Taking Risks and Keeping Faith: Changes in The Church
A.J. Pell is editor of the Canadian Evangelical Review and an instructor
of Liturgy, Anglican Studies Program, Regent College, Vancouver.
In the past 15 years it has become a truism that change is an inescapable part of life. But the reality of change has been particularly difficult for the church as an institution to recognize and to deal with constructively. In writing this small volume Archbishop John Bothwell of the Anglican diocese of Niagara has attempted to help church members examine both change in the church and their response to that change.
The book consists of three major sections — “The World and Our Faith,” “Starting Toward Strategies,” and “Faithfulness, Risk and Remembering” — and each contains four chapters. Throughout the book Bothwell argues that Christian faith is a living faith which, while always remaining true to Jesus Christ, seeks to express and act out belief in ways that speak to and serve people in ever new and vital ways. It is so easy to continue patterns of ministry that deal with yesterday’s problems; it is harder to operate forms of ministry that address the realities of today; and it is hardest of all to look ahead to future challenges and to prepare now to meet them. However, the value of this book is that it is more than a pious pronouncement to Christians to look ahead. Writing in a style that will be helpful to the average person in the pew, Bothwell enables his readers to ponder the sort of church they might wish for the future and the operational style of that church.
The text is enlivened by light-hearted drawings, which reinforce the author’s thoughts. When the development of an idea consists of several steps or points, Bothwell unashamedly numbers his points so that his thinking can be followed easily. Each chapter ends with several questions for individual thinking or group discussion. All of these factors make it a valuable and practical book for non-experts who wish to think seriously about the church and then put that thinking into action.