Last Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus, Jerry Herships, Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Jerry Herships is unlike any minister you have met before. His experiences alone before receiving his call to ministry are enough to fill a book. But add to that what he is doing in Denver and it makes this memoir even more compelling.
A former altar boy who had vast dreams of being the next Johnny Carson, Herships tended bar as he worked to make ends meet with his various comedy and game show gigs. These aren’t the usual experiences that one who is called to ministry is expected to have. But Jerry isn’t your typical pastor. His book tells his story of moving to LA to chase his dream of becoming the Carson for a new generation to forming a new faith community – a bar church – known as AfterHours Denver.
AfterHours is more than just a church that meets in a bar, it has decided to focus on the homeless in Denver by gathering in community and fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to give out to the homeless. This affirms that traditional church and traditional worship is not for everyone. Herships found a way to be in ministry with those who otherwise would not darken a church sanctuary. In addition to handing out food and water, this church shares in communion with 700+ people a week in Civic Center Park.
I was never great at building sandcastles. It seemed that I could never get the right amount of sand and water mixed together to create the castle of my dreams. The sand buckets we used were always the basic round buckets, leaving little opportunities for anything other than round towers. And then there was the tide. It would always come in. It was never a question of “if,” but rather, “when.” When the tide came, the sandcastle never stayed.
Rich Wilkerson, Jr., in his book Sandcastle Kings, pulls on those memory strings as he discusses the spiritually bankrupt world that we are living in and the need/desire to meet Jesus. Using four stories from Luke 7 – the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar – guides the reader into taking a closer look at the many ways we build sandcastles that will one day be wiped away by the storms that will come.
Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is known for a lot of things. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal pastor. He took a young adult Bible study into being nine weeks into a new church plant. He is the pastor who officiated the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He and his wife, DawnCheré, star in the a new reality show, Rich in Faith, on the Oxygen channel. And this week, he adds author to that list.
Wilkerson’s book, Sandcastle Kings, uses four powerful stories from Luke 7 to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in organized religion. By examining the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, Wilkerson helps the reader take a closer look at all the ways in which we build sand castles that will one day be wiped away by the storm.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Rachel Held Evans, Nelson Books, 2015.
Searching for Sunday is one of the best books I’ve recently read. Rachel Held Evans is one of those Christian writers whom readers are divided on. You either love her or you don’t. Her latest book is no different. Some have gone to great lengths to explain why she has theologically missed the boat, or have longed for more. Others rejoice at this book. They have longed for the honestly that Evans communicates seemingly with ease about the realities of the Church.
I have not read a lot of her writing. I read a couple of her blog posts from time to time. Megan has read more of her books than I have. A friend of mine said how much he enjoyed and appreciated the book.
Church researcher and consultant Thom Rainer addresses a growing problem in many churches, mainline and non-denomotional alike. Church member burnout and declining membership.
Rainer begins his little book, I Will, with a short narrative about a divorced, single-mother of three, Heather. Heather joined a church to make a difference, yet she found herself in an unexpected place in her church. It was a place that left her feeling spiritually sick and after four years, she left the church.
It is reported that active church members, like Heather was, are those who attend church events or services at least three times a month. This stands in stark contrast to what was considered to be the norm: three times a week. A lot goes into this change, but for Rainer, it is not enough. He calls for a “church membership revolution.”