By Carol Howard Merritt
Reviewed by Lee Hull Moses
Writing Workshop Participant ’10
Alban, 147 pp., $17.00
Carol Howard Merritt’s latest book, Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation, practically brims with optimism for the church in an age of Twitter and Facebook, globalization and post-denominationalism. Her faith-filled hope in the future provides a refreshing antidote to the doom-and-gloom attitude that the mainline church is dying and there’s nothing to be done but give in and hire a praise band.
Particularly helpful is Merritt’s term “loyal radicals” to define those inside the church who are committed to the structures and traditions of our denominational churches but long to see them transform into something more relevant. Also encouraging is the evidence that such relevance is already happening: Merritt gives examples of churches that are taking seriously their responsibility to care for creation, who are worshiping in new ways and in new spaces. She describes podcasts that connect a scattered congregation and social media put to use to work for justice.
As she has elsewhere, Merritt writes at length about the advantages of using technology as a tool for ministry. Though she could have more fully addressed the drawbacks of technology, she does acknowledge that “as our interactions increasingly move from face-to-face to interface, we should keep in mind that we may be losing something vital in this shift.”
In the end, however, Merritt leaves us with the deep and reassuring hope that we need not abandon the rich traditions of the church in order to speak the gospel to a new generation of people who long for some good news.
Lee Hull Moses is Senior Minister at First Christian Church, Greensboro, North Carolina. Lee attended the Collegeville Institute’s summer writing workshops Writing and the Pastoral Life in 2009 and Apart, and yet a Part in 2010.