Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Mission Table: Renewing Congregation and Community Paperback – August 15, 2013
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Stephen P. Bouman has served as leader of the domestic mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2008. Previously, he served as pastor in mission congregations in multicultural and poverty contexts and as a bishop of the church. He has experienced firsthand the kind of Christ-centered, faith-sharing, table-oriented ministry about which he writes in these pages.
Top customer reviews
It isn't a theologically heavy book nor is it a book that will stand out, most likely, as anyone's favorite book to read. This is not to say it isn't good or necessary or gives a language that can be used with a council, but I don't think anyone will go back to it over and over again.
I know Stephen, personally, so I am also a bit tainted in I heard many of the stories live which come across much better than in the written form. In fact, I had my council read the book and then go hear him talk about the book and they said it was night and day difference. His speaking enhanced the book for them.
Since this book was published, Len Sweet also wrote a book called From Tablet to Table about a similar premise to Bouman's but a little bit fuller. I have used Sweet's book as a continued follow up to Bouman's book. Bouman's book was written to be used this way too. It is the building block for a larger conversation.
His new book is inspired by the work he does leading domestic mission for the ELCA. Like many mainline Protestant denominations, the ELCA recognizes that our numeric decline is both a sign of our failure in missional focus and a lack of imagination for evangelism in the 21st century. However, from Bouman's perspective, this is not reason for fear or anxiety, but rather inspiration to rely once again on the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through local communities as we listen to their deepest hopes and dreams and form tables centered in the Christ's meal that then are energized for mission in God's world.
The book is designed to be read by congregational leadership teams. It includes a brief three-module format for reading the book as a congregation over the course of a year.
For Bouman, the mission of the church is "God's reconciling and restoring action in the world."
Bouman has an inimitable style. He weaves together biblical reflection, community organizing concepts, stories of ministry in action, all connected to the daily and weekly ministries that center the church (baptism and Eucharist).
Here's his outline for discussion, which gives a sense of the topics Bouman covers in this short and readable book:
Module A: Tables (introduction chapters 1-3)
Session One: Mission and the Mainline (introduction)
Session Two: The Table of Creation (chapter 1)
Session Three: From the Kitchen Table to the Altar Table (Chapter 2)
Session Four: Seeking Hospitality at New Tables (Chapter 3)
Module B: Exploring the Biblical Marks of a Missional Congregation (Chapter 4)
Session Five: Mark 1-3
Session Six: Mark 4-7
Session Seven: Mark 8-10
Module C: Rerooting in the Community (Chapters 5-7)
Session Eight: Mission Table Leadership (Chapter 5)
Session Nine: Setting Mission Tables (Chapter 6)
Session Ten: Restoring the Broken Table (Chapter 7)
In module one, you can see Bouman's commitment to lifting up the connection between the Eucharistic table and God's care of creation, the deep connection between faith in the church and faith in family and household life, and the oppenness we are called to have to new tables being formed in our midst.
In this section, I found particularly refreshing a meditation Bouman opens up on the etymology of two words often abused in our culture. Religion, which he says means originally "to connect again," and synod, which at root means "together on the road." He writes, "Renewal in mission involves leaving our table and seeking companionship at new tables, our neighbors' tables, living and sharing the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus for the life of the world" (34).
He follows up this theological definition with three vibrant stories of how he saw this kind of movement active in parishes he has served or visited.
Also helpful is this list Bouman creates of the Ten Biblical Marks of a Missional Congregation:
1. A congregation in mission is always listening.
2. A congregation in mission mentors and trains its leaders.
3. A congregation in mission nurtures communal leadership.
4. A congregation in mission faces paralysis with courage.
5. A congregation in mission reroots in the community.
6. A congregatoin in mission risks new things.
7. A congregation in mission makes all decisions based on its mission.
8. A congregation in mission is clear about money and relationships.
9. A congregation in mission is propelled by the resurrection of Jesus.
10. A congregation in mission is shaped by Word and sacraments.
And Nine Characters of a Missional Leader:
1. A missional leader is relational.
2. A mission leader pays attention to insittutional relationships and networks of support.
3. A mission leader has an entrepreneurial spirit.
4. A mission leader is clear about the power of money.
5. A mission leader builds a strong cadre of local leadership.
6. A mission leader is a witness to the presence of the risen Jesus.
7. A mission leader roots deep in the community.
8. A mission leader is adaptive.
9. A mission leader is a servant leader.
Bouman believes that the path to renewal of a congregation is directly connected to the renewal of its community.
This happens by doing the three great listenings:
1. To God.
2. To the church.
3. To the world around us.
Bouman believes that this kind of listening happens best when it is organized as area mission tables and congregational mission tables.
Reading this book at mission tables will do more than almost anything else a congregation or mission area could imagine to move the conversation and community action in the direction of life for the world.
Thank you , Stephen Bouman.