Utilizing the unique and considerable strengths of the small church, rather than trying to emulate/keep up with the big boys. . . .

Ron Klassen. Maximize!: Leveraging the Strengths of Your Small Church. 128p., $15.99, Deep River Books.

Blending rich small-church theology with corresponding practical outcomes, Maximize! convinces small-church pastors, elders, deacons, children’s and youth workers, worship leaders, and members that small size is not a liability but a trait begging to be utilized for maximum benefit to all. Readers will see that their-size church is well-suited for fulfilling God’s mission and in fact has advantages. Maximize! does not pit small against big; it is not about what size is best but about how to be the best at any given size.

Thirty years in the making, the lessons in Maximize! have been continually refined as author Ron Klassen has taught them in classes and dozens of seminars, counseled, encouraged, overseen, and mentored hundreds of pastors, and interacted with small-church attendees from every state in the US and most provinces of Canada. Too often, those in small churches are apologetic about their church’s size, too quick to see weaknesses and limitations, too prone to compare their church with bigger churches and come away feeling inferior. Too often, those in small churches try to emulate big churches but come up short.

Rather than trying to imitate large churches, small churches do well to study themselves and their communities, and then prayerfully design ministries uniquely suited for their size, place, and time.

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A Wonder-Filled Life

Looking back on a lifetime of service to God. . . .

Joshua A. McClure. A Wonder-Filled Life: Galatians 2:20. 330p., $17.99, Deep River Books.

Because we are created in God’s image, we have a spiritual thirst. God has “planted eternity in the human heart.” This means that we can never be completely satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Nothing but the eternal God can truly satisfy us. God has built in us a restless yearning for the kind of perfect world that can only be found in his perfect rule. He has given us a glimpse of the perfection of his creation. But it is only a glimpse; we cannot see into the future or comprehend everything. So we must trust God now and do his work on earth. Thus, amid our everyday struggles, we hear the words of Scripture concerning Jesus.

In A Wonder-Filled Life, Joshua McClure shows our dependency on God and how he is the source of all things, including ourselves. He is a power that sustains and rules the world that we live in, and he alone deserves our praise. God does not want us to continue to frustrate ourselves by trying to change our own lives and crying out to him only when in trouble. He wants us to live daily in his presence, avoiding the anxiety and disappointments of the old life apart from him. He wants us to learn of him; he wants us to grow in him, and he desires intimacy that can only come from our spending time in his presence. Therefore, Jesus’s purpose in coming into a fallen world was to provide a place of happiness, joy, and peace, and eternal fellowship with God, expressed when he said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

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In the Shadow of the Quran

Dialoguing with Islam (and a few dozen imams from around the world), while confronting Islam with Islam. . .

Edward J. Hoskins. In the Shadow of the Quran: Prophets, Messengers, Truth, and Lies. 304p., $16.99, Deep River Books.

The Qur’an is the key to understanding Islam and the geopolitics of the earth. Accordingly, it is essential for Christians and other non-Muslims to have more than a kindergarten understanding of the Qur’an. This book helps provide that understanding. Surprisingly, both the Bible and Qur’an share common prophets, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus, and others. The author evaluates the stories of twelve such prophets and shows that what is missing from the Qur’an versions is a striking absence of Christological atonement for sin. Focusing on stories and their contexts, this book gives Christians and other non-Muslims new insights into the Qur’an as well as practical ideas on how to relate to Muslims and share biblical truth with them.

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Five Views on the New Testament Canon

Was the selection of books in the New Testament inspired by God or shaped by the decisions of men? Five theological variations on the spectrum of “yes.” . . .

Stanley E. Porter and Benjamin Laird, eds. Five Views on the New Testament Canon. 304p., $24.99, Kregel Academic.

What historical, political, and ecclesial realities drove the canonization of the New Testament?

How are the doctrines of Early Christianity related to the formation of the New Testament?

Should the New Testament differ in authority from other early Christian texts?

