Tag Archives: thin places

two sentence book reviews, part 4 (christian living and church & ministry)

getting caught up on book reviews. i allow myself two sentences: one for summary and one for my review.

Christian Living

wreckedWrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life, by Jeff Goins
5 stars
how coming to the end of yourself is essential for the good life. fantastic writing and insight, this book needs to be assigned reading for anyone 17 – 40.
*full disclosure: i was the literary agent for this book.

only godOnly God: Change Your Story, Change the World, by Dwight Mason
4 stars
how to lean into a full life of adventure, alignment and purposefulness. i didn’t think i was going to like this book, but i liked it more and more as i read; a nice practical counterpart to donald miller’s A Millions Miles in a Thousand Years.

EricSamuelTimmStatic Jedi: The art of hearing the quiet whisper of God, by Eric Timm (book cover not available yet*)
4 stars
learning to move beyond the static (noise, clutter, distractions) in our lives.
the official endorsement i wrote for this book: Weird title/awesome book. Quirky author/insightful thinker. Unique style/fresh ideas.
*note: this book releases in early september

Church & Ministry

cultivateCultivate: A Youth Worker’s Guide to Establishing Healthy Relationships, by Matt Wilks
4 stars
advice for managing the many relationships in the world of a youth worker. worth the read, for sure, for paid youth workers who want to be more proactive in the complexities and nuances of the myriad relational contexts where they need a win.

thin placesThin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community, by Jon Huckins and Rob Yackley
4 stars
a look at the missional church movement through the experience of a particular experiment in san diego. helpful and interesting, and easy to read, but occasionally too focused on the context of the central case study.

criticism bitesCriticism Bites: Dealing With, Responding To, and Learning From Your Critics, by Brian Berry
5 stars
brilliant, practical advice for handling criticism for ministry leaders. written for a youth worker, this book is must reading for anyone in any church leadership role.

taking theology to youth ministryTaking Theology to Youth Ministry, by Andrew Root
4 stars
the first in a series of four short books exploring theology in youth ministry, sometimes using the fictionalized story of a youth worker in theological crisis. the content is amazing, but the jumping in and out of the fable occasionally frustrated me.

everybody's urbanEverybody’s Urban: Understanding the Survival Mindset of the Next Generation, by Leneita Fix and Jeffrey Wallace
4 stars
reframing “urban” as teenagers in survival mode. while i wasn’t sure i completely agreed with 100% of this book, it completely made me think in new ways.

youth ministry from the outside inYouth Ministry from the Outside In: How Relationships and Stories Shape Identity, by Brandon K. McKoy
5 stars
a radically different way of thinking about teenage identity formation and youth ministry.
the official endorsement i wrote for this book: My brain is swimming with questions and ideas, conviction and possibility after reading Youth Ministry from the Outside In. McKoy turns our ministry inside out, actually–moving our focus from isolated individuals assembled together, toward an ecosystem of living and breathing people-in-relationship. Read this book carefully–it may take more than one pass–and watch how it worms its way into your thinking and practice.
*note: this book releases in early october

a faith of their ownA Faith of Their Own: Understanding the Common Cry of Preteens, by Chris Folmsbee
5 stars
a non-fluffy look into the faith development of pre-teens.
the official endorsement i wrote for this book: In my over 30 years of ministry with young teens, I have noticed that many parents don’t start thinking about teenage faith development until their children are well into their teen years. This book provides parents an entré into engaging the faith formation of their preteens and young teens before their children have mostly separated into a faith of their own. Deeply theological while still easily readable and practical, Folmsbee gives parents a greatly needed gift.
*note: this book releases on july 1


i don’t know if i’d ever heard the word “liminal” until the last several years. if i had, i wasn’t familiar with it. in fact, when i noticed quite a few of my friends in the emerging church using the word, i had to look it up! since then, it’s become an important word and idea to me.

dictionary.com, and particularly the online etymology dictionary, showed me that “liminal” is latin for threshold.

i often hear “liminal” used in terms of “thin places.” and, particularly, those thin places where god’s presence seems more palpable.

now, in one sense, i believe that god is present at all times, and in all places. all that omni stuff. but, i certainly experience times and even places that seem more ripe with spiritual potential, or having the residue of the spirit’s regular presence, or something like that. for me, a few of those places have been:
– a quiet cabin in the desert i went to once (need to go back to that place)
– the monet waterlily rooms in the musee l’orangerie, in paris
mission san luis rey, in north county san diego
– several cathedrals around the world (though they do not all have this liminal sense to the same extent)

some of this is more “time” than “place for me, like:
– a general session at the national youth workers convention when thousands of youth workers are singing to god
– the baptismal celebrations my church hosts at mission bay, in san diego, twice a year
– worship experiences that are foreign to me (like a couple experiences at world youth day in sydney last summer, or my occasional experiences worshiping in an african american church)

but here’s the funny thing. after a few years of enjoying the notion of liminal spaces, and even a seeking out of these places and times, i was recently struck by something. i was in a dcla content development meeting with my friend jim hancock, and i’d said something about liminal spaces. a few minutes later, jim said something in response, intentionally saying “sub… liminal” (he put a beat after “sub”). so, yeah, i’m a simple-minded dork at times, but i’d NEVER actually noticed that liminal is the second half of the word subliminal. certainly psychology peeps would all know this, since “limin” is latin for “the edge of consciousness” (connected to that idea that “liminal” is “threshold”). which means that “subliminal” means “below the threshold of consciousness”.

ok. makes sense. but this got me thinking about what spiritual significance could exist in the word sub-liminal, if the liminal part of that word is referring to those thin places where god is either tangibly present, or a spiritual sense exists that god has been here a lot, or might just pop by at any moment. what are “sub-thin-places”?

what’s the “below the threshold of consciousness” place where god’s presence is felt, or close?

i would love hear your thoughts on this. maybe i’m just playing a semantic game; but i feel like there’s something in this for me. i really need to get away on one of my silent retreats and meditate on this. i need to ask god to reveal something to me on this, and just wait for a half day in silence.