“…a must read for all students in Practical Theology”

9780334049883We’re just about to publish the 2nd edition of John Swinton and Harriet Mowat’s classic textbook on the part crucial methodologies within the social sciences can aid research within practical theology.

Swinton and Mowat begin by tracing the development of practical theology as a discipline and comment on current methodological practices, and trace the movement from practical theology as applied theology, i.e. a discipline which simply takes data from the other theological disciplines (historical, systematic and biblical theology) towards a model which understands the practical theological task in terms of the theology of practice.

The authors examine the relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods and highlight the significance of both for the task of practical theology. They also take the reader through the actual process of developing and carrying out a research project using the author’s own research as case study examples.

Case studies include: the rise in spirituality; the decline in church attendance, evidence-based medicine compared to needs-led assessments, the growth in chaplaincy and how it is understood as separate from parish ministry.

In this second edition, all bibliographies have been updated and there’s a new chapter looking at Action Research as a means of researching the spiritual lives of people with profound and complex Intellectual disabilities.

Adding to the praise which the 1st edition received, Pete Ward (Durham University, MF The Norwegian School of Theology and NLA University College Bergen) says of the 2nd edition:

“John Swinton and Harriet Mowat’s Practical Theology and Qualitative Research has established itself as a classic text for every one concerned with theologically orientated ethnography. Now in a Second Edition it is a must read for all students in Practical Theology and anyone setting out to do empirical research in the area of Theology and Ministry.”

John Swinton is Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at Aberdeen university, and recently was named the winner of the 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize for his book Dementia. Harriet Mowat is an honorary Reasearch Fellow in the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability at the University of Aberdeen and the Managing Director of Mowat Research Ltd, Aberdeen.

You can order a copy of the book here with a special 20% discount, but do be quick as the offer ends on 31st October.

Advertisements

Christianity Rediscovered

9780334028550You don’t need to dig around the SCM Press backlist for very long before you come across some real gems – books which have made their mark on the theological landscape and which continue to shape the Church today. One such book is Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan. It’s a good read, a fascinating mission story, but also so much more. Published in 1978, it is still considered the classic text on contextual theology, offering an important and provocative challenge to anyone interested in mission in different cultural contexts. In an interview with the Chicago-based magazine Christian Century in 2014, Samuel Wells, vicar of St Martin in the Fields, named it as the one book he would recommend to someone embarking on pastoral ministry. In the same year The Church Times listed it amongst the top 50 Christian books of all time. Even from the very first chapter, extracted here, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that, nearly 40 years later,  Donovan’s voice still needs to be heard.

***

Bwaga Moyo

One would think it would be a fairly simple matter to define missionary work, to describe it, to explain its meaning, its purpose, and the methods by which it must be carried out. One would think, also, that a missionary from East Africa, for instance, would find no difficulty in communicating with a colleague working in South America. Both thoughts might be true if missionary work had not been carried out in history. But history has ensured that communication is virtually impossible between the aforementioned missionaries. And history has offered the opportunity to deflect and distort the meaning of missionary work in every age.

History, of course, has also offered us the opportunity to understand better the mission of the church, but for some reason we have rarely availed ourselves of this opportunity. The history of East Africa in modern times, an era that coincides with the time of the missions in that area, is a good example. Right from the beginning of the missions in East Africa there have been factors at work which have deflected missionary work from true center and which leave us today, in any discussion on the matter, floundering on the periphery.

Consider the problem facing the first missionaries who came to East Africa just over a century ago: slavery. It is not easy for us, so far removed in time from that period, to imagine the dimensions of the problem. Before slavery, as a system, came to East Africa, the people had an orderly, fairly stable way of life. But when the Arab slave traders and their European backers arrived on the scene, they brought havoc and confusion and misery unimaginable. There was scarcely a section or a tribe of East Africa that was not affected by it in one way or another. Anarchy took the place of the order that was once the life of the East African tribes. The Arab raiders went far inland to get their slaves and they drove them back to the coast toward Zanzibar. The last stop on the mainland was Bagamoyo.

It is said that Bagamoyo takes its name from the two Swahili words, bwaga and moyo. Bwaga means to throw down, or put down, or let down. In a long safari, the one leading the safari, at different points, would yell to the porters, ‘Bwaga mizigo,’ ‘put down your loads.’ Moyo means heart. Bwaga moyo would thus mean, ‘Put down your heart.’ Bagamoyo was the place where the captured slave, after his long trip from the interior, would put down his heart, lay down the burden of his heart, give up hope – because it was his last contact with his own country before the trip to Zanzibar and a life of misery.

It is easy to understand the feeling of the missionaries who arrived on the scene in the last century, their concern with doing something about the system of slavery which was the cause of all these horrors. They did the only thing they could in the circumstances. They bought the slaves. They bought them left and right, with all the money they could get their hands on. They bought them by the hundreds and by the thousands – and they christianized all they bought. Buying slaves and christianizing them became, in fact, the principal method of the apostolate not only in East Africa, but on the entire continent. There were exceptions to this method, such as the work in Uganda, which was begun some time after that in Zanzibar and Bagamoyo.

Money for this vast enterprise was supplied by Rome, by Protestant missionary societies, and by antislavery societies in Europe and America. The missionaries were, in good conscience, fighting the system of slavery. But in looking back, one wonders if the best way to fight a system was to buy the products of that system.

The missionaries bought those slaves, took care of them and fed them by means of huge farms and plantations, run by the ex-slaves themselves. One would feel reassured if the missionary journals of that time showed evidence that the lot of the ex-slaves was noticeably better than that of their slave counterparts on Zanzibar or elsewhere. Physical cruelty, of course, was never part of the mission compound regime. But the word ‘free’ might not be the most accurate word to describe life on the mission plantations. And even for that freedom, such as it was, there was a price to be paid – acceptance of the Christian religion.

One wonders how many missionaries of the time questioned the wisdom of what they were doing. Because what they were doing was sheer folly. They were trying to build the church in the most artificial way imaginable. Following baptism of these ex-slaves, and the training of many of them in the work-shop schools, the mission arranged marriages among them, hoping to settle them as Christian families and villages on some part of the vast ‘mission compound.’ According to the normal rate of progression, by our time a century later, the number of Christians descended from these ex-slaves should have reached gigantic proportions. But just the opposite is true. Their number is negligible in East Africa. The apostolate to the slaves had been a miserable failure.

