The Year of Small Things

Radical Faith for the Rest of Us

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About

When Sarah and Tom Arthur were appointed to a suburban church after three years in an urban Christian community, they faced a unique challenge: how to translate the practices of "radical" faith into their new context. Together with their friends and fellow church members Erin and Dave Wasinger, the Arthurs embarked on a yearlong experiment to implement twelve small practices of radical faith--not waiting until they were out of debt or the kids were out of diapers or God sent them elsewhere, but right now.

This book is Sarah and Erin's story, told with humor, theological reflection, and practical insight, exploring such practices as simplicity, hospitality, accountability, sustainability, and social justice--but, most of all, discernment. Along the way readers will consider how God might be calling them to embark on their own year of small but radical changes, right where God has planted them. Each chapter includes discussion questions and suggested readings. Foreword by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

For more information, visit www.YearofSmallThings.com.

Contents
Foreword by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Introduction: The Street View
1. Covenantal Friendship
2. Hospitality beyond Martha Stewart
3. Radical Finances
4. Reclaiming Spiritual Habits
5. Stuff
6. Holy Time
7. Vows
8. Planted in the Church
9. Kid Monasticism
10. Sustaining Creation
11. Unselfish Self-Care
12. Just Living
Closing Thoughts
Appendix A: Engaging Three Strands of Radical Christianity
Appendix B: Hospitality Covenant
Appendix C: The Arthurs' Christmas Letter


Endorsements

"The Year of Small Things is the best kind of spiritual formation book: serious and funny, smart and vulnerable--and, most useful of all, practical. If you want to live the way of Jesus but struggle to know how to do this in the midst of family busyness, financial struggle, even depression, Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger can be trusted to help you and your community reimagine and engage in practices of spiritual wholeness and social justice. Honestly, this is one of my favorite books this year."

Jen Pollock Michel, speaker and author of Teach Us to Want

"This is the most provocative and profound book I've read in a long time. I plan to buy a box and give it to my friends so they can laugh, cry, repent, and soul-search as much as I did. Deeply moving--and necessary--for the faith community."

Joel Salatin, renegade farmer and author of The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God's Creation

"Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger's beautiful book offers a minirevolution that could shake up the world, or at least your neighborhood--and it doesn't require growing kale or living in a hut. It begins with dinner. Open doors. Being real with one another. In a me-and-my-family-first culture, Arthur and Wasinger compellingly show us not only how we can be the body of Christ but how to actually share life together as the body of Christ."

Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas

"The Year of Small Things is a field guide on how to implement Mother Teresa's admonition to 'do small things with great love.' In the midst of flu shots for the kids and complaints from the neighbors about the dandelions in the yard, the book shows--with abundant humor and grace--how to live a joyful, costly, and authentic faith."

Tim Otto, copastor of the new monastic community Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco, author of Oriented to Faith, and coauthor of Inhabiting the Church: Biblical Wisdom for a New Monasticism

"I am often asked if intentional community is a short-lived fad for young, idealistic singles. I always respond that following a common set of spiritual practices for the sake of our neighbors is the basic lifestyle of a disciple. We then have a conversation about how 'realistic' it is to follow Jesus. Now I can refer them to The Year of Small Things as evidence of how some families with young children are in fact practicing intentional community in their suburban context. This beautifully written book is a gem!"

Elaine Heath, dean of Duke Divinity School; author of God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church

"What a wonderful story of two ordinary families dealing with the normal struggles of life, coming together to grow deeper in life with God. Written with grace, authenticity, and wit, Arthur and Wasinger's book made me excited to follow their path--the mark of a truly great work."

Nathan Foster, director of community life, Renovaré; author of The Making of an Ordinary Saint

"Sarah and Erin get it. They cut grapes for tiny fingers, they wipe runny little noses, they bandage skinned knees, and they love the world that God loves. If you want to practice your faith right where you are, these women are the reliable guides you need."

Margot Starbuck, author of Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor


The Authors

  1. Sarah Arthur

    Sarah Arthur

    Sarah Arthur (MTS, Duke University Divinity School) is a fun-loving speaker and the award-winning author or compiler of eleven books, including the best-selling Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Journey through "The Lord of the Rings" and At...

    Continue reading about Sarah Arthur

  2. Erin F. Wasinger

    Erin F. Wasinger

    Erin F. Wasinger is a freelance writer, speaker, and journalist, having worked as a newspaper editor and columnist before moving to Lansing, Michigan. A voracious reader as well as a storyteller and lay theologian, she writes at www.erinwasinger.com.

    Continue reading about Erin F. Wasinger

Reviews

"This funny and grace-filled project shows that living simply is doable--especially if you've got a supportive team. In The Year of Small Things, two families share their yearlong project of living in a way that is more in tune with their Christian values. . . . By admitting that the two families still haven't aced their mission, the book establishes a welcoming, realistic-but-striving vibe. Both writers are accomplished and know how to tell a touching story. Their voices blend fluidly together--it is sometimes hard to keep track of who is saying what--forming a chorus in a book which is, after all, about striving for a more spiritual life through togetherness. In describing the families' spiritual journeys, The Year of Small Things makes some wonderfully honest points about the hardships of raising young children. . . . Their experiment is summarized and analyzed, punctuated by often sweet vignettes."

Meredith Grahl Counts,

Foreword Reviews

"Where The Year of Small Things shines is in the places [the authors] contextualize the marks [of New Monasticism (NM)] for their suburban life. . . . Each chapter ends with three helpful pieces that make the book as much how-to as spiritual memoir. First, there is a challenge to practically engage the month's practice. Second, there is a series of reflective questions. Finally, further reading recommendations are made. . . . These create a kind of devotional feel to the book that should encourage others who share their context. . . . The book accomplishes its goal as a transparent chronicle of two families' pursuit of contextualizing the practices of NM in the suburbs. Their journey is interesting and largely successful, and expands NM literature in several helpful ways. . . . It will serve best NM devotees who are not rooted in the edges of empire, living in an intentional community, and/or who have children. But hopefully [it] will cause more discussion in these circles around these key themes. Whether you are firmly convinced of NM, skeptical of it, or unfamiliar there is plenty here to challenge you to be a more radical disciple."

Jordan Kellicut,

Englewood Review of Books


Resources