Divine Renovation

Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish
By James Mallon
Novalis Publishing/2014/286 pages

Fr. James Mallon is pastor and priest at the Roman Catholic Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He speaks frequently on the topic of church renewal and has hosted internationally acclaimed DVD series on Catholicism and Dogmatic Theology. St. Benedict is an amalgamation of three former parishes and under Fr. Mallon’s care has achieved remarkable success in becoming a Christian community focussed on mission outside of its doors as opposed to an inward- looking maintenance ministry. In this book, the author offers practical guidance and a step by step blueprint on that process.

Its time to start making disciples. The future of the Church depends on it.

The Church today is faced often with the overwhelming task of maintaining property. While our buildings are an enormous gift from our past, they can also become one of our greatest burdens if we are not successful at becoming the missional church we are called to be. Jesus does not call us to be caretakers but, rather to serve him by serving the world and making disciples. “Its time to start making disciples,” says Fr. Mallon. “The future of the Church depends on it.”

Chapter two focusses on a grounding of the theory to be presented from Roman Catholic specific papal encyclicals and denominational specific documents. That goal completed, Divine Renovation progresses towards an insightful read for the Christian of any denomination. It is particularly applicable for any denomination that recognizes sacramental dimensions of the faith. “The sacraments are our greatest pastoral opportunity” and, perhaps one of the reasons I find it easy to recommend this book is that I agree wholeheartedly with most, if not all, of the author’s fundamental beginning points as well as the conclusions. Changing the “culture” of the Christian Community is necessarily at the heart of a transformation from maintenance to mission. It is that change of culture that consumes the majority of this text.

The practical road map leading to the transformation of church culture is divided into several sections. These might be alternatively titled: “Fr. Mallon’s marks of a healthy church.”

  • Giving Priority to the Weekend
  • Hospitality
  • Uplifting Music
  • Homilies
  • Meaningful Community
  • Clear Expectations
  • Strength-based Ministry

Inspiring, practical, challenging and a bracing call are among the terms others have used to describe an insightful book. A good read for anyone who cares about how to do Church in our current context. Fr. Mallon addresses the clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton during the clergy conference in August of 2016.

Geoffrey Hall


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