6 Must Read Books for Doing Ministry in the Design Age

As I suggested in my last post two posts, we have moved out of the cynical, deconstructing era of Postmodernity and into an era that I have been calling “The New Creative Era”Image

As I’ve been reflecting further on this trend, I think we might call this era “The Design Age” (I’ll tease that idea out in a future post).  Here are 6 worthwhile books that have shaped my thinking about this emerging era.  I don’t offer complete summaries here (you can find thorough reviews on Amazon’s site).  I commend these books as together painting a picture of the tools and concerns of the Design Age.  

Culture Making

by Andy Crouch.  Intervarsity Press, 2008. 

This book is a must read for getting a grasp upon the Christian vocation for creating and building.  Crouch presents a biblical theology of culture, an analysis of how Christians have historically approached culture, and a framework for thinking about what culture is and how we make it.  Crouch challenges the church to move beyond analysis and protest and to move toward creation of life giving cultural artifacts.  This is a rich and thoughtful read, so be prepared to take this one slowly. 

Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity  

by Michael Card, 2002. 

Written by a working singer/songwriter, this book is a helpful theological grounding for anyone working in a creative field.    It is brief, pastoral, and thoroughly grounded in scripture.   Worth turning to again and again.  

Art for God’s Sake

by Philip Graham Ryken.   Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006.

All told, this is a fine work for the Christian layperson who is suspicious of the “fine arts” — it is a good piece to help the person in the pew understand the dignity of the vocation.  It helps us understand that the Christian artist must be honest about the ugliness of sin, and thus we shouldn’t reject their work because of that very honesty.   Ryken efficiently covers the topic in around 50 pages — it can be read in an afternoon.  He is, however, painting with a broad paintbrush.  He’s trying to open the church’s eyes to a whole field — indeed a whole series of fields that will take a lifetime to explore.  His is not the last word — it is more like an invitation to come and explore.

The Experience Economy

by Joe Pine and James Gilmore.  1999.

This secular business book uses the analogy that “work is theater”.  Pine and Gilmore thoroughly adapt the principles of theater, offering advice on how to transform any element of work into an immersive experience.  This book is important to Christians seeking to understand the new Design Age because it gives us insight into the depth of experience that 21st century Americans expect in all venues. 

Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, And Maybe The World  

by Warren Berger.  Penguin Press, 2009. 

This secular book is an entertaining layman’s introduction to the principles and tools of design.  Berger gives a brief history of design and design movements, but then launches into a quick explanation of the designer’s toolbox.  Very helpful and practical book.

Art and Fear

by David Bayles and Ted Orland.  Image Continuum Press, 1993.

Another secular book, written to encourage working artists to figure out how to actually get work done.  Brief, practical, heartfelt and filled with stories that help motivate us to get a project done. 

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