Friday, June 30, 2023

How Sweet It Is: A Deep Haven Novel (Fox Family Book 1)

 


How Sweet It Is: A Deep Haven Novel 

(Fox Family Book 1) 


Thursday, June 29, 2023

Part 2 of an #Interview with Dan Alger, Author of Word and Sacrament

 

Part 2 of an Interview with Dan Alger,
Author of Word and Sacrament

In Word and Sacrament, Dan Alger leads readers in rediscovering the foundations of their heritage. At the same time, he shows how the act of planting new churches can breathe new life into these ancient traditions as they are applied to a variety of cultural contexts. His book provides a robust framework for planting gospel faithful, missionally effective, relationally strong churches. “Planting in Word and sacrament means that we find our calling and our guide for church planting in the truth of God as revealed in his Word written and echoed in his sacraments, the Word visible,” Alger writes.

Written from an Anglican perspective to encourage both aspiring and experienced church planters, Word and Sacrament will assist leaders in all traditions to better understand the why, what, and how of the task before them. At the end of each chapter, Alger includes “A Note to Non-Anglican Readers,” explaining how the material can be adapted to other church traditions. Alger outlines and contextualizes discipleship for the global church and helps those in all walks of ministry to discern their role in church planting. He also helps ministry leaders avoid common mistakes in church planting and examine their motivations for church planting.

Q: Most contemporary church planting is approached as an endeavor that needs to be new and innovative. However, you believe it is important to go back to the ancient roots and traditions of the church. Why are the ancient traditions of the church relevant to today’s culture?

As church planters, it is easy to forget that we are not the first Christians who have ever lived. Most church planters are self-starting, bold, creative, leaders, and they are gifts to the church. The flip side of that particular gifting, however, can lead a planter to lean too much on his own ability. The church plant that has its roots in the shallow soil of our own experience and giftedness is subject to being led astray by a very narrow perspective shaped by the spirit of the age. We can plant fast-growing but thin churches that are based on the personality of its central leader rather than mature, long-lasting churches that can withstand cultural changes and are not solely dependent upon a single fallible primary leader.

Participating in the ancient traditions of the church reminds us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, something good, holy, and righteous that we submit to rather than creating a church only for our own benefit. The ancient traditions of the church form us according to the Scripture and give the faithful Christians who have gone before us a voice in our modern mission work. Sometimes we need a little less innovation and a bit more faithfulness.

Q: Why is it so important to plant new churches rather than simply putting missional and evangelistic efforts toward bringing people into churches that already exist?

Many studies have shown that new churches see a disproportional amount of their growth from new converts, whereas churches over ten years old grow primarily from transfer growth. Older, stable, established churches play a vital role in the life and ministry of the universal church; one of which is to birth new churches that will reach new generations and people groups. The Scripture teaches us that the church is the people of God and is his agent for his mission in the world. In other words, if we are to be faithful to participate in the mission God is calling us to, we must plant more churches.

Q: Before getting into the nuts and bolts of planting a church, what are some of the big-picture questions that should be answered in the planning process? (For example, questions regarding ecclesiology, missiology, and liturgy.)

Often church planters begin with the “how” before the “why and what.” In our eagerness to see our church plant come to fruition, we move too quickly to action—like building a house before drawing up a blueprint. Planters need to consider theological questions such as, What is the church? before asking, How do we start a new church? What is the purpose of a church? What function does a local church have? What are the essential aspects of the identity of church that cannot be sacrificed in our attempt to reach the people of our city?

These questions are not questions we ask of ourselves but of the Scriptures. We need to ask, “What does God say about his church?” before we ever entertain the thought of, What do we hope this new church will be? This is a different starting place than much of modern church planting and leads to very different trajectories and methodologies. 

Q: You write that God can use anyone to become a church planter, but most are wired in a certain way. What are some qualities and qualifications a successful church planter should possess? What kind of training and preparation should a church planter receive before setting out on his way?

