Food for the Soul

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Posted 8/8/17 at 3:03 PM | Audra Jennings

God is at work in the mundane

Kari Patterson helps readers find freedom, purpose and joy in daily life

Kregel Pulblications
Sacred Mundane by Kari Patterson

Many women feel trapped in everyday drudgery and disappointment, in dull domestic duties and jobs that don’t offer fulfillment. The mundane day-in, day-out life seems like a far cry from the abundant, purposeful life they envisioned as Christians. In Sacred Mundane: How to Find Freedom, Purpose, and Joy (Kregel Publications/July 25, 2017/ISBN: 9780825444470/$15.99), author and blogger Kari Patterson helps readers find freedom, purpose and joy in the life they are living right now.

When life seems ordinary and unexciting, it is easy to slip into the mindset of being stuck and in need of a change. Patterson shows the reader the key to change is already in her hand once she realizes what is holding her back. “In 2 Kings, we read, ‘Naaman was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.’ He had so much going for him, but his leprosy threatened to steal it all,” explains Patterson. “I ask readers to consider their own lives and prayerfully simmer down their own life into a sentence. So often we’re vaguely aware of the areas we want to change, but we don’t take the time to narrow down and identify the one thing hindering us most. We feel overwhelmed or discouraged. Identifying the one thing helps us see more clearly how God wants to use our mundane to make us more like Him.”

Patterson points readers to the truth: In each unremarkable life lies an opportunity to see, know, love and be transformed by God, who meets everyone right where they are. Instead of stepping away from real life to find God, Patterson equips women with a six-step practice to move forward and meet Him in the humdrum moments of everyday existence. When inner change is achieved by the sacred, everything on the outside changes too. Once a decision is made to let Him in, it is time to:

  1. Look: see the world through the word
  2. Listen: discern His voice in daily life
  3. Engage: enter in
  4. Embrace: love the One
  5. Trust: live the blank
  6. Thank: find fulfillment

“The secret to true transformation, to a life of freedom, purpose and joy, is found in the ordinary life we already live,” Patterson explains. “Our mundane, the daily frustrations and the tedious tasks are working for us, producing supernatural strength in us, if we will let them. As we learn to go through each of the steps, we will find our ordinary transformed to extraordinary and our lives forever changed for the better.”

Through entertaining narrative, candid real-life stories, Bible study and practical instruction, Sacred Mundane leads readers to discover the beautiful sacredness in the lives they already lead. Women can learn to grow in God and make a real difference — big or small — in the world. The book also includes an outline for a nine-week study for individuals or groups.

At the author’s request, all royalties from the sales of the book will be donated to World Vision’s work with women and children in need.

Learn more about Sacred Mundane at

Kari Patterson, author of Sacred Mundane

About the Author

Kari Patterson (Kari rhymes with sorry, not scary) is a beloved daughter of God, and her life’s aim is to please her Father. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Multnomah Seminary and reaches thousands of women worldwide through speaking events and her popular blog, Sacred Mundane.

Patterson is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, Bible teacher, mentor and passionate seeker of truth. She and her husband, Jeff, have two children and lead a Christ-centered community called Renew Church in Beavercreek, OR.

Read Patterson’s Sacred Mundane blog at She is also active on Facebook (sacredmundane) and Twitter (@sacredmundane).

Posted 7/25/17 at 7:05 PM | Audra Jennings

A story of autism, faith and determined parenting

Karla Akins’ sons, her pair of miracles, are proof of what is possible through God

Kregel Publications
A Pair of Miracles by Karla Akins

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a growing number of parents face similar circumstances, many still feel isolated and alone. In A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting (Kregel Publications/July 25, 2017/ISBN: 9780825444845/$14.99), author Karla Akins, the mother of twin sons with autism, offers encouragement and reassurance.

It was not long after Akins and her husband brought their adopted sons home from the hospital they realized the boys were not behaving and developing as they should. A few months later they learned the boys were on the fetal alcohol disorders spectrum, and by the time they were four, they were diagnosed with autism. Twenty years ago, autism was not as prevalent as it is today, and Akins admits she knew nothing about it.

When she voiced her hopes her autistic sons could learn to read and function independently, doctors warned her those expectations would never be met. Despite those warnings, she set out to prove all things are possible through God.

