The idea of a book club conjures up an image of 5 older, retired ladies sitting around in a lounge room covered in flowers from the wallpaper to the upholstery with cups of tea and blankets over their laps (very unfair considering the only actual exposure I’ve had to book clubs is watching The Jane Austen Book Club).
However, I don’t know about you, but I am hopeless at finishing books – particularly when they are not novels.
I have a pile of 5 or 6 books sitting on my bedside table accumulating dust – and not in a shabby chic, perfectly imperfect kind of way either.
So after spending a year recommending books I’ve only half-read to people, I decided it was time I did something about this. Due to my strong dislike of book clubs, I found a loophole that would allow me to avoid book clubs, yet still have some accountability in my reading, through some inspiration from an Andy Stanley leadership podcast (which I thoroughly recommend, but that is a whole other blog in itself).
At the start of his leadership meetings, he works through a book with his leadership team and this was something the Youth Office could easily do at the start of each of our weekly meetings (after beginning with prayer of course!).
Luckily, I work with two people who are flexible and were willing to give this a shot. The result – we are all actually making our way through our first book together, “Divine Renovation” . It’s a miracle!
And do you know what? I’m loving it. Divine Renovation is by Fr James Mallon and is the new kid on the block in a long line of parish renewal books. I’m loving breaking open a chapter or a section at a time in a super unstructured way.
I’m enjoying being stretched in my knowledge of what is possible in parish life. Even the subtitle, “Bringing your parish from maintenance to mission”, is challenging and inspiring.
We’ve enjoyed our discussions so much around this book that we simply don’t want to keep this stuff to ourselves. We want to share it with the world (and you!).
So over the next little while, we will be doing a series of blogs sharing our reflections as we move through the chapters.
I’m hoping our non-book club experience can offer you something.
We hope that this might give you some encouragement in your journey as leaders in the Church and some little kernels of wisdom to then take back to your parish or faith community, just like it has done for us. So keep an eye out in the weeks to come. Happy reading!
Teresa McGrath is the Youth Project Consultant for the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and heads up the Youth Evangelisation Office.