Sacred Space By: Dan Kimball & Lilly Lewin 176 pages $29.99 Published by Zondervan
OVERALL - A hands on guide to creating multi-sensory worship experiences for youth ministry (and probably everyone else too). Provides background concepts and outlines.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Can I just say this was a very tough book to review? But for all the RIGHT reasons! I had to keep stopping to write down ideas that I wanted to use this summer in our camp program. Books of this kind tend to fall into two categories in my experience. They either spend all their time going into deep, academic style examinations of the whys and wherefores, or they assume that you're already as excited about the concept as they are and just start throwing ideas out right and left. I find both styles very unsatisfying. I'm a firm believer that we need to understand why we're doing whatever it is we're doing. Too often as a youth and sometimes even as an adult I sit in church feeling totally disconnected because I don't understand what's happening. On the other hand I also want a certain amount of hand holding as I start into something new for me. Help me get my feet wet before you toss me into the deep end (although getting tossed into the deep is in fact how I was taught to swim in real life, lol).
Well add a third category - the "Sacred Space" category. Because I think they got the balance absolutely perfect. The first 37 pages take you very carefully through the understanding of what this style of worship can offer. They take you through every phase (right down to using table cloths for each prayer station and why). They tell you what to do and what NOT to do all without being heavy handed or dictatorial (None of this "You MUST do it EXACTLY this way" mindset). They even have a chapter entitled "Baby Steps" that is about working your way into this slowly. The book includes a CD with a variety of resources so you can see exactly what some of the ideas should look like.
RESERVATIONS I wish there was some way of requiring people to read the first 37 pages at least twice before they jump ahead to the prayer stations. I'm afraid that folks will want to treat this as just another "program module" that they throw together quickly. In a culture that wants instant answers and solutions my concern is that folks won't take the time to really "grok" the concepts.
RECOMMENDATION Well by now you've probably guessed that I like this book. That's absolutely true. This book offers a way to approach worship that is new while still holding firmly to tradition. Folks in liturgical churches will probably feel more comfortable more quickly than those with non-liturgical backgrounds. In the end this approach is respectful of both understandings of worship. I have no doubt that folks on both sides of the liturgy line will also find at least some resistance to the concepts (the authors did so why not you too?) That's where the clear explanation of the grounding of the concepts in things like Scripture and Tradition are really valuable. You'll not only get some 140 pages of ideas already laid out for you but you'll be given the understanding to help create ideas on your own as well. A solid addition to any youth ministry library.