Laced with humor and compassion, A Pair of Miracles is the heartwarming story of the Akins family’s journey of raising Isaac and Isaiah. However, the book is more than a moving biography from a mom on the front lines. It is a powerful tool, full of practical help for parents, educators and church members working with children who have intellectual disabilities, speech impairments and other limitations on the autism spectrum. It is also a challenge to the church to welcome and celebrate all of its members, no matter their abilities.

“I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child,” shares Akins. “I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.”

For parents seeking hope, answers and peace, Akins leads the way to all three down a path she’s already been. In addition to the inspiration, lessons learned and advice for becoming your child’s best advocate in all aspects of life given throughout the book, she includes appendices, offering: therapy and teaching strategies, listings of autism organizations and websites, skills checklists and suggestions for additional reading resources and online apps.

Thanks in large part to Akins’ determination, faith and unconditional love, her adult twins are now able to function independently in many ways, contrary to doctors’ predictions. They help their dad install pools, do carpentry work and serve in the church as ushers, sound engineers and children’s ministry workers. However, she warns, “Autism is different in every person. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means people fall on a wide spectrum. Remember all children are unique, no matter what their ability or diagnosis, and a diagnosis is not who they are. They are children and people first. They just happen to have a label.”

Karla Akins, author of A Pair of Miracles

About the Author

Karla Akins is the mother of five, including twin sons with autism. She has a bachelor’s in special education from Western Governors University and a doctorate in Christian education from Kingsway Theological Seminary. She has nearly four decades of teaching experience in homeschooling, private school and public education.

Akins has also served in ministry for more than 30 years and is co-minister at Christian Fellowship Church in North Manchester, Indiana, with her husband, Eddie. She is also a popular speaker at conferences and retreats.

In addition to A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, Akins is the author of four other books. Her first novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, featured a homeschool mom and a child with autism.

Akins enjoys riding her motorcycle, sipping chai lattes and snuggling with her three dogs and two cats.

Akins loves hearing from her readers. Her online home is, and she is also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins).

Posted 6/30/17 at 9:36 AM |

Popular speaker and bible teacher to keynote at major international conference

For the first time in over six years, a woman will be the keynote speaker for the Faith Community Churches International (FCCI) annual conference to be held in Malawi, July 10-13. Dr. Deb Waterbury has been chosen to address delegates representing 45 nations in seven different world regions including Africa, Europe, South America, South Pacific and Middle East. Dr. Waterbury has been a long-time member of FCCI, as well as a frequent speaker at churches in Africa for the past seven years. Less than a year ago, Dr. Waterbury’s ministry, Love Everlasting Ministries, formed the “Reap What You Sew” project which offers tailoring and business training to widows and destitute women in Malawi, the second poorest country in the world.

“Malawi was largely decimated by the AIDS epidemic,” says Dr. Waterbury. “Hunger and poverty has left them not only with thousands of orphans to feed, but thousands of women left to take care of the children. These women have no skills and no way to provide for themselves and their children. This school has allowed women to learn a trade to feed their families. We already have a waiting list of nearly 100 women who want to enroll.” FULL POST

Posted 6/23/17 at 6:06 PM | Audra Jennings

Congregational transformation is fueled by personal renewal

Part 2 of an interview with Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor,

Authors of Learning Change

Learning Change by Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

In Learning Change: Congregational Transformation Fueled by Personal Renewal (Kregel Ministry), authors Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor share stories from a community of pastors who tell of their journey to discover whether real change in their congregations was possible. Many felt trapped in unhealthy, even toxic, church situations and were desperate for hope. Yet their journey eventually led them beyond all their expectations. Learning Change chronicles these transformations lived out in practice, in community, and over time in a wide variety of congregational contexts.

Q: How did you find and collect the stories of churches who were able to institute lasting change in their congregations for this book?

We were invited by leaders from Western Theological Seminary, Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church to develop a collaborative process focused on personal and congregational transformation. Based on our previous work in a variety of settings and using content from our previous books, Leading Congregation Change and The Leaders Journey, we designed what has become Ridder Church Renewal (named after Bud and Lenora Ridder, donors who funded the pilot project). We did a 30-month pilot project with 16 congregations. All of the writers who contributed to the book were in that pilot project. As they applied what they were learning and because we worked together more than five years, we were able to see the unfolding stories of transformation in their individual lives and in the lives of their congregations.

