Turning mission rhetoric into reality: preview of this afternoon’s study guide launch

Just in time for today’s launch of the Grace at the Garbage Dump study guide at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, there’s a great article in Center Aisle about the book, its genesis, and what we talk about when we talk about mission in the Episcopal Church.

“I have always loved stories,” he says. “Hearing them, telling them, sharing them. I returned from Itipini with the conviction that the stories of people like those who live in Itipini are not being told. I was also convinced that if we are going to move forward in addressing the problems of global poverty, we need to actually know about one another around the world, how we live and the challenges we face.”…

After publishing his book, Zink created a study guide “as a tool for groups to use as they think about how they can be involved in God’s mission.” The study guide can be downloaded for free at www.jessezink.com. “God is calling everyone to a role in God’s mission,” he says. “Discerning just what that role is is a holy and important task.”

Read the rest of the article here.

In Indianapolis? Stop by for two minutes or twenty tomorrow to pick up a copy of the book, learn about the study guide, or chat about what mission means to you. We’ll be at the Global Episcopal Mission Network booth (#629—you’ve got to go past the food booths). At previous signings, we’ve run out of books pretty quickly so we’ve got extra on hand for tomorrow. But we’re selling them for the special Convention-only price of $15 (30% below what Amazon will sell it you for) so they might go quickly.

See you there!

Turning Mission Rhetoric into Congregational Reality: New Study Guide

“Mission” is the buzzword of this year’s Episcopal General Convention. It’s already a buzzword in mainline Protestant denominations.

But how can churches across the country put that mission rhetoric into reality? What does it mean for a congregation to discern its role in God’s mission?

The new Study Guide and Mission Resource for Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century is designed to help Christians put the rhetoric of mission into reality. Designed to be used with youth groups, mission/outreach committees, book study groups, and adult education forums, the Study Guide features overviews and summaries of each section of the book, questions for conversation and discussion, links to further resources, and much, more more. And it’s entirely free.

Download the Study Guide for free at www.jessezink.com/guide. Copy it, distribute it, and use it as a resource to help your congregation find out what God is calling you to… whether just down the street or halfway around the world.

If you’re in Indianapolis for General Convention, stop by the official launch of the study guide. Hosted by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (Booth #629) on Sunday, July 8 from 2pm to 3pm, come by for two or twenty minutes to buy a copy of the book (at a special Convention only rate), ask questions about the guide, and learn more about how to involve your congregation with mission. More information is in this press release.

Read all about what people are saying about the book—and how they are commending it as a resource for congregational study—by clicking over to the reviews page.

Questions? Comments? Contact the author directly. jessezink [at] gmail [dot] com or on Twitter @jazink.

Again, you can download the study guide for free at www.jessezink.com/guide.

The reviews just keep on coming

The reviews of Grace at the Garbage Dump are coming quickly now.

There’s a new one in Pastoral Staff, the newspaper of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts:

Jesse tells his story beautifully in Grace. As he used his ingenuity with the schoolchildren, he used it as well to learn Xhosa, to reach out to women dying of HIV and serve as their advocate. He learned, even, to talk to teenagers and women about safe sex, about avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, about keeping their options for education open.

(Pastoral Staff is published online as a pdf document. The full review is on p. 14. For kicks, you can read the interview with me that follows the review.)

Have you bought your copy of Grace at the Garbage Dump yet? You can find all the information on doing so here.

And if you’re not ready to buy, remember you can always read the first chapter for free on Amazon.

If you’re planning to be at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I’ll be selling and signing books (at a special Convention-only price!) on Sunday, July 8. Details are here.

“Puts real flesh and real blood on what mission looks like”

There’s a new review of my book Grace at the Garbage Dump from Episcopal Digital Network. You can read the whole thing, or read the extracts here:

The struggles [Zink] has as he lives and learns and serves in a situation of desperate poverty and horrible disease make Grace at the Garbage Dump a highly valuable tool for exploring a new sense of mission….

Zink is an engaging writer who tells stories well, and stories are the heart and soul of the book…. Zink excels at both drawing you in compassionately to the individuals and analyzing the social and political structures that contribute to an unjust world that leaves some living short lives on a garbage heap.

The book is a primer on the two-thirds world, the world of the vast majority of the global population…. His description of the ravages of AIDS – which affects directly or indirectly everyone he serves – is particularly instructing to those of us for whom this disease can be (though should not be) regarded as less prevalent…. The book would make an excellent study in a Christian Education program, if only to help people from the one-third world understand the desperate needs of the rest of the world.

Making sense of mission is our important new challenge as disciples of Christ. This book’s greatest strength is that it puts real flesh and real blood on what the missio dei looks like on the ground today.

Read the whole thing.

Have you bought your copy of Grace at the Garbage Dump yet? You can find all the information on doing so here.

And if you’re not ready to buy, remember you can always read the first chapter for free on Amazon.

If you’re planning to be at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I’ll be selling and signing books (at a special Convention-only price!) on Sunday, July 8. Stay tuned for details.

Mission and marriage, they go together like a…?

Complete the sentence and win a prize. I’m stuck.

Episcopal News Service has a commentary I wrote on my recent wedding and young marriage.

The unity of our relationship, and every other marriage relationship, is a testament to the hope-though not always the reality-that fractured relationship can be restored. (I interpret the current debate about same-sex marriages in the church to be, in large part, about whether that same hope can be found in such relationships.) Our marriage, then, is not simply about the love we have for one another or our desire to spend our lives together. Our marriage is part of our role in God’s reconciling mission. Marriage is missional.

