First Order of Business

12-Minute Bible Reflections to Open Church Meetings

Judith Marsh Carlson

Sep/2018, 88 Pages, PAPER, 5 x 7

ISBN-13: 9781640651050

• Spiritual resource for Bible study and reflection/discussion prior to church meetings
• Passages deal with common issues of group life (conflict, change, leadership, vision, burnout)

After years as a member of parish staffs and as a congregational and diocesan consultant, Judith Carlson became increasingly aware how seldom Bible study or some spiritual component is incorporated into church meetings. Even when they want to, busy lay people worry it will take "too much time" or aren't sure what scripture to use or fear they "don't know enough" about the Bible. Clergy too, despite good intentions, often have trouble finding time to prepare something. This simple model provides a way to add the missing (and needed) spiritual dimension.

First Order of Business contains 36 brief sessions, 12 minutes a piece. Each has a scripture passage and three open-ended reflection questions—open-ended to fit a variety of situations (though not automatically suggesting "right answers") and allowing some genuine reflection in a non-threatening way. Carlson's hope is that allowing "space" for the Spirit's presence can transform ordinary "business as usual" into a broader, more spiritual context for a group's work of mission or ministry.

Audience: Vestries, diocesan and parish committees; useful across denominations

Judith Marsh Carlson, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary has served the Episcopal Church as national children’s ministries coordinator, director of education and lay ministry training for the Diocese of New Jersey, and executive director of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes. She has served on national, provincial, diocesan, and ecumenical committees, led or designed workshops and conferences, and written educational and parish materials. She continues consulting and writing in retirement. She and her husband, Jim, live in Richmond, Virginia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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