As a result of the process we have been through with more than 100 congregations now, the stories pour in. People love to share the ways they are seeing meaningful change in their personal lives and forward movement in their congregations. The book includes just a few of the stories connected to this group of contributors. The stories in real life are a lot messier than they sound in this book, even though we tried to tell them as honestly as possible. We would encourage the reader to remember that learning is gradual and there’s lots of messiness along the way.

Q: In what ways did the churches participating in the study most need to change? Did they all share a common goal?

They all needed deep change in the mental models guiding the decisions they made about how to impact their communities effectively with the Gospel. This included confronting and changing mental models about things that are dear to us as Christians: discipleship, mission and the role of the church. They all also needed support and encouragement as they worked to change those mental models. The common goal was renewed hope they and their congregations could thrive in the 21st century.

Q: Tell us about your observations and research that led to the pilot programs you started in Houston to reconnect pastors and congregations to their calling.

In 1990, Jim was serving as the executive director of Union Baptist Association. They conducted a 40-year longitudinal study of the success and impact of their 400 congregations. They combined that with a series of 25 listening sessions with pastors of different-size churches from different parts of the city and from different language and culture groups. The research showed two overwhelming realities. The first was 80% of their congregations were plateaued or declining despite being in a massive mission field. The second was pastors were largely demoralized. As one pastor said, “I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked for less results than I’ve ever gotten. My health is failing. My family is struggling. All my denominational leaders can tell me to do is work harder at what I’ve been doing.” We became convinced we needed to find systemic, innovative solutions to the challenges facing pastors and congregations.

During that same period, Trisha was working one-on-one with pastors and ministers and their families in counseling and in a local pilot leadership development process for pastors called LeadersEdge. Her experience lined up with what several national studies were showing; many pastors were emotionally, relationally and spiritually weak and unhealthy, and they were ineffective leaders because their seminary programs had not trained or equipped them to lead. Many had trouble spiritually forming a congregation because they didn’t understand the process of spiritual formation. These pastors felt the pain of their ineffectiveness but were turning to programs to grow their churches rather than engaging a deep process of personal transformation. As pastors engaged in counseling, peer groups and LeadersEdge, they enthusiastically reported their experience of deep change. However, in most cases, the changes the pastors were experiencing didn’t translate to congregational change. We then began wondering how to set up a process for transformation and learning that would lead to change in pastors, lay leaders and congregants.

Q: Who is the intended audience for Learning Change, and how should the book be used?

The intended audience is pastors and congregational leaders who are faced with the challenge of congregational revitalization. Many pastors — particularly those who have recently finished seminary and are in their first call — have a good background in theology and church history but lack the relational skills to pastor a congregation. While they can’t learn these skills from reading our book, the book will alert them to some of the skills and values that are necessary and will invite them into a community of learners.

We’re particularly enthusiastic about the potential of this book to provide an introduction and reference guide for lay leaders to engage some of the best information out there about congregational leadership, spiritual formation and missional living and to hear the stories of others who are also putting these things into practice in their congregations.

This book will be most effective when it is used in community — small groups of people who are committed to learning together. We’ve already heard about church staffs, denominational teams, study groups and gatherings of friends beginning to work through this book together. We would say this to the reader: If you read to gain information, this book will be helpful; it has lots of good information and can serve as a resource for that. If you read to increase your own self-awareness and think through your own leadership, it will be even more helpful. If you do the exercises, think through the questions, practice being different, learn to use the tools in real life, share your learning with others and receive their feedback, it will be life-changing.

Q: In the second section of Learning Change, you write about the four core values that drive our process of learning and effect change. What are those values, and why are they imperative?

The values are authenticity, integrity, courage and love.

We believe the core values are essential for two reasons. One, we hold a deep conviction (taught by Jesus and the prophets) that when it comes to transformation, the how is even more important than the what. Two, deep change has to come from deep places; surface-level behavior change isn’t what we’re after. These values help us start from a different place and guide us as we learn to live a different way.

Q: Part three of the book delves into mental models and shifting the way we think about ministry and the church. What are some of the old ways of thinking that need to be reexamined in order to move forward as more missional congregations?

The fundamental shift is one that disrupts the separation of the secular from the sacred. Until congregational leaders recognize the mission of the church is in the world — the workplace, the schools, the neighborhood — they will continue to languish. This will include disrupting the assumption the professional minister is doing ministry and everyone else is working in the “real” world. This must shift to the ministry team empowering, coaching and celebrating those people in the congregation who are on mission in the world.

