Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: Senior Adult Ministry in the 21st Century


Senior Adult Ministry in the 21st Century: Step-By-Step Strategies For Reaching People Over 50

I organized a “Seniors Fellowship” for our church before I read this book. But the author, Dr. David P. Gallagher, offers many creative ideas about ministering to this group. Although written for church leadership, as a layperson, I am finding the book invaluable.

Gallagher opens with a chapter describing the broad spectrum of ages and abilities that comprise today’s senior adults. He urges churches to establish a senior adult ministry since life expectancy has climbed to 75 years of age and according to the 2000 U. S. Census, there are more than 76 million Americans age 50 or older; that’s a quarter of the population.

Benefits of a senior adult ministry include reaching entire families and helping seniors face the challenges of today’s deteriorating society by applying biblical truth to the needs of this age group. Gallagher offers help to develop a mission statement and to set goals for a ministry.

This book’s reproducible charts and checklists alone would be worth the purchase price of $17.99 retail. They can to be used to evaluate the need for a ministry and then to establish and carry out the ministry. Chapters include outreach ideas and one chapter offers help to those dealing with grief. Strong on numbered lists, Gallagher includes sections such as “23 Helpful Hints for Effective Outreach,” “5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Senior Adult Ministry” and “5 Good Things Hidden in Grief.” An Appendix offers even more tips along with top web sites for senior adult issues.

Gallagher has written extensively in the field of pastoral and adult ministry. He serves at Green Lake Conference Center, Green Lake, Wisconsin, and partners with Church Growth, Inc., Monrovia, California. I liked his style of writing. The back cover purports the book to offer the nuts and bolts of senior adult ministry, and it surely delivers on that promise.

I’ve read other helpful books on senior ministry, such as The Graying of the Church, which has 96 pages. With its charts and checklists, Senior Adult Ministry in the 21st Century, published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, offers 148 pages and contributes even to the record keeping of your ministry. It’s a solid resource for any size church that wants to bless its graying population. I will be referring to this book regularly as I lead my senior adult ministry and look for creative ways to develop outreach, activities and just general ministry.





Saturday, September 30, 2017

Guest Blogger: Author Janet Thompson


Dear Friends,

This month I'm honored to feature a blog post from my author friend, Janet Thompson, who included the story of Friends of the Heart in her book Mentoring For All Seasons. May her inspirational post encourage you to connect with others on your journey.

Enjoy hearing Janet's story that led to her book:
In life, we’re continually coming out of one season and going into the next completely different season. Many of you have experienced the blessing of having a mentor in the changing seasons of your life, or long for a mentor to help you through a new life season. That’s when those with experience in a life season can reach out and offer counsel, support, prayer, and God’s wisdom to a woman in a season we've experienced.

When we moved to Idaho from Southern California, we had never lived in the rural mountains year round. We had a lot to learn and there was always someone willing to mentor us; all we had to do was ask and be receptive to what they had learned from living here. Now that we’re a bit “seasoned,” we can help others moving here too.

God gave me a passion for mentoring when He gave me the call to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry twenty years ago based on Titus 2:3-5. I wrote a DVD Leader Kit to help churches start a mentoring ministry and began sharing the blessings of mentoring through my writing and speaking ministry, About His Work Ministries.

Over the years, I’ve seen the life seasons women experience and the difference it makes when another woman who has experienced a similar season shares how God helped her through and she’ll be there to pray and study God’s Word with her. Mentoring is that simple. The mentor doesn’t have to have the Bible memorized, but just be willing to share her life with another woman and together they both grow in their faith and spiritual walk.

