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A Door Set Open

Book offers a clear-eyed look at the world in which we live invites readers to live out God's call in the 21st century

By Susan Tough

A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope
By Peter L. Steinke
(The Alban Institute) $18

Change is hard. This is surely no surprise to any of us. We live in a rapidly changing world. We struggle to be the church while facing diminishing resources and relevance. A Door Set Open provides no magic answers. What it offers is a clear-eyed look at the world in which we live, coupled with an invitation to renew our hope in God’s plan to mend life.

Author Peter L. Steinke presents a combination of theological reflection on our mission as God’s people, an analysis of the emotionality of change, and a conviction that mature and motivated leaders are essential. Ultimately, this is a hopeful book, but one that does not shy away from the truth that transformational change requires patience, commitment to mission, mature leadership and grounding in biblically based hope.

Steinke begins with a presentation of our current context. He includes pithy descriptions of postmodernism, dogmatic atheism, supermodernity, science and religion, the neuro society, the ghost of Gnosticism and therapeutic dominance. But perhaps most eye-opening are his observations on the ways in which emotional processes block creative change — and our tendency to fail to take this into account.

In the second section of the book, Steinke argues that mission is the very purpose of the church. Therefore, clarifying our particular mission is key to moving forward. There are no shortcuts here; transformation is a process that demands patient, non-anxious, focused and non-reactive leadership.

In the final section of the book, we are challenged to understand ourselves as people of the way, deepening our sense of call to be participants in God’s mending of Creation. I found Steinke’s reframing of this “wilderness time” in the church to be very helpful and liberating. He acknowledges that exile is not comfortable but encourages us to trust God’s presence in this transitional time.

If you hunger for a reflective, analytical, challenging invitation to deepen your commitment to living out God’s call in this time, I recommend this book. It may make you feel less crazy in what you are experiencing. It will definitely place your experience within the vision of God’s coming kingdom while encouraging you to become a more mature, hopeful and attentive leader.

Rev. Susan Tough is a minister at St. Mary's Road United in Winnipeg.
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