But perhaps more serious in the long run – this early missionary effort in East Africa has left its subtle mark, the mark of slavery, on all succeeding generations of missionary work. The mission compounds are still in evidence in East Africa. And the questionable motivation for baptism, the subservience and dependence of the christianized peoples, the condescension of the missionaries, are themes that have returned again and again in the intervening hundred years. And the distortion as to the purpose and meaning and methods of missionary work has taken us far from true center.

Bagamoyo stands like a ghost town today, with its huge and empty cathedral, its slave blockhouse, its tall coconut trees with their branches hardly stirring in the stupefying heat, and its melancholy graveyard filled with the remains of so many young missionaries, with the sleep of a century upon them.

Bwaga moyo indeed – ‘leave here your heart and hopes,’ a fitting symbol for the thousands of slaves, the many missionaries, and a half-century of missionary work in Africa.

Up From Slavery

There was one man who was worried about the apostolate to the slaves – as far as missionary work was concerned – and did something about it. Just after the turn of the century, about the year 1906, Joseph Shanahan, bishop of Southern Nigeria, took money which was coming from Propaganda in Rome, money sent specifically to ransom slaves, and used it to begin the building of the extensive school system of Southern Nigeria. He not only affected the destiny of a tribe, the Ibos; he helped to change the missionary history of all of Africa. A new era began in the African missions with Bishop Shanahan.

Not long after Bishop Shanahan, both East and West Africa took up the school system as a new apostolic method. The schools were not much to begin with, mostly catechetical or bush schools, where reading, writing, and religion were taught. Religion was the main subject. And the main character on the scene was the catechist. He became the mainstay of every mission compound. He was usually a dedicated and good-living man, not young, and not trained. One aspect of the apostolate to the slaves carried over into the catechetical period – an emphasis on children, the parents of tomorrow. The catechist has persisted on the East African mission scene even until the present time – but with nothing of his former importance. An alarming fact was noted in a survey which was made in the early sixties, a survey which covered all of East Africa. It was the fact that ninety percent of all religious instruction was being given, not by the missionary or the priest, but by the catechist. Even in this directly religious task, preaching the gospel such as it was, the missionary was not immediately involved, was not at the center, but was off somewhere in the periphery. But worse than that, these untrained catechists were ignorant of the true Christian message, and they passed on their ignorance to others. It was not a comforting thought in the early sixties to realize that a major portion of the edifice of the church and of Christianity in East Africa rested on that shaky foundation.

The catechetical schools gradually developed into schools of secular learning; into primary schools, middle schools, secondary schools, teachers’ training colleges. The battle of the schools was on. Catholics and Protestants joined earnestly in the battle. It is hard for someone who was not there during that time to understand the intensity and bitterness of the struggle. Whoever got the schools in a certain area was sure to get the Christians who came out of those schools. The basic premise underlying all of this was that if children entered a mission school, they would not emerge from that school without being Christians. And the premise was essentially correct.

Now, in the place of the catechist, the teacher of secular subjects became the main figure on mission compounds and in mission outstations. He became the right hand of the missionary and the instrument of missionary policy. It is no exaggeration to say that the school became the missionary method of East Africa. This was a policy eagerly backed by Rome. In 1928, Monsignor Hinsley, Apostolic Visitor to East Africa, told a gathering of bishops in Dar es Salaam: ‘Where it is impossible for you to carry on both the immediate task of evangelization and your educational work, neglect your churches in order to perfect your schools.’

Young missionaries followed that advice and spent their lives acquiring, building up, supplying, and teaching in schools of every description. This activity continued down into the sixties. There is no doubt about it, it was a heady experience being in the forefront of an adventure that was bringing education on an enormous scale, to what was then called an underdeveloped country.

But to return to the original question of this book what is the purpose and meaning of missionary work? Once again, historical factors had intervened and thrown out of focus the essential notions of this important issue. I think few missionaries of the time of the educational apostolate could have given a straightforward answer to the question.

The colonial governments were slow to recognize the value of the school system, or perhaps were afraid of its implications. At any rate, it can be truly said that the school system of East Africa was the creation, by and large, of the mission. Eventually the governments did move in on the educational field, and with increasingly feverish activity as independence neared, tried to take over more and more of the program. But they had a late start. At the time of independence in Tanganyika, for instance, in the year 1961, seventy percent of all the schools in the country were still being run by the missions.

By the time independence came to the three East African countries, the missions had come to maturity. All three leaders of these countries had been educated in mission schools, and two of them continued to be professing Christians. The parliaments of all three countries were filled with Christian legislators. The number of Christians had grown to sizeable and representative proportions of the countries involved. Education was not the only benefit Christianity had brought to Africa. Western medicine and other elements of civilization had penetrated the most remote areas. There was reason for immense satisfaction in looking at the credit side of the missionary ledger.

But let us look at the debit side:

1) Missionary and church work had become even more child-oriented than ever it was in the slavery and catechetical days. 2) Religion had become a subject taught in the school, similar to mathematics or Swahili. 3) Liturgy had been entirely neglected. 4) After close to a hundred years of the church’s presence in the country, the first African bishop was set up as an Ordinary in a diocese of Tanganyika, in the very year of independence. There was none in Kenya. 5) African clergy, numerous among certain tribes, were few in proportion to the overall number of Christians. In the important and large diocese of Nairobi, there was only one African priest. Such African priests as there were had become, through their training, almost completely un-African, and extremely conservative and suspicious of any change. 6) In this educational period, an old familiar price had come to be exacted from those who sought a new freedom, freedom from ignorance – and that price was the acceptance of Christianity. 7) As far as the Christianity itself was concerned, an inward turned, individual-salvation-oriented, unadapted Christianity had been planted in Africa. 8) The Christian churches were made up of subservient, dependent people. As far as finances went, there was scarcely a diocese or a parish that could have stood on its own, without continued outside support. 9) The Holy Ghost Fathers, the White Fathers, the Maryknoll Fathers, the Capuchins, and the Benedictines were firmly established in East Africa, but it is doubtful if the church was. Mission compounds resembled nothing so much as foreign outposts. 10) Missionaries, who should have had pride and contentment in their accomplishments, were in the greatest quandary of all. Few of them had really wanted independenceto come, and when it had, many of them had lost their nerve, their sense of direction and purpose. 11) The newly independent governments were to become increasingly jealous of the schools as their prerogative, and by 1970 all mission schools in the new Tanzania, for instance, were taken over completely by the government. By this one swift move the government was to rob the missionaries of their main, apostolic method, and to render the advice of that Apostolic Visitor of 1928 hollow indeed. 12) Finally, the meaning and purpose of missionary work had been so thoroughly distorted that it was scarcely recognizable. Missionaries were at a loss to describe meaningful missionary methods in the existing situation.

