Thursday, September 27, 2007

United Methodism for the common person and parson

There are two new handbooks out for United Methodists and those interested in what being United Methodist is all about. And they are even interesting to read.

The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook and The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook for Pastors are two different books providing some helpful information about United Methodism while not making it a chore. F. Belton Joyner, Jr. is a United Methodist pastor. He has edited together these two fun and enlightening manuals of everything important about United Methodism.

The Unofficial UM Handbook is designed for lay persons. Basically that means for anyone who is not a pastor or who has been trained in United Methodist "stuff". This book doesn't go deep into details about anything. But it provides enough information to understand the how's and why's of what United Methodists. It also provides practical tips on living the life of a Christ follower. It is broken into 4 sections: church stuff, Bible stuff, everyday stuff, and United Methodist stuff. In church stuff you discover history of how the church of believers has grown over the centuries, basic differences between denominations, important people in United Methodist history. You also gain some helpful tips or "how to's" of church life such as how to listen to a sermon, how to receive communion, and how to not be burned at the stake (yes, that is truly in the book). The other sections are just as helpful and as humorous.

The second book is written with pastors in mind. But it is not limited to only pastors. It provides some insight into the work that pastors perform as well as some of challenges pastors face. For pastors who read it, they can find gems on how to be more effective in their place of ministry as well as balancing their life and vocation.

Both books were published by Abingdon Press and I picked both up at Cokesbury for 14.99. The Handbook would be a great book for anyone who is thinking about becoming a member of a UM church. It is also pretty handy for someone who has been a lifelong member. It's worth your time to read it, even if it's only to get a couple of giggles at ourselves in this funny thing we call the United Methodist Church.