A second shift is challenging the assumption that knowledge of the Bible translates into effective leadership. While knowledge of the Bible is essential, knowing how to collaborate, listen and create are also essential skills.

Another important shift is from the goal of preserving and extending the church system as it currently exists, in exchange for joining God in God’s redemptive, restorative work in the world. This means letting go of some of my own preferences and moving out of my own comfort zone.

Q: What are some of the additional tools offered in the last section of the book for more effective leadership?

The tools we offer in the last section of the book are designed to help leaders understand their own part in the corporate change process and manage themselves. We start with helping leaders understand their autopilot — how they show up the way they do — so they can choose differently, starting with healing the wounds involved in creating that autopilot. We then move to helping leaders develop their skills with dialogue, learning to listen deeply and to talk in ways that facilitate change. Finally, we offer life-giving accountability as an essential part of the change process — a lifelong process of coaching and being coached.

Learn more about Learning Change at


Posted 6/23/17 at 6:04 PM | Audra Jennings

The keys to lasting change

Part 1 of an interview with Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor,

Authors of Learning Change

Learning Change by Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

Change is seldom easy for an individual, much less an entire group of people such as a church congregation. In Learning Change: Congregational Transformation Fueled by Personal Renewal (Kregel Ministry/May 27, 2017), authors Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor share the stories of church leaders who were able to transform their congregations by first making changes in their own lives.

Q: Explain the learning process involved with making a change. How is the transformational learning model different from other methods or models of learning?

Traditional learning involved mastering information. If I’m trying to improve my marriage or learn to be a good deacon, I go to this class, read this book or listen to this podcast. I get information. The transformational learning model involves three movements: gathering information, putting it into practice and then reflecting on the results. This is an ongoing process that increases one’s mastery throughout time. For us, learning has not occurred when you master the information. It has only occurred when you master the practice. In other words, it’s not enough to know different until you can actually do different. Because we believe in the power of the learning community, we believe this happens most effectively when we are engaging these three movements together with other people and sharing our learning.

Q: What are the keys required for real change?

First, the pain of not changing must be greater than the pain of changing. There must be an intrinsic motivation for learning because almost all learning involves loss: giving up some things to gain other things. Unless there is intrinsic motivation, you will rarely stay the course. Second, you need hope about a possible future that inspires you. Third, you need a good coach who can encourage you and hold you accountable to do the hard work.

Q: Why is dreaming such an integral part of change?

There is both a push and a pull to change. The push is the lack of results, the breakdowns, the awareness that what you are doing is not getting you the results you want. The pull is a vision of what is possible for you as a fully alive human being and what is possible for us in our families and communities. Without the pull, the push can’t be sustained throughout time.

The dream is the “hope about a possible future” mentioned above. We need to have a picture of what God can do that is increasingly clear and compelling. It’s crucial that this dream opens up new possibilities to us; without a clear and compelling dream, we will settle for doing more of the same, just a little bit differently. This is much of what the Bible offers us — stories, poems and word-pictures about God’s dream for us and for our world, what it will look like when the shalom of God is realized in our lives.

Q: How does a church leader take what he/she learns about change and the changes he/she makes personally and move the congregation to changing as a whole?

First, we don’t believe a leader can do this. It takes a leadership team committed to the journey of deep change throughout time. In our book we talk about 10 practices (four values, five skills sets and one end game) congregations can master to journey into the future effectively. A team of leaders who are at the center of the life of a congregation can begin by taking their own journey of mastery. Leaders need to learn together to embody the skills that empower effective change. Second, they need to help their congregation engage a posture of ongoing learning. They need to create systems and structures, experiences and processes that help more and more people in the congregation: (1) know what the practices are, and (2) have safe, shame-free learning environments where an increasing number of people are gaining greater mastery of the practices.

Leaders are most effective when they are learning to live differently and then sharing their learning with others. This is different from telling people how they should change. As leaders are taking on this learning in their own lives — and joining with others who are doing the same — they will also learn important skills to lead change (for example, the chapter on Generating and Sustaining Creative Tension) and to see the system as a whole and intervene effectively. They will be able to manage their own anxiety in the natural pushback of the system.

Q: What kind of leadership is required to move a congregation of many views and opinions through a process of change as one body?

