Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: The Ministry of a Messy House

I have a confession. I am a messy minister. As I write, there is just enough room for my elbows to rest on the desk amidst mountains of papers, books, pens, and everything else that clutters my workspace. Every so often I have the combination of motivation and inspiration to tidy up my study - usually brought on by the urgent need to find something that's needed in the next five minutes!

Thankfully I am not alone. Visiting other minister's studies can bring the relief that they too minister among the muddle and mess. And that's just in the safe space of the study. Life can sometimes be messy as well. Is there any hope for messaholics?

Recently a shining light dropped through my letterbox, with the subtitle of 'grace in place of guilt.' Hope has been restored. And it's all through the new book published by IVP: The Ministry of a Messy House by Amanda Robbie. I've never met Amanda, and yet it seems that we have a lot in common. We're both twits tweeters; we know people in common; we live in clergy housing; and we're messy. Friends for life - if only through the social medium of Twitter thus far.

Through entertaining and very readable chapters, Amanda explores a perfect mess: 'a by-product of sin, a problem affecting us all, dealt with right at the heart of the Bible.' In the midst of the mess, Amanda brings the message of grace, reminding us that Christians are saved by grace (grace paid for my sins) and kept by and in grace (because grace clothes me with power) because we're kept for grace (grace will lead me to heaven). The rest of the book take a look at the specific messes and how to deal with them - messes such as messy house, messy family, messy kids, messy church, messy community, messy meals and messy celebrations.

While the stories will mostly resonate with clergy families, it's not just for those who live in church housing. There are lots of stories of vicarage life, if you're curious to see what life is really like in a rectory, my favourite being the buttered bread making its way to the communion table... There are also plenty of ideas for ministry, handy hints and top tips for saving money and maximising hospitality, and plenty of inspiration to find grace and change. The bonus appendix at the bad even gives a complete set of Jesse tree props and readings for Advent, which you could begin next week if you're quick about it.

I was delighted to receive a complimentary copy from the author (thank you Amanda!), but you can get yours from ThinkIVP (ebook) or Amazon. IVP is far cheaper, plus some of your money will go towards supporting mission as well!

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