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Converge Bible Studies | Our Common Sins

by Dottie Escobedo-Frank

The disciples were fairly ordinary people. They had regular families, made their livelihoods in regular ways, and had typical and varied political leanings. But they met Jesus and started to live extraordinary lives. Because of their closeness to Jesus, we tend to think that the disciples lived lives with less sin than we live with. We imagine that Jesus' love rubbed off on them so that they were also extraordinary humans. But the Gospels show us differently. They show us that Jesus' close companions were as human as we are. And it is because we recognize the sins of the disciples as our own that we can relate to them so closely. They are our common sins. Converge Bible Studies is a series of topical Bible studies based on the Common English Bible. Each title in the series consists of four studies on a common topic or theme. Converge can be used by small groups, classes, or individuals. Primary Scripture passages are included for ease of study, as are questions designed to encourage both personal reflection and group conversation. The topics and Scriptures in Converge come together to transform readers' relationships with others, themselves, and God.

Worship in the Garden

by J. Wayne Pratt

As individuals, we often find peace, comfort, and a close connection to God in a garden. Gardens often provide a space for worship in a neutral setting outside the church for people to gather and share a faith experience. From Easter sunrise services to church retreats, the special worship experiences described in Worship in the Garden can enhance one's experience of God as a congregation worships together outdoors. The beauty of creation enhances these sensitive, meaningful liturgies for Communion, Blessing of the Animals, Healing, Renewal of Wedding Vows, Resurrection/Memorial Services, Graveside, Baptism, Baptismal Reaffirmation, along with other services. Inside you will learn about liturgical gardens and biblical precedents for outdoor worship.

Altars for Everyone

by Nancy C. Townley Stephanie Davis

The altar sits at the heart of the worship space, reminding everyone that here is where we lift our hearts up to God. Often the altar is decorated, but almost always in the same way: with flowers, candles, or a cross. But what if the altar could be made a more integral part of the worship experience? What if the visual elements on the altar could be designed to fit in with that Sunday's scriptures, hymns, prayers, and sermon? And what if it could be done, not only beautifully, but simply and inexpensively, so that churches of any size could benefit from this enhancement to their worship? That is just what Nancy Townley and Stephanie Davis are offering in this helpful and practical book. Worship leaders and artists, they have assembled dozens of beautiful, worshipful altar designs, pictures of which appear in the book. Detailed instructions accompany the artwork and illustrate how to create the design, and how and where to find or purchase the component elements with the least effort and expense. Designed with the needs of small membership and mid-size churches in mind, this volume offers indispensable guidance for anyone who wants to make worship a more enriching and transforming experience.

Thank God It’s Thursday

by William H. Willimon

Thank God It's Thursday is the prequel to bestselling author Will Willimon's highly successful, Thank God It's Friday. Following the book of John, Will Willimon focuses on the Jesus' teaching of his disciples prior to his own death but also before their own hour of decision. The climax of the Gospel is when Jesus pours out his life on the cross--surely an enactment and demonstration of the power of God's self-sacrificial love. So to sustain and fortify his followers for the difficulties ahead, Jesus prepares them by teaching and offering sacraments of self-giving,, through which they (and we) experience the grace and presence of the risen Lord. This book can equip Christians to face their hardships as they humbly serve with the promise of God's abiding presence already made good by his outpouring of sacrificial love. Written with the clarity, depth, and insight that are Will Willimon's trademark, this book offers afresh the challenge and grace of the message of the Resurrected One.

To All Nations From All Nations

by Justo L. González Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi

Sharing the Good News might be understood as the prime directive of the Church from its earliest times, but the Church soon discovered unforeseen obstacles and its own set of temptations, including its lust for power and domination. Although the gospel might be joyfully offered, it was not always received in the same spirit. And the Church was not always gracious with dissent and criticism. Even so, the Church continues to reach out to the least, the last, and the lost--attempting to bring them into the family of God. But for mission to be effective today, it must take advantage of indigenous resources and recognize its limitations as well as its gifts. This book broadly introduces prominent missionary practices and major historical figures using three perspectives. First, it takes into account the missionary activity proceeding from the margins rather than only discussing the center of theological and ecclesial activity. Second, it narrates the cross-cultural, cross-confessional, and cross-religious dynamics that characterize Christian missionary activity. And third, it emphasizes that much missionary activity is generated by national rather than international missionaries. The text concludes with a chapter on the postmodern and postcolonial world.

