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Great texts

  • John V. Taylor: The Christlike God (Scm Classics)

    John V. Taylor: The Christlike God (Scm Classics)
    A serious theological book which is the companion to JVT's classic work "The Go-between God". Anyone who is frustrated by (fellow) Christians that choose to define God so tightly that faith seems impossible, or seem to align faith with "happiness" despite the evidence to the contrary should read how faith is really a mix of " wonder and comprehension, illumination and darkness, loss and possession, abasement and bliss". If you want to stop to "think" about God then this is a book to read thoughtfully in the company of one of great Christians of the 20th Century

  • Jean Vanier: Community and Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together Revised Edition

    Jean Vanier: Community and Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together Revised Edition
    A revised collection of the thoughts and ideas of the founder of the L'arche Community - "faith without boundaries". This is a classic book - for everyone seeking faith and to grow in their faith

  • Rowan  Williams: Anglican Identities

    Rowan Williams: Anglican Identities
    As someone who is both a passionate but frustrated Anglican - glimpsing sometimes all that Anglican could be and seeing on a daily basis all that it isn't, this book was a wonderful account of what liberal Anglicanism - tolerant, inclusive, supportive, intelligent and profoundly spiritual, just might be. Of course it is not an easy read - it takes time and effort to grasp what RW is saying but the effort is worthwhile

  • John Drane         : Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?

    John Drane : Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?
    If you are a committed member of a local Church and wonder why others do not see the point - or wonder whether it might be possible to be more spiritual outside the confines then you could read this book which is a thoughtful introduction to what is meant by a post-christian society.

  • Tom Wright: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

    Tom Wright: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
    This is a detailed read from Tom Wright which makes the case for the Christian faith in contemporary society. Its thoughtful, challenging, and gentle.

  • W.H. Vanstone: Farewell in Christ

    W.H. Vanstone: Farewell in Christ
    Vanstone's final work, which explores the mystery of existence, the mystery of my soul, the mystery of meaning, - and none of this becomes possible without intellectual doubt. Is this what Dawkins et al will never understand?

  • John Pritchard: The Life and Work of a Priest

    John Pritchard: The Life and Work of a Priest
    This book should be compulsory reading for all enquirers, ordinands, and current clergy - perhaps adding in all elders and churchwardens for good measure. It charts in a profoundly hopeful way the joys and pressures of contemporary priesthood, and avoids the pitfalls of theological bias or the bland functional understandings of leadership.

  • Timothy Radcliffe: What Is the Point of Being a Christian?

    Timothy Radcliffe: What Is the Point of Being a Christian?
    A prophetic introduction to the Christian faith for those who struggle to find God amid the complexities of life

  • Robert Dimery: 1001 Albums you must hear before you die

    Robert Dimery: 1001 Albums you must hear before you die
    Just a great read - extensive intelligent reviews which bring back memories, stimulate to seek out, and inspire to add to the wish list.

All time Top Ten albums

  • Bob Dylan -

    Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
    Probably the best single collection of orginal songs - performed by Bob with his inimitable non-music style - the best produced Dylan album into the bargain

  • Miles Davis -

    Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
    I remember the first time I heard this - on a loaned Walkman on a very turbulent flight to Belfast - it has rightly been described as a milestone in 20th century jazz. I remember playing to a group of spell-bound 9/10 year olds in a Primary school music workshop

  • Portishead -

    Portishead: Dummy
    Every once in while I listen to an album whose orginality leaves me instinctively knowing that music will never be the same - that the goalposts of repetoire have been changed for ever. Dummy is just one of those rare treats

  • Prefab Sprout -

    Prefab Sprout: Andromeda Heights
    In 1997 I escaped for the afternoon from the madhouse of an ordination training residential to the comparative sanity of my friend Tony's studio. During a tea break in a session, Tony said these imortal words " I've just found this amazing album" and my love affair with Andromeda Heights began - sanity was restored and I completed the residental and training.