That’s what I loved about Shirley’s mentoring story of how two younger women in her church asked her to mentor them. Shirley said yes. When they each sent me their story for my book, they had been meeting for eighteen years and God has used their experience to start a ministry together, Friends of the Heart. You can read their complete story in the Prologue of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

Not every mentoring relationship lasts that long. In addition to Shirley’s story, sixty-three women share their mentor or mentee testimonies, along with my own personal experiences, helpful tips, and suggestions will guide women in how to connect and nurture each other through mentoring relationships, as a mentor or a mentee from tweens to twilight years. There are Scriptures for each season to help guide the discussion to God’s Word. Mentors don’t have all the answers, but God does!

So that’s my challenge to all of us, let’s look for those women and young girls God puts in our path and share what we’ve learned from our life experiences and how God and His Word helped us and will help them too in whatever life season they’re going through now. And if you’re going through a difficult life season or are new in your faith, ask God to help you find a mentor. Mentoring for All Seasons encourages women like Shirley to intentionally share their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. I’m not just talking about women; we need to mentor our tweens and teens too!

You may encounter a woman in a season you haven’t experienced. Mentees come from all walks and seasons of life, ages, and spiritual maturity. Even if a mentor doesn’t share the exact life experience of her mentee, the mentor can provide spiritual guidance, do research, and pray about how to address the specific issues her mentee is encountering. Some mentees might even be seekers or brand new believers who need to know how to live as Christian women today.

Mentoring for all Seasons is a reference, application, and coaching tool for a mentor or mentee as they traverse life’s journey together. I pray for Holy Spirit inspiration for some women to become mentors. I pray for courage for others to take a step of faith and seek out a mentor. I pray for all to enjoy the blessings of trusting God and watching how he honors your obedience to becoming Titus 2:3-5 women.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Throughout our lifetime, we vacillate between being a mentor and needing a mentor, depending on the season of life. I pray whatever season you’re in today, there’s someone walking beside you, and you’re walking beside someone who needs you in her season of life.

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of nineteen books including her latest, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, and signed by Janet at her website store where you can see more of her books.

She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Janet and her husband Dave relocated their empty nest from Orange County, California to the rural mountains of Idaho, where Janet writes and they love watching the deer frolic in their yard.
Sign up for Janet’s Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.

You can also visit Janet at:
https://twitter.com/AHWministries
Instagram: Janetahw


October Engagements for Friends of the Heart:

October 28, 1 p.m. - Ladies Tea at Hilltop Christian Church, Newport.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Guest Post - Savoring the Not-So-Perfect-Life

I would like to introduce you to my guest blogger today, Michelle Rayburn. Michelle is a sister writer and participant in WordGirls, an online group for writers and speakers to which I belong. Following her blog are answers to questions I asked so we could get to know her better. Feel free to drop her a note.


Savoring the Not-So-Perfect Life
by Michelle Rayburn

(For September 10 – National TV Dinner Day)

When I was young, my mother cooked most meals from scratch, baked six loaves of bread every week and canned enough vegetables to feed the neighborhood if we ever had to retreat to a bomb shelter. But on occasion, we had TV dinners when she worked the evening shift at the hospital and my dad had to feed us three kids.

September 10 is National TV Dinner Day, and it has me reminiscing about those foil-covered aluminum trays with frozen mystery meat and gravy, blobs of mashed potatoes, corn and chocolate pudding—because who doesn’t cook their pudding in the oven, right?

In those pre-microwave days, we peeled back the foil to reveal the ready-to-eat meal when the oven timer buzzed. The actual contents were always somewhat of a surprise compared with the images on the box. For one thing, the portions were more appropriately toddler-sized, and looking back, this explains why my dad chased his meal with a giant bowl of fudge ripple ice cream.

Nothing looked as appetizing as the box, either. The gravy sort of oozed from the mystery meat over to the corn, and pooled in the pudding.

Isn’t life a little like that sometimes? Before it becomes our reality, the idea of growing up, getting married, establishing a career or becoming parents looks magazine-worthy in the images we build in our minds. And after all the anticipation, we peel back the foil and suddenly it looks a lot messier than expected.

