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A Different Kind of Christmas is a practical and inspirational study for youth during the Advent season. Based on Mike Slaughter's popular book Christmas is Not Your Birthday, this engaging study will help youth reclaim the broader missional meaning of Jesus' birth and experience a Christmas season with more peace and joy than any toy or gadget could ever bring. This five-week resource for youth includes leader helps. It also provides resources for incorporating A Different Kind of Christmas: Small Group DVD With Leader Guide and for leading a book study of Mike Slaughter's Christmas Is Not Your Birthday.
Every year, we say we're going to cut back, simplify, and have a family Christmas that focuses on the real reason for the season--Jesus. But every year, advertisements beckon, the children plead, and it seems easier just to indulge our wants and whims. Overspending, overeating, materialism, and busyness rob us of our peace and joy and rob Jesus of his rightful role as the center of our celebration. This book of devotional readings is designed to draw your entire family into closer fellowship with God as you respond to this Christmas season and the call of God to live generously all year around. The devotional includes thirty short readings, Scripture, prayer, and stories about helping others at Christmas. A Different Kind of Christmas: Devotional Readings for the Season is a great gift idea for family, friends, teachers, and ministry leaders.
It's impossible to pass through life without experiencing some kind of hurt or loss. We all need healing at different points in our lives--and often the path to healing is paved in some form of forgiveness and grace. In Healing Waters, the first study in the new Faith and Fiction Bible study series , popular Christian fiction author Melody Carlson draws upon her novels in the Inn at Shining Waters trilogy to invite women on an exciting journey toward healing. Using the stories, themes, and characters of the novels as a backdrop, this eight-week study explores the need for forgiveness and mercy in our lives and the role that second chances and new beginnings play in healing our spirits and our relationships. Through careful study of Psalm 103 and other selected Scriptures, women will · gain new understanding and appreciation for God as the Lord who heals · recognize that God makes the journey with them, inviting them to experience divine love and mercy every step of the way. · walk the roads of forgiveness and grace, learning how to embrace these gifts for themselves and their relationships. · learn how to restore broken relationships and live in life-giving community.celebrate the God who loves second chances and who is devoted to transforming and blessing us with surprises and new beginnings. The Leader Guide provides leader helps and step-by-step session plan outlines for leading eight group sessions.
In an engaging style--characteristic of the author, Walter Brueggemann--this Essential Guide describes the leading motifs of ancient Israel's worship traditions in the Old Testament. The author guides the reader through the themes, central texts, prayers, festivals, and practices of that worship. He sees throughout the Old Testament a central emphasis on worship as a covenantal gesture and utterance by the community in the presence of God. In addition to being an essential guide to this subject, this book is intended to be in the service of current theological and practical issues concerning worship of the church in its ecumenical character.
Winner of the 2007 Saddlebag Selection Award from the Historical Society of The United Methodist Church as "the best book published during the year on the history, biography, polity or theology of United Methodism or its predecessors." Understanding history rests largely on a grasp of two things: sequence and context. Know which events came earlier and which later, and you've gone a long way toward understanding influence and causation. Know what was going on in the wider world at the same time a historical event occurred, and you'll better grasp the meaning and significance of that event for the people who experienced it. Yet even with the best history textbooks students have difficulty in gaining an immediate sense of sequence and context. Hence the purpose of this book: To lay out the most important events in the history of the Wesleyan/Methodist movement, to show them in their proper order, and to include the most important occurrences taking place on the national and international stages at the same time. Matthews presents his material in an easy to comprehend and visually appealing layout, enumerating the major trends and developments in Methodist history from 1700 to 2004. Rex D. Matthews is Assistant Professor in the Practice of Historical Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He currently serves as co-chair of the Wesleyan Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion, as General Editor of the Kingswood Books series, and as Managing Editor of the new electronic academic journal Methodist Review. An excerpt from the Circuit Rider review: "This is a book for college and seminary professors, for high school teachers of religion, for Sunday School teachers of children, youth and adults. It is a book for preachers and church musicians. It should be in every church library. This is a book for people who think history is boring as well as for those who delight in rich historical detail and story. It is a book to be savored and returned to again and again. And this is a book for all who love the church and yearn to be part of perfecting its mission and its life." (Click here to read the entire review.)
