Mindful Ministry: Creative, Theological and Practical Perspectives by Judith Thompson & Ross Thompson. Reviewed by Rowena Francis.
Mindful Ministry: Creative, Theological and Practical Perspectives by Judith Thompson & Ross Thompson.
SCM Press, 2012, 224pp, ISBN 978-0-334-04375-1, £19.99.
Reviewed by Rowena Francis.
I experienced this book as two in one. This led to it being quite a dense read and perhaps neither theme being given the full treatment each deserved. The authors clearly stated their plan: each chapter being on one of eight identified ministries, following the cycle of theological reflection with a brief survey of what it means for that ministry to be engaged in a mindless, absent minded or ego-minded rather than mindful way. Although there was much good and challenging material in the book, I experienced it as a potpourri rather than an in-depth reflection on mindful ministry. Some readers would, of course, regard this as a strength.
The two themes that could have been two books are ‘mindful’ ministry, which was presented in the introduction and could easily have justified a chapter or being a part 1 in its own right, and a more in-depth exploration of mindfulness in the context of Christian ministry. The chapters on the eight identified ministries, taken from the biblical lists of charisma, use the cycle of theological reflection as a basis. The mindful ministry element was skated over, rather than being explored in any depth. It could have been a longer book, and this may have strengthened it. The ideas were significant, but needed unpacking more in their basic conception before engaging in the theological reflection cycle.
This view was confirmed when, at the end of the book, mindfulness was tied in with Myers-Briggs personality typology. This added yet another strand of thinking that introduced more questions than the depth of analysis allowed for.
This book plays with, and connects, many ideas. There is a floor plan to provide consistency and there is a lot of good material. The chapters on identified ministries, such as apostleship and service, are presented in a form that, when engaged with fully either as individuals or a small group, empowers theological reflection. However, I would have liked less ideas and more in-depth development of the core ideas, especially that of mindfulness in relation to the exercise of ministry.
Revd Rowena Francis is Northern Synod Moderator of the United Reformed Church
This review first appeared in MODEM Matters Issue 22 in February 2013.