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They say that you can always tell when a pastor or minister went to train for ministry by looking at the books on their bookshelf.  Certainly on my bookshelves there are collections of timeless commentaries which are always useful for sermon preparation, but there are others which were topical at the time and to some extent are now out of date.  There's also a small pile of books I need to read but haven't managed to yet!

A book that I think every church leader should aim to read is being published this July.  It's called A New Mission to Wales by David Ollerton and has been written following some academic research David has undertaken with the intention of making it available to a wider audience.  David’s burden and contribution to mission in Wales is well known and could be described in the number of miles he’s travelled across the breadth and length of Wales and cups of coffee with church leaders across the denominational traditions and streams.  But the book is the prayerful outcome of that labour of love and concern for the impact of the Gospel here in Wales.

Available in Welsh and English, it is first of all a valuable introduction for anyone seeking to understand mission and ministry in Wales.   Like a good travel guide it explains and interprets the things that many people often don’t get about Wales.  Why are these so many chapels?  What’s the obsession with devolution?  Why don’t we just all speak in English?  Is there life above the M4 and south of the A55?  What is the context of mission in Wales today?  I’d encourage anyone who is serious about connecting with Welsh culture and the current climate to think it through as you work through the early chapters.

More than that, the book is also a heartfelt call to a new mission in Wales.  It’s not often that data is collated and analysed for churches in Wales alone.  The results David presents are a sober reminder of not just where we’ve been but where we’re going.  There is a desperate need to engage, particularly with the villages and towns between the M4 and A55 corridors.  The book does not come up with any magic formula or easy answers but it does make a plea to our churches to recalibrate the way we go about God’s mission in a rapidly changing Wales.  As we grapple with our context we can then apply His enduring Word to the people and the place where God has called us.

If you want to hear it from ‘the horse’s mouth’ as it were and get a free copy of the book – I would encourage you to come along to the Waleswide conference on 5th July in Bridgend or on the 7 July in Kinmel Bay, Rhyl.  It’s an opportunity to meet with leaders outside your normal networks and catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.  Please book your place here.

From 8 July 2016 the book will be available to purchase here.

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