Preaching is not as simple as it may appear. The preacher today is confronted with a dizzying array of homiletic methods and approaches, each holding important insights into how to proclaim the Good News. While pastors wish to learn from these different ways of preaching, they often do not know where to begin (Who are the best representatives of a given approach? How do the different methods relate to one another? How has the preaching scene changed in recent years?). In The Web of Preaching, Richard Eslinger addresses these and other questions about contemporary approaches to preaching. Surveying the most important current theories of preaching, he argues that no homiletic method can be understood on its own. The different schools of thought on preaching all intersect at such common points as Scripture, narrative, and the role of preaching in worship. A strength in one compensates for a weakness in another, and seen together they form one comprehensive "web of preaching." This book is a follow-up to Eslinger's earlier A New Hearing, which has been a standard text in preaching courses since its publication in 1987.
In a straightforward and understandable style, without distortion or oversimplification, Steven L. McKenzie and John Kaltner introduce readers to the content of the Old Testament and to critical methods developed to read it. Utilizing the finest modern scholarship, the authors detail the role of editors in shaping the Old Testament, examine the historical and literary contexts in which it grew, and discuss important interpretive issues in each book. Each chapter introduces the biblical book at hand through the lenses of content, growth, context, and interpretation, and the text moves through the Bible in the order of the Jewish canonical units, Torah, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, and Writings.
Commissioned by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for use in United Methodist doctrine/polity/history courses.<P> From a Sunday school teacher's account of a typical Sunday morning to letters from presidents, from architects' opinions for and against the Akron Plan to impassioned speeches demanding full rights for African Americans, women, homosexuals, and laity in the Church, this riveting collection of documents will interest scholars, clergy, and laity alike. This Sourcebook, part of the two-volume set The Methodist Experience in America, contains documents from between 1760 and 1998 pertaining to the movements constitutive of American United Methodism. The editors identify over two hundred documents by date, primary agent, and central theme or important action. The documents are organized on a strictly chronological basis, by the date of the significant action in the excerpt. Charts, graphs, timelines, and graphics are also included. The Sourcebook has been constructed to be used with the Narrative volume in which the interpretation of individual documents, discussions of context, details about events and individuals, and treatment of the larger developments can be found.
Those Christians who work in missionary settings among non-Christian groups learned an important lesson long ago about communicating the gospel. You can build the church, ring the bell, and hope that folks will find their way to your doorstep. Or, you can immerse yourself in the culture, build relationships, and minister to people where they are. Needless to say, it is the latter route that bears the greatest fruit--and the greatest similarity to Jesus' own practice of proclaiming the gospel. As churches in North America seek to grow and minister more effectively, they would do well to remember that they, too, live in an increasingly non-Christian culture. The churches that will succeed in reaching out to the unchurched in this society are those who have learned how to encounter such people on their own territory. Hence, one congregation brings visitors into their building, not through something foreign-sounding like a "narthex," but through a coffee and espresso bar. In this and dozens of other ways, innovative congregations are reaching out to the unchurched. Kent Hunter names such forms of ministry the Jesus Enterprise. In this helpful book he tells the stories of churches where this kind of outreach has become the norm. More important, he also provides other churches the tools they need to identify the particular opportunities their context presents and ways to take advantage of those opportunities to present the gospel to those most in need of it.