A badly deteriorating situation almost received its ‘coup de grace’ from the turbulent events of the sixties.

Whither Mission?

Among the first ones to jump into the void of missionary thinking were the African leaders of newly independent countries. Very capable and thinking men, these leaders addressed themselves time and time again to the missionaries in their countries. They lectured them on the meaning of missionary work. Thanking them for their past contributions, they reminded them that the day of the school apostolate and the medical apostolate were swiftly passing away, and they called on them for a new missionary contribution. They invited them to take part in the battle against ignorance, poverty, and disease. They encouraged them to take an important part in nation building and in aid to developing countries of the third world, as they were now known. They asked them to be servants of these developing countries, to serve under the respective governments of these countries, to help them carry out their policies both internal and sometimes even foreign – as regards Rhodesia, Portugal, and South Africa. They were specifically invited to be ‘agricultural missionaries’ in one country. The president of another East African country was actually asked to address the General Chapter of one missionary congregation, involved in the up-dating of its missionary aims and purpose. There is no doubt that he influenced that congregation tremendously. The similarity, even to wording, between his speech and their new guidelines is remarkable.

One cannot doubt the intelligence nor the sincerity of these African leaders. They are extraordinary men, and any missionary who has even had contact with them, cannot but feel a deep admiration for them. And they can give us a deep insight into the aspirations and needs of the African people. They can even serve as signs of the times for us. But the question still must be asked: When we are searching for the deepest biblical and theological meaning of missionary work, is it to statesmen and politicians that we should turn for the answer?

The decade of the sixties was also the time of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. One of the most important discussions of that assembly was the debate on the mission of the church. It was a very intense debate, which tension does not fully appear in the finished documents of the Council.8 It was a debate over whether the deepest meaning of the mission of the church concerned itself with the evangelization of pagan peoples, or with the reevangelization of Christian peoples. There were some firm principles enunciated with regard to the primacy of first evangelization, as it was called, but there was also compromise allowed when it came down to spelling out the all important distinction between missionary and pastoral work. In another important section of the Council proceedings, the Catholic church went on record for the first time in its history in support of true freedom of conscience and tolerance for other religions. Every missionary was grateful for the immense amount of light thrown on the missionary situation by the Second Vatican Council.

But shortly after the Council, one began to hear such statements as, ‘France is the mission. Holland is the mission,’ or, ‘Chicago is as much mission as Nairobi.’ Young Dutch members of missionary congregations began to desire to be missionaries to the Dutch, to the people of their own country, especially the young, who needed them as much as any people in foreign mission stations ever would.

Then the voice of tolerance began to be heard questioning missionary work among peoples of non-Christian religions. This voice insisted that it was a violation of conscience to convert any people from their own beliefs to beliefs of your choosing. Finally from all of this there emerged the new definition of missionary work: aid to developing countries, material help to these countries without any strings attached. Conversion was out of the question. A new breed of missionaries appeared – behind the plow, laying pipes, digging wells, introducing miracle grains, bringing progress and development to the peoples of the third world – a kind of ecclesiastical peace corps. This is the new and exciting meaning of missionary work and of missionaries – a discovery of our time.

I wonder if one would be allowed to ask what is new about it. Material development? Isn’t that what was involved from the beginning in the work in East Africa, with the freed slaves, the workshops, the plantations, and in the building and running of schools? Perhaps the only thing new about it is the machinery available today, and the motivation of the missionaries.

By the very nature of the case, this new breed of missionaries must condemn the previous system of missionary work – and one would have to agree with them in their condemnation. To bring freedom or knowledge or health or prosperity to a people in order that they become Christians is a perversion of missionary work. But what of a system that would bring them progress and development for its own sake? Is that not just as bad? Nazism will stand forever as the ultimate indictment of progress for its own sake. How would a Christian missionary involved in such work be differentiated from agents of socio-economic systems such as communism or socialism, or even from workers for the United Nations? Or should no such differentiation be made, as some insist? Have we come to the end of the era of the mission? Are they no more relevant than the British Foreign Office for colonial administration?

Or is it possible that none of the systems already described throw essential light on the true meaning of missionary work?

There is no mistaking the fact that missionary work is in a shambles. Born in slavery, disoriented by the school system, startled by independence, and smothered in nation building – mission in East Africa has never had the chance to be true to itself.

To make any sense out of mission, out of the meaning and purpose of missionary work, one has to start all over again – at the beginning.

***

Buy a copy of Christianity Rediscovered via our website, here.

 

 

 

 

Why does the Old Testament need a “Companion” anyway?

Later this month we’re publishing Companion to the Old Testament, by Hywel Clifford with Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Douglas Earl, and Ryan P. O’Dowd.

 But why does the Old Testament need a ‘Companion’ in the first place? In this extract from the book’s introduction, Hywel offers his response to that question and explains a bit more about how the book is structured.

***

97803340539342Isn’t the New Testament the ‘companion’ to the Old Testament? After all, most readers of the Bible read the Old Testament in the light of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the New Testament: he is the lens through which it is viewed. Indeed, he is the person through whom all Christian theological understanding is traditionally directed, nourished, and inspired. The word ‘companion’ in the title of this book is not meant to question any of this as a ‘given’ of Christian discourse. Rather, the choice of this word signals a response to a perceived lack of understanding as to what the Old Testament has to offer. Too often, views of the Old Testament are either superficial or caught up in controversy. The response aimed at here is to provide intelligent enrichment for readers, so that their understanding of its texts might be broadened and deepened. Another aim is to respond to what is often felt by some to be the confusing pluralism of the contemporary world: the ever-increasing range of outlooks and opinions on daily view via the media and in human experience, and how these can easily impact on biblical interpretation. With this in view, the core of each chapter is, in effect, a sampling of what is now called the reception of the Old Testament, but from the perspective of the history of Christianity. The other main aim is to offer a model of reading that is educational, insightful, and useful: to illustrate how the Old Testament remains relevant today. Before outlining these three aims in a little more detail, some comments about the book’s front cover are in order.