There are several parts to this answer:

  • We see the power of loving, patient, persistent, long-term (10-15 years) leadership. There are no quick fixes to the deep challenges and changes that this new era demands.
  • We believe it’s a kind of leadership that grows increasingly comfortable with sustaining creative tension as missional experiments are conducted off the map.
  • It is leadership focused on managing ourselves in an anxious system, not on changing others.
  • It is able to tolerate the discomfort and even pain of leading change in a system that naturally resists change, as all systems do.
  • It is leadership that can let go of control and move toward dialogue, collaboration and partnership, especially across boundaries.
  • It’s leadership that is willing to let go of the posture of the expert and take on the posture of a learner.

Q: In what ways is the church losing its impact here in America? What does and doesn’t need to happen for the church to regain its ground?

There are a number of major studies documenting the deep and growing decline of the church, both in terms of constituencies and influence. The world is changing at the pace of a jet in flight, and the church is changing at the pace of a horse and buggy. What doesn’t need to happen is for congregations to double down and work harder at 20th-century strategies and ways of thinking. What does need to happen is nothing short of the transformation of congregations across the country. We hold this congregational transformation is not possible apart from a journey of personal transformation. Personal transformation is found in the lost art of spiritual formation. That lost art is recaptured in our work in the Faithwalking ministry.

Also, we are actually not interested in helping the church regain its ground or recover something it had in the past. We believe God is doing a new work in a new era, and we want to equip churches to join that work. History tells us the church might have to decrease in order to increase, that it may have to give up influence or power to engage the culture differently. The culture is changing more rapidly than we even fully understand. We can’t go back.

Q: Is there a destination churches should hope to arrive at after reading Learning Change?

There is not so much a destination as there is growing capacity to stay deeply and meaningfully engaged in an ongoing journey of joining God on God’s mission in a rapidly changing world. As that journey unfolds, congregations will have to reinvent themselves over and over. There is a lot of hope to be found when you have confidence you have the tools to change (reinvent yourself) as your context changes.

Learn more about Learning Change at


Posted 6/23/17 at 5:42 PM | Audra Jennings

Discipline is a sign of love, even within the church

Part 2 of an interview with Jeremy Kimble,

Author of 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline

40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline

In 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline (Kregel Academic), Dr. Jeremy M. Kimble recognizes and addresses questions church leaders and members have on the subjects. With succinct chapters, this book is a practical resource for any church leader, elder board, seminary student or new member seeking a foundational understanding of how the church should function.

Church discipline is an often thorny topic, but Kimble describes discipline as a proper demonstration of the biblical concept of love. He writes that God disciplines those whom he loves, and thus a church who claims to love its members without disciplining them contradicts Scripture and offers a different kind of love than God does.Church discipline can potentially be a painful process, but as a spiritual family we are called to work through such matters faithfully and gently.

Q: How did you come to write a book on church membership and discipline?

There has been a resurgence of discussion about membership and discipline in recent years due to the ministries of people such as Mark Dever, but there is certainly more to be said. Because of this, the topic intrigued me, so I decided to write my doctoral dissertation on the subject.

After completing my degree, teaching in a Christian university setting and serving as an elder in my local church, the ideas of membership and discipline continued to make their mark on my thinking. I realized that if we want to persevere in our faith and progressively grow as disciples, church membership and discipline would be key factors in that growth. I am passionate about educating church leaders, members, and seminary students about this important subject, which is why I wrote 40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline.

Q: What is church discipline, and why is it necessary for the church to function properly?

Church discipline is divine authority delegated to the church by Jesus Christ to maintain order through the correction of persistently sinning church members for the good of those caught in sin, the purity of the church and the glory of God. Discipline is a practice that should occur regularly within the church, and it is intended to keep God’s people on the path of perseverance and to exhort the one under discipline to repent. This can be thought of in both formative and corrective terms, the former refer­ring to typical church life and practices intended to help all Christians grow in their faith (e.g., preaching, teaching, counseling, small groups, etc.), the latter referring to specific correction meted out to those involved in ongoing, unrepentant sin. Discipline is necessary and vital for the health of the church because it reminds us what we are doing as members, namely, pursuing growth in love and holiness.

Dr. Jeremy Kimble

Q: Explain what you mean when you write, “As counterintuitive as it sounds, discipline is a proper demonstration of the biblical concept of love.”