Tall Poppy

by Holly Mckissick

In New Zealand, they have a saying: "Keep a low profile or, like the tall poppy, stand tall and get your head cut off." While there are risks to standing out, there are also benefits: tall poppies have the best view and are positioned to have the clearest vision of the horizon. Leadership has an up-side but also a down-side, and leaders must attend to both. Tall poppy leadership attracts attention, but it is a mixed blessing. These leaders leave their mark, shape the environment, and prepare the ground for others. Like tall poppies, they have a clear view of the lay of the land, not just for themselves but for their followers. To reap the benefits of being the first to harvest, they risk becoming easy targets for those who are jealous, petty, or have a hunger for power. This practical book helps leaders weigh the costs and benefits of leadership as they assess their own situations. It shows leaders how to move forward through inevitable conflict, while attending to the landmines and hazards of congregational life. After reading this book, leaders will lead with more confidence, be better able to keep the vision and avoid distraction of immediate crises.

The Surprise Factor

by Kim Shockley Paul Nixon

Principles for church leadership are important, but just as important is knowing when and how to implement them. This is strategy and it can make or break a leader's work. Those who have been in ministry for a while may have a bag of leadership tricks. But what are the results? Nixon and Shockley explore eight key leadership behaviors that will help a church move successfully through its first season of transformation, putting it well on its way to becoming a dynamic, growing body of Christ. They report that ninety percent of existing churches never make it out of the first season of transformation and give guidance on how to turn around a stagnant or dying church.

Spiritual Kaizen

by Grant Hagiya

"Kaizen" is a Japanese word that translates roughly, "to change or correct for the better." What are the traits, qualities and characteristics of effective clergy? Is it possible to transform an average local church pastor into a highly effective and growth-oriented pastor? Leadership is not defined at birth. All of us can grow and develop into more effective leaders and we can do this at any time during our careers. In Spiritual Kaizen, Grant Hagiya works from the best secular and ecclesial models of leadership, comparing and contrasting the two, in order to draw out the best leadership practices available for current and future leaders of the church.

Should We Change Our Game Plan?

by George G. Hunter III

Many of the most effective churches consist of some sort of combination of "traditional" and "contemporary." However, they are not simply "blended." In fact, much of what they do is beyond mere categorization of "traditional" and "contemporary." Instead, they are "missional" and "strategic" in their approach. Using sports metaphor, author George Hunter lays the groundwork for a new line of thinking, a new identity, in order to incite a quiet revolution.

Quirky Leadership

by John Voelz

Pastors and ministry leaders too often play the comparison game, looking to church leadership rockstars and curtailing idiosyncrasies to be like them. But it's a losing game. Leaders end up trying vainly to lead their churches from a lack of gifts and a place of emptiness. What is the solution? Quirkiness. Leaders need permission to lead not like someone else, but as the best possible version of themselves--embracing idiosyncrasies, personalities, and personal tastes. When church leaders name their quirks, they are free to discover a unique leadership philosophy and find unique missional opportunities. Quirky Leadership raises the bar for ministry--not by jumping through more hoops or focusing on gift deficits but rather by identifying, communicating, and celebrating the individual truths about identities and for ministry environments. John Voelz is quickly becoming a source for practical leadership perspective as a voice that questions the status quo, calls out mediocrity, and gives permission to view things differently and watch crazy ideas come to fruition for the sake of God's kingdom.

Portable Faith

by Sarah Cunningham

Help church members to talk their faith into their everyday worlds. Portable Faith provides simple but effective ways to help people go public with their faith. Author Sarah Cunningham provides samples of activities and exercises that encourage people to meet others in the community--for example: begin by mapping out where your church members live; create a fellowship meal of ethnic foods that come from the church's surrounding community; start a reading group at work; or simply participate in a neighborhood watch. These activities are flexible and workable even with small budgets. They can be done by individuals, Bible study groups, Sunday morning classes, or by the entire church. By the end of the book, Sarah Cunningham hopes that readers will look at their church community with new eyes.

The Letters of Dr. Thomas Coke

by John A. Vickers

For forty years on either side of the death of John Wesley in 1791, Thomas Coke was a key figure in the development of Methodism on both sides of the Atlantic. His surviving correspondence is the most personal evidence he has left us of a man who "wore his heart on his sleeve." Coke's letters also give us contemporary insight into some of the events which began the transformation of an evangelical movement into a worldwide communion of Churches. This critical edition gives a comparison to earlier editions, as well as references to names and locations for historical study.