The book’s cover provides another way of thinking about how this book may serve as a ‘companion’ to the Old Testament. It is from the series of frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling is commonly judged to be one of the finest example of High Renaissance art. The fresco depicts a dynamic Daniel, reading a large open book, and writing his own with charcoal. The prophet Daniel is reading an older book, perhaps that of the lamenting prophet Jeremiah, whom Daniel sits opposite on the ceiling. If this is the case, then the fresco recalls the vision of Daniel 9, which states that he read Jeremiah’s prophecies about the 70 years of exile (Jer. 25.11–12; Dan. 9.1–2), which were then explained to him by the angel Gabriel to mean 70 ‘weeks’ of years (490 years). This enabled Daniel to be a visionary of a later time, when the Jerusalem temple would be desecrated by Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) through his installation of an altar to the Greek god Zeus. This kind of interpretation, in which an old oracle is seen to encode a message for new situations, has parallels in apocalyptic and messianic texts of the Second Temple Jewish era (e.g. 1QHabakkuk; 2 Esdras), including the New Testament (e.g. Matt. 1.23; Acts 13.41; Gal. 3.16), whose writers often quoted from the book of Daniel with similar outlooks (e.g. Matt. 16.27-8; cf. Mark 8.38–9.1; Luke 9.26–7). What this book contains is not, in principle, different. The reading and rereading of the Old Testament in the history of Christianity follows ancient forebears: it began in the Old, was developed in the New, and those footsteps have been followed ever since.

 

Design: how this book is structured

 

It is now time to explain how the five core chapters of this book about the Old Testament are designed and structured. For ease of use and comprehension, each of the contributors of the chapters has followed the same general format or model indicated by the book’s title. This model, in three developing and interlocking parts, is as follows: (1) introduction, (2) interpretation, and (3) application. A few words about each of these three areas will explain what the reader will find in each chapter.

The introduction to each chapter contains basic information about the general significance of each canonical section of the Old Testament. This first part includes discursive comments about its position within the Old Testament, the content and shape of that section, and what is often held to be distinctive about each canonical section in its ancient and later contexts. There is then a table about the books of each canonical section in overview. This is followed by discursive summaries of the books, or major themes within them. It is naturally a challenge to capture in general, overview, and summary formats what might be said about each canonical section and each book, especially what is held to be significant about them. Readers may well be struck by different features, themes, and details, in their own encounters with the Old Testament. That is to be fully expected. This first part simply offers these different starting points, to help readers gain more confidence in understanding these biblical books – especially those that are less familiar – both in and of themselves, and as a necessary prelude to their interpretation.

The second and most extensive part of each chapter, on interpretation, is the heart of the book. Each of the canonical sections of the Old Testament are approached according to how thinkers, past and present, have read, understood, and used these sacred texts in Christianity. Primary sources (over 60 excerpts) are contextualised, presented, and analysed for the ways that they illustrate major trends in the history of the interpretation of the Old Testament. That history comprises Early (AD c. 0–500), Medieval (c. 600–1500), Reformation (c. 1500 –1700), Modern (c. 1700–present), and Global Christianity. These categories might seem rather Western or Eurocentric, and that might be somewhat inevitable given the contributors’ backgrounds. But that is neither the intention nor is it in fact the result. The contributors wrote in full recognition of the limitations of any categories, and that others could have been used. In taking this approach, which is deliberately broad, both chronologically and contextually, each contributor has selected primary sources that not only illustrate the history of interpretation but which are also likely to challenge any reader’s views about the role and significance of the Old Testament. In other words, the purpose in this part is to offer an entrée into the history of the interpretation of the Old Testament that will encourage the virtue of humility, given that readers of its texts have always sought to interpret them with a Christian framework, and in so doing to encourage a contemporary reader to be self-aware and reflective about how that might be done today.

The third part of each chapter is about application; that is, application to the life of faith in view of what is presented in the previous parts. This part, like the first, is not as extensive as the second. It focussed, however, in addressing two main areas: ministry and mission. For the sake of convenience, ‘ministry’ is taken to refer to applications of the Old Testament in worship and pastoralia, and ‘mission’ is taken to refer to applications of the Old Testament in wider society and culture – even though these areas are at root integrated and often intersect in practice. The leading question in this part is, in effect, as follows: what do each of the canonical sections of the Old Testament offer in ministry and mission? The word ‘application’ should not be taken to mean that there is a simple and linear progression that begins with basic understanding, moves through interpretation, and is then finally embedded in real life. After all, the Old Testament texts themselves emerged out of the lived realties of ancient Israelite life, and their interpretation has always arisen out of the lived realities of subsequent contexts. Rather, application here signifies a concern by each of the contributors to be sufficiently informed by a representative understanding of the texts, and the history of their interpretation and use. This is so that any recommended applications to the life of faith are respectful of that history, faithful to what is distinctively Christian in that history, and wise about the possibilities and the limits of applications to ministry and mission in the contemporary world.

It will be clear to the reader that the general format or model used in the five core chapters of this book is intentionally integrative and synthetic; that the approach taken in this book draws together the aspects of introduction, interpretation, and application in a purposeful way. This approach is intended to ensure that a reader’s on-going encounter with the Old Testament texts does not quickly become unnecessarily fragmented or piecemeal, whether by getting lost in the details of their ancient context, or by becoming distracted by the more controversial issues that are often attached to these texts. There are, of course, many other ways in which the Christian use of the Old Testament may be approached and articulated. The hope is that readers of the Old Testament will find in this book a holistic model that is clear, accessible, and easy to use. The experienced reader will recognise that the three components are not original in a strong sense, nor even their combination. But it may be claimed that the selection and the configuration of the content is new. However the fresh presentation of the past and its impact on the present is done, that it is done, at all, is crucial. Each and every generation must assimilate and respond in appropriate ways to the sacred texts that lie at the foundations of many of our inherited and living patterns and practices.