You can read the rest of it here.

There are some good comments on the piece at the article itself. Or you can leave them here, on the article or speculation on what it might mean to follow the article’s logic through to the upcoming General Convention.

New extract of Grace at the Garbage Dump

Episcopal Cafe’s Daily Episcopalian has an extract of my new bookGrace at the Garbage Dump.

The word mission is more and more a part of conversations about the future of the Episcopal Church. As I’ve watched the conversation unfold, I think back to my weeks driving Pakama to her never-ending string of appointments. Mission begins when difference is engaged—whether on a garbage dump in South Africa or just down the street. Where it ends up, we cannot control. But it is the fact that we are willing to render ourselves vulnerable to God’s guidance on a journey whose destination we may not know that makes our life as Christians missional. None of us will ever live to see the perfect peace of the kingdom of God on earth. But perhaps if we set out on the journey, we’ll find that the journey of mission truly is its destination.

Read the whole thing.

Purchased your copy of Grace at the Garbage Dump yet? All the ordering information is here.

Not sure you want to buy it yet? Read the first two chapters for free on Amazon.

Selling books to Alaska Natives: new book interview on KNOM

My old friends at KNOM in Nome, Alaska wanted to hear all about my new book, Grace at the Garbage Dump. So I told them all about it. An interview we did recently is now posted online.

You can listen to it at this link. It’s about 7:30 long.

Don’t have your copy yet? All the ordering information for Grace at the Garbage Dump is here.

Not sure you want to buy it yet? Read the first two chapters for free on Amazon.

I used to work in radio. Even won some awards. But you might not guess it from this picture.

Brand new review of Grace at the Garbage Dump

Pastor Julia at RevGalBlogPals has a new review of my book Grace at the Garbage Dump:

I highly recommend Grace at the Garbage Dump for your personal reading, if not for your church book club or any Christian education class from high school and up. In particular, if you are in a denomination that talks about the conservatism of the churches in Africa, this book is for you and yours. What does it mean to be the body of Christ with limbs across the world? A body with limbs that are dying from AIDS, TB, and malnutrition? A body that is schizophrenic about social issues and divides against itself? We cannot undo that we have been made one in Christ because it was not our doing. Thus, we are God’s mission- a mission of relationship and reconciliation. The goal of that mission for us, according to Zink, is to learn to spot grace. Everywhere. Even at the dump.

Read the whole thing.

Have you bought your copy yet? If you’re looking for multiple copies for your book discussion group at church or elsewhere, contact the publisher directly for discounts on larger orders. They’re very helpful and friendly!

Don’t forget: if you want to read the first two chapters for free, you can do so on Amazon. Also, if you want a complimentary review copy for your electronic or media publication, contact James Stock at the publisher—james [at] wipfandstock [dot] com. Or, let me know, and I can set you up.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

Here is a story that should come as no surprise to anyone:

The Anglican Communion faces a shortage of qualified communicators, according to an international Working Group on communications. The group—consisting of communications professionals from five continents—concluded that the Communion life was at risk of being detrimentally affected by some Provinces’ inability to source and share their news and stories widely.

In my travels around the world church, I routinely encounter fascinating, inspiring, and transformative work that is going on—and realize almost no one else knows about it. I’m convinced that communications is part of the church’s missional witness to the world but we’re not doing a great job of it.

Here are at least some of the reasons why I think this is happening:

  • English is the de facto language of the Communion. If you are among the majority of Anglicans who do not speak English as a first language, you might not want to write down your story and share it. Many Anglicans, I’ve learned, are eager to talk in person about what they are doing but reluctant to commit those same thoughts to paper, at least in part, I think, because they think they lack the ability to do so.
  • Folks engaged in the most fascinating ministry around the world often spend so much of their time in ministry that they don’t make the time to tell their story. This is a perfectly understandable impulse but it is one that drives me crazy. We want to hear your story! We want to be able to pray for you and support you and we can’t do that unless you tell us what is going on.
  • People are humble. This is wonderful. Lots of people I’ve met engaged in transformative ministry around the world just don’t think that what they’re doing is all that important and can’t see why anyone else would want to know about what they’re doing. Humility is a great Christian virtue—but a little well deserved tooting of one’s own horn wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

And so we get stuck in the position we are in now: no one really knows what else is going on around the world church. The loudest, shrillest, and most destructive voices dominate the conversation. And everyone thinks we’re falling apart. But we’re not. I’m really convinced of that. We just need to tell the story better.

Part of the reason I wrote my book, Grace at the Garbage Dump, is to counter exactly this tendency towards miscommunication. It tells the story of work in one diocese in one particular province. But books like it could be written of the work in countless dioceses around the world.

WHMP Interview: “Moving, funny, and edifying”

My interview on WHMP yesterday is now a podcast. The link is here. The interview starts at about 18:00 and ends about 15 minutes later. They call it “moving, funny, and edifying.” I have my doubts but listen and see what you think.

One of my answers surprised me. It was the one on the big lesson I take away from my time in South Africa. I said it was learning about my own helplessness. It just sort of came out but I think it’s right. There’s something to be said for confronting—again and again—one’s own inability to change the world on one’s own. It teaches us something about who we are and our inherent limitations. But it doesn’t end there. It’s only once you’ve realized your own helplessness that you can truly realize God’s never-ending and abundant grace.

Read the book if you want to hear more: it’s called Grace at the Garbage Dump for a reason.