Too often planters rush into the work of planting without preparation. Every planter, no matter their previous experience or success, should go through an assessment process that allows others who care for him to ask good questions of his character, competency, calling, and chemistry. Church planters are some of the most astounding people I have ever been around, and their profound gifts can lead to both enormous success and catastrophic failure. Assessment helps work through some of the potential pitfalls in advance and serves to encourage the planter in the areas in which the community sees strength and maturity. Next, all planters need training. We don’t know what we don’t know. Good training removes much of the idealism and replaces it with a healthy soberness of what it actually takes to plant a church. Finally, every planter should have a coach in the process to keep them on track, accountable, and encouraged.

Q: One of the chapters discusses the many improper motivations to plant a new church. Please share a few of those improper motivations.

This chapter can be a difficult for planters, but I hope it is difficult in a good way. We are all a mixture of sinner and saint, and no one’s motivations are entirely pure, but we should examine ourselves to ensure that our primary reasons for planting are healthy. For instance, we should not plant a church simply because we want to preach more. Church is more than preaching and planting is more than creating a platform for yourself.

Another common misplaced motivation is that the planter is convinced most other churches are doing things incorrectly but that he has it figured out. The arrogance that accompanies us in this can be quite damaging and the humbling process of realizing our own hubris can be very painful.

One final example of bad motivation is that you just simply need a job. I have worked with a number of planters who started planting, not because of a powerful, communally discerned calling, but because they could not find work on a church staff. Planting is too difficult to stumble into the work without a bone-deep calling and proper preparation.

Q: What are some of the most common mistakes that church planters make that you share in hopes that others can avoid them?

There are many potential mistakes church planters can (and will) make. I devote an entire chapter to this topic because I hope that pointing out mistakes I have made myself or been witness to in others can help planters to not repeat them. Grace abounds. An example of one of the most common and potentially disastrous mistakes I see church planters make is to move to public worship too quickly. If a church plant begins weekly worship without a critical mass of people, the volunteers will burn out, the missional fervor of the church will wane, and it will be extremely awkward for new visitors, which can cause an extremely low retention rate, thus lowering morale and hastening the burnout of all involved.

Another mistake is under-capitalizing at the start. Money equals time in a church plant—time to gestate, to mature, to do the work of properly building relationships and leaders. As money dwindles, the planter will be more and more anxious, suffer under growing pressure, and make mistakes by rushing the process. I could go on, but I would need many more pages.

Q: What one piece of encouragement would you give someone setting out on their first church plant?

Always remember that this is Jesus’s church, not yours. Seek first to be faithful, and let Jesus make you fruitful. You have a very important role, so much will still be required of you, but remember that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jesus said he will be with you until the very end of the age, that the Holy Spirit empowers the work of mission, and that the very gates of hell will not prevail against his church. Your role is steward, and it is a big task, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. So, work hard, pray for wisdom, and sleep well at night in the confidence of the victory of Jesus.

 

Word and Sacrament: Ancient Traditions for Modern Church Planting
by Dan Alger
Print ISBN: 978-1-64507-303-1
May 1, 2023 / Retail Price: $24.99
RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Pastoral Resources

About the Author

Dan Alger, DMin, has been in church planting ministry for over twenty years, currently serving as the Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Dean of the Cathedral at Church of the Redeemer in Greensboro, NC. Through his role with the ACNA, Alger started the Always Forward Church Planting Initiative which seeks to equip dioceses to become effective at raising up, training, sending out, and supporting church planters to plant Gospel-centered, sacramental, missional churches.  

Alger is also an adjunct professor, speaker, trainer, and coach. He is cohost of the Always Forward Podcast and author of Word and Sacrament: Ancient Traditions for Modern Church Planting.

Dan and his wife, Karen, have two sons. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking.

Learn more at danalger.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@dan.alger2) and  Twitter (@dan_alger).






Tuesday, June 27, 2023

A Murder of Aspic Proportions (A Sunflower Café Mystery) #Amish #CozyMystery

 


A Murder of Aspic Proportions 

(A Sunflower Café Mystery

June 27, 2023

This is the second book in Lillard’s A Sunflower Cafe Mystery series. Sissy Yoder and her Aunt Bethel is trying to solve another murder in their small Amish community. There is humor in the tale with some aggravating remarks and uncaring investigation by the Yoder Sheriff’s department for the actual offender of the murder of Walt Summers. One thing for sure the residents of Yoder, Kansas know each other business and so many relatives that you wonder why and how they could think one of their own was the offender.