Love is not mere tolerance. Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others (2 Corinthians 8:1–15), the biggest need being conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). To that end, God disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6–11), and thus a church who claims to love its members without disciplining them contradicts Scripture and offers a different kind of love than God does. Church discipline can potentially be a painful process, but as a spiritual family we are called to work through such matters faithfully and gently. As such, not only are we called to go through this process in a loving manner, the very act of discipline should be seen as an act of love.

Q: Many people may argue excommunication, the final step of church discipline, is harsh, but why it is sometimes necessary? How is excommunication often misunderstood?

When people think of church discipline in general, they often just think of excommunication, which they understand as “kicking people out of the church.” What fails to be understood is typically churches follow a process from Matthew 18:15–20 before excommunication ever happens. There we are told we should confront the individual multiple times, long before excommunication is considered, with the hope they will repent of their sin. If repentance never happens after this process, with grief and sorrow the church must obey the teachings of Jesus and remove this person from membership. However, this is to be done in love and with the hope the person under discipline will repent and be restored. Thus, it is not merely “kicking someone out.” If excommunication does occur, people should fervently pray and take opportunities to encourage the person toward repentance since restoration is the real goal.

Q: How are church membership, discipline and discipleship all interrelated?

Church membership is the front door of church life, and discipline (especially excommunication) is the back door. When one comes into the front door of membership they are ushered into a community that fellowships around the truths of the gospel. They are committed to one another, encouraging each other to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We seek to imitate God, walking in love (Ephesians 5:1–2), and we aim to be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:15–16). All that is described here could also be deemed discipleship, as we continue in community to learn from Jesus to live like Jesus. Discipline comes into play because at times we are not in step with what Jesus is calling us to do, pursuing sin instead. When this occurs, sin must be confronted with the hopes that the rebuke is heard and the pursuit of faithful discipleship is taken up with renewed vigor.

Look for part 1 of this interview where Dr. Kimble discusses church membership.

Learn more about 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline and the other books in the 40 Questionsseries at


Posted 6/23/17 at 5:41 PM | Audra Jennings

Church membership is more important than you may think

Part 1 of an interview with Jeremy Kimble,

Author of 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline

Dr. Jeremy Kimble

Does church membership mean more than simply joining a social group? Does the church have a responsibility to discipline its members — and if so, what does that look like? In 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church (Kregel Academic/May 27, 2017), Dr. Jeremy Kimble recognizes and addresses the many puzzling questions about the critical role of the church in the life of believers.

Q: What is the most important thing for readers to understand about church membership?

Church membership is not solely about what you can get out of a church. Instead, membership points us toward commitment and mutual accountability. When we join the membership of a local church, we are agreeing to be overseen in our discipleship and oversee others in their discipleship. As such, the idea of membership goes beyond mere attendance and even ministry involvement. At its heart, church membership is about a group of people committed to one another, who will continually oversee and exhort one another toward ever-increasing godliness.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges the church as an institution faces today, both from the inside and the outside?

Internally, there could be any number of challenges, but I think one major issue the church must face is the inherent individualism that exists in our churches. We do not often have a culture of authenticity and openness in our local churches. Instead, we look the part, fulfill our church duties and attend what we need to, but we never get beyond the surface. A real need exists to get past all of that, and as members, commit to loving, teaching, rebuking and encouraging one another. This involves people who are open and transparent enough to share their lives with others. In this way, we can show love and pursue holiness as a community.

Externally, we see increasing pressure to conform to the standards of the world, especially in certain areas (e.g., sexuality, gender, materialism, etc.). It seems in the West that if we continue to pursue faithfulness to God’s Word, the disparity between the church and the world will become more evident. Churches will likely have some difficult choices to make in the years ahead, as ostracization seems inevitable. However, this challenge is also a great opportunity for the church to display the love and holiness of God in very manifest ways.

40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline

Q: Why is it important to be a member of a local church? Isn’t being a Christian enough?

Being a Christian is certainly the key starting point, but joining a church in membership is also crucial for a few reasons. First, church leaders are told to keep watch over their flock (1 Peter 5:1-4) and that they will have to give an account for the people they oversee (Hebrews 13:17). If this is the case, pastors must know who they are overseeing, and church membership makes clear whom they are to oversee. Second, we are told to exhort one another day after day so we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13). Of course, I can do this for any Christian, but it makes the most sense to do this for a particular group of people to whom I am committed. Finally, modern-day church membership adheres to the overall pattern seen in Scripture. Israel, though not the church, was a distinct nation with its own “membership” that was distinct from other peoples. The New Testament church speaks typically of local churches made up of certain people who are committed to one another, exercising a certain kind of authority, fulfilling “one another” commands.