The Apostolic Fathers is a collection of early Christian writings from the late first and early second centuries, traditionally considered to have been written by those connected with the Apostles, and therefore reflecting authentic Apostolic teaching. These writings include 1 Clement, 2 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache, Barnabas, Papias, Hermas, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Diognetus, and Quadratus. Considering their historical context, the Apostolic Fathers bear directly on the study of the New Testament, the development of the early Church, and the history of Christian theology.The Apostolic Fathers: An Essential Guide will explain the nature of the collected writings as they stand between the world of the New Testament and later Christian writers, focusing upon what the texts say about ancient Christian thinkers, early church developments, and the evolution of theological ideas prior to the great ecumenical councils.Chapter Outline:*Chapter 1: The Collected Writings*Chapter 2: People and Places*Chapter 3: Connections to Scripture*Chapter 4: Theological Ideas*Chapter 5: Structures of the Ancient Church *Chapter 6: Roots of the Patristic Tradition Here is a long awaited volume that treats in a concise and readable format a body of literature too often neglected, but absolutely essential to our understanding of Christian origins. Clayton Jefford brings unrivaled expertise to this task and serves as a sensitive and insightful guide to these texts, offering an introduction that will serve the needs of the beginning student and the seasoned expert alike. It is sure to be at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in this important topic. Stephen J. Patterson Eden Theological Seminary St. Louis "The author's goal--a simple and sensible first introduction to the ideas and beliefs of the Apostolic Fathers--is fully realized as he organizes his survey of these intriguing ancient Christian writers according to topics--including scripture, theology, and church structure--of continuing contemporary interest. A reliable guide for students and study groups." Michael Holmes Bethel University St. Paul, Minnesota Clayton N. Jefford is Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad School of Theolgy and is the Secretary-Treasurer of the North American Patristics Society. He has written and edited six volumes and is best known for his research in the fields of the Didache and the Apostolic Fathers.
A revision of a standard resource for classes and seminary courses in Christian education. A revised edition of the best-selling Teaching Teachers to Teach (1974), this book is a basic, comprehensive manual offering practical guidance that helps teachers learn the art and practice of teaching. Throughout the book, Griggs identifies the basic elements of the teaching process and outlines the essential ingredients needed for effective teaching.
The lectionary is a helpful homiletical tool. But there are times when lectionary preaching does not meet a congregation's needs. Sermon Treks offers preachers and students an invigorating selection of new sermon-planning trails, for use as sermon series or for single sermons. The options presented here are practical and theologically responsible. Some are rooted in ancient forms of proclamation; others are new. All provide clear but creative guidance for the preacher, and a path that will lead to more effective sermons.
Of special focus in this reflective overview of Wesley's theological convictions is highlighting the practical-theological dynamics of Wesley's work and suggesting possible implications for contemporary attempts to recover theology as a practical discipline. Another distinctive focus of this work is a systematic consideration of the integration of theological emphases traditionally divergent in Eastern and Western Christianity. The author also closely examines the consistency of Wesley's thought throughout his career.
It was once said that all a person has to do to realize God has a very good sense of humor is to look at a platypus. The same sentiment applies to the Bible. The Bible often seems like foreign territory, not only for students encountering it in introductory classes, but also for those who have spent many years in church. To many people, it is an intimidating collection of rules, lists, and theological arguments. But in reality, most of the Bible is made up of fascinating stories. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're weird, sometimes they're inspiring, but they're never dull. This college-level introduction invites students into biblical studies through creative, humorous retellings (and a few cartoons here and there) of the basic biblical narratives. The best way to get into the Bible, says Robert F. Darden, is to get to know its stories. In this new approach to introducing the Bible to students, Darden covers the major biblical stories and characters, retelling them in such a way as to bring out their original humor and pathos, and inviting the student to encounter them more fully by moving into the text itself. Click here to listen to Terri Gross's interview with Robert Darden on NPR's Fresh Air about the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. Darden runs the project at Baylor University where he is a journalism professor. The purpose of the project is to identify, acquire, preserve, record, and catalogue the most at-risk music from the black gospel music tradition, primarily between 1945 and 1970.
Abingdon Pillars of Theology is a series for the college and seminary classroom designed to help students grasp the basic and necessary facts, influence, and significance of major theologians. Written by major scholars, these books will outline the context, methodology, organizing principles, primary contributions, and major writings of people who have shaped theology as we know it today.Reinhold Niebuhr understood the tensions and complexities of the Christian Life. His approach became to theology became known as "Christian realism." Through his life and work we can see the importance of paying attention to what is really happening and the witness we can make when we look at events with a wisdom shaped by a biblical understanding of history and human nature. An excerpt from the Circuit Rider review: "In the face of recession and a troubled economy, global warming and environmental peril, war and the AIDS pandemic, contemporary Christians would be well served to ponder again the work and witness of Reinhold Niebuhr. His work urges Christians and the church to define and claim our voice in the public arena. Faithful and prophetic witness rooted and grounded in true Christian hope are needed now more than ever. We are grateful to Prof. Lovin for this important contribution to the life of thoughtful faith and faithful living." (Click here to read the entire review.)
