Friday, April 30, 2010

Are you over-programing your church?

Jared Wilson provides 10 reasons not to over-program your church. Click here to read his explanation of each of the following points:
  1. You can do a lot of things in a mediocre (or poor) way, or you can do a few things extremely well.
  2. Over-programming creates an illusion of fruitfulness that may just be busy-ness.
  3. Over-programming is a detriment to single-mindedness in a community.
  4. Over-programming runs the risk of turning a church into a host of extracurricular activities, mirroring the “Type-A family” mode of suburban achievers.
  5. Over-programming dilutes actual ministry effectiveness.
  6. Over-programming leads to segmentation among ages, life stages, and affinities, which can create divisions in a church body.
  7. Over-programming creates satisfaction in an illusion of success; meanwhile mission suffers.
  8. Over-programming reduces margin in the lives of church members.
  9. Over-programming gets a church further away from the New Testament vision of the local church.
  10. Over-programming is usually the result of un-self-reflective reflex reactions to perceived needs and and an inability to kill sacred cows that are actually already dead.
Via Justin Taylor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are teens addicted to texting?

Four out of five teens admit to sleeping with their cell phones or keeping them near their beds. In fact, nearly one out of three teens between 12 and 17-years-old send over 100 texts a day, reports a study by Pew Research Center®. The average adult sends just 10 text messages per day, but older teenage girls — aged 14-17 — send about 3,000 per month. [CBSNews.com]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Freedom of expression vs. freedom of association on college campuses

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in a battle over the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association on college campuses. Observers felt the justices were sharply divided.

The case involves the University of California's Hastings College of the Law and its policy that all campus groups must accept everyone as a member or leader. The school refused to recognize the chapter of the Christian Legal Society because it required all of its officers and voting members to subscribe to its basic Christian beliefs — a restriction that angered homosexual students. The CLS sued for recognition, along with the school funding and other benefits that accompany it.

"[The justices] realized that [the school's policy] was problematic, not only for religious groups having to accept anyone to lead their Bible studies, but for Democrats having to accept a Republican as their leader, or for an environmentalist group to have to accept someone who does not believe in global warming — that type of thing," Kim Colby, senior counsel with the Christian Legal Society, told The Associated Press.

CLS filed suit in 2004 after the group was denied recognition. A federal judge threw out the Christian group's lawsuit in 2006, claiming its First Amendment rights of association, free speech and free exercise had not been violated, a decision that was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a two-sentence opinion in 2009.

"CLS has all of its activities entirely open to everyone," said lawyer Michael McConnell. "What it objects to is being run by non-Christians."

"To require this Christian society to allow atheists not just to join, but to conduct Bible classes ... That's crazy," said Justice Antonin Scalia. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito seemed to agree that forcing groups to allow those who don't share similar beliefs was unfair to the organizations. But Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Sonia Sotomayor inferred an opposing view with specific examples of their own that implied potential discrimination against entire racial groups or genders. Justice Anthony Kennedy wondered why people that don't agree with a group's core beliefs would ever want to belong to it. The court is expected to rule early this summer on the case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 08-1371. [OneNewsNow.com, CitizenLink.com, The Associated Press]

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Effective Pastors Use Their Time

Leaders of effective churches make certain that their family and work life is balanced, says Dr. Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Their research team asked over 200 pastors to provide them with an hour-by-hour calendar of a typical 168-hour week.
The study included 101 pastors who researchers called effective leaders because their churches ranked in the top five percent in conversion growth in American churches. A comparison group of pastors of similar number were leading churches that did not have significant conversion growth.
The following results show some of the most significant differences between the pastors of the effective churches versus the pastors of the comparison churches:
  • Pastors of effective churches sleep slightly over six hours per day. Pastors of comparison churches sleep almost eight hours per day.
  • Pastors of effective churches spend twenty-two hours in sermon preparation each week versus four hours for pastors of comparison churches.
  • The effective church leaders spent ten hours each week in pastoral care (counseling, hospital visits, weddings, funerals) compared to thirty-three hours for the comparison group pastors.
  • Effective church leaders average five hours per week in sharing the gospel with others. Most of the comparison church pastors entered "0" for their weekly time in personal evangelism.
  • Comparison church leaders spend eight hours a week — more than an hour each day — performing custodial duties at the church. The typical custodial duties included opening and closing the facilities, turning on and off the lights, and general cleaning of the building.
  • Leaders of effective churches average 22 hours a week in family activities. The comparison church leaders weren't too far behind with 18 hours of family time each week.
The time allocation of effective leaders seems to complement the way they describe their own leadership styles. In order to accomplish what they considered priority functions, they had to sacrifice in other areas. Thus, the effective leaders cannot do many of the responsibilities often expected of them as pastors — such as numerous hospital visits, counseling everyone and all of the custodial duties that may be expected of them — but they can oversee those responsibilities. [ChristianPost.com]

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Monday, April 19, 2010

4 Constants in Family Bible Study - Mark and Grace Driscoll


This relates to a point I made in my sermon yesterday.  Mark and Grace Driscoll were kind enough to share how they are helping their 5 children spend time in God's Word.  I clipped a segment below and you can read the rest of the article HERE.