 

Standpoint: approaches and attitudes

 

The contributors to this volume have written with the knowledge of, and a commitment to, the heritage of classical Christian orthodoxy, as is typically expressed week by week in the recitation of a creed or confession in church services. The Christian approach taken here is not, however, especially denominational, even if the contributors have been nurtured in specific church settings. The sources about the Old Testament selected for comment in part two of each chapter are diverse, from various times and places, but they are all from authors who have self-identified as Christian. The contributors are fully aware, at the same time, that these sacred texts (apart from the Apocrypha) are also canonical in Judaism. That recognition is reflected sensitively throughout the book. The other approach to the Old Testament that has influenced the contributors is that of the university or academy, where they have learned and been enriched by its more neutral or secular environment. The critical distance it prizes has meant taking account of the impact of both ecclesial change (e.g. the European Reformation) and intellectual change (e.g. the European Enlightenment). The complex legacy of the former highlights the importance of what is core to Christianity, while allowing for the necessity of historic disputes. The latter is about the use of critical methods: to read and analyse the Old Testament ‘like any other book’. These are not, in principle, inimical to one another. These may be brought together, in an approach to sacred texts that is both ‘faithful’, from the perspective of believing commitment, and ‘critical’, that is, characterised by open, rigorous investigation in a community of accountable commentators.

Of course, there can always be unexpected fruits and unintended consequences for which no explanation or guidance offered by an editor or a contributor could prepare readers: they will gain or discover new vistas of their own concerning the Old Testament, or they will realise that there are other, if not better, ways to proceed. Whatever readers come away with, from one or more of the chapters, it is hoped that the reading experience will nevertheless prove to be educative and enriching. Finally, with respect to the sacred texts of the Old Testament as such, quite apart from what any modern book might present, the following ancient words have been germane to the contributors’ approaches and attitudes, in terms of their own growth in understanding and current outlook. While these words arose as part of an early Christian pastoral response to a specific first century scenario, their standpoint remains.

 

 

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Jesus Christ, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul – Romans 15.4–6 (mid-late 50s AD)

***

Hywel Clifford is Senior Tutor and Lecturer in Old Testament at Ripon College Cuddesdon. Companion to the Old Testament is available to preorder from our website at 20% off the cover price. Click here to find out more.

The DNA of Pioneer Ministry

9780334054092Later this month, we’ll be publishing The DNA of Pioneer MInistry. In today’s guest post, author Andy Milne tells us about the book and about ‘Sorted’, the fresh expression he launched in Bradford 12 years ago.

***

What’s all the fuss?

‘Growth’ is a common buzz word across the Church nowadays despite most statistics telling us that we’re in slow decline. However, recent research by George Lings  shows that hundreds of new fresh expressions of church have been started over the past decade with their numerical church growth having reversed the overall picture of decline in some Anglican dioceses. What’s more, they’ve created this new church growth with over 50% of fresh expressions being led by unpaid lay leaders!

This seems like a glimmer of light on the dark horizon of decline. Not surprisingly, more and more existing churches are pioneering new groups themselves, being keen to learn lessons from fresh expressions so that they too can grow in numbers and quality. Just maybe God is at work? Could the sun be about to rise and shine on the UK Church with more growth on the horizon?

God at work in Bradford…

Sorted is one such fresh expression. It began life in 2003, working amongst teenagers in north Bradford. Life for many young people in this part of the world may begin in a one parent family, could involve attending a school in special measures, might involve skirting with drugs or a teenage pregnancy and isn’t likely to lead to a good career. At least, that was the picture painted to us when we began Sorted. We were told there are social problems, lack of aspiration and not a lot of good work being done with young people inside or outside school! Was it possible to begin a fresh expression of church in such circumstances?

We attempted to begin by building relationships with local teens, listening and trying to understand their concerns, hopes, dreams and problems. We slowly began to understand young people in the area as we kept up conversations with teens on street corners, in parks and in school playgrounds. After hearing about their needs, Sorted began by forming tiny groups with the young people, not just for the young people.

On the playground, I would chat to a few young people about our idea for Sorted, asking what they thought of it and could they help shape it? As I listened to their suggestions and ideas, I would look for those who were really interested in making it happen. Who’s open to God? Who are the ‘people of peace’ as Jesus calls them in Luke 10? These ‘people of peace’ are often the best people to get to know so we can form a new group with them and their peers.

Much of Sorteds work today begins in playgrounds, the school canteen or local pubs and cafes. Whether with teens or twenties – going to where they are and being in their environment as salt and light is the best way to build relationships of trust on an equal footing. It takes time, involves risk and can feel vulnerable. But it’s only by obeying Jesus command to ‘go and make disciples’ that we really listen and begin to understand the people and their culture. Then we can begin a faith journey of pioneering a new church together with the people we are getting to know. Why together? Why with? – You may ask.

God called my wife Tracy and I to pioneer Sorted and we began with a basic plan of how to make this happen after doing some research whilst at Church Army training college in Sheffield. Unfortunately, the plan had to be re-written several times as some of our ideas just didn’t work!

This led to three things: – Firstly, a very persistent prayer life where we had to learn to trust God, see what he was doing and then join in. Secondly, we started with what we had. It was easy for me to connect with skateboarders because I had skated for years but others might connect through gaming, football or anything they have in common with those they’re trying to reach. It might be a hobby, a need or a cause. Thirdly, we learnt to work things out with the young people. If I shared the outline of an idea or problem with them – they would listen, add to it, shape it and make it their own; then the idea would take root or the problem would begin to be solved. They would help bring their friends to own the idea and it would get established. All the best things in Sorted tend to happen when they ‘own’ it and make it happen with God’s help.

Working this way can be messy but it resonates with the way Jesus did ministry with his disciples. Going back to Luke 10, Jesus sends his disciples in pairs to find people of peace and speak about the kingdom of God. They had seen Jesus go out, then they had gone out with Him and now they were going out for Him. Jesus had modelled it and given them brief instructions but they had to work out the rest as they met people in the villages they were sent too. Christians have followed this example for centuries and that is why church looks different in different places as it has to be worked out locally or contextually.

One night, shortly after we had begun our first worship service, we knew the layout of the room wasn’t working. Whilst some of us huddled to discuss the problem, 13 year old Joe burst in with an idea of setting up the microphone at the other side of the room and turning everything round. It was the best idea yet so we went with it. It was soon noticeable that because we listened and acted on his suggestion, others came forward with suggestions; knowing they would be taken seriously, whoever they were.