As these questions demonstrate, the enduring influence of the New Testament does not lessen the dispute over the events and factors leading to its adoption. Five Views on the New Testament Canon presents five distinct ways of understanding how the New Testament came to be:

  • A Conservative Evangelical Perspective—Darian R. Lockett
  • A Progressive Evangelical Perspective—David R. Nienhuis
  • A Liberal Protestant Perspective—Jason David BeDuhn
  • A Roman Catholic Perspective—Ian Boxall
  • An Orthodox Perspective—George L. Parsenios

Each contributor addresses historical, theological, and hermeneutical questions related to the New Testament canon, such as what factors precipitated the establishment and recognition of the New Testament canon; the basis of any authority the New Testament has; and what the canon means for reading and interpreting the New Testament. Contributors also include a chapter each responding to the other views presented in the volume. The result is a lively exchange suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students seeking to grasp the best canon scholarship in biblical studies.

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Kerux: 1–2 Kings

An in-depth look at the checkered history of the kingdom of Israel, and tips on how to preach through it. . . .

David B. Schreiner and Lee Compson. 1–2 Kings: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching. Kerux Commentaries. 272p., $31.99, Kregel Academic.

Unlike any other commentary series, each volume is written by an expert in biblical exegesis and an experienced homiletician in partnership. Inclusion of a preaching author means that the commentary is focused on biblical insights that are useful in biblical teaching, with communication strategies and illustrations for each passage that are powerful and engaging.

Each volume is divided into distinct preaching segments, in which the authors guide the reader through a well-tested sequence: exegetical analysis, theological focus, and teaching strategy. Based on the text-driven Big Idea model, Kerux enhances the reader’s ability to deliver a message that is biblical, cohesive, and dynamic.

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Youth Ministry as Mission

Making the obvious connections we tend to overlook (or treat superficially) between two types of ministry . . . .

Brian Hull and Patrick Mays. Youth Ministry as Mission: A Conversation About Theology and Culture. 272p., $20.99, Kregel Ministry.

The parallels between ministry within youth culture and global missions have long been touted by youth ministry experts, yet few resources exist to help youth workers benefit practically from the insights of missiologists. In Youth Ministry as Mission, Brian Hull and Patrick Mays fill this gap with an introduction to missiology, missions practice, and missionary witness tailored especially for a youth ministry context.

Youth ministers will discover missiological language that describes realities they face regularly and activities of cross-cultural missionaries that translate well into leaders within youth ministries. Hull and Mays address issues such as:

  • Understanding the relationship of the incarnation to ministering in youth culture
  • Translating stories and practicing storytelling as preparation for witnessing
  • Teaching for witness in a multi-religious context

Youth Ministry as Mission will be a valuable guide for college and seminary students as well as a breath of fresh air to those already working in youth ministry.

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Associate Pastors

Words from the trenches about how to be the nexus between the senior pastor and the congregation. . . .

Michael Matthew Mauriello. Associate Pastors: Ministry from the Middle. 240p., $19.99, Kregel Ministry.

Associate pastors of all kinds–whether assigned to children, youth, worship, adult, or outreach–are often caught in the middle of complicated relationships in their congregations. It’s an emotionally taxing and organizationally confusing position. In Associate Pastors, Michael Matthew Mauriello demonstrates how associate pastors can harness the ambiguity that accompanies their role in ways that can mutually benefit church members and other pastoral staff.

The heart of Associate Pastors comes from personal interviews with twenty-five associate pastors in small-to-medium-sized churches who have served in pastoral ministry positions for more than ten years. Their shared experiences demonstrate the unique social and spiritual dynamics of the associate pastor role and suggest great promise for those willing to approach their calling with creativity and care. Specifically, when associate pastors facilitate learning within their congregations, they confer benefits on church leadership and laypeople alike.

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40 Questions about Prayer

A book about both the simplicity and complexity of prayer. . . .