We know they all work on Sundays, but what do the lives of Mars Hill pastors look like the other six days of the week?
Here on the Mars Hill Blog, we’re starting a series of Q&As with the pastors: we’ll ask some of them the same questions and then post the different responses throughout the week. This week we asked for some tips on how to study the Bible better with our families. First up, Preaching Pastor Mark Driscoll.
NB: How can we better study the Bible with our spouses and children?
Pastor Mark: I’m not a hugely formal student. I study a lot, read all the time, and in our family, things flex from week to week, season to season, and as the kids age. Upon reflection, though, four things are constant:
  1. Lots of Bibles


      We have tons of Bibles all over the house. We have Bibles for every age, lots of translations, and lots of formats. To be honest, if a member of my family finds a Bible they like that is faithful, I am not at all legalistic about which one they prefer. Most days, every room of the house has a Bible of some kind in it, ready to read.
       
  2. A love of Bible reading


      I love to read the Bible and want my family to love reading in general, and Bible reading in particular. It’s not a forced rule, but a fun part of life. Everyone in our family likes to read the Bible and does so daily. I’ve never made a rule about daily Bible reading, but we all do as a habit that we enjoy by God’s grace. We all read Scripture and pray at night before bed as a sort of wind-down wrap-up to the day and the kids like it a lot.
       
  3. Life integration


      Throughout the daily moments of life, the window of opportunity opens up to sit down with Grace and the kids, either one on one or as a group, to open the Bible and apply a particular portion to something happening in their life. As a parent and a spouse, it is a great honor to be on watch, appointed by God to capture these sacred moments of bringing Scripture to bear on a teachable moment.
       
  4. Age-appropriate discussion


      We eat dinner together and have a Bible at the table that I use to lead discussions. We also keep a notebook of prayers for people and the kids really like seeing prayers answered and checked off. Some nights the family gets down some rabbit trail of conversation that is not overtly theological, and as a dad I don’t force a big theological discussion upon them, but rather follow the Holy Spirit as we just enjoy one another. Other nights we have some big theological discussions that I lead out of the Bible. After church on Sundays, since I’m still working, Grace is faithful to ask the kids what they learned in the service or their class and draw out of them what God revealed to them from Scripture. Anyone wanting to grow in this skill can read Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware, in which he shows how to teach theology to kids in an age-appropriate fashion.

Click HERE for the rest of the article.  At the end of the article Mark Driscoll mentions his personal library is pushing 5000 books - impressive!

Free Spiritual Conversations Webinar April 21st

Chris Walker of EvangelismCoach.org is hosting this FREE one hour webinar for Gary Rohrmayer to address some of the topics in his new book Spiritual Conversations. Wednesday, April 21, 2010
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CST
Some of the topics that will be discussed:
  • how to help you see the the conversational opportunities and people around you
  • show you a useful tool that's a great discussion starter
  • how to have a conversation about Christ without being a jerk!
Sign up today

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pediatricians Warn Educators

The American College of Pediatricians, a nonprofit organization funded by members and donors, sent a letter in early April to more than 14,000 school superintendents across the U.S. warning them that promoting — or "affirming" — the homosexual lifestyle to young children can damage them. "It is not the school's role to diagnose and attempt to treat any student's medical condition, and certainly not a school's role to 'affirm' a student's perceived personal sexual orientation," the letter said. It further stated that schools can create a "life of unnecessary pain and suffering" for a child when they reinforce a behavior chosen out of a child's "confusion." "Even when motivated by noble intentions, schools can ironically play a detrimental role if they reinforce this disorder," said the letter.

The group has also created a Web site, FactsAboutYouth.com, as a resource for school officials, parents and youth to obtain facts about sexual development from a "non-political, non-religious channel." The effort is intended to counter information delivered to the same schools in 2008 in a brochure called "Just the Facts About Youth and Sexual Orientation" that was sponsored in part by the American Psychological Association. The College of Pediatricians claims that the APA brochure "omits critical facts and makes recommendations that are refuted by decades of scientific research and extensive clinical experience." "Most alarmingly," the College's Web site says, "the recommendations offered will place young people at increased risk of grave psychological, emotional and physical harm."