Another idea came from a 9 year old girl when Tracy worked in the parish church. It involved using her family’s donkey and stables as a makeshift manger for that year’s Christmas Carol service. Tracy went with it and the service was a huge success, bringing together lots of people from the local community. Some of them hadn’t stepped inside a church for years! But we’ve also put ideas into practice from an 80 year old volunteer. It really doesn’t matter if the person is young or old, it’s the principle of listening and taking people’s ideas seriously that helps them realise they can be part of the team. You can’t use every person’s idea but you can listen to every person!

Sorted grew as a family full of young people whose own families were often broken or dysfunctional. Values of acceptance, working things out together and sharing both problems and ideas created a good environment for people to discover faith in Jesus and start the journey into discipleship. As we shared our lives, trust was built, conversations came more easily and God would work through the relationships to bring many to Himself.

We’ve found some people need to become part of a God centred family for a few years before they are ready to accept the Christian faith. Many hurting, marginalised or damaged people need years of time and space. Some never will accept Jesus but our job is to love them anyway. The young people often say that its being part of Sorted as a loving, caring family that makes the difference for them.

By late 2006, Sorted’s basic 4 stage pattern emerged: –

  • School playgrounds or lunch clubs are places where relationships begin to be formed
  • Friday night is a big activity session with 40 to 60 teens where we have fun, model the values of acceptance, inclusivity and community whilst sharing our faith for a few minutes each week
  • Small groups are where 2 or 3 small groups meet to explore the Christian faith, pray and do life together.
  • Worship service is where we meet to worship creatively with emphasis on prayer ministry, good teaching and sacraments.

Teams of adults and young people run each session together so that discipleship and ministry is learnt by young people as they share a testimony, pray for a friend, lead a small group or get involved in setting up equipment. Being a family means that almost anything can become an opportunity to learn a new skill, serve each other and care for one another.

For the record: –

  • Sorted 1 grew to become a fresh expression of 60 teens out of Immanuel Community College in North Bradford. It then reproduced so that Sorted 2 began a mile up the road, out of Hanson Academy. Sorted 3 began in 2012.
  • Today, Sorted work with up to 150 young people, young adults or young family members across a variety of groups based loosely on the 4 stage model mentioned above.
  • Nick Lebey trained with us in Bradford as a Church Army trainee before beginning TYM in South London – a youth church using the Sorted model. Moses Bantu took Sorteds methods back to Nairobi, Kenya and began Urban Hope Ministries.
  • Sorted is a Church Army centre of mission within the Diocese of Leeds with a Bishops Mission Order.

 

Why a book?

Anyone interested in beginning a fresh expression or starting a new group with a local church will know there are many issues facing them: –

  • What is God calling us to do?
  • Do we need a team, if so – how big, who should be in it, how can we train it and keep it together?
  • Who will support us and who will we partner with?
  • How do I read the mission context and build relationships with the people living in it?
  • When and how do we gather a new community? What will it meet around and how will it function?
  • How will evangelism happen in a specific context?
  • Can small groups help grow churches? If so, what will work and what won’t? What’s right for our context?
  • What about discipleship? How can the new community’s whole life be about discipleship?
  • Should worship be at the beginning of the process or further on? How do we enable those who’ve never been to church to worship God?
  • We’re part of a denomination – where do sacraments figure in our plans? Can and should we become legally recognised through a Bishops Mission Order or equivalent?
  • How do we make this new church sustainable?
  • What about reproduction? Is it really possible?

So many churches and fresh expressions are grappling with these kinds of issues. Beginning something is hard. We have Jesus as our compass to give direction, the stories of other pioneers to help us think about what lies ahead but when we try to find a road map to plan our route – working contextually means we often need to begin with a blank sheet of paper rather than follow someone else’s map! Pioneering means being led by Jesus in the direction he takes us, discovering new terrain and drawing a new map as we go.

I’ve tried to write a book that tells real life stories of people who we’ve encountered on our journey at Sorted. Some have come to faith; some have become disciples or have contributed in some way to what we are. From years of these kinds of experiences, we’ve learnt lots of practical lessons in how to pioneer new churches, develop, sustain and reproduce them. We’ve certainly not got all the answers but I’ve tried to put together a whole range of tried and tested practical ideas that have worked for us in the different Sorted fresh expressions and further afield in South London and Kenya.

My wife Tracy was asked to take over a struggling local parish church. With a dozen elderly folk and not more than a handful of others, they set about turning decline into growth. They set about building deeper relationships with local people who attended ‘Jolly Tots,’ a church run community parent and toddler group.

After conversation and listening, a new group was started with these people to be part of sharing creative, interactive bible stories in an atmosphere of food, drink and family fun. ‘Stepping stones’ was the name of this new group and the next step towards faith and church for those parents and toddlers. After six months, seeds were being sown and new faith was beginning to sprout amongst some of the parents. This led to the creation of ‘Foot steps’ a new all age service geared to the needs of the kids as much as the parents. Tracy took the lessons learnt from Sorted and put them into a parish context seeing significant growth as a result.

So this book is written for anyone interested in pioneering fresh expressions and growing existing churches. The principles and practical lessons should be adaptable to your context (as the stories from outside Sorted show) and should provide ideas and solutions to the challenges you may face. I hope you find it helpful on your journey with the Lord.

***

You can find out more about Sorted via their website – www.sortedcommunity.org.uk. And right now, you can preorder a copy of The DNA of Pioneer Ministry for special discount price. Order online here.

 

Desert Island Books – Bob Mayo

bob%20mayo_3_If calamity struck and you found yourself marooned on a desert island, you’d doubtless want some good reading matter close to hand (as well as some shelter and access to a decent cup of tea). But what three books would you spend those endless days reading? Every so often on the SCM Press Blog, we’ll be asking our authors to offer their ‘Desert Island Books’. To kick us off, here’s Bob Mayo, author of The Parish Handbook.

***

I want schedenfreude from my desert island novel to make me feel better about my own situation. I will weep at the end of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as poor benighted Tess is driven beyond what she can bear. She kills Alec, the man who raped and subsequently married her, to free herself for Angel the man she had always loved. It does her no good because she is hanged. There is a reason why the classics are so called. It is a marvellous book celebrating the human spirit and raging against social injustice. I will no doubt feel angry at the situation in which I find myself.

In terms of poetry, TS Elliott’s Four Quartets will be my desert island handbook. Each of the poems deals with some aspect of time [chronological, seasonal and eternal]. His poetry will help me to make a friend of time: something on my desert island of which I will have a lot. Elliott writes: You are not here to verify, instruct yourself, or inform curiosity, or carry report. You are here to kneel.

