitsitt suggests that the Pastor’s role is best not the “expert”, rather it is the community, with help of Pastor as facilitator, which is the resource for understanding how to be faithful.

I am using the book as a primary resource for the Ecumenical Campus Ministries at University of Kansas for envisioning how we might become 2 -5 – 10 or more years in the future.  One might want to disagree with some of the ways that Whitsitt applies the analogy, but I found it very engaging and a way for our Envisioning Team to do just that, “envision.”



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