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Introducing the Uncommon Lectionary: Opening the Bible to Seekers and Disciples Paperback – February 1, 2006
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About the Author
Thomas G. Bandy is an internationally-recognized church consultant and leadership coach. He works across the spectrum of church traditions, denominations, congregations, contexts, and cultures. Tom coaches transforming and transitioning congregations, church plants, multi-site and cross-cultural churches, and faith-based nonprofits. He is the president of Thriving Church Consulting LLC and can be found in his virtual office at ThrivingChurch.com. He is the author of several books on congregational leadership.
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Tom Bandy persuasively articulates the limitations of the Revised Common Lectionary (i.e. the Scripture readings prescribed to churches based on the Christian Calendar). In short, the RCL assumes the siignificant Christian maturity of worshipers. Churches simply can't afford that erroneous assumption.
Bandy describes two "uncommon" lectionary's instead. The first is a Seeker Cycle lectionary which both covers the most important Bible stories and gives a sense of the overarching story of the Bible. This cycle is obviously meant for those new to or exploring Christian faith.
The second lectionary is the Disciple Cycle. This cycle explores other important Bible stories while more strongly emphasizing five major thematic movements in the Bible's salvation story. This cycle is designed for worshipers ready to move beyond their initial Christian commitment toward Christian maturity AND church leadership.
Bandy clearly describes the purpose of each cycle and how to implement them, respectively. He challenges pastors to release the creative gifts in the congregation in designing each service around that week's text and theme. But the real challenge is to allow those worship designers to convey that biblical theme in language, symbols, and music that reflects that local churches local culture.
"The Uncommon Lectionary" should be helpful to pastors and church leaders exploring the intersection of outreach, discipleship, and worship in their local church. Bandy certainly pushes the reader to ask WHY - why does your worship look the way it does? What's it doing? What is your church trying to accomplish? Who are you communicating to?
Though Bandy admits his cycles are completely customizable to local contexts, they are very labor intensive for church leaders. That's not a disclaimer but it should be taken into account. No one should implement these cycles without committed church leaders.
Bandy does not, unfortunately, address preaching with series. This seems to be an effective preaching tool for many pastors in growing churches (cf. Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection or Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg UMC). It's possible that he assumes his target audience - who I assume to be Mainline pastors - don't use series in the first place. This is increasingly less true in my observation. Despite this obvious oversight, The Uncommon Lectionary is worth reading.