Book Club

A sociologist, a game designer, and a pastor walk into a coffee shop. What do they have to say to each other? Turns out, quite a bit…

Ruha Benjamin, Jane McGonigal, and Kenda Creasy Dean have each written books that challenge us to prioritize imagination. Not for escapism or whimsy, but as a crucial tool in leading organizations in a time of unprecedented change. In this summer’s book club conversations we’ll explore what lessons these books have in common, where they deviate from one another, what they have to say to us as leaders, and what implications they have for the church. Join us.


  • Each book has a specific date for discussion (see below). Mid-summer we will poll registered participants about a date for the final “what does it all mean?” conversation.
  • These discussions are free of charge. We do ask that you register so that we can plan accordingly and communicate any changes. The registration form is at the bottom of this page.
  • Participants are responsible for purchasing or checking out the books themselves.

featured authors and texts


Book Club Conversation: June 4, 2024 — 12-1 pm ET

A world without prisons? Ridiculous. Schools that foster the genius of every child? Impossible. Work that doesn’t strangle the life out of people? Naive. A society where everyone has food, shelter, love? In your dreams. Exactly. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University professor, insists that imagination isn’t a luxury. It is a vital resource and powerful tool for collective liberation.

Imagination: A Manifesto is her proclamation that we have the power to use our imaginations to challenge systems of oppression and to create a world in which everyone can thrive. But obstacles abound. We have inherited destructive ideas that trap us inside a dominant imagination. Consider how racism, sexism, and classism make hierarchies, exploitation, and violence seem natural and inevitable―but all emerged from the human imagination.

The most effective way to disrupt these deadly systems is to do so collectively. Benjamin highlights the educators, artists, activists, and many others who are refuting powerful narratives that justify the status quo, crafting new stories that reflect our interconnection, and offering creative approaches to seemingly intractable problems.

Imagination: A Manifesto offers visionary examples and tactics to push beyond the constraints of what we think, and are told, is possible. This book is for anyone who is ready to take to heart Toni Morrison’s instruction: “Dream a little before you think.


*Note | Paperback will have a different subtitle: How to Create a Hopeful Future― in Your Own Life, Your Community, the World

Book Club Conversation: July 18, 2024 — 12-1 pm ET

The COVID-19 pandemic, increasingly frequent climate disasters, a new war—events we might have called “unimaginable” or “unthinkable” in the past are now reality. Today it feels more challenging than ever to feel unafraid, hopeful, and equipped to face the future with optimism. How do we map out our lives when it seems impossible to predict what the world will be like next week, let alone next year or next decade? What we need now are strategies to help us recover our confidence and creativity in facing uncertain futures.

In Imaginable, Jane McGonigal draws on the latest scientific research in psychology and neuroscience to show us how to train our minds to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable. She invites us to play with the provocative thought experiments and future simulations she’s designed exclusively for this book, with the goal to: 

  1. Build our collective imagination so that we can dive into the future and envision, in surprising detail, what our lives will look like ten years from now
  2. Develop the courage and vision to solve problems creatively
  3. Take actions and make decisions that will help shape the future we desire
  4. Access “urgent optimism,” an unstoppable force within each of us that activates our sense of agency

Imaginable teaches us to be fearless, resilient, and bold in realizing a world with possibilities we cannot yet imagine—until reading this transformative, inspiring, and necessary book.

by Kenda Creasy Dean

Book Club Conversation: August 20, 2024 — 12-1 pm ET

Author Kenda Creasy Dean writes that starting with why is the wrong place for Christian ministry to begin. Human decision-making starts in a different place. “Starting with why” assumes a rational relationship between human cognition and human action: if we understand someone’s purpose, we will be persuaded to join them. What we do, writes Dean – buy an iPhone, join a cause, come to church, choose a side – has more to do with what we feel than what we think.Our model – and indeed, our power-source – for such a compassion-driven, grace-drenched version of humanity is Jesus.

Our vocation always involves becoming more profoundly human, becoming more like Jesus, divinely wired and earthly-born, made from mud but bound for heaven, one with God and one with all the world. We are not called to build better churches. We are called to be better humans who reflect God’s love.This book argues Christians must enact a distinctive approach to social innovation. In short, we are called to participate in God’s dream, rather than invoke God’s blessing for our own. the task of Christian social innovators is the task Christ offers to every believer: to unbind one another as we stumble out of our tombs toward the new life Christ offers.We are not called to build a better church. We are called to go and tell about Who is doing a “new thing.” God becomes human, death becomes life – it doesn’t get any more innovative than that. The Bible both begins and ends with stories of God innovating, and records God delight in it.

Not since the Reformation, writes Creasy Dean, has so much energy gone into discerning what it looks like to be Christ’s body in the world. If you leave these pages feeling a little bolder, a little lighter, a little more ready to risk making your life look more like Jesus’ – you are already innovating, redeeming the wreckage for the next leg of your journey toward God.

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