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[Cfamily]Will Christians Read Beth Moore’s First Novel?
« Reply #152 on: May 11, 2016, 07:10:05 AM »

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Will Christians Read Beth Moore’s First Novel?

Sales of religious fiction recently took a nosedive.

But that didn’t discourage popular Bible teacher Beth Moore from writing her first work of fiction this year.

In between writing Bible studies and speaking on tour with her Living Proof Ministries, the 58-year-old author composed her first fictional title, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. Scheduled to be released in September, the book follows a young woman returning home to New Orleans.

“Who knows if I'll ever write another novel, that's entirely up to Jesus,” stated Moore. “But somehow he saw fit for me to get through this one.”

Slow sales also didn’t stop industry veterans from launching a new Christian fiction publishing house last month, with plans to release 40 to 50 titles in 2017.

Among Americans overall, fiction is a good bet. When given a chance to read for fun, most adults prefer to settle in with a fiction book (53%) than with a nonfiction book (45%), according to a recent Barna Group survey.

But Barna also found that practicing Christians (those who have attended church in the past month and say their religious faith is very important in their life) would much rather pick up a nonfiction Christian book (35%) than a fiction Christian book (18%).

In fact, among all adults, Christian nonfiction is more popular than Christian fiction: 13 percent of Americans prefer Christian nonfiction, compared with 8 percent who prefer Christian fiction.

What are they picking up?

The English Son: The Amish Millionaire Part I by Wanda Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter topped the latest list of bestselling religious fiction, followed by Threads of Grace by Kelly Long and Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture with Angela Hunt, Kevin Reynolds, and Paul Aiello.

Meanwhile, Sarah Young stayed at the top of the nonfiction list with Jesus Calling, followed by Fervent: a Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer and The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen Kendrick.

Women read more than men—82 percent of women finish at least one book a year, compared to 68 percent of men—and about twice as many women as men reach for Christian books, according to Barna. About 1 in 10 women prefer Christian fiction (11%), compared to one in 20 men (5%). And 17 percent of women choose to read Christian nonfiction, compared with 11 percent of men.

These numbers reflect the trend in book sales. In 2014, religious fiction sales took a steep dive, down 15 percent from the previous year. “The Christian nonfiction subcategory has ... significantly outpaced Christian fiction,” noted Christian Retailing last August.

But by end of 2015, sales of Christian fiction had edged back up by 6 percent as publishers tried new tactics.

“We know the numbers are true, but we’re not in a panic,” Karen Watson, associate publisher for Tyndale, told Publishers Weekly (PW) in February 2015. “Tyndale does fiction very well and it is a profitable part of Tyndale’s business.”

Dan Balow, who led marketing for Tyndale’s Left Behind series, and Bill Giarratana, who worked in marketing and fundraising for the American Bible Society and Biblica, are so optimistic that they opened a brand-new Christian fiction publishing house in April.

Confident that the pendulum swing away from Christian fiction has left a gap in the market, Gilead Publishing LLC hopes to catch mid-list authors who have been dropped by larger publishing houses, according to PW. It hopes to offer 100 titles a year within five years, Balow said.

Christian fiction readers read and buy more books than other types of readers, according to a joint survey last year by CBA, The Parable Group, Baker Publishing Group, and American Christian Fiction Writers. The top Christian genres: historical fiction (66%), romance (52%), contemporary (51%), romantic suspense (50%), suspense/thriller/legal thriller (47%) and mystery/espionage (45%).

Meanwhile, religious nonfiction sales (which includes Bibles) soared 53 percent in the last five years, according to Jonathan Nowell of Nielsen Books. That’s up dramatically from the previous five years (2004 to 2009), during which religious nonfiction and Bibles rose 9 percent.

In 2014 alone, religious nonfiction rose 12 percent, lifted in part by Young’s Jesus Calling and Heaven is For Real (both the paperback and the movie edition), which landed top spots for Christian nonfiction that year. In 2015, the numbers stayed steady, carried again by Young, along with Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

It makes sense that Christians are reaching for religious nonfiction books, since about one-third of Christians (34%) say they read most often in order to grow and develop spiritually, according to Barna. That’s significantly higher than the one-fifth of the general population (21%) who read for the same reason.

Evangelical leaders told the National Association of Evangelicals in December that they’d like to see more books on mission, social action, and evangelism.

Most adults (64%) choose to read for pleasure, according to Barna. Reading for spiritual growth comes in second, leading reading for work, for school, or for other reasons.

