The latest little book in the Hub series from 10ofThose and the FIEC that has floated across my field of vision is the intriguing Glorious Union: Flourishing in marriage and ministry, by Adrian and Celia Reynolds. Today I’m writing my fairly short review. It should be noted throughout that whilst the book is written from a broadly complementarian perspective (That generally assumes ‘ministry’ means the man is in some form of paid Christian work) this book is not too contrsained by that perspective, and so is useful for anyone wondering how marriage and ministry can go hand in hand.
The reason I was interested to read this book is that both my wife and I are engaged, and hope to be ever more engaged, in various kinds of ministry. At present, we lead a small group in our home, disciple a few people, and occasionally lead a theology-themed evening service in our local church. I occasionally get the opportunity to speak in a variety of different contexts – and my wife regularly (and beautifully, as it is an overflow of her life devoted to Jesus and gifts that He has given her) leads worship. Neither of us is (At the moment?) paid to do any of this ministry, but we do it, and we are married. This book was a helpful read for me – and I hope to bring a few of the principles and practices from the book into our conversations and prayer life around the various things that we do.
Adrian and Celia Reynolds are veterans – and this rings out well in a book that is easy to read but full of meat. They are unashamed and confident in the gospel, and as a result are not afraid of engaging with some big issues. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone considering a calling to Christian ministry (Say, Anglicans about to go to BAP, or other folk pondering a call) in a full time/traditional sense, but also to any couple that do any form of Christian ministry together. Working on six ‘P’s that form the bulk of the book – Principles, Privileges, Pressures, Priorities, Passions, Promises – the Reynolds offer a blend of biblical wisdom and practical tools to serve God better in both marriage and ministry.
The chapter on priorities was probably my favourite. This is largely because the Reynolds tackle things head on, here is my favourite case in point:
“there is a danger of setting up a hierarchy of responsibility. It goes something like this (for a husband): I am a Christian first, therefore my primary responsibility is to God; I am husband second, with a responsibility to my wife; I’m a dad third, with responsibilities to my kids; then, and only then, I’m a pastor, with responsibilities to my church.
Now, there is a sense in which there is some truth in this pecking order. But to express it this way is, at best, unhelpful, and at worst, dangerous… For a start, setting our responsibilities to God against our responsibilities in any other area of life is a theological nonsense”
This may come as a jarring shock to some readers – I think that it is a really helpful challenge.
I thoroughly enjoyed Glorious Union, and will be recommending it to a range of couples I know involved in ministry who have asked me to keep an eye out for a book like this. I think the Reynolds are good guides for this, and their aforementioned blend of deep biblical principles and helpful practical advice (in less than 80 pages! makes this a very helpful book. For couples like my wife and I, in our late 20’s and dipping toes in the water of ministry, it is great to have this sort of distilled wisdom so easily available.
I received a copy of this book free from 10ofThose in exchange for a review. I hope that this doesn’t cloud my thoughts, but want it to be clear.