Wednesday, January 13, 2010
2. books by henri nouwen have influenced me greatly
This is my second post on books that influenced me this past decade. Today I feature two books by Henri Nouwen.
1. In The Name of Jesus
I read this book as part of my training/preparation for team leadership. My mentor Brian Newman had me read it because Nouwen posed some powerful thoughts on "the nature of Christian leadership in the 21st century". More than what was written, what impacted me just as much was the gentle character of Nouwen's writing and the power of Nouwen's own story: he gave up a prestigious career at Harvard to work among mentally handicapped people in Canada. This experience stripped him of his own self-importance and reminded him of the basis of simple love in Christian ministry. This "stripping" of self is critical to all truly authentic ministry.
I have prepared a study guide to go with this book. If you’d like a copy of it, just email me and I’ll pass it along. Or, if you like, I can post it on t(r)oymarbles and you can grab it that way.
2. The Way of the Heart
In this book Nouwen gleans insights from the Desert Fathers and Mothers so as to propose the idea that there are three disciplines which are particularly vital to healthy Christian ministry. I have become convinced that they truly are indispensable and, sadly, underused. The disciplines are solitude, silence and prayer. One thought that I (as a preacher) find provocative is the idea that good preaching helps people enter into silence so they have time and space to hear God speaking to them. Healthy preaching actually helps people befriend their own silence. This is important because silence is a practice that has even become fearful in today's wordy world. Fascinating thought, eh?
I am two-thirds finished with the writing of a study guide to go with this book as well, so if you’d like what I have so far, just ask.
You can use either of the two study guides for personal/individual purposes or you can use them as primers to get some small group discussion going.