"In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is essential to understand there is no scientific evidence that an individual is born 'gay' or 'transgender.' Instead, the best available research points to multiple factors — primarily social and familial — that predispose children and adolescents to homosexual attractions and/or gender confusion," states the Web site.

"Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25," says the letter to schools. "In one study, as many as 26 percent of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation, yet only 2-3 percent of adults actually identify themselves as homosexual."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Most of Unchurched Consider Themselves Christian

A new study, released this week by The Barna Group, shows that millions of Americans do not attend church, and that a large majority of those who stay home on Sunday consider themselves to be Christian. The research, which was based on phone interviews with 4,020 adults between August of 2009 and February of 2010, revealed that:
  • In the past six months, 28 percent of the adult population has not attended any church service or activity. When children are included, this translates to more than 100 million people.
  • In the United States, 83 percent of all adults identify themselves as "Christian."
  • Of those who have not attended church for at least six months, 61 percent label themselves "Christian."
  • Two-thirds (68%) of the Christians who do not attend church hold a biblical view of God, but only one-third (35%) agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches.
Past studies of those who do not attend church have revealed that one of the main reasons for not attending is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. A previous Barna study shows that 37 percent of unchurched Americans said they avoid church because of negative past experiences in the church or with church people. For the complete report, visit The Barna Group.

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pastor Bob Merritt of Eagle Brook Church on Relevance Conference

Below is a video by Eagle Brook Church and Pastor Bob Merritt on their May 13th Relevance Conference.  This is an outstanding conference that at last count 6 of us from my church will be attending (and hopefully more!).  The price is outstanding, and as an added bonus their guest speaker this year is John Ortberg!  Register before April 26th for the best prices!  I have attended this every year they have done it, and hope you can join me!

Funny note, way back in 2005 I listed both Bob Merritt and John Ortberg among my favorite preachers to listen to.  And nothing has changed that!  Though I would drop Leith Anderson and CJ Mahaney down on that list today and put Francis Chan and Mark Driscoll into that top 5.


Monday, April 12, 2010

15 things other pastors named Chris wonder about

A pastor friend in Florida (Chris Elrod) shared the following on his blog a while back:

There is some stuff I just cannot comprehend.  Try as I may to get it…it doesn’t make any logical or Scriptural sense. Here is a partial of things I do not understand.
  1. Folks that show up to church only a few times a year but expect the pastor to drop everything to provide them with his undivided attention.
  2. People that put nothing in the offering plate but still have the stones to expect that their opinions on the church should count.
  3. Parents who ground their children from church or the youth group…the very things that could help them with their behavior, future and afterlife.
  4. People that expect the pastor to tolerate their political views…but leave the church because of his.
  5. The occasional volunteer that expects the church to throw a parade in their honor just because they finally did what the Bible commanded.
  6. People that have basked in the grace of God…but fail to give grace to anyone else.
  7. Pastors that leave one church for another…for better pay.
  8. The need for church growth plans, programs, books, conference, seminars and resource kits…when we already have the Bible
  9. Women that tolerate their husbands having multiple affairs…”for the sake of the kids”.
  10. Pastors that would rather be political pundits or civil rights leaders…instead of just preaching the life-saving message of the Word of God.
  11. People that have one spiritual standard for their pastor…and another for themselves.
  12. Folks that think the word ‘disciple’ is a noun…and not a verb.
  13. People that make comments about needing to go “deeper” in God’s Word…as if there is a Scripture in the Bible that isn’t deep.
  14. Pastors that think accountability means never asking them the tough questions or taking the hard line when it comes to their failure to follow Scripture.
  15. Men that think being the head of the household has something to do with the amount of money they are bringing in or the title they acquire at work.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Link between a good marriage, money and happiness

Money might not buy you much happiness but a good marriage will

An interesting piece in the New York Times by David Brooks:

Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

This isn’t just sermonizing. This is the age of research, so there’s data to back this up. Over the past few decades, teams of researchers have been studying happiness. Their work, which seemed flimsy at first, has developed an impressive rigor, and one of the key findings is that, just as the old sages predicted, worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through.

For example, the relationship between happiness and income is complicated, and after a point, tenuous. It is true that poor nations become happier as they become middle-class nations. But once the basic necessities have been achieved, future income is lightly connected to well-being. Growing countries are slightly less happy than countries with slower growth rates, according to Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution and Eduardo Lora. The United States is much richer than it was 50 years ago, but this has produced no measurable increase in overall happiness. On the other hand, it has become a much more unequal country, but this inequality doesn’t seem to have reduced national happiness.

On a personal scale, winning the lottery doesn’t seem to produce lasting gains in well-being. People aren’t happiest during the years when they are winning the most promotions. Instead, people are happy in their 20’s, dip in middle age and then, on average, hit peak happiness just after retirement at age 65.

