Rice, Ruth (2022) A-Z of Wellbeing. Milton Keynes: Authentic Media.
This is rather a seditious book, appearing at first to be one of a number of self-help books that have proliferated in recent time, the subtitle ‘Finding your personal toolkit for peace and wholeness’ seeming to reinforce this.
However, there are hidden depths to this book as at its core it is an encouragement to journey more closely with God and to recognise that He is there with us in every aspect of our lives. It is this breadth of scope that makes this book of interest as, while it does not explicitly reference the Waverley integrative framework or any other similar model, it does so implicitly in taking a holistic approach to mind, body and soul.
During the course of the COVID pandemic wellbeing has become a hot topic, both for the Church and society as a whole. The Church has faced a number of issues around the area of wellbeing. The first is that some churches debate whether ‘wellbeing’ is a good thing to focus on, as much of the popular literature in this area often appears rooted in faith traditions or philosophical positions that some see as inimical to the Christian faith. So there has been a need for wellbeing resources to be developed that are rooted in the Christian faith. Once a resource has been identified, the issue is how ‘to do’ wellbeing well and to engage with the world outside the Church. Many churches are very good at setting up programmes that ‘do things’ for people; wellbeing is rarely generated by a programme per se and this is an issue.
The A-Z of Wellbeing assumes that individual and corporate wellbeing is a good thing and that both the Christian tradition and the Bible have a lot to say about it. This is done in 26 short chapters, where each chapter examines an aspect of wellbeing that the author has found important in her own wellbeing journey. It is her own experience that forms the foundation for this book and often provides perceptive insight that will be of help to those starting out on their own wellbeing journey or who are seeking to develop the range of practices that will enhance and deepen their faith.
Each chapter follows a set structure and starts with a short phrase from Scripture that seeks to set the tone for what is to follow in the chapter. There are then a series of headings repeated in each chapter that not only helps give structure to the book, but would provide a useful pattern to be used in a small group for people to explore and share their thoughts, insights and experiences around each topic.
Each chapter starts with a short theological reflection on the concept that is being examined. The approach is gentle and draws you in, inviting you to join a conversation. The next section encourages a slightly deeper engagement with the concept and encourages the reader to explore how it would impact them as an individual. It makes no presumption that everyone would or should have the same response to each topic. Following on from this are some ideas that encourage the reader to engage with and participate in, before a story is shared about someone who has been impacted on their own wellbeing journey, often through their contact with a Renew Wellbeing Café. Finally, there are some questions that help the reader reflect and to think about their own wellbeing and how they could begin to put into practice the topic that has been explored in the chapter, followed by a short prayer and signposting to further resources.
Ruth Rice is a director of Renew Wellbeing, a charity that helps churches open and run simple café-style spaces attached to a quiet room where inner habits of wellbeing are shared.
About the author
BA (Hons), MA, Cert HE (Higher Education), FHEA
Bob Stradling is the principal of Waverley Abbey College and has an MA in Missional Leadership. He has experience in a range of leadership role in Higher Education and has also had experience of leadership in a range of ministry contexts.
Copyright 2022 Bob Stradling