It is a pleasure to welcome Randy Harris as Book Editor of the OUTLOOK. As you see from his bio (link) he brings a great love of reading and an appreciation of books in many fields to this position, to this new venture.
We are grateful for the excellent work of Lillian McCulloch Taylor of North Carolina, who served as book editor for more than fifteen years. When Lillian came on board, the OUTLOOK still maintained “The Outlook Book Service,” which was a true distribution source for curriculum, pastoral resources, and books. Like many of you, I can remember when one could receive orders from the Book Service faster than from any other Presbyterian enterprise. When Lillian began, her responsibility was multifold including promotion, reviews of resources.
With the advent of Amazon.com and direct marketing from most publishers, our “stock and ship” approach ran aground. The Book Service was once what kept the magazine afloat financially; toward the end the magazine was subsidizing the book service. That could not last.
So this is a new day. Randy and I agree that we need to showcase those resources that will strengthen the church and nourish its leadership theologically and spiritually. Thus you will see a variety of books reviewed in this Spring Book Issue and beyond. If you know books that you believe will sharpen theological and exegetical skills, help teachers teach the faith and elders and deacons lead the church with humility and joy, or novels, poetry, or devotional resources that will excite our imaginations for God or nourish our prayer life and equip us for ministry — send them along to Randy Harris at his email address listed in the masthead. Not every book will be reviewed, but by your suggestions we can begin mutually to build each other up and under gird the body of Christ.
We are people of the Word — the word spoken, preached, taught, and interpreted — the Word made flesh.
Many years ago I sat between two accountants at a civic club lunch. They began speaking to each other about the annual professional requirements they were required to meet in order to stay approved (or licensed). One of them worked for a large corporation that footed the bill for his continuing education. The other, with a small firm, had to pay for it out of his own pocket. After they finished talking to each other, one of them turned to me and asked: “And what does the church require of you?” I muttered something about each church having its own individual benefits and not much in the way of requirements. Ministers got to choose what they would do to remain professionally up to speed.
These men were flabbergasted, and I was embarrassed at the lack of uniformity in professional continuing education requirements for ministers of the Word — of the Word, mind you, the Word.
I mention this now and wonder how many presbyteries would like to require three book reports of each minister on the roll each year — in the fields of Bible, theology and the practice of ministry. Without those book reports we would lose our license to preach. It’s a small thing, but what a difference it might make for the church, for the gospel, and the kingdom.
Whatever else we do with this new venture, may the OUTLOOK encourage us all to read more thoughtfully, and to study more faithfully, that we might show ourselves both approved and capable