How To Host a Work B.e.n.c.h. Book Club

Our inaugural book club is coming up soon, so make plans to attend or set up a discussion event in your area. Our first book is Steve Turner’s Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts. The book is relatively short (about 180 pages), but packed with interesting observations, discussions, and Biblical passages and references. It’s one of the essential books that a Christian artist should keep and re-read every so often.

For the book club, first, you need to obtain a copy of the book. It is in print, but if you can’t find it at your local bookstore (Christian or otherwise), Amazon and a host of other online booksellers have copies they would love to sell to you. If you are on a budget, you might be able to find a copy at the library, or you could split the cost with a friend and share the book.

Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. intends on choosing a new book every quarter, so Steve Turner’s book is the January-March 2009 selection. The idea is that you have the first two months of the quarter to obtain and read the book, and the third month of the quarter you can discuss it in book club fashion. That means that you still have time to get the book, read it, and engage in the discussion that will take place next month.

Now on to the discussions….

There are several ways discussions can take place.

1. A private discussion with a group of people you already know

You are encouraged to bring book club information to your friends, worship team, and other artistic-minded Christians you know. If several members of your worship team or drama ministry are reading this book, you have the option of hosting a private discussion.

To host this type of gathering, choose a comfortable place with plenty of seating for the people who are likely to come (perhaps someone’s den). If you wish, you could also meet at a more public place, such as a restaurant or your church. There are advantages and disadvantages to meeting at these places.

Invite the people by personal invitation. Word-of-mouth is fine (i.e., “Next week after worship rehearsal, let’s go to Starbucks and discuss this book”), but you probably want to give people something in writing, or at least call them a day before the meeting to remind them.

If you want to put information on the Work B.e.n.c.h. website, be sure to put minimal details because this is a private party for you and your friends. You can say something like, “Amy’s group in Rancho Cucamonga will meet on the 21st at 5:00.” That way, other group members who know you and your group can log onto the website to get the date and time, but strangers won’t show up at your home unannounced.

For this type of book club, you can ask for a potluck dinner or ask certain people to bring some snacks. Having a few things to nosh on will break the ice, but if you ask people to bring snacks, hosting the book club won’t break your budget.

In the March issue of this webzine, we will post some questions that book club meetings can use to start the discussion. You will probably want to print those out, and possibly have copies of the questions for everyone to refer to.

The amount time your book club meeting takes is obviously dependent on your group. Plan on about 45 minutes of actual book club discussion, and then add on how much time you think you need as padding for that particular group of friends and the food.

2. A non-private group meeting at a public place

For this type of group, you will want to secure a public place to meet, such as your church, a coffeehouse, or another restaurant. Many libraries have small meeting/study rooms that you can reserve for free or a minimal deposit. If the weather is nice, even a park would be a good place, with the added advantage of allowing people to bring their kids and keeping them engaged while the adults discuss the book. Due to the openness of the Internet, do not plan on hosting this type of group at your home (or anyone’s home, for that matter).

Wherever you decide to hold the meeting, you shouldn’t meet at this place alone. If you have a spouse or another friend who is also reading the book, maybe you could plan to go there together, and leave a few open seats in case other people show up. I would suggest you make a highly visible sign or a table tent that says something like “Book Club” or “Artists Work B.e.n.c.h.” so someone who comes, but doesn’t actually know you, will be able to find your discussion group. Also, it is always a good idea to clear your meeting with the management if you are meeting at a coffee house or restaurant before you post the information on the Internet.

For this type of group, you can and should post information on the Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. website. If you e-mail the information to us, we will put it on the website on March 1. You can also post information about it in the comments section. It could say something like, “Charlie’s group is meeting at _____ Park on the 21st at 2:30. All are welcome.” Another possible way to get the word out is by putting fliers on bulletin boards. But remember, if you reserve a place and have a meeting, no one will show up if you don’t advertise.

We will remind you that if you are going to ____ Park to meet Charlie and his/her group as a guest because you saw an announcement on the Internet about the bookclub, please go with a friend, at least the first time you meet with this particular group.

For both hosts and guests: if you find abuses at a gathering, please contact us and we will do our best to clear up the issues.

If you are hosting this type of group, you obviously don’t know how many people will show up. You should print out the discussion questions from the March installment of the Work B.e.n.c.h. webzine. You can make a few extra copies, and if too many people show up, they can share. If the place is a coffee house or restaurant, you don’t have to worry about bringing food because it will be assumed that people who come can purchase any food they want. However, if you are hosting it at a park, church, etc., you might want to bring some snacks and drinks for people. We would suggest you bring things such as cans of soda and individually packaged food items, because if many people show up you have refreshments, but if few people show up, you can always save the cans and packages for your kids’ school lunches or donate them to the youth group. Of course, if you are hosting the group in a study room in the library, you might not be able to bring refreshments at all due to the rules of the library.

3. Online discussion

If you are unable to host a book club discussion group, and you are unable to attend any advertised discussion groups in person, you can always discuss the book on the Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. website when we post the discussion questions in March. Your questions and comments can be posted in the comments section of the Book Club page.

To read more about Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, by Steve Turner, click here.

Book Club Menu Ideas and Recipes
(These are just ideas…you can mix and match, or do something totally different if you please.)

The Picasso

English Muffin Pizzas
Fruit Nachos
Blue Cream Soda

To make the pizzas, use these ingredients:
English muffins sliced in half
Jar of spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings you like, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, ham, pineapple, etc.

Using a tablespoon, put some pizza sauce on each English muffin and swirl it around so that it goes almost to the edge of the muffin. Sprinkle with cheese and top with pizza topping of your choice. Put in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

To make the Fruit Nachos, use these ingredients:
1-2 limes
Bag of tortilla chips
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
Fresh fruit of your choice (for instance, 2 apples, 3 kiwis, a small package of strawberries, 2 bananas, 2 peaches, and some grapes. You can also use canned or frozen fruit such as peaches, Mandarin oranges, etc. Simply thaw and/or drain.)

Heat oven to 350. Put tortilla chips on baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes, until chips are warmed. While chips are in oven, mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. As soon as chips come out of oven sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over chips. Toss chips to make sure all sides are coated. Put in serving dish or back into chip bag for transport.

Dice fruit into small cubes. Small strawberries can simply be sliced. Grapes should be cut in half. Mix together. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over the top of fruit mixture. If there is a lot of fruit, or if the limes aren’t very juicy, you might need 2 limes. Mix fruit. Serve with the cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips.

If you can’t find blue cream soda in the grocery store, you can usually find several varieties at BevMo!

The Mozart

Lemon Angel Dreams
Lil' Viennas
Candy Kisses

To make Lemon Angel Dreams use these ingredients:
1 store bought angel food cake
1 jar lemon curd
1 can spray whipped cream

Cut angel food cake into cubes. Put lemon curd on top of cubes and spray with whipped cream (you can pre-prepare these, except for the whipped cream, or you can make an assembly line with a bowl of angel food cubes, a bowl of lemon curd, and the can of whipped cream, and let guests make their own.)

To make Lil' Viennas, use these ingredients:
Package of Lil’ Smokies (miniature smoked sausages, found near the hot dogs in the grocery store)
Jar of barbecue sauce
Put sausages in a saucepan and cover with barbecue sauce. Cook until heated through. To keep warm, instead of heating these in a saucepan on the stove, you can use a slow cooker set on low.

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