Q: What qualifications of church membership are universal across denominational or doctrinal lines?

While there will be differences of opinion regarding baptism and the timing of granting someone membership status in a church, denominations would generally agree full members of their church be people who are regenerate. If a church is its membership (i.e. the church is not a building, but a people), then this is especially important. There would also be widespread agreement that particular responsibilities are inherent to church membership. Pastors do want to see passive consumers in their churches. There is founded expectation members will be involved in the work of the church and the lives of other members.

Q: What responsibilities does each member have to one another and their local church?

There is great responsibility inherent in church membership. We are responsible to submit to elected leadership, all the while knowing God has granted the keys of the kingdom to the entire membership (Matthew 16:19), thus striking a balance in authority. We must be proactive as members in working for others in their progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25). The entire body of believers must exercise their spiritual gifts for the good of others (Romans 12:3-8) and regu­larly attend the gatherings of the church (Hebrews 10:24-25) so as to edify others and be edified themselves. One could name off other responsibilities as well, noting members should be good listeners to sermons, biblical theologians and devoted to pray for one another. Finally, one must confront unrepentant sin in the lives of their fellow members, in the hopes they heed that rebuke and repent.

Watch for part 2 of this interview where Dr. Kimble will discuss church discipline.

Learn more about 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline and the other books in the 40 Questionsseries at


Posted 6/15/17 at 4:51 PM | Audra Jennings

Proceeds from book sales to help disabled children learn to ride bikes

Part 2 of an interview with Mike H. Mizrahi,

Author of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race

Redemption Press
The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race by Mike H. Mizrahi

Mike Mizrahi’s The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race (Redemption Press) introduces readers to Anna Gaines, an insecure and introverted 19-year-old, who discovers she’s a natural on the “wheel” after a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn. Upon returning home to Chattanooga, she insists on the same rights men have to cycle in public. She becomes the first woman to ride the streets of Chattanooga, clad in the bloomers, the risqué apparel many New York women are wearing in 1895.

A firestorm ignites, pitting a few progressive thinkers against a city full of moralists intent on clinging to their post-Antebellum way of life. Anna finds herself in the middle of an explosive controversy she never envisioned. She is pitted against Peter Sawyer, the Cycle Club president who silently harbors a crush for her, in a five-mile bicycle race that will decide if women have the same capabilities as men to ride. FULL POST

Posted 6/15/17 at 4:49 PM | Audra Jennings

Mizrahi highlights how the bicycle paved the way for women’s rights

Part 1 of an interview with Mike H. Mizrahi,

Author of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race

Mike H. Mizrahi, author of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race

We live in a world where a device on our wrist can detect our every step and vital sign while our phones pop up with notifications telling us where we are, in case we did not already know. Too easily we take for granted the great inventions of the past that drastically changed the world at the time they were introduced. Take the bicycle, for example. In his debut novel, The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race (Redemption Press), author Mike H. Mizrahi tells the story of a woman who creates waves by not only riding a bicycle, but doing so in bloomers. A woman riding a bicycle in pants seems trivial to us now, but at the turn of the 20th century, it was a very big deal and played a part in the advancement of women’s rights. FULL POST

Posted 6/5/17 at 5:04 PM |

New York Times Best Seller Reveals the Truth about Hell to a Skeptical Generation

Q&A with Bill Wiese
Author of "23 Minutes in Hell" (10th Anniversary Edition)

Q: What content has been added to the 10th anniversary edition of "23 Minutes in Hell?"

A: We have added four chapters to the new edition. I have included answers to ten of the most difficult questions people ask in regard to hell, eternity and the afterlife. I also expound on my experience, giving additional Scriptures in support and sharing some feelings I sensed during the experience as well as describing a bit more about Jesus, His voice and such. I share over 30 emails including some personal encounters we have had with others in how the book has affected their lives over the past 10 years.

Q: Since your book was released, there have been church leaders and pastors who have summarily dismissed even the idea that a real hell exists. How do you respond to that claim? FULL POST

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