Campolo, master teacher/preacher/communicator, and Mary Albert Darling, associate professor of communication at Spring Arbor University, collaborate to offer a practical, delightful, and theologically solid book.
Declaring that the Kingdom of God is “a place where people are healthy, happy, and safe, and everyone lives in soul-satisfying relationships,” they note how too many non-Christians perceive church folks as bigoted and hypocritical, that churches are sometimes anything but the Kingdom. “It’s not likely negative perceptions of Christians will change if we can’t see how wrong our own harmful communications patterns are.” In short, we need to connect like Jesus. Why? Because to connect like Jesus is to engage in soul healing.
Campolo and Darling pepper the book with spiritual practices designed to anchor the leader with God and better connect with others.
After jointly writing the first two chapters, Ms. Darling writes the heart of the book — Practices for Soul Healing. She draws on her work with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard, sharing practices designed to help the reader love both neighbor and self and to deal with fear. She identifies crucial questions for increased self-awareness, including:
•How good do you think you are at seeing situations from someone else’s perspective?
• Are you willing to say you are or could be wrong?
•Do you more often than not see the negative things that happen in your life as the fault of someone or something other than you?
She encourages the reader to use the Ignatian Prayer of Examen, exploring strengths and weaknesses in the light of God’s grace. Undergirded by God’s grace, the reader is led to face and overcome barriers to connecting.
Building on these foundation stones, Darling then moves to better ways of handling conflict, noting that the how is more important than the what. A helpful concept Darling introduces is that of “Consensus Minus One.” A person can surrender veto power for the good of the order, provided he/she has the opportunity to be heard. Campolo wraps up the book with some very helpful pointers on preaching and teaching. Emphasizing the importance of preparing oneself spiritually and intellectually, he shares what has guided his own speaking.
Campolo and Darling combine a wealth of suggestions and experience. Novice pastors and teachers should spend significant time with it. Experienced pastors will find many helpful reminders.
You will be glad you read it, and spiritually refreshed if you follow the practices outlined.
Robert A. (Bob) HarriS of Falls Church, Va., is a pastor/ministry coach.