Future Writing Projects…

Posted by on Oct 4, 2016 in Blog | 7 comments

Those of you who know me will realise that I work best to clear goals and deadlines. I like to know where I am going and what’s expected of me. That’s as true of my work as a writer as in any other sphere – so since the completion of my trilogy with Paternoster (The Tortoise Usually Wins (2013); The Big Picture (2015) and When Faith Turns Ugly (2016))I have been thinking about what projects to take on over the next 5 years – and I think I am just about there…

I keep coming back to three big areas, and would like to write a book on each.

The first is already fairly far into planning, and I am in tentative discussion with a publisher about it. It’s for a popular introduction to apologetics – a kind of ‘reasons to believe’ – and will be for those who find themselves challenged by some of the accusations of the New Atheists – that faith is intellectually vacuous, morally suspect and experientially empty. I hope to robustly challenge each of these charges, providing an alternate perspective that will help to provide space for faith to grow, rather than having it stifled before it is seriously considered. I envision a relatively easy read about 120 pages long – a really good taster, with plenty of pointers to where people can explore further if they want to probe into the questions raised more deeply.

The second arises from a unit I have now taught for several years – ministry formation, and for which I have struggled to find a text which I think suitably covers all the areas that we look at. While all Christians are called to minister, the call to ministry as a career provides many special privileges, opportunities and dangers. Serving as I do at a seminary like Vose makes me well aware of some of the academic formation that needs to take place – but the formation required is certainly not limited to the academic. So I would like to write a text that will be helpful for those who are starting to explore this area – perhaps because they are called to pastor (and there are so many different kinds of pastoral positions today – each with its own particular requirements), or to work in cross cultural mission, or chaplaincy, or perhaps to head a not for profit or… Well, there are a fair number of options, but it will be a book for those who want to investigate the formation required to be a person who consciously enters each day with the hope and goal of ministering into the lives of others.

The third area where I sense a need is for an accessible text for those who teach in Christian schools, helping them to explore the opportunities in front of them, and to think through their particular calling. I’d also like to unpack a little more fully what it means to teach from a Christian perspective, as I think that those who work in Christian schools are routinely asked to do this, but are often unsure about what it means in practice. I believe that Christian schools can greatly impact the spiritual landscape of our time, and that we should take the equipping and shaping of those who work in them as seriously as we do the formation of all others who are engaged in front line ministry.

Well those are the big three for the next five years… And whilst they are in construction, I’m also wanting to probe a little more deeply into the question of virtue – what it looks like, how Christian ethics should be shaped and how to develop a model for Christian ethics that will help us to engage with and genuinely deepen the discussion around some of the emerging ethical issues of the 21st century. But realistically, I think any book on that topic will have to wait for 2022 or beyond…

Well, that’s my agenda. Though it may sound very certain, it is not set in concrete. I am very mindful that ultimately the realisation of these plans depends upon the good favour of God, and that without it dreams remain just that… dreams. But I am also aware that those who aim at nothing, usually achieve it…

Naturally if you have any thoughts or insights in any of these areas, I’d be keen to hear from you. Books are not solo tasks, and emerge from wide reading and discussion with many people – often with very diverse perspectives… So yes, I would love to hear from you.

As always, nice chatting…

7 Comments

  1. Hi Brian – I am looking forward to reading these texts, particularly the latter on Virtue. But 2022 is so far away …

    Take care Brian – blessings

  2. I love the idea of a book for Christian teachers though I would say that even though I love reading, I hardly read for my own learning/ enjoyment when I was teaching because I was just so tired all the time in such a very busy, busy job. (And English teachers have their heads down marking a lot!)

    So if you could keep it light that would help. Or possibly you could put it in a format that would work for small groups so staff could work through it on professional development days. But it needs to be way more than Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul because this is important work. I definitely needed to be reminded that what I was doing mattered, and to keep my eyes on the why.

    Also, now that I have kids of my own, I realise I had underestimated how important I was to my students. My kids are deeply affected by the people who teach them.

    A Ministry Formation book sound great too, Brian. And without wanting to sound like a suck hole (I think there’s an assignment of mine in your inbox to mark), I think you’re the right person for the job.

  3. I remember in secondary school, some time ago, my maths teacher shared that the staff had been discussing what it means to teach with reference to our religious ethos throughout the curriculum.

    In this maths unit, we were forever (so it seems) being asked to calculate how to get somewhere quickly, with various combinations of travel. This particular question, we were asked how far to swim, and then to walk, to get to our desired location. Mr Sealy felt that his maths teaching had hit the right spot. My fellow student had answered that we should simply walk the whole distance, which would require walking on the water.

  4. Mr Harris I am very interested in your plans. I am a retired school teacher. I did my Masters Degree at the College of Christian Higher Education. My studies included subjects such as The Relationship of the Bible to Education, and Teaching as a Pastoral Ministry. My concern is for the training of teachers who are working in Christian schools and also for providing Christian school students with a foundation for their life and vocation. I would like to meet with you. I have been praying about meeting with someone at Vose. The areas that you mentioned above are the same areas that I would like to discuss with you. I can provide further information by email if you wish.

    • It would be lovely to meet with you to talk about this Elizabeth. Feel free to phone the Vose office (08)63136200 to set up an appointment.

      • Thank you Mr Harris. I will bring Ray Bartell with me for two reasons. Firstly he will provide me with transport because I don’t drive. Secondly, my thinking and suggestions will be based on a combination of learning from my Masters Degree, my teaching experience, and Rays thesis for his Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Education) which was the result of his research when he was Director of Education of the Baptist Union of PNG.

        I have asked Ray to make the appointment for me because it will need to be at a time that he is available.

        Elizabeth (Call me Betty)

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