In terms of theology I will go back half a century to the posttraumatic theology of Honest to God. It is an SCM Press classic: post war secularism mixes with 60s liberalism deconstructs formal religion and tells us to take our cue from the existential theology of Paul Tillich. I am to see God as the ground of my being. Alone on my desert island that will be all I am able to do, but it will be enough.

***

The Revd Dr Bob Mayo, vicar of St. Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bush, is a Trustee of the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, and is the chaplain Queens Park Rangers. He was previously Director of the Cambridge Centre of Youth Ministry. As well as The Parish Handbook, which will be published by SCM Press next month, his other publications include Gospel Exploded (1996), Ambiguous Evangelism (2004) and Divorce – A challenge to the Church (2008). He also regularly contributes to the Church of England Newspaper

 

Your MA in Theology – ‘A unique laboratory of sharing and exchange’

257971_our%20ma%20in%20theologyWith a new academic year upon us, students in campuses from Aberdeen to Oxford are embarking on Theology MA degrees programmes. Zoe Bennett’s Your MA in Theology is written to equip both undergraduates moving on to study at postgraduate level or of those who are returning to study after years out of education. And until 31st October you can buy the ebook for only £4.99 as part of our ebook offer. Here’s an extract from Zoe’s introduction:

‘What I enjoyed most was the context of each seminar group as a unique laboratory of sharing and exchange – of ideas, views and theological perspectives.’ I treasure this comment from Razvan, an Orthodox student from Romania on our MA in Pastoral Theology. It seems to me to encapsulate the richness master’s study in theology can bring, whether we do this in class or by distance learning, full-time or part-time. The richness doesn’t only come from the mix of students but from the teaching style that is normally adopted at this level and, of course, from the subject matter itself: ‘Most enjoyable is the teaching style (not didactic), which enables you to engage with the subject through discussion, reading, presentations and so on – that is, it is interactive’ (Jon, pioneer minister).

Not all is plain sailing, however: ‘Perhaps the most difficult aspect has been the frustration of limited time’ (Carmen, Methodist student minister from Australia); or as Rita, a Christian educator in her 60s said, the most difficult thing was ‘when my thinking about good educational practice differed from the model employed by a module leader’. Time is something most of us realize will be an issue when we study for a master’s degree. Perhaps we anticipate some other hurdles less clearly, such as the fact that many of us are already professional people and may experience dissonance between our student status and the skills we bring into the programme.

Studying for a master’s in theology can be life-transforming, and some of the difficulties in themselves become ways of growing. Emma, an Anglican ordinand, wrote that one of the most difficult things was:

juggling the busy life of being a student training for ordained ministry, in a full-time lecturing job and having children – literally! Yet again, the dual process of studying and having children inspired my authentic voice to speak up a bit more. (My emphasis)

This book is for people like Razvan, Jon, Carmen, Rita and Emma – people like you. It is primarily about helping you to become more skilled in studying. The book is also for those who teach on master’s programmes in theology. Knowing what helps students helps teachers to help students. It all started when I led a day in Cambridge for tutors on our MA in Pastoral Theology on how to supervise and mark MA dissertations. ‘Can you recommend something for us to read further on this?’, they asked. ‘The trouble,’ I said, ‘is that the MA student is neglected. There are many books on studying at undergraduate level; many on being a research student; but the MA is a poor relative caught in the middle.’ This is a great shame, as master’s courses in all kinds of theology are burgeoning at the moment, and the needs of master’s students are very specific – not the same as undergraduate or research students. You are unique.

Master’s courses in theology have many names – Pastoral, Practical, Applied, Contextual Theology; Spirituality, Liturgy or Leadership; indeed one of our MAs in the Cambridge Theological Federation is called simply Christian Theology. I hope this book will be useful to you whichever you are doing. My own background and inclination is to a reflective practice model of practical theology, and that may show through. I hope you can rejoice in that or forgive it, as appropriate. But this book isn’t only for one sort of student or for one sort of theology. You will find chapters suitable for international students, for those bringing together theory and practice, for those who have trouble writing or for those who want to look at how Christian commitment might engage with a critical university environment.

You should therefore pick and choose what to read in this book. It doesn’t have to be read from beginning to end or read in any particular order. Dip in and look at the aspects of studying your MA that most interest or trouble you at the moment. Some of the chapters address specifically theological issues; others apply more generally, but even these are set in a theological context.

Chapter 1 is about expectations. I begin by asking what it means to study on a ‘taught master’s’. This chapter covers the difference between undergraduate and postgraduate work, how to cope with return to study after a long gap and how to harness and value your previous academic work and your previous experience. It looks at what is expected academically at master’s level. How much ‘teaching’ should you expect in a ‘taught’ degree, and how do you learn to study independently?

Chapters 2 and 3 are about basic realities. What are core study skills for master’s students? Reading? Writing? (but not Arithmetic unless you do quantitative research for your dissertation). Then there is the art of taking notes and the art of reflection. How do you use the libraries and search for resources? I am grateful to my librarian colleague Carol Reekie for a helpful section on this. And then what about the seminar group that is so common in master’s courses – how do you join in in a seminar group effectively, without being either a shrinking violet on the one hand or dominating to the annoyance of your colleagues on the other? Seminar groups can be especially difficult to negotiate, especially if English is not your first language. And how do you present a paper well in a group? Finally, in Chapter 3, Esther Shreeve looks at some issues pertinent to students with specific learning difficulties.

Chapter 4 is about understanding the complex relationship between theory and practice. This is a relevant question for all who study theology, but this chapter will perhaps be of most help to those whose course demands some form of ‘reflective practice’ or reflection on practice. This may be in a placement or by the requirement to draw on present and past pastoral practice for assignments or by an expectation that you will engage your own story and identity in the theology you are studying. It is about being a reflective practitioner and about being able to be self-reflective.

Chapter 5 is about being scholarly. Please don’t be put off if this sounds too dry or too difficult. The chapter will address some important basic issues about good academic practice – avoiding plagiarism, for example, and referencing work correctly. But beyond the technicalities we will look at how to use the language of the scholarly community, into which we enter when we do a postgraduate degree, without losing our own voice. This chapter should be of help to everyone, whether you are gladly embracing the scholarly community in hopeful anticipation of moving on to a doctorate or whether you are reluctantly putting a toe in the waters of ‘academia’ in order to enhance your practice and personal understanding.

