Thursday, November 26, 2009

creativity in ministry book list

I spent today working on a first draft book list on the topic of creativity in ministry. It is for a course (a Spirit of wonder: imagining a church creatively immersed in culture) I am part of in Adelaide in March, along with Jonny Baker and Cheryl Lawrie. I suggested that the input, which knowing Jonny and Cheryl will be first-rate, if supported by a reading list and a post-graduate qualification (me!), could also be a Masters paper.

So today was spent looking through my book shelf, looking for books on creativity, ministry and mission. Here’s my first draft. I’d love to know what you, my blog readers, might add.

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic, Eerdmans, 1980 offers a philosphical and theological reflection on art in society. While philosophical, it argues for art in action and the everyday.

Geoffrey Rowell and Christine Hall (ed), Gestures Of God: Explorations In Sacamentality, Continuum, 2004, is a collection of essays emerging from a UK think tank, considering the place of sacramentality in contemporary culture. A collection of essay can by nature tend toward an uneven treatment, both in theological method and style. However this a concerted attempt to wrestle with sacramentality (and thus a spirit of wonder). Highlights include the chapters by David Brown and John Drane.

Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin, Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts, Piquant, 1999, 2001; IVP, 2001 is an excellent introduction to the role of art and imagination in the church. It provides an overview of art today, art in the Bible and approaches to art interpretation.

Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen (ed), Theological Aesthetics: A Reader, Eerdmans, 2005 is a superbly helpful compilation of 2000 years of reflection on the relationship between theology and the arts. Organised in five sections (early church, medieval church, reformation, 17th to 19th centuries, 20th centuries), it features all the theological heavy hitters, from Augustine to Aquinas, Luther to Teresa of Avila, Kant to Barth.

Richard Kearney, The Wake of Imagination. Toward a postmodern culture, Routledge, 1988 is a tour de force of the imagination through history. A superb summary of how the imagination has been framed, it concludes with a critical analysis of postmodern culture and offers a constructive proposal for the future of the imagination.

William A. Dyrness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Engaging Culture), Baker Academic, 2001 overs an overview of the arts, with particular focus on the visual arts. It offers both art theory integrity and theological depth.

Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes, Free for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community, Baker, 2009 seeks a way to read the Bible in community. In so doing, it provides a contemporary way to address one of the ever-present questions when imagination and creativity are discussed in a Christian context, including interpretation and authorial intent.

Tim Keel, Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos, Baker, 2007. Tim is a young leader, who planted a church (Jacob’s Well), known for the way they nourish art and artists in their life. This book reflects on a spirit of wonder with explicit connection to leadership today and includes personal reflection on the place of risk and intuition.

Debbie Blue, Sensual Orthodoxy, Cathedral Hill Press, 2004 offers an artistic engagement with the Bible. A collection of sermons, it offers models of words and wonder as they relate to the existing, gathered church.

Douglas Adams, The Prostitute in The Family Tree. Discovering Humor and Irony in the Bible, Westminster John Knox, 1997, is a stimulating re-introduction to the Bible. It offers both creative ideas, and a rehabilitation of the Bible as a crafted book worth approaching with “wonder.”

Olive Fleming Drane, Clowns, Storytellers, Disciples. Spirituality and Creativity for Today’s Church, Bible Reading Fellowship, 2002 is the personal story of one persons growth in the arts. It offers inspiration, challenge and practical outworking.

Robert Wuthnow, Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist, University of California Press, 2001 offers a sociological reflection on contemporary culture, with a focus on the place of the arts in contemporary spiritual search. Filled with the stories of artists and their art, it affirms creativity (along with pilgrimage) as one of the main vehicles by which the search for the spiritual is being transacted today.

Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource, Vol. 1, Pilgrim Press, 1994, 1995, 1996, This comes in three volumes matching the 52 weeks of lectionary readings from the church year to art pieces. It looks superb, feels superb and offers a wonderful jumping off point for creativity and imagination.

Posted by steve at 04:00 PM


  1. At the end of this article there are some more suggestions. Don’t know if they are exactly what you have in mind and I have not read them. Taken from …very possibly a link I came across through your blog via detours.

    Comment by Ingrid — November 26, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

  2. …this looks kind of interesting to me.

    Comment by Ingrid — November 26, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  3. I heard Jacky Sewell of St Johns college in Auck speaking recently about her research with Teenagers and their spiritual response to Art. I have her email if you want it.

    Comment by Jo Wall — November 27, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  4. Hi Steve
    sounds great – wish we were in Adelaide the same time as you – been telling everyone we meet about the event so hope it’s good. Look forward to reading the blogging.
    Sense Making Faith is now distributed by SCM so that might be another useful resource which will be more easy to access now than before.

    Comment by Olive Drane — November 27, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  5. yes, had forgotten about Sense making faith (SMF). bit silly really, since i’m currently running another SMF group at church, my 3rd time around.

    however as I have indicated to you/John, I find it a strange book. the exercises at the back are great. but the chapters seem to assume a church background/experience, which limits usefulness. also there is a fundamental disconnect between the “take time to wonder” which starts the book, and the “take time to critique” the church, which becomes more prevalent as the book proceeds.

    trust you enjoyed aussie and thanks for promo-ing the event for us!


    Comment by steve — November 27, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  6. I find this man’s art extremely inspiring and from what I can decipher, (which is not much) also what he says. Maybe you know French.

    Comment by Ingrid — November 28, 2009 @ 11:45 am


    Comment by Ingrid — November 28, 2009 @ 7:49 pm


    Comment by Ingrid — November 28, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

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