Three-quarters of adults read at least one book a year, with two out of five (42%) reading one to five books a year and one-third (34%) reading more than five books a year.

Despite the advance of the digital age, 7 out of 10 adults still prefer a physical book, and they get their books most often from brick-and-mortar stores (33%) or from the library (24%).

CT’s past coverage of books includes lists of new and noteworthy books and the top five books for religious satire and becoming a better neighbor.

CT has also covered the bankruptcy of the nation’s largest Christian bookstore chain and considered whether buying your way onto bestseller lists is wrong even if everyone else (including Mark Driscoll) is doing it. Her.meneutics has looked at how writing fiction mirrors God’s creative work, why we love Amish romance novels, and how America’s reading crisis is worse than you think.

Source: Will Christians Read Beth Moore’s First Novel?

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[Cfamily]5 Surprising Spiritual Benefits of Owning Less Stuff
« Reply #153 on: May 12, 2016, 07:08:10 AM »
5 Surprising Spiritual Benefits of Owning Less Stuff

Eight years ago, my family sold, donated, or discarded over 60 percent of our possessions. My wife, children, and I removed clothes, furniture, decorations, cookware, tools, books, toys, and anything in our home that was not immediately useful or beautiful. At the time, long before tiny houses and magical “tidying,” the idea of such drastic downsizing was completely foreign.

Like so many of us, I worked long hours for paychecks spent on technology, clothing, toys, furniture, decorations, cars, and hopefully someday, a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood. I didn’t really believe the purpose of life was to chase possessions, but my calendar and checkbook sure seemed to tell a different story.

One Saturday afternoon, I was cleaning out my garage while my 5-year old son played whiffle ball in the backyard. I suddenly realized that everything I owned wasn’t making me happy. It was actually distracting me from the very thing that did bring me happiness.

At first, our minimalism came as a practical move. We had grown weary of living paycheck to paycheck to cover our mounting possessions and of trading time with our kids to clean clutter in the house. But soon, the process of intentionally owning less began to influence our spiritual journey in ways we never expected.

While I used to read Jesus’s teaching on money and possessions as a burdensome call to sacrificial (even boring) living, owning less actually resulted in a better life, full of freedom and joy and peace. I began to recognize that Jesus wasn’t calling me to a boring life; he was calling me to a more abundant life. Here are a few of the surprising spiritual benefits my family and I have experienced since deciding to own less stuff:

1. Owning less offers more opportunity to pursue your passions.

When we measure the time, money, and energy spent caring for our possessions—researching, shopping, organizing, picking up, cleaning, repairing, replacing, and even working for the money to buy them in the first place—we discover that our possessions can keep us from the passions God has given us.

In his sermon on the mount Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt 6:24). Unwittingly, perhaps, a lot of us have wiggled out of Jesus’ clear teaching in a host of creative ways: “Just because I like money doesn’t mean I hate God,” “I’m not someone who serves money,” “I’m pretty sure Jesus means someone a lot richer than I am.”

What if Jesus’ teaching wasn’t meant to scold, but to set us free? As we released what we didn’t need, we found more time, energy and money to pursue the greater passions God had put in our hearts.

2. Owning less is the quickest path to buying less.

If you haven’t yet experimented in living with less, you might think it’s as horrible as dieting: a feeling of constant deprivation and craving what you’ve said no to. But in reality, the opposite is true. I was initially nervous about adopting a “capsule wardrobe” of just 33 items of clothing or less, but quickly grew to enjoy the simplicity and the fact that I loved every item in my closet. Today, I have little desire to add to it. When you’ve gotten rid of what you don’t need and set out to only keep what’s necessary, that insistent voice inside badgering you to buy more is quietly silenced.

Source: 5 Surprising Spiritual Benefits of Owning Less Stuff

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #154 on: May 12, 2016, 08:23:36 AM »
From the above article;

'I was initially nervous about adopting a ?capsule wardrobe? of just 33 items of clothing or less, but quickly grew to enjoy the simplicity and the fact that I loved every item in my closet.'

Wow, that actually sounds like a lot! It really is a matter of perspectives.


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Amplifying Evangelism—Using Your Existing Ministries to Bless Your Community with the Gospel

Churches, by nature, are selfish. Because the church is made up of people, and people are fundamentally self-serving, the church ends up expending much of its time, money, and energy on those who are already part of the family of God.

I am not seeking to be critical or mean spirited, I am just reporting what I see and experience everywhere I travel and talk with church people. As a matter of fact, when I say this to church groups, and I do on a regular basis, they never push back! They realize that it is true.