Do you feel a little afraid of or even unhappy about the idea that you will need to bring a critical approach to matters of faith? Or do you warm to that possibility? Chapter 6 concerns the tension so many of us feel between suspicion and trust, between commitment and critique, when we reflect on our faith. It explores the issues that arise when we work ecumenically in an academic context and when we need to meet the critical expectations of higher education at the same time as remaining faithful to our tradition of faith.

Chapter 7 is especially for international students. The issues explored in Chapter 6 may be especially sharp for you. Then there are such different expectations of students in different countries: are you given set reading or expected to choose for yourself? Tested every week or not till the end of the year? Allowed to write freely on a topic or failed for not answering the question? What are the conventions for quoting authorities? Working in a language that is not your own affects how long it takes to read, how many words you need to do your assignment and how much you feel you can contribute to class discussion.

Finally, Chapter 8 addresses how to approach and to write a dissertation for a taught master’s degree. It covers choosing a topic, finding a supervisor and how to design and execute an excellent dissertation from start to finish.

I hope you will find this book helpful. It will probably be most useful to you if you pick the chapters that cover the topics that most concern you, although reading it from cover to cover might bring all sorts of ideas to your attention that you might otherwise never have thought about. Most of all I hope you enjoy ‘your MA in Theology’ – that ‘unique laboratory of sharing and exchange’.

Dr Zoë Bennett is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Course Leader for the Professional Doctorate in Theology at Anglia Ruskin University. Zoe’s next book, In a Glass Darkly, co-authored with Christopher Rowland, is published by SCM in December.

You can see a full list of ebooks included in our £4.99 ebook offer here.

Meet the Editor…

cropped-scmlogo-small1.jpgAt the beginning of this year David Shervington came to SCM Press to become the new Senior Commissioning Editor. Here he introduces himself and SCM Press

***

Tell us about yourself

I came into publishing from an English MA, fresh from a year researching obscure plays by Charles Dickens. My first role was with an independent academic publisher, where I started life in a production role working on books on anything from sociology to law to religion. I moved over to become a commissioning editor a few years later, and worked on a theology list which also published more general religious studies. The opportunity to move to a theology publisher, especially one with the kind of reputation that SCM Press has, was too good to miss – suddenly I had gone from a theology list with a 15-year history to one with a history which stretched back much further. One thing you quickly learn when you manage an imprint like SCM Press for any length of time is that there are plenty of people who know the history inside out. I frequently discover new things I didn’t know about our heritage when I chat to people who have known our books since well before I was born! 

What SCM books are you proudest of, and why?

Hard to pick. John Swinton’s Dementia, would be up there. We published it a couple of years ago but this year it won the prestigious Michael Ramsey prize for theological writing. We’ve been delighted with the well-deserved attention it’s received since winning the prize. We will be publishing a new edition in 2017 to celebrate. When Justin Welby presented the prize, he  said that John had done the church a huge service, and the hope is that in different ways each of our books aspire to do just that.

The impact that much of our backlist has had on theology and practice makes me feel very proud. The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer has challenged and changed how many Christians think about their faith, and I count myself amongst them. Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan has had an equal effect in urging Christians to think about mission in a new way, with a deep understanding of context. These books have made a difference and it’s quite a privilege as an editor to take up that baton.

Tell us about some other key books on the SCM Press backlist

At the centre of our backlist are our Studyguides which offer comprehensive and accessible introductions to a range of subjects, designed for those at undergrad level or in vocational training. We’re growing the series all the time, but at the moment there are Study Guides covering everything from Hermeneutics to Theological Reflection and Ethics to Church History. They very frequently crop up on reading lists in pretty much every theological training context in the UK, and overseas.

We’re perhaps best known for some of our classics, many of which have long been established as required reading for students and anyone wanting to understand 20th century theology. Bonhoeffer, Barth, Cupit and Robinson all feature. We’ve published numerous books from some of the great modern day theologians too, including Walter Brueggemann as well as Juergen Moltmann.

In our more recent backlist, we have published some of the classic textbooks in practical and pastoral theology, including John Swinton and Harriet Mowat’s Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. This has quickly established itself as the must-have text book for those engaged in theological research using qualitative methods. In fact, we’re publishing a second edition this month.

So what new books are you especially looking forward to in the next year?

We’ve got a very exciting year ahead. We will be adding yet more indispensable text books to our list, including a new Companion to the Old Testament (Oct 2016) which offers a fabulous introduction to the OT, considers how it has been interpreted and challenges the reader to think about how it might apply in the context of ministry and discipleship today. We’re also publishing our long awaited Studyguide to Preaching (Jan 2017), which will offer a much-needed resource to help preachers and those in training for ministry think through different approaches to preaching, and will provide practical examples and exercises.

The Parish Handbook (Nov 2016) by Bob Mayo is a wonderful narrative theological account of what it is really like to serve in parish ministry. It makes for the perfect resource to help ordinands and those preparing for ministry think reflectively about their ministry. And thanks to Bob’s skill as a writer, it’s also a profoundly moving read.

Looking further ahead, Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison remain profoundly relevant to today’s church. We’re publishing a new edition of the Letters, including a brand new foreword from Sam Wells, vicar of St Martin in the Fields (Feb 2017). It’s important to me that we introduce this vital work to a new generation, it offers a moving first-hand account of the real ‘cost of discipleship’ which ought to make us sit up and take note.~

We’ve got a wonderful array of new titles in the pipeline for next year, but to pick just one there’s Justin Thacker’s Global Poverty: A Theological Guide (Mar 2017). Thacker unpacks with real insight and skill the vexed question of what impact our faith might have on how we relate to the huge number in our world who live below the poverty line. His conclusions are provocative but important. I can’t help but get excited about this sort of work, combining rigorous theological insight with a desire to see the Church play a transformative role in our world.

Where will SCM Press be in 10 years’ time?

Well, clearly we would hope to still be at the forefront of theological conversation. We will continue to develop the areas in which we excel currently – practical and pastoral theology, ecclesiology and the like. And we will develop further our biblical studies and theology, always seeking to find ways of bringing these areas into conversation with the practice and ministry of the Church.

 ***

Don’t forget, you can follow David (@ShervingtonD} and SCM Press (@SCM_Press) on Twitter for more info