Key United Methodist Beliefs

by William J. Abraham David F. Watson

Deepen your faith and enrich your life through this study of core Methodist beliefs. Written by popular seminary teachers, this book will connect you to the life and ministry of John Wesley, demonstrating relevance for the lives of Christians today as it offers an introductory examination of each. In easy-to-understand language, each chapter is divided into five sections: 1. A Wesleyan Faith: an account of the basic ideas under discussion, understood in light of some of John Wesley's insights; 2. A Lived Faith: discussion of the practical, everyday implications for Christian living; 3. A Deeper Faith: gets into some of the more difficult ideas of Christian thinking; 4. The Catechism: shorthand way of learning the basics of Wesleyan Christianity; and 5. In Your Own Words: reflection questions that will help you take the name of Jesus with you.

The Judas Syndrome

by Dr George K. Simon Jr.

Even people we think are our friends will deny and betray us. Are they bad people, or just don't do enough, or people with good intentions but acting in ignorance? Or are they basically decent people who, when put to the test, fail because of their weak faith? Filled with many examples, Judas Syndrome gives concrete ways to prevent people, even other Christians, from hurting you and the role that faith can play in changing them and helping you avoid the pain that these relationships often bring. Although sometimes we suffer as a result of our own shortcomings and missteps, placing our trust in Christ's message of love provides the gateway to the life God intends for us. In other words, faith can really save us--a faith, however, that is not easily undertaken on a daily basis or one that can be sustained alone.

Una Introduccion a la Mision AETH

by Abingdon Press Carlos Cardoza-Orlandi

"La iglesia existe por la misión, al igual que el fuego existe por la combustión". Con estas palabras de Emil Brunner, el autor nos recuerda que ser la iglesia es estar en misión. Después de describir las diferentes cautividades de la misión, que han subyugado al cristianismo de los Estados Unidos, el autor lucha para exponer una fuerte y comprometida practica de la misión, comenzando en las congregaciones locales y extendiéndose hasta la comunidad más amplia.Este libro de Introducción a la Misión, puede ayudar a estudiantes de seminario, y a grupos de estudio de laicos, a conocer el mandato cristiano fundamental y unirse a la misión de Dios en el mundo.

The Go-To Church

by Bryan Collier

Every church can grow. Gone may be the days when churches could simply sit on the corner and attract passers-by, but people still long for the peace and confidence faith in God provides. So what do we do? We take the church to the people. We become a" Go-To Church" rather than a "Come-Here Church." Jesus' followers didn't wait for nonbelievers to find them. The disciples didn't stay in the Upper Room or sit around waiting after Pentecost and Peter's great sermon recorded in Acts. No, they struck out and went where God led--throughout the world to all people. How? Through creating multi-sites. Using the strategies and guidance of this book, you can customize the mission and ministry of your church to connect with people where they are. You will not only grow your church, but enhance God's Kingdom and accomplish the mission of the Great Commandment.

The Gift of Encouragement

by Marjorie J. Thompson

Grief and loss are parts of living. None of us escape. How can you console someone when words can never be enough? In The Gift of Encouragement, author Marjorie Thompson offers practical help to give confidence and skill to pastors, Stephen ministers, congregational caregivers, and other persons serving those who need comfort. With a central message on the importance of simply being there, Rev. Thompson combines practical how-to's with ways for pastors to introduce the spiritual disciplines for more hopeful and satisfied living. The book will contain prayers, scriptures, ways to think about the sacraments, suggestions for how to begin practicing spiritual disciplines, and thoughts about how faith in God can restore our courage and heart in times of loss. This small book gives real ways to help to help you as you make visits, write notes, find appropriate scriptures and prayers, avoid clichés, and think through the presence of God in dark and searching times.

Get Their Name

by Doug Anderson Bob Farr Kay Kotan

Change your church culture. Create an outwardly focused environment where hospitality and invitation happen Sunday and every day of the week. This book offers five steps to help congregations go public with their faith--from service projects to sharing the faith with persons who want to know more about Christ and thw church. This book offers tactics to increase individual and church competency with relational evangelism with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Learn how to start up a conversation, follow up with contacts, and navigate unfamiliar settings. Learn what works and what doesn't. We may think that just because we invite someone on our church property, they'll come back. Often we don't reach out to help people cross the faith line, because we're uncomfortable with "evangelism" or just plain scared. Gain the confidence to share the good news boldly. After all, we know the name of the One who loves us all and who holds all power over heaven and earth.