 

I received a complimentary ARC of this book without any obligation to write a positive review. I have expressed my own thoughts.

 

 


 

 

This is the second book in Lillard’s A Sunflower Cafe Mystery series. Sissy Yoder and her Aunt Bethel is trying to solve another murder in their small Amish community. There is humor in the tale with some aggravating remarks and uncaring investigation by the Yoder Sheriff’s department for the actual offender of the murder of Walt Summers. One thing for sure the residents of Yoder, Kansas know each other business and so many relatives that you wonder why and how they could think one of their own was the offender.

 

I received a complimentary ARC of this book without any obligation to write a positive review. I have expressed my own thoughts.

 

 

 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Christina's Courage #Mennonite #PlainPeople #CozyMystery

 


Christina's Courage 

May 30, 2023

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Learning to Garden Like The Master by Sharon Musgrove #Devotional #SundayThoughts


 

 

Our Heavenly Father is a Master Gardener.  Since the beginning, He’s been perfectly producing sweet and magnificent things out of dark nothingness.  So, to become more like Him, I put my hands in the soil, desiring to produce something delightful like His. 

 

The farming began in raised beds.  Excitedly, I cleared and fertilized the soil, dreaming of the possibilities of this garden.  Hours of sweat went into my nursery, digging, pulling, turning….and finally the day arrived for the aptly titled “start sale” at my local farmer’s market.  One bed would be planted solely with salad greens and the second bed for the more cruciferous seedlings.  By the end of the day, I was gleaming over the rows of spinach, kale, chard, and mustard greens.

 

Over the next few weeks, I continued in the tending to, and even singing over, my little ones.  I was very proud of the work until I became aware that the varieties were not all thriving.  Greatly concerned, I ran over in my mind the possible problems.  Each seedling had been treated with equal care, water, and protection.  Why was the chard lagging? 

 

A reply came, as if the Master had put his arm around me and asked, “What is your heart for the chard?”

 

“I want it to thrive!” I responded with an edge of panic.  “I want all the greens to thrive!”

 

Still feeling within the Lord’s embrace, a peace and understanding came over me as He opened my eyes to the error.  I had treated all the seedlings exactly alike.  I had assumed that treating them with equal water, nutrients, and attention, that they would thrive uniformly. 

 

“Not so.” the Good Gardener confirmed, “To treat all life identically is not beneficial to the needs of the individual.  For My creation to thrive in fruitfulness, I tend to the personal needs of each uniquely, pruning what requires pruning, watering when thirsty, and even thinning when necessary.  This is what is meant by being fair... to offer every individual what it requires to reach its potential.  Doing so brings me great joy!”

 

John 15:1-2 highlights this lesson: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more fruit.”

 

What a lesson!  This word spoken over greens was meant for all life!  Its truth applied across all growing entities of the earth, from child rearing to running businesses. 

 

Often struggling to keep things equal, I neglected the specific needs of the one.  My “same-same” mentality didn’t serve anyone but me.  It was an effort to make things easier...again, for me.  What great love and sacrifice the Lord gives us, meeting each person right where they are!

 

The Gardener’s heart is that each of us bear fruit!  It does not tax him that my needs are something unique or large or even repetitive.  Had He treated me in life exactly as my siblings, classmates, or neighbors, I would not be thriving nor producing any fruit today.  The fairness of God’s love is that it is specific to the objective of producing more and more fruit in each one of us.

 

To “garden” with a love that is distinctive is liberating and brings great joy!  As I move ahead in life, I am released to tend to others in a fresh way, forgetting easy and embracing effective.

 

An abundant harvest of all kinds of greens from my garden is something good, but even greater will be the sweet fruit from tending to my family and friends with this learned, individualistic touch.  It’s something to hope for, as is additional lessons from the Master Gardener!



Author Bio:

 


Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.    

 

She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.

 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.

 

Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

 

Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children. 

 

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry. 

 

~*~

Connect with Sharon:

Website: Sharonmusgrove.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sharon-Musgrove-Untethered-102208978041060

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharonmusgrove_untethered/

 

 



While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

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