I’ve recently started reading a book by Michael Horton called Ordinary. I haven’t read it all so I can’t recommend it whole-heartedly but what I have read so far I like. Horton’s basic thesis is that we’re often enticed by the new, radical, exciting, and extraordinary. Actually, what would be good for most of us would be a return to the ‘Ordinary.’ Horton’s intro has a brilliant satirical piece taken from an American rag about an unambitious guy called Mike Husmer who has to suffer the ignominy of sticking around the place he grew up and having a deep sense of satisfaction through lasting and fulfilling relationships. In particular Horton encourages church leaders to embrace what have historically been termed the ‘ordinary means of grace’ – that is the word, prayer, and the sacraments. It’s a long game we’re playing and we don’t all have to change the world in the next 6 months. There’s a particularly stimulating chapter on how all of this plays out in youth and kids ministry, but I won’t spoil that for you!
In a similar vein is a book on youth ministry by Brian Cosby entitled Giving Up Gimmicks. Again, haven’t read it but a mate reviewed it at a conference I was at and I thought ‘there’s a book I need to read’ and probably give to my team. Same basic principle – how do we use the ordinary means of grace in youth and kids ministry.
I gave a talk last week at a youth and kids worker conference entitled ‘Discipleship – A Long Game.’ I think these books tap into what I was trying to say which is stick around, do the best you can, and see if God doesn’t use his ordinary means over a 10, 15, or 20 year stretch.