  • Moloko -

    Moloko: Things to make and do
    Brilliant music within the scope of the dance music genre. Crisp instrumentation, meets cool beats, and the voice of Roisin - how I love Moloko

  • Craig Armstrong -

    Craig Armstrong: Piano Works
    If I were not Tom Allen ( artistically and musically speaking) I would be Craig Armstrong - from my discovery of him through Massive Attack I have loved and admired his work - and Piano Works covers his repetoire in stunning style

  • Joe Cocker -

    Joe Cocker: Sheffield Steel
    The greatest album from the greatest rock intrepreter of them all - genius production meets some of the best songs of all time sung by that voice - I've confess that I have sampled the album to oblivion

  • Paul Simon -

    Paul Simon: Graceland
    Had to be a Paul Simon album and it had to be Graceland. A epoch making album which opened African music to the world but seamlessly combined that music with western rock and pop with songs to die for.

  • Cosmic Rough Riders -

    Cosmic Rough Riders: Enjoy the melodic sunshine
    Glasgow's finest produce the ultimate guitar-song album of pure delight and of a quality that puts Athlete et al in the shade - shame it was two years too early and the lead singer left after this debut album

  • Massive Attack -

    Massive Attack: Blue Lines
    OK so Bristol has launched Portishead, Tricky and Roni Size, but it was the staggering impact of this debut which created a genre in trip-hop and a collective approach to song-writing, band membership which has influenced a generation and spawned so many other deriratives. From the low-fi paranoia of "Five Man Army" and the unrepeatable melancholic splendour of "Unfinished Sympathy", this is a 20th century classic.

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« Railways and clergy | Main | Saturday post »

06 April 2005



I don't know if you've already seen this Tom or indeed whether its the type of thing you're after but "Alpha or Emmaus?" draws from a wide range of experience to probe key questions: on the courses' content and take-up, whether they help churches connect with people, their effectiveness in helping people to faith, their impact on the church and lasting effects. Download from

dave paisley

Brian McLaren has written a superb book called exactly that: Finding Faith.

It's a guided walk through faith development and I can't recommend it highly enough.


Much as I hope you will follow the links being suggested I hope the seminar will not become a litany of what others have written and said. What I found so stimulating about your Manchester input (as did my sceptical Vicar)is precisely that you offered theological and ecclesiological ideas based upon your practical experience in your local situation and your much wider previous mission experience. Thank you for all that you are doing - the people of Oakworth must be both fortunate and doubtless challenged.Are you on Iona again at any stage?


Don't you think that it is part of the responsibility of a Vicar to invite people to come to Church? I can't help wondering whether having read Maggi Dawn's post that you aren't both throwing the baby out with the bath water?

Mark Cannon

Surely this is what Alpha and Emmaus have been doing for ages and very succesfully - what's new?

Humble Secretary

Why don't you live in London - this is so eminently sensible.

"Whereas what people want to hear is an offer to travel with them as they explore the Christian faith". Oh so true for me at least. These jaded courses all assume some degree of knowledge - even if they say they don't. And people move at different speeds. The times I have done courses, there has always been that dreadful addition of false friendship. By that I mean I found myself becomming one of the leader's best friend ... a state that last the duration of the course while you chatted the issues and other things through. At the end of the course, you would find yourself unceremoniously dumped. (Their loss essentially but I was somewhat confused.)

I always have to try and remember that these courses do the trick for a good many people.


Yes Yes Yes - where and when will this be presented - if seems to me [sorry Mark] to be precisely not what Alpha and Emmaus are about [ good though they are]but it must take courage and understanding from your Church for you to engage on this lonely and risky journey - how do you answer the question so has anyone come to faith yet?


Wow - what seemed like an innocent request for help has unexpectedly set off a whole chain of other thoughts with Maggi and others. I will offer clarifying posts soon - but in the meantime
just to briefly say that what I am engaged in is responsive to the kind of poeple who have no Church background whatsoever and I regard clearly as evangelism - see the first sentence - but redefining evangelism for a particular context. It is about meeting people where they are (literally)(and where God is at work) rather than about making where we are 'more appealing'.Must finish or I'll get into writing a post in comments! Blessings and thanks to all.


meeting people where they are and where God is at work is great and right IMHO. However, what you said about making 'where we are' more appealing is surely something that needs to happen isn't it?

