- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans (October 27, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802874134
- ISBN-13: 978-0802874139
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 80 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a Small-Town Church Paperback – October 27, 2017
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From the Publisher
Discover community, buoyed by faith, that is meaningful, rooted, and true
Jonas McAnn is a weary pastor without a congregation. Granby Presbyterian is a weary congregation without a pastor, overwhelmed by the task of finding someone who actually wants to be a pastor—not a manager, coach, or CEO.
When Granby's pastoral search committee and Jonas connect through handwritten letters passed back and forth, something sparks between them—something so real and refreshing that even after Jonas and his family move to Granby, he continues writing letters.
Spanning seven years of his ministry at Granby Presbyterian, Jonas's letters ruminate on everything from fly-fishing to the Nicene Creed, revealing an earthy spirituality woven into the joys and sorrows of Granby’s people.
Eugene Peterson—author of The Contemplative Pastor
'This book is a tour de force—an angle on understanding the life of both congregation and pastor that exceeds anything I have ever read. No directions, no programs, just an immersion into what really takes place in the life of a church and a pastor. Winn Collier’s writing is alive.'
Deidra Riggs, author of Every Little Thing
'Love Big, Be Well is a welcome mat, a handwritten invitation, a gigantic wrap-around porch, a warm night filled with fireflies. There may not be a surefire formula for living a wide-open, hope-filled life, but this collection of earnest words comes very close.'
Seth Haines, author of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith
'There are some stories so well written, so layered with meaning, so humble and true, that they should be read, reread, and reread again. Winn Collier has written that kind of story. The honesty in these pages would work a sort of sobriety into us—pastors and parishioners alike—if we’d let it.'
About Winn Collier
Winn Collier is a pastor, columnist, and author whose other books include Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions. With his wife, Miska, a spiritual director, and two sons, Collier lives in Virginia, where he serves the good of people of All Souls Charlottesville.
— author of The Message and The Contemplative Pastor
“This book is a tour de force—an angle on understanding the life of both congregation and pastor that exceeds anything I have ever read. No directions, no programs, just an immersion into what really takes place in the life of a congregation and a pastor. Winn Collier’s writing is alive.”
—author of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith
“There are some stories so well written, so layered with meaning, so humble and true, that they should be read, reread, and reread again. Winn Collier has written that kind of story. The honesty in these pages would work a sort of sobriety into us—pastors and parishioners alike—if we’d let it.”
— author of Punching Holes in the Dark
“Collier writes strong and true, happy and sad, funny and wise, heavy and light. I never fail to read anything that he writes. If you are a lover of words and wisdom on the printed page, you should read him too. This book is a fine place to start.”
— author of A Walk across the Sun
“Winn Collier here reminds us what pastoral ministry is really about—not capital campaigns, satellite campuses, growth metrics, or spine-tingling sermons, but love of Jesus, love of neighbor, love of creation, love of everything beautiful, good, and true in the world.”
— pastor, author of The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry
“This is ultimately a love letter to the church not just for what she can be but for what she already is.”
A. J. Swoboda
— pastor, professor, author of The Dusty Ones: Why Wandering Deepens Your Faith
“Shatters all of our idolatrous addictions to big and growing and oversized franchised Christianities. Faithfulness absolutely must become the church’s new big. What Collier pens here is nothing short of miraculous. These letters demand to be read."
Karen Wright Marsh
— author of Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who Transformed My Faith
“In the venerable epistolary tradition of Saint Paul and François Fénelon, Winn Collier brings us glowing spiritual letters for today, wholehearted meditations on friendship, grief, hope, doubt—and faith in a loving God who is near. Love Big, Be Well is a beautiful book for strugglers and seekers, written by a compassionate pastor we come to love.”
— author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are
“Love Big, Be Well is a welcome mat, a handwritten invitation, a gigantic wrap-around porch, a warm night filled with fireflies. There may not be a surefire formula for living a wide-open, hope-filled life, but this collection of earnest words comes very close.”
About the Author
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Love Big Be Well offers a unique premise. A disenchanted man, Jonas McAnn, responds to a handwritten letter from a pastoral search committee from Granby Presbyterian Church, ultimately becoming this small town church's pastor. The book is a collection of pastoral letters, which routinely conclude with "Love Big. Be Well. Jonas."
In these letters, Jonas addresses several aspects of the Christian life, identifying what he sees as marks of true faith and those that seem to be counterfeits of what Jesus actually said with a raw honesty. One of the advantages of using a fictional story like this is the ability to describe one's convictions without seeming self-important.
Collier also accomplished what I think was an impressive rhetorical feat: I came to care deeply about the members of the church, and especially Don, through the pastor's descriptions in his letters. Fictional letters about fictional characters, and yet I was moved.
Several times, I found myself longing to read more about Port William, Kentucky, Wendell Berry's fictional small town because in many ways, Collier's book was reminiscent of Berry.
I certainly see why John Blase endorsed this book. And Eugene Peterson. I am happy to add my unknown name to that list. I will be reading this book again, and likely purchasing copies for others, because I won't want to share mine.
The novel is rich with wonderful quotes from people such as Mary Oliver, Harry Truman, Emma Goldman, Thomas Merton and Jurgen Habermas. These quotes are often accompanied by marvelous insights by Jonas McAnn.
As a pastor, McAnn delights in his parishioners and the community they form. These people are not perfect. They don’t necessarily see eye to eye on thorny issues. They squabble. Yet, they are committed to walking alongside one another on both easy and difficult days. Winn Collier’s description of the church community is reminiscent of Wendall Berry and Marilynne Robinson’s treatment of the same topic.
The novel is uplifting without ever becoming saccharine. I highly recommend this delightful and thought-provoking book.
By the time I finished this book, my soul was so thoroughly overwhelmed by its beauty, its truth, its hope that I simply had to sit in silence to try to hold onto the blessing. Since other readers have already supplied thorough reviews of this book, I will join my own simple thoughts to theirs to provide additional notes in the paean of praise for *Love Big, Be Well*.
This most recent gift from Collier’s pen is an epistolary novel. Using the vehicle of physical letters - not emails, not texts, not even Facebook messages but letters - written by Pastor Jonas McAnn to his new congregation at Granby Presbyterian Church, Collier gradually introduces us to various members of the church, their stories and struggles in the faith.
Collier skillfully discusses what it is to belong to Christ – and to each other – as McAnn writes about some essentials of church experience:
- how liturgy carries us into God’s story while assuring us that we are part of a family, a large family spanning millennia;
- the multi-dimensional nature of prayer, “a communal act more than an individual one”;
- how praying the creeds moves us beyond our individualistic faith to join “the faith of the church”;
- the scary nature of baptism as it relates to the mystery of death;
- that friendship lies at the heart of church life!
But, make no mistake; this is not a preachy novel listing dos and don’ts for church members. Quite the opposite. It is about entering deeply into love – as a receiver, as a giver. God’s love. Human love. And trusting that love to hold us and to hold us together.