Earlier this week, I ran across a blog post that got me a little excited. Dr. Ray Van Neste, of whom I am a big fan, reviewed a simple little book from Concordia Publishing aimed at young children to encourage their engagement in the worship of the church and explaining key parts of the Lutheran worship service. In the book, comment is made on prayer, congregational singing, Bible reading, preaching, communion, baptism, and giving. Van Neste noted, "In a day when the church is so often minimized or disparaged, it is great to see a children's book like this... I would like to see my own denominational publisher produce something similar in a Baptist vein."
Well, I'm pleased to announce that a similar book is in the final stages of production here at Sojourn. Mandy Groce and Bill Bell (with illustrations by Tessa Janes) have been working on a new book for our kids that asks the difficult question What is a Church? Here are some of the opening lines:
Let’s say you ask me, “What’s the church?”
I’d say, “Not what, but WHO!”
The church is made of people just
Like me and just like you.
The church is not a place we go
To meet on special days.
It’s us—it’s he and she and we—
Called out to bring Christ praise.
God’s church is built of human hearts—
Men, women, girls, and boys.
By faith we’re made God’s family
And that’s why we rejoice!
Unlike other books on the church, this book does not answer the question by telling what the church does (preaching, communion, baptism, discipline)--although those things are essential and should not be ignored. But this book begins with who we are--our identities as a church. As a gospel people, the church is a believing family, a community of worshipers, servants, learners, and missionaries. Stay tuned for more as the project continues.