Books by Stephen Kuhrt
Our Vicar, Stephen Kuhrt has written a number of books, all of which tell different parts of the story of how he has sought to develop the ministry and mission of Christ Church, New Malden. Most have been published by Grove Books which are a fantastic resource for church leaders seeking to implement new ideas within church life.
In 2009 Stephen wrote Church Growth through the Full Welcome of Children: The Sssh Free Church which tells the story of the development of the 9.30 service at Christ Church. The core thesis of this book is the connection between infant baptism (when we declare that those baptised are full members of the church) and non-negotiability of providing an appropriate and engaging experience of church for these children. Sssh Free Church offers some analysis of the number of changes that take place when parents have children which make it far more likely they will attend church and the welcome and environment that they and their children need to receive if they are to stay. Largely narrating the story of how the 9.30 service has sought to do this, Sssh Free Church argues that if provision for children is given anything like the same priority in church life as provision for adults, an exciting amount of church growth is very possible.
In 2011 Stephen wrote Tom Wright for Everyone: Putting the Theology of N.T Wright into practice in the local church. Tom Wright, formerly Bishop of Durham and now Professor of New Testament and Early Church History at the University of St Andrews is probably the leading biblical scholar in the world today and has written over seventy books setting out a radically fresh way of interpreting the New Testament. Wright’s scholarship has met with widespread acclaim partly for the way in which it has addressed weaknesses within evangelical theology and opened people’s eyes to how much more radical the Bible is than has previously been supposed. However there has also been a great deal of deliberate non-engagement with Wright’s thought both within the world of academic biblical scholarship and, more seriously, within many evangelical churches where it has been correctly sensed that the implementation of his insights will significantly change the agenda. Stephen wrote Tom Wright for Everyone specifically to challenge this. Published by SPCK, the book offers a summary of Wright’s thought to try and make it more accessible, partly by integrating it within the story of Stephen’s own theological development. The most important sections of Tom Wright for Everyone, however, are the three chapters which seek to show how the theology of Tom Wright has transformed the approach taken to pastoral care, mission and church life generally at Christ Church, New Malden. Shortly after its publication, Stephen gave a talk about this book at Christ Church.
In 2012 Stephen wrote Using Film with Older People. One of Stephen’s passions is film, especially films of the 30’s and 40’s, and within the book he tells the story of how he has used this in his ministry to older people. Film is often used to encourage theological reflection amongst younger people but Using Film with Older People shows how profitably film can be used with those of more advanced years, chiefly by telling the story of how Stephen has used it at ‘Half Shares’ – the group at Christ Church for widows. Within the book, Stephen shows how films as diverse as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca and Brief Encounter can be used to engage older people with the claims of Christianity as well as respond to many of the pastoral issues that they are facing. Using Film with Older People includes practical pointers on how to approach such ministry as well as discussion of the vital importance of Christians engaging with items of popular culture and being able to comment on both the positive and negative reasons they resonate with people.
In 2014, Stephen wrote I Heard it Through the Grapevine: Developing a Social Mission Project within the Local Church. Grapevine is a lunch club that was established at Christ Church in 2007 to share God’s love with those people marginalised by society and has rapidly become central to its mission. I heard it through the Grapevine seeks to respond to the widespread uncertainty that still exists within much of evangelical Christianity about the status of such mission by showing the vital role that full theological confidence in its gospel nature plays in both inspiring such mission and the manner of its delivery. Based upon the conviction that Christian mission is about ‘meeting people where they are but not leaving them there’, the book shows how Christians being really clear about our eschatology (ie how God is going to make it ‘all end up’) and our ecclesiology (ie our theology of church) are indispensable for ensuring the clarity, confidence and authenticity of local mission. Central to its thesis is the centrality to the gospel of taking active steps to overcome the unstated social apartheid that often exists within churches.