IAN PARKINSON’s Reignite: Seeing God rekindle life and purpose in your church (Monarch, £12.99 (£11.70); 978-0-85721-669-4) is an excellent book. The author is someone with a passionate belief in and commitment to the local church. He draws on his experience in two very different contexts and understands both the great joys and the very real challenges of ministry.
He is clearly inspired and excited by the Church’s potential. In his introduction he writes: “Communities in the West have never been in more desperate need of the transformative and restorative power that God entrusted to the church for the sake of the world.” Having affirmed that, he is also completely clear about the challenges that church leaders face as they seek to bring change in the hope that the Church will grow both in numbers and depth.
Parkinson begins the first chapter, “Recovering our Identity”, by writing from personal experience about his first incumbency in a middle-of-the-road Anglican church in the north-east.
He is honest about the size of the task that he faced and his excitement as he understood afresh the bigger picture of the Church which God has in mind: “God’s church is His primary missional agency, serving His purpose of partnering with Him in the work of drawing lost people back into relationship with Him — a community called to be a sign and foretaste of what life looks like when God is acknowledged as King.”
In the chapters that follow, using biblical insights, personal stories, and rigorous practical teaching, he addresses the issues that every church leader has had to face: how to bring change and articulate a vision; leading through transitions; “growing leaders”; structures for growth; and a remarkable chapter on leadership for the long haul.
All this was undergirded by a clear conviction of the importance of working in partnership with the Spirit, and some practical wisdom about ensuring that this happens. There is suggested further reading, and, at the end of the book, questions for group study on each chapter are somehow both accessible and searching.
This is a book of real substance written by someone of vision, wisdom, and experience, and I can’t imagine anyone regretting buying it.
The Revd Jeremy Crossley is the Rector of St Margaret Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman Street, London.