A committee is not the same thing as a team. To become a great team, a group must have a goal that is deeply challenging, a leader who is creatively empowering, and a willingness to work within a collaborative community that honors the Bible. The Bible is full of examples of great things accomplished through teaming leaders. Scripture also provides a compelling model from which church communities and teams can learn to live and serve in light of the "Divine Team" - the Trinity. Author Robert C. Crosby provides several innovative ways in which biblical teams reflect the workings and nature of the Trinity and thus the image of God. Revealing what he calls "The Four C's of Great Teams" - The Character, The Carrot, The Coach, and The Context - Crosby shows how successful teams reach their goals more effectively. Conversely, he also addresses the "Four Fatal Teaming Errors" and how to avoid unnecessary, time-consuming missteps. This book provides biblical motivations, vivid examples, and practical approaches for creating a teaming culture in any faith community. Crosby, a leader who has built teams as a senior pastor, youth leader, and university administrator, is now training and mentoring a new generation of pastors and leaders.
A wealth of prayers & litanies for the Lent/Easter season.Pastors and worship leaders are faced each year with the prospect of finding a new way to communicate the message of the Holy Season. This book of prayers and litanies will help them do just that. The author uses the metaphor of gleaning to take the reader through Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Written with thoughtful, lyrical language, Donna Schaper offers an insightful look at the value of the often overlooked.
How major-release films use religion to tell stories and convey messages Focusing on American major-release films since World War II, the authors show how films use religious imagery, characters, and symbolism from primarily Christian, but also, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. Ideal for classroom use, each chapter analyzes significant contextual issues through the lens of select films. The authors post their ongoing ideas in their blog at http://filmandreligion.blogspot.com.
An introduction to pastoral care for pastors of small membership churches."If you spend your whole life serving small membership churches and doing it well, yours will have been a life well spent." Small membership churches have a real advantage when it comes to incorporating people into a fellowship where they are known and where their needs are met. These churches and their pastors have an opportunity for excellence in this area, and should make the most of it. Good pastoral care can be the key to effectiveness in all of the other ministries of the church.From getting acquainted with your congregation, weddings and funerals, picking up on subtle cues in a conversation to not-so-subtle conflicts, Killen shares insights from years of ministry in a small membership church setting.James L. Killen, Jr. is a retired elder of the Texas Conference, contributor to Circuit Rider, and author of Who Do You Say That I Am? A Personal Reader.
Visionary pastor Michael Slaughter calls all aspiring leaders to a life of faith, balance, and purpose. Operating on the principle that all leadership begins with self-leadership, the book outlines five crucial disciplines: * Devotion to God * Readiness for lifelong learning * Investing in key relationships * Visioning for the future * Eating and Exercise for life. Readers will gain insights and advice for enriching the spiritual, intellectual, interpersonal, missional, and physical areas of their lives, all of which are integral to effectiveness as a leader.
"Mission" has become, for many North American Christians, an ambiguous and often uncomfortable term. To many it brings to mind a past in which western culture was identified with the gospel in missionary practice and programs. Distressed with this history and uncertain about how to overcome it, many prefer to ignore the New Testament mandate that the church must be in mission if it is to be the church. Others swing the other way, declaring that everything the church does is mission, depriving the idea of mission of its power to define those specific actions of God which proclaim the gospel and build God's kingdom. "The church exists by missions, just as fire exists by burning." With these words of Emil Brunner, the author reminds us that to be the church is to be in mission. After describing the various "captivities of mission" which plague North American Christianity, the author argues for a robust and engaged practice of mission, beginning in congregations and extending to the broader community.