As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned some lessons to get me through my TV dinner life:

1.      Savor every bite of happiness. There is goodness there when we look for it. Turns out, even mystery meat can be delicious!

2.      Toss out unrealistic expectations and embrace the imperfection of real life. Accepting what I have instead of longing for a picture on a box has brought me such contentment.

3.      Enjoy the fun of the experience. For me, TV dinners weren’t really about the contents of the box. They were about the fun of doing something different with my dad—maybe even actually eating in front of the TV. Too often, I can miss life’s fun if I let complaining take over.

What’s in your TV dinner life? It’s a great day for a perspective change—and maybe a trip to the frozen food aisle, just for fun.

About the Author:
Michelle Rayburn is a writer and speaker who enjoys repurposing thrift sale finds into creative decorations for home and garden. She also loves finding gems in the trashy stuff of life. She is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. www.michellerayburn.com

 Where do you live and at what stage are you celebrating the Christian life?
I live in New Auburn, Wisconsin, in a house that used to be a church and parsonage. Not everyone has a house with a sanctuary attached! My husband is the director of maintenance at a Bible camp nearby, and we have been here more than 11 years. I have been a follower of Christ since I was a young child and have seen God shape and change me over the years. I’m in my late 40s and I think God is working on me more now than ever before. I’m really challenged to think outside of my “safe” circle of friends and to look for people who need hope, grace and truth.

Tell us a bit about your family:
My husband and I met at church in high school and have been married for 27 years. We have two grown sons (23 and 25) who are both teachers and we just gained a daughter-in-law this past summer. Over the years, our boys and our daughter-in-law have all been part of ministry at the Bible camp where my husband works and are they are active in their churches. We are thankful for the way God has put opportunities for growth and discipleship in their paths! As a mom of boys, I’m also thankful for the laughter they bring to my life. A little sarcasm here and there has helped me navigate through raising them. I’ve seen truck stop bathrooms that are cleaner than mine when my boys come out of there. A trip to E.R. after a motorcycle wipeout is apparently the perfect occasion for a selfie while you’re getting stitches. And, I’ve learned that cold cereal is an appropriate meal at any time of the day as long as you leave a thimbleful of milk in the refrigerator for mom to find the next morning.

What do you find is one of the greatest challenges of your stage of life? 
My biggest challenge is avoiding the temptation to sit back and enjoy the safety and shelter of contentment. I know that sounds trite, but let me explain. As an empty nester, I am at a place of contentment and peace. I work from home full time and go to a great church. I am married to my best friend and we raised kids who we love to hang out with. I’m an introvert by nature, and I love curling up in the hammock with a good book. So, when God challenges me to reach out to a neighbor, or get more involved in outreach at church, I’m tempted to play it safe and stay in my comfort zone. I say I want to reach the lost and broken people with a message of hope, but when it comes down to action, do I really do it? I have to constantly remind myself that there is no retirement age for being a disciple who makes disciples. 

What is one of the greatest blessings?
Besides my family, I am so blessed to have a circle of four friends who I meet with weekly for accountability and fellowship. I have learned so much from them, and we laugh together, cry together and share prayer requests regularly. They can be honest with me and challenge me when I need a friendly boot in the pants. I call them my soul sisters.

What do people find most interesting about you?
People are surprised that I am an introvert, since I love public speaking. I enjoy one-on-one connections and ministering to women when I’m at an event speaking, but in between, I sometimes have to force myself to leave the house. I would prefer a cup of iced coffee, a good dark chocolate and a book or an art project over a party or social event. I also love technology and found it funny that I had a smart phone before my oldest son, AND that I had to show him how to use it when he got one. Yeah, backwards, huh? I geek out on electronic gadgets, musical equipment, computers, website design and layout and anything that involves technology.