If people are invited to worship - even if they don't know God, if the atmosphere is warm and friendly (so they want to stay in the building)and if God is being worshipped then God will work if they are being open. If the congregation are being welcoming then an invitation to other things will happen. If the clergy and cngregation aren't friendly and the visitor is not confident then it won't. But one of the most important things for me is the welcome that you recieve when you first walk into a church. An invitation to Bible study or prayer would not have worked for me or quite a few of my friends, but an invitation to a service would have done.

I do some work with a cathedral near me and although the clergy are fantastic, the vergers, sidespeople etc, are as a warm as the icecaps!! and it really doesn't inspire anyone to go back...


Hi. Absolutely which is why we have a major shared focus on it at Oakworth in the worship that we offer - but that is not what the post is about!!

Lets get it clear what I posted about in the first place is not suggesting that this replaces other approaches - simply that we have to develop approaches which are relevant to a generation of (young) adults who no Christian/church background whatsoever. They are untouched in this parish by any approach so far - and yet they are begining to realise that they are spiritual beings - but I do not believe that we help them on that journey by simply saying come to Church/worship however friendly.

I will try to get some of them to offer comments - several them have today expressed astonishment at the inability of 'Church' people to grasp what I am taking about in the post!

I will try to resist the temptation to respond further until I have had time to write a further explanation of what is happening - and the thoughts behind the seminars!

PS I am not claiming that I have the answer or that I am right - simply that I think that something may be happening - have others begun to share this experience of relating to post-Christendom adults.


Tom,I'm hoping to engage with some of the mums/carers who come to our toddler church along these sorts of lines. Wondered if Essence might work, as it seems to be more experiential than didactic (it's only just arrived from amazon, so this is result of a preliminary trawl)From what I've seen so far, it works by inviting people to pray/encounter God but definitely NOT in a church context. As some of my (now deleted) blog posts might suggest, I would really hesitate to invite any of them to a normal Sunday Eucharist...think it might work as negative evangelism!...but am so hugely aware of the tide of young families pouring towards school in the morning, against which I cycle up to church. Not comfortable, living that particular parable :-(


You might find the suggestions in the article referenced at
Part of the article deals with a re-envisaging of evangelism with listening at the core.
If you want to go straight to the article it's at


Hi again...

I am so aware that every situation is different, but that at the end of the day if people are becoming aware that they are spiritual beings they need to find the right way forward for them. Sometimes that is the thing you were suggesting, sometimes it is Alpha or similar, sometimes it is being invited to go to church by someone and being befriended, at other times it is simply getting alongside others nowhere near a church and getting to know them and them you.

I do know of people who have not had anything to do with church and yet are finding a relationship with God through coming to church, precisely because it is friendly in a non threatening way. I know of others who have had dealings with church and wouldn't want to darken the doors of church because it is so alien... having been brought up in a christian environment I can't say it is an environment I find myself automatically drawn to, BUT I know that being in a community that is also on a journey is a place I need to be even if I don't want to be there really - it is my choice.

Relevancy is so important I agree and finding that thing that helps folk engage with God is so important and if what you are suggesting helps people in your locality then fine...

relationship is key as anyone who has been a youth officer will know!!



Firstly Tom thanks for courage for allowing anonymous blogs still - I don't wish to abuse but I do want to say something personal and sharp without being identified!
Since I knew in you 20s you have struggled with Church and sought out fellow-travellers - but as remember Simon Barrington-Ward saying it that era there is no faith without Church - whereas you seem still to be trying to justify in other peoples experience your own ideas.



I posted some thoughts on this in consideration of yours, Dave's, and Maggi's thoughts, but I don't have trackback to notify you of this. Apologies.


This is a topic that is spreading around blogs! My tuppeny worth is at Celtic Difference. I just wonder if we should be focusing more on witness as 'creating life' rather than 'talking about'. I know that's a bit vague, but I feel that I'm just crawling towards something at the moment.


I'm new at blogging. This is my second offering of any kind. It is important to me to treat each person uniquely. Paul's example was: "All things to all men that I might win some". Two things regarding faithsharing: If we truly care about the person we are dealing with we've started rightly. Second, with all our "training/knowhow" it is still most important to depend on the Holy Spirit for our conversation or lack thereof. Also, what should be obvious is how important it is to pray for individuals to come to faith, especially after we have had specific encounters with them which guide our prayers. Glory to God.

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