Abingdon Pillars of Theology is a series for the college and seminary classroom designed to help students grasp the basic and necessary facts, influence, and significance of major theologians. Written by noted scholars, these books will outline the context, methodology, organizing principles, primary contributions, and key writings of people who have shaped theology as we know it today. "Martin Luther would be shocked to hear that he is appearing in a series called pillars of theology. To be sure, the professor of biblical interpretation with a doctorate in theology was a theologian. In fact, teaching theology for thirty-four years at the University of Wittenberg brought into Luther's large household, managed by his wife Katharina von Bora, the only salary he ever earned. Still, like most theologians, Luther never thought of himself as having a theology. A theologian becomes a pillar of the discipline in the estimation of admiring readers, but they are not the focus of this book. My purpose is to lay the groundwork and identify the pieces that were later used to construct what is now called Luther's theology." From the book
Literature and Theology is a volume in the Horizons in Theology series. It offers a highly engaging essay on the major concerns and questions regarding literature (fiction and poetry) as it intersects with theology--past and present. Ralph Wood is a senior scholar in this field, one who is able to address in a clear and concise style the scope and contours of this question as it relates to theological inquiry and application. He opens the broader lines of discussion in suggestive, evocative, and programmatic ways by focusing on representative and core literary texts. Horizons in Theology serve as supplements and secondary required texts in colleges and seminaries, as well as the interested nonspecialist reader.
The Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries provide compact, critical commentaries on the books of the Old Testament for the use of theological students and pastors. The commentaries are also useful for upper-level college or university students and for those responsible for teaching in congregational settings. In addition to providing basic information and insights into the Old Testament writings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful interpretation, to assist students of the Old Testament in coming to an informed and critical engagement with the biblical texts themselves.Leviticus is one of those OT books that modern readers tend to avoid on the basis of an undeserved reputation alone. Many assume that its laws and instructions - especially those concerning animal sacrifices - are irrelevant to the religious life of Western readers. This assumption does not take into account the theological principles demonstrated by these teachings and demonstrated in the cultic rituals and affairs of daily life mentioned in the book. Within the narrative arc of the Pentateuch, the laws of Leviticus represent a program for restoring the original created order, an order that has been disrupted by human sin. Leviticus prepares for and presents a world that is to be dominated by life, which is manifested by humans in cultic purity and daily holiness. As such, the book constitutes a challenge and an encouragement to believers of every generation, as they strive to live the life that God originally intended for humanity.
Where will you find your next team of capable, committed leaders for your congregation? Churches across the country search for committed people with a heart for ministry, people who are ready to use their gifts in the ministries of the church. Your best potential leaders may already be in your congregation. This resource, used as a study tool or a desk reference, will help men and women in the church find the tools, direction and inspiration they need to become the best leaders they can be. Leadership Essentials offers practical skills, worksheets, and practice exercises in areas including: What Kind of Leader Will You Be?Making DisciplesBuilding and Sustaining TeamsMeetings that WorkDeveloping Vision, Mission, and Values StatementsStrategic PlanningEffective Communication Managing Conflict Leading Change and Encouraging InnovationDeveloping the Next Generation of Leaders Keeping It All in PerspectiveLeadership Essentials offers direction distilled from years of experience in church known for its vibrant lay leadership. With tested and real-life techniques from COR's leadership development team, Carol Cartmill and Yvonne Gentile, this book can be used by individuals as a continual study or by topic or by groups who are working together to build their leadership skills. Carol Cartmill and Yvonne Gentile have created a series of valuable resources that you can use to implement more effective recruitment, training, inspiration and mentoring of lay leadership in your congregation. Their first resource, Serving from the Heart: Finding Your Gifts and Talents for Service, guides participants to find their spiritual gifts as well as their passion and talent for ministry. In the second resource, Leadership from the Heart: Learning to Lead with Love and Skill, lay leaders continue their learning experience in ten areas of servant leadership. Carol Cartmill is the Director of Leadership Development for The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. She and her team launched the spiritual gifts ministry in 1998. Carol has led workshops relating to equipping ministries on both the local and national level. She resides in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband Jim and their two teenage daughters. Yvonne Gentile is Divisional Vice President of Merchandising for Helzberg Diamonds, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company. Since joining the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in 1996, she has used her passion for equipping and developing emerging leaders by serving on the Spiritual Gifts team, the Committee on Lay Leadership, and theStrategy Team for Leadership Development. Yvonne and her husband Franklive in Overland Park, KS. What people are saying about Serving from the Heart? Discovering one's spiritual gifts is a liberating experience. Serving from the Heart is an instrument of liberation. The creative, gifted folks at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection developed a very useable resource for congregations who want to release the God-given human resource for creativeministry." Herb Mather, Center for Christian Stewardship
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