Thanks, Michelle, for sharing your heart with us.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Mentoring for all Seasons--Sharing Life Experiences and God's Faithfulness


Whether you’re interested in sharing what you’ve learned in life or need encouragement to get through life--this book is for you. There is no more blessed experience than mentoring. I and my two mentees, Kim and Janine, were privileged to have our story included in the Prologue of this book. We began meeting almost 20 years ago and continue to meet weekly to discuss Christian books. Our mentoring has turned into ministry, and we speak at about 20 events a year as Friends of the Heart, which is what we are—and what you’ll become through a mentoring experience.

Author Janet Thompson covers every phase of the mentoring experience in this book—from the newlywed season to the aging and dying season. The Appendix alone is invaluable with topics such as Mentor-Seeking Checklist and Some Mentor Do’s and Don’ts along with resources for specific seasons and life experiences.

Thompson stresses that our first mentoring relationship is with our children: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.” In a day of lagging church attendance, she suggests that if young adult women were more faithfully mentored in the church, they might be more inclined to stay: “These young adults need a caring, praying mentor to help them stay faithful to their Christian beliefs and lifestyles.”

After opening with Thompson’s personal story of how she was led to become a mentor, Mentoring for All Seasons is broken into two parts: Section One: Christian Mentoring 101 with information about why mentors are needed to bridge generation gaps; Section Two: Life Seasons of Mentors and Mentees (M&M’s). Stories from both mentors and mentees break up chapters. Thompson also includes scripture for stage-related challenges. End-of-chapter questions give more food for thought.

This would be a great gift book for anyone involved with women’s ministries. Or why not give it to someone with whom you might want to start a mentoring relationship? I was amazed by the sheer quantity of information Thompson shared. I doubt you’ll find any other book on mentoring that offers this depth and detail. It’s a five-star read!




Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: Bonhoeffer--Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


A brilliant young man, Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1912-1944) considered a career in academia but wound up a much-loved pastor. Thoughtful, yet with a sense of humor, Bonhoeffer preached the centrality of the cross of Christ. During World War 2, this man of faith inspired all who knew him.

He and his twin sister, Sabine, two of eight children, grew up in Germany accustomed to the cultured life of the privileged. Through his studies and travels as a young man, he rubbed shoulders with many of the esteemed theologians of the day. While he disagreed with those of a liberal theological slant, he did so in ways that preserved friendships. His studies for a time brought him to America.

The beginning of this book explains the world situation and how Adolph Hitler convinced the German people that he was simply rectifying wrongs that had occurred to them as a people after World War 1. It’s hard to understand how he turned them against some of their own—the Jews.

Deitrich was not deceived, however, and spoke for those who could not speak for themselves. For a time he accepted a pastorate in England, believing that from there he could gain the ear of British leadership and convince them to stop Hitler. He eventually felt he had to return home, however, to suffer with his people and to join a resistance movement.

Once Hitler realized Bonhoeffer was part of that movement, he made sure he and other leaders were executed just before the war ended. Bonhoeffer left behind his dearly loved fiancée.

Almost 50 pages of notes, bibliography and an index closes this 576-page tome. But it’s well worth the read. The legacy of Bonhoeffer lives on to inspire all who love the Lord and hope to remain faithful to Him regardless of political conditions.

 This man’s legacy is one of faithfulness to the biblical Word of God—both the Bible and the Christ. Whether a scholar, a pastor or a member of the resistance movement that opposed Hitler, he sought God’s will and direction. And that direction led him from seminary where he stood for conservative Christianity to the pulpit where he preached the cross, from his privileged family to Flossenburg where he was executed.

Along the way he spoke truth: “Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.”

As Hitler and his cronies turned against the Jews and then against the church, he said, “A state which includes within itself a terrorized church has lost its most faithful servant.” In spring, 1933, he proclaimed that it was the duty of the church to stand up for the Jews.

Well-liked even by those who guarded him during his years spent in concentration camps, Bonhoeffer stayed true to his faith and encouraged those around him. His story encouraged me, and it will encourage you.