Joseph C. Harrod. 40 Questions about Prayer. 40 Questions Series. 272p., $19.99, Kregel Academic.

Praying is often the most common yet least understood practice of Christian spirituality. In 40 Questions about Prayer, scholar and teacher Joseph C. Harrod shares biblical insight on the nature and practice of Christian prayer. Harrod’s emphasis on searching the Scriptures results in a trustworthy, practical guide to a vital aspect of Christian belief and behavior, equally appropriate for seminary courses, Bible studies, and personal understanding.

The accessible question-and-answer format of 40 Questions about Prayer allows readers to explore the issues they care most about, such as these:

  • Does prayer change God’s mind?
  • Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
  • What does it mean to pray in Jesus’s name?
  • How does prayer affect evangelism, spiritual awakening, and revival?
  • What does it mean to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)?
  • Do physical postures affect prayer?
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Kerux: Jeremiah/Lamentations

Some light reading for y’all. . . . 🙂 . . .

Duane Garrett and Calvin F. Pearson. Jeremiah and Lamentations: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching. Kerux Commentaries. 416p., $38.99, Kregel Academic.

Jeremiah and Lamentations approaches two historically related yet literarily distinct books of the Old Testament, carefully attending to their composition and application. Garrett and Pearson draw out the crucial themes and structures of Jeremiah: the hope of eschatological salvation nestled in the center of an expertly crafted exploration of human sin in all its blindness, perversity, and persistence. Lamentations wrestles with the unanswered questions of a community in exile, sobered by judgment and wondering whether God intends to abandon Israel entirely. Garrett and Pearson examine both Old Testament texts through the lens of Jesus, clarifying the parallels and fulfillments essential for Christian preaching.

Kerux Commentaries enable pastors and teachers to understand and effectively present the main message in a biblical text.

Each volume uniquely combines the insights of an experienced Bible exegete (trained in interpretation) and a homiletician (trained in preaching). These two authors work together to explain the essential message for the original listeners or readers, unpack its timeless truth, and then provide a contemporary restatement and communication insights for the key biblical concept. Every book is a resource designed and written with the real needs of the pastor and teacher always in sight, providing many ways to creatively express the principal thought in a biblical passage.

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Junkyard Wisdom Rebuilt

Using our wealth for good. . . .

Roy Goble. Junkyard Wisdom Rebuilt: Resisting the Whisper of Wealth in a World of Broken Parts. 224p., $17.99, Deep River Books.

In Junkyard Wisdom, Roy Goble explored the tension between wealth and poverty, between faithfulness and temptation. He tackled the question of what it means to be an ambassador of Jesus in a world of walls, and what it takes to break those walls down. Today, that question is more relevant than ever, and its answers are no less meaningful.

Roy Goble grew up learning how to evaluate everything for the value of its parts, and later experienced the complexity of creating wealth while pursuing what Jesus was calling him to be and do. From a decades-long quest to understand his place in the world came a book that told of generosity, the path to a meaningful life, and what it means to break down the walls of the world. Now, in the face of a transformed world with more complex walls, Junkyard Wisdom Rebuilt takes on these principles with new perspective.

Most of us live a life of abundance, insulated from the poor or anyone else who might threaten that comfortable life. Yet the spiritual hunger we are struck with, so eloquently laid out in the original Junkyard Wisdom, remains. How do we overcome this to enjoy a meaningful life to the fullest? And how can we bridge those divides, which lie both in our own communities and across the globe? Goble’s reworking faces the turmoil of our changing world head-on to answer these questions in a way that makes for an inspiringly relevant read.

We are commissioned to be ambassadors for Jesus, beginning where we live and reaching the other side of the planet. Roy Goble takes us with him on a search for ways to build that reach as a relationship of exchanged love, faith, and hope, and Junkyard Wisdom Rebuilt gives this journey a new perspective that redefines the path to the abundant future waiting for us at the end.

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