The Elephant in the Church

by Mary Lynn Dell Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner

A church can be a dangerous place. The perils may be so obvious, they become "elephants" standing in the fellowship hall, lurking in the sanctuary, ready to spring into the pastor's study, and tromp out of the choir room. The word "elephant" stands for an obvious truth or issue that is ignored or unnamed--a blind spot. Yet we allow elephants to occupy a large amount of space in the minds and hearts of those that tiptoe around them. Discussing common blind-spots of congregations and church leaders, the authors provide examples and illustrations for how to stop these "elephants" from ruining a ministry.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

by Peter W. Flint

In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd literally stumbled upon a cave near the Dead Sea, a settlement now called Qumran, to the east of Jerusalem. This cave, along with the others located nearby, contained jars holding hundreds of scrolls and fragments of scrolls of texts both biblical and nonbiblical--in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The biblical scrolls would be the earliest evidence of the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, by hundreds of years; and the nonbiblical texts would shed dramatic light on one of the least-known periods of Jewish history--the Second Temple period. This find is, quite simply, the most important archaeological event in two thousand years of biblical studies. The scrolls provide information on nearly every aspect of biblical studies, including the Old Testament, text criticism, Second Temple Judaism, the New Testament, and Christian origins. It took more than fifty years for the scrolls to be completely and officially published, and there is no comparable brief, introductory resource. Core Biblical Studies fulfill the need for brief, substantive, yet highly accessible introductions to key subjects and themes in biblical studies. In the shifting tides of biblical interpretation, these books are designed to help students locate relevant meanings in conversation with the text. As a first step toward substantive and subsequent learning, the series draws on the best scholarship in order to provide foundational concepts and contextualized information on a broad scope of issues, methods, perspectives, and trends.

Cut Dead But Still Alive

by Gregory C. Ellison II

To cut dead means to refuse to acknowledge another with the intent to punish. Gregory Ellison says that this is the plight of African American young men. They are stigmatized with limited opportunity for education and disproportionate incarceration. At the same time, they are often resistant to help from social institutions including the church. They are mute and invisible to society but also in their inward being. Their voice and physical selves are not acknowledged, leaving them ripe for hopelessness and volatility. So if the need is so great yet the desire for help wanes, where is the remedy? Healing can begin by reframing the problem. While to cut dead is destructive, it also refers to pruning and repotting a disfigured plant--giving it new possibilities for life. In this provocative book, Ellison shows how caregivers can sow seeds of life, and nurture with guidance, admonition, training, and support in order to help create a community of reliable others, serving as an extended family.

Church Worth Getting Up For

by Charles E. Gutenson

While research identifies a disturbing exodus from church life by all age groups and young people in particular, many churches continue to maintain the status quo. Can we do no better? Are we too afraid to confront the realities of living in today's world? Have we failed? This book will help readers create a church worth getting up for. In the book, Chuck Gutenson presents the thoughts of eight successful church leaders, including Deb Hirsch, Al Hirsch, Mike Slaughter, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Chris Seay, Greg Boyd, Olu Brown, and Doug Pagitt. Learn what characteristics they have in common. We all want to be a part of something meaningful--something or someone who will change our lives for the better. The Church has to find new ways to encourage, nurture, guide, inspire, and motivate people to find their true source in Jesus Christ. 'Jesus is worth getting up for." Help people find in your church a means to experience the source of their deepest desires.

The Grad's Pocket Guide to Greatness

by Jennifer Youngman

This is a collection of uplifting, encouraging, and inspirational thoughts for the graduate. This little book mixes Scripture and the wisdom of some of the most thoughtful people in history, including St. Francis, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, John Wooden, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Julian of Norwich, and many others. Many literary greats are represented, including A.A. Milne, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare. It is perfect for casual reading, or whenever the new graduate needs a bit of encouragement or some timeless wisdom to face a new challenge.

The Love of a Dad

by James W. Moore

Popular author James W. Moore says, "Joseph must have been a good father because Jesus called God 'Father,' and that was obviously a good image in his mind." In this book the author shares inspiring thoughts and stories about fathers and how they can look to God as the best example of a loving parent, one filled with grace and compassion, mercy and kindness. Chapters include "A Father's Great Faith," "What Are You Going to Do with the Rest of Your Life?" "Teaching Our Children to Love," and others.

Home Is Where Your Mom Is

by James W. Moore

It is impossible to overstate the importance of solid homes and strong families. In this book, popular author James W. Moore shares inspiring thoughts and stories about mothers--the love they give, the character and faith they inspire in us, and the invaluable role they play in a nurturing Christian home as they help us to grow in mind, body, and spirit. Chapters include "A Mother's Love," "This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine," "What Our Children Teach Us," and others.

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