Now, here is the good news: since most churches are very concerned about taking care of themselves, they have developed a lot of good ministries to serve those who are part of their particular congregation. Even small churches often have plenty going on in order to care for, serve, minister to, educate, and inspire their own constituents.

Some years ago, I began thinking about the amazing things that could happen if local churches would vector their time, creativity, resources, and ministries out into the community. I call this the “Two-Degree Rule.” The idea is that we would take the effective and plentiful things we do for ourselves and simply direct these same things out into our community.

Here are three examples that will bring this idea alive…and inspire you to do the same at your church!

  • A medium sized Reformed church was asking the question, “What do we do well (for ourselves) that we can offer to our community?” One person said, “Our church is 104 years old and I am pretty sure we have had a ‘meals ministry’ for about 104 years.” For over a century this church brought meals for five days in a row to anyone who had a surgery, new baby, or family crisis. To be more specific, they offered these meals to anyone…in their church!

    As they talked about vectoring out into their community a couple of degrees, they decided to offer this same service to anyone in their community who had just had a baby, surgery, or crisis as long as they were not part of a church family. This 104-year-old, inward-focused ministry became a powerful new outreach ministry and they did not have to add staff, budget, or a new program! They just offered what they were already doing for themselves to their community.

  • A large Wesleyan church had a dynamic ministry called Crossroads. Once a month, those who were between jobs, looking for a change in career direction, or at any kind of a vocational crossroads would meet to talk, network, pray for each other, offer support, and learn biblical lessons to help them through this challenging season of life. As you might guess, for all the years the Crossroads ministry existed, the church had only invited Christians from their congregation to attend.

    When they heard the challenge to vector out a couple of degrees into their community and offer their existing ministries to those who are not yet followers of Jesus, they took it seriously. The members of the Crossroads group went to a local job fair and handed out invitations to anyone who was interested. In a matter of a couple of months, about half the people coming to this ministry were non-churched. And, they loved it. Friendships were built, connections were made, and gospel relationships were born.

  • An elderly pastor of a small Lutheran Church heard the challenge to vector church ministries out into the community and he was deeply convicted. He walked up to me after hearing me teach about the Two-Degree Rule and said, “Brother, I have to tell you something. Our church has a monthly community dinner. It is a great dinner. We have amazing food and incredible desserts. There is just one problem with our community dinners.” At this point, you don’t have to be a prophet to predict what he was about to say. He looked at me with deep sadness in his eyes as said, “We have never invited anyone from our community to our ‘community’ dinner.”

    It seems the word ‘community’ meant people in their own church family—the community of faith. Then, with passion and intensity, the pastor looked at me and said, “This is going to change. From now on we will never hold another community dinner without inviting people from our community to join our church members for this dinner.” Another new outreach ministry was born!

You get the picture. Many churches spend a lot of time and money developing new outreach programs and initiatives. There is nothing wrong with this, but I would suggest beginning by looking at all you already do for your church members and ask how you might vector these ministries out a couple of degrees into your community.

If you promote more widely, plan with your community in mind, and pray for outreach impact, you will be amazed at how you can amplify the message of Jesus through your church and into your community by simply turning out two degrees.

Source: Amplifying Evangelism—Using Your Existing Ministries to Bless Your Community with the Gospel

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Offline John

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #156 on: May 13, 2016, 08:04:55 AM »
It's a good idea, how does one offer these services to the 'community'?
We advertise the standard services, harvest, carol concert, etc as well as a guy fawks nite with a leaflet drop prior to every event. The last does get people coming.
I've a word of caution, we used to run a sunday school on a near by estate and would give the harvest gifts away to 'known' pensioners. I say known the estate had over 1k homes, we had 3-4 families living there. After one harvest there was a letter complaining why they hadn't recieved any of the harvest produce. None of our church members lived near them, they had never attended any of our service either on the estate at our church nor where they known to any of the other churches arround the estate.
If you do offer services to the communite ensure that your advertising is well documented, that accusations of bias can be refuted, as the work of years can be smeared and changed because of ill informed or spitefull accusations.


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[Cfamily]When Worries Come True
« Reply #157 on: May 14, 2016, 07:06:04 AM »
When Worries Come True

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Do you find yourself worrying about worst-case scenarios?

What if my child gets knocked down on the playground and breaks a bone?

What if my loved one is in a car accident?

What if that lump is malignant?

It’s easy to allow our minds to wander to the dark side of the moon. When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my second child, I heard the words no woman wants to hear from her doctor: “Your baby has serious chromosomal defects, and she isn’t going to make it. She will probably die in the womb in the next few days.”

