Even veterans can use a tune-up on occasion.
This applies to religious veterans, too. I was brought up in a Lutheran family. I was baptized as a baby. Sunday school stories informed my childhood, and confirmation sealed the deal in eighth grade. I have never experienced one of those aha moments like the apostle Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. I am a Christian, and I’ve always been one.
Some of my friends did not have such idyllic religious childhoods; they came to know God as adults, which I’ve learned is quite a different experience than mine.
But both types of Christians in my book club appreciated Sonya Privette-James little book, “The New Members’ Handbook for Christian Believers.” Privette-James’ perspective is more evangelical than say, Martin Luther’s, but her concepts are general enough to expertly inform most new Christians who are just beginning to figure out this weekly worship thing and the necessary components of church membership.
I appreciated Privette-James’ use of many Biblical references in her instructions on all the basics — baptism, communion, prayer, tithing and more — but her handbook’s tone is humorless. It’s a bit like reading instructions for proper use of a refrigerator (imagine what would happen if you set the temperature wrong or store your lettuce in the freezer compartment). So too is “The New Members’ Handbook” only your eternal soul is at stake. Like an instruction manual, all the elements are there but don’t look for personality. Despite what a staid lifelong Lutheran might tell you (Luther’s Small Catechism is devoid of jokes, too), God has a sense of humor and good evangelists can convey it. See Lysa TerKeurst’s work for an appealing mix of Biblical principles delivered with a handful of self-deprecating humor. Is it necessary? No, but it’s nice sometimes.
I read “The New Members’ Handbook” on my Kindle, but as a reference manual, I think I would prefer a printed copy. On the other hand, a friend who read it on Kindle loved it and found it easier to finish that way.
Our book club is going to tackle something much spicier, and perhaps theologically dicier, next month: “The Harlot By the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible” by Jonathan Kirsch.