Distinctly Baptist: Proclaiming Identity in a New Generation, edited by Brian C. Brewer (Judson Press)
Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary marked the 400th anniversary of the Baptist movement with a series of chapel services devoted to Baptist identity. This valuable volume collects those chapel sermons, focusing on 14 convictions that combine to create the distinctively Baptist vision of faith and practice.
Brian Brewer groups the sermons into five sections—the basics, Christian responsibility, ecclesiology, ordinances and a free church in a free land. Each section includes a helpful introduction with recommended action steps for readers, including suggestions for further reading, related texts for Bible study, worship ideas and opportunities for service.
Distinctly Baptist serves as a useful primer on Baptist basics and as a showcase of good doctrinal preaching. My favorite line in a book filled with catchy quotes was the final one, a zinger at the end of a sermon by Texas Baptist church historian Alan Lefever: "Originally, Baptists supported separation of church and state—and authentic Baptists still do."
Ken Camp, managing editor
Live Sent: You are a Letter by Jason C. Dukes (New Hope Publishers)
Jason Dukes will bless and challenge your heart as you read Live Sent, based on the premise that the church God intended is more than a place or an event; rather, it means we as members of the body of Christ are to live out our lives as a love letter from God to the world around us.
Dukes' own Westpoint Church is used as a laboratory, allowing the reader to experience testimonies of members who are putting into practice the missional church concept. It is the practice of being the true church God originally designed—flesh and blood who live daily as a love letter to the lost.
Dukes uses testimony, application, challenge and discussion question formats to ask readers to assess whether or not they are "living sent." He offers four evidences a Christian is a letter sent—whether he or she is one who is: (1) praying for God to change him or her; (2) learning to connect in real life with a consistent story to tell; (3) serving: and (4) learning and growing together with the body of Christ.
This is a great book to help you see real love is to deliver the message being written by God in your life. God is the sender—we are the letters sent.
Leo Smith, retired executive director
Texas Baptist Men
On Mission with God: Free and Faithful Baptists in the 21st Century, edited by Pamela R. Durso with William O'Brien (Baptist History and Heritage Society)
The Baptist History and Heritage Society tapped 14 men and women to survey the history, philosophy and contemporary landscape of missions. The names read like a "Who's Who" of Baptists and include Emmanuel McCall, Denton Lotz, Hugo Culpepper and Texan Albert Reyes. None of the authors gloss over the past but clearly present the missionary enterprise as "a work of love for the world."
The preface and foreword offer succinct, practical overviews of Baptist missions. Editors Pam Durso and Bill O'Brien divide the well-documented volume into three sections: Foundations for Missions, Global Baptist Organizations Leading the Way in Mission Efforts, and 21st-Century Baptist Mission Involvement.
The first four chapters provide excellent background information, including Baptist beginnings in 1609 and the Baptist Mission Movement, effectively starting with William Carey in 1792. The middle section describes some global Baptist mission organizations. The final five articles explore the post-denominational age and its impact.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Woman's Missionary Union of Texas