My hopes were violently shaken, yet I clung to the verse I had read that morning from Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” My understanding was saying, The worst-case scenario is coming true! In the words of the psalmist in Psalm 46:2, it was as if the earth was quaking underneath me and the mountains were crumbling into the sea.

Yet amidst chaos and trouble, God was there.

Perhaps the tumultuous times of life are when he reveals himself most clearly. Whenever I walked into church during my troubled pregnancy, I sensed God’s presence in a powerful way. God brought me daily peace and comfort I cannot explain. My little baby girl kept living past the doctor’s expectations. Then, six weeks later, her heart stopped beating.

God was my refuge during that stinging time of loss, and I know he can be your refuge too. Even when worst-case scenarios come upon us, God can be trusted. The worrisome what ifs cannot overturn God’s faithfulness.

Copyright © 2016 by the author and Today’s Christian Woman

If you're a TCW subscriber, login to get your free copy of Sanctuary for My Soul, a 4-week devotional journey through Psalms. If you're not a subscriber, you can purchase your own copy at this link.

Source: When Worries Come True

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[Cfamily]Interview: What It's Like to Live On Less Than Two Dollars a Day
« Reply #158 on: May 15, 2016, 07:01:06 AM »
Interview: What It's Like to Live On Less Than Two Dollars a Day

There’s no milk in the fridge at Sandra Brown’s home in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Not much food in the cabinet, aside from Ramen noodles. Were it not for the kindness of Sandra’s great-grandmother, who owns the house, Sandra and her family—her husband, baby daughter, grandmother, step-grandfather, and an uncle—would be living on streets. The Browns, like more than a million American families, live on less than $2 in cash a day.

“Many Americans have spent more than that before they get to work or school in the morning,” write sociologist Kathryn Edin and her co-author, H. Luke Shaefer, in $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. “Yet in 2011, more than 4 percent of all households with children in the world’s wealthiest nation were living in a poverty so deep that most Americans don’t believe it exists in this country.”

Edin, professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, first studied the lives of poor families while volunteering at the now-demolished Cabrini-Green housing project as a student at Chicago’s North Park University. She went on to earn a PhD from Northwestern and has spent her career detailing the effects of poverty on family life. $2.00 a Day follows the lives of families who have been left behind by the welfare reform of the 1990s. These are families “caught in an endless cycle of jobs that don’t pay nearly enough and periods of living on virtually no income.” She spoke with former CT senior news editor Bob Smietana last fall.

Why do so many people live on two dollars or less each day?

I wrote my first book on how single mothers make ends meet. I toured the country for six years, interviewing hundreds of single mothers about their budgets. This was right before the Clinton-era welfare reform, and people on welfare generally had about 500 bucks a month.

That wasn’t enough to survive, of course. So you basically had to work under the table to make up the difference. But the importance of that story is in spending so many years asking poor people about their budgets, you get this mental calculator going in the back of your head.

I came to Baltimore in 2010 to lead a research team working with young people who had been born in high-rise public housing, but had moved on to better neighborhoods through a variety of interventions—demolition, voucher programs, and so on. That summer, I came into contact with a lot of really disadvantaged people, more disadvantaged even than the working poor I had been hanging out with.

Once I met Ashley, I became actively interested in whether there was a whole new class of poor people that have arisen as an unintended consequence of welfare reform.

And I ran into this mother, Ashley, who still lived in one of the units that had not been demolished. Walking into her home, you knew something was wrong. She just looked depressed. She was visibly unkempt. She had a two-week-old baby, and she was not supporting the baby’s head properly as she rocked her. Which is really scary. No food in the house, and, more worryingly, no formula. And it turned out that she had absolutely no cash coming in, nor did anyone else in the household. They had a housing subsidy. She hadn’t yet enrolled in food stamps. There was just nothing, nothing in the house.

I knew enough about welfare reform to know the rules had gone down dramatically, but no one really knew why. The assumption was that welfare reform had been a success, and people were working. The numbers didn’t quite add up. So I kind of had this in the back of my mind all along. And once I met Ashley, I became actively interested in whether there was a whole new class of poor people that have arisen as an unintended consequence of welfare reform.

Source: Interview: What It's Like to Live On Less Than Two Dollars a Day

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #159 on: May 15, 2016, 11:19:33 AM »
It's so sad that in this day and age, this can still happen - and it's not just in America.  People "assume" that the poor get support - it's not always the case.  Good article.

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