In "Making Sense of Church", Spencer Burke describes some of the broader changes in society and then moves on to changes within the church -- trying to bridge a gap between the "emerging" and "established" church. "It's simply about the questions, hopes, and fears of real people... it's a conversation about church - The Church."Spencer has done an excellent job of weaving together conversations from TheOooze message boards with his own experiences on various topics: leadership, teaching, growth, ministry, mission, faith and evangelism. I really appreciated his two identity metaphors for church leadership: the tour guide versus the fellow traveller. Making Sense of Church is a great read -- actually it's my first "postmodern" book that I've read, and I found it reassuring to see others thinking along similar lines to the things I have been wondering about and questioning. Spencer has pulled quotes from a great well of thoughtful, inspiring and encouraging thinkers at TheOoze and I highly recommend this book to you.
I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read another book on postmodernism, but when I saw that Making Sense of Church was written by Spencer Burke, I knew this one would be worth reading. It's not because he has become a "voice" for postmodern ministry, but because he has enabled so many other voices to be heard.And that's what makes this book so unique. Spencer gives voice to those who would otherwise go unheard. This is more a collection of viewpoints-often conflicting-than it is a traditional book. Each chapter is a mixture of observations from his personal journey with dozens of posts from TheOoze's discussion boards. This blending of viewpoints accomplishes what the author hopes the church can do-enter "an era where we can have meaningful, compassionate conversations with each other, no matter where our allegiances lie-modern or postmodern, Eastern Orthodox or Catholic, mega church or house church." Admittedly, for the first few chapters I felt like this was territory that's already been explored. Some of the ideas are covered elsewhere by popular authors like Leonard Sweet. It's the later chapters that made the book worth it for me. Chapter 7, "Adversary to Ally," makes me carry on some rather uncomfortable internal dialogue. Some of the chapter frustrated or even angered me, which is why this book needs to be read. It forces me to ask some of the questions I don't want to ask, because I'm afraid of the answers I may find. In reality, what I'm discovering is that they actually lead to even deeper and more challenging questions. Which in turn shapes me into a more honest and faithful follower of Jesus.Hopefully we can embrace the attitude that this book communicates-an attitude that seeks to understand before it tries to be understood. An attitude of deep, rich, and meaningful conversation.