Six New Things – Week of January 15, 2024

Belonging, Love, Reconciliation: there are so many ways Lent can be a transformational season for congregations ready to become a safe haven, a more prophetic witness, and/or community-centered space of justice and forgiveness.


Belonging often begins with affirmations. I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids (Running Press Kids) is, ‘an empowering alphabet book… to inspire and remind Black children of their inner power, strength, and worth.

Extend those affirmations to everybody by shaping worship as ‘a vision for what might be’, with Black Liturgies: Prayer, Poems, and Meditations for Staying Human (Penguin Random House), Cole Arthur Riley’s offering, ‘for anyone healing from communities that were more violent than loving; for anyone who has escaped the trauma of white Christian nationalism, religious homophobia, or transphobia; for anyone asking what it means to be human in a world of both beauty and terror’.

Find additional affirming resources for Children & Families in our Identity & Diversity lib guide.


From ‘acclaimed preacher and story-teller’, Sharon Brous, comes, The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World (Avery), ‘a clarion call… with original insights and practical tools …that [offer] a blueprint for a more meaningful life and a more connected and caring world’.

Find additional resources for Truth-Telling and Storytelling in our lib guide.


Gone for Good? Negotiating the Coming Wave of Church Property Transition (Eerdmans) states that, ‘By 2030, as many as 100,000 church buildings and billions of dollars of church-owned property are expected to be sold or repurposed throughout the U.S.’, but asks church and community leaders to wonder, ‘How do we face the issues and opportunities head-on and mission-minded?’

Similarly, Countercultural: Subversive Resistance and the Neighborhood Congregation (Rowman & Littlefield) considers the current need for religious institutions while recognizing that, ‘old forms no longer work in a fast and deeply changing culture’ as it ‘provide a way for congregations to thrive and fulfill their purpose by being countercultural’.

Find additional resources for Reorienting in our lib guide.


If you, dear leader, are the one feeling unaffirmed and on the fringe, Wounded Pastors: Navigating Burnout, Finding Healing, and Discerning the Future of Your Ministry (WJK), offers, ‘validation, support, and guidance for pastors who have been hurt by the church… [as] they offer compassionate, informed guidance on how to find healing.’ Free downloadable resources are available for leaders and congregations; learn more here.

Find additional resources for Discernment/Vocation in our lib guide.


For a means toward a different end, check out Walter Brueggeman’s collection, Waiting in Gratitude: Prayers of Joy (WJK) – for personal or communal sharing.

Find additional resources for cultivating Gratitude & Joy in our Spiritual Practices lib guide.


To shape Lent as a seasons of communal reconciliation and belonging, try Where We Meet: A Lenten Study of Systems, Stories and Hope (Upper Room) – which introduces ‘Jesus at the intersection of faith and justice’ and ‘prepares [us] to tackle challenging questions and be emboldened to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, pursuing justice and love for all’; and/or Bend – 2024 Devotional (Pilgrim) – which encourages us to ‘bend low and be renewed’.

For intergenerational gatherings, consider Illustrated Ministries expanded liturgical offerings for Stations of the Cross or Seven Last Words. They’ve got these and lots more in their Lenten Resource Guide.

Find additional Lenten Small Group Studies and Personal Devotionals, as well as resources for Including Children in Lent, Holy Week & Easter in our lib guides.