People get slightly happier as they climb the income scale, but this depends on how they experience growth. Does wealth inflame unrealistic expectations? Does it destabilize settled relationships? Or does it flow from a virtuous cycle in which an interesting job produces hard work that in turn leads to more interesting opportunities?

If the relationship between money and well-being is complicated, the correspondence between personal relationships and happiness is not. The daily activities most associated with happiness are sex, socializing after work and having dinner with others. The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. According to one study, joining a group that meets even just once a month produces the same happiness gain as doubling your income. According to another, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year.

If you want to find a good place to live, just ask people if they trust their neighbors. Levels of social trust vary enormously, but countries with high social trust have happier people, better health, more efficient government, more economic growth, and less fear of crime (regardless of whether actual crime rates are increasing or decreasing).


Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gospel Tracts Are Not Counterfeit

From the "Why are they wasting my tax dollars?" category:

Several years ago, Secret Service agents confiscated more than 8,000 million-dollar-bill gospel tracts produced by evangelist Ray Comfort, founder of Living Water Publications. The front of the tract has markings similar to paper currency with the words, "This bill is not legal tender." The back invites the recipient to answer the "million-dollar question: Will you go to Heaven?" Agents claimed the tracts violated counterfeiting law. But, two weeks ago, federal Judge Jorge Solis ruled that the U.S. department of Homeland Security violated the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unlawful search and seizure and ordered the return of the gospel tracts, ruling they were not counterfeit currency. [Liberty Counsel, OneNewsNow.com]


And by the way - if you are leaving these tracts but no other tip, you should be throat punched.  You can quote me on that.  Christians do an enormous amount of damage to the cause of Christ because they are cheap and disrespectful at restaurants before and after church.  Tip GENEROUSLY (10% is NOT generous).  Be people of grace, even if the service is weak that day. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Challenges to ministries and to pastors families

From H.B. London of Focus on the Family fame :

A couple weeks ago, in the March 5, 2010, issue of The Pastor's Weekly Briefing, I asked for a reader response on two questions. We received several hundred very interesting replies. I asked one of our staff members, Dale Wolyniak, to put into capsule form the essence of those responses. Here is what we found:
Question 1: What do you feel is the greatest challenge to your ministry?
  • It was evident that apathy within congregations was a primary concern. This was also reported as a lack of commitment and help in ministry, a certain lukewarmness — which may stem from being too busy with wrong priorities — plus, distractions in our congregants' homes.
  • Some pastors noted that church was seen as an event, rather than a place of being the Body. This was reflected with a view of the church being more of a club, with a consumer approach to 'serve me.'
  • A high percentage of comments indicate that the church has lost its sense of urgency to spread the gospel because of being more concerned with tradition, programs and activities rather than personal evangelism and discipleship.
  • Another indicator was the cultural tolerance for sinful practices. And, within the church, a lack of discipline to live up to biblical values. This fusion of postmodern values and a liberal approach to life can leave the church without a prophetic voice.
  • Question 2: What one thing presents the greatest challenge or threat to you and your family or marriage?
  • Respondents spoke most frequently about the need for balancing time and resources of ministry with that of the pastor's marriage and family. A few phrases that frequently occurred were "emotional exhaustion," "energy depletion" and "excessive activities" that seemed to plague the ministers' lives.
  • One comment was that there was a "rising tide" of evil in the world that is seen in the public schools, TV, movies and the Internet. In speaking of the cultural influence on our children, one pastor commented that we need to "keep a Christ-centered focus in our homes, despite the tsunami of temptations around us."
  • A challenge that creates high stress is the unfair expectations of church members toward their pastor and his or her family. A major concern was that a pastor's spouse and children needed to be given adequate time and attention in spite of busy ministry lives.

Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity

New survey results from Barna Research show that a quarter of American Christians identify themselves as charismatic or Pentecostal. Those fitting Pentecostal/charismatic criteria stated that they considered themselves to "have been filled with the Holy Spirit," and that God has given them at least one of the charismatic gifts, such as tongues, prophecy or healing. Overall, that group represents 21 percent of all American adults and 25 percent of those who describe themselves as Christian.

Baby Busters (ages 26 to 44) were the generation of self-identified Christians most likely to claim a charismatic or Pentecostal connection (29%), slightly higher than the 26 percent among the Mosaics (ages 18 to 25) and the 25 percent among the eldest of Americans (25% among those 64 and older). Surprisingly, the generation that introduced America to "Jesus freaks" and other marks of spiritual intensity — i.e., Baby Boomers (now 45 to 63) — is the generation currently least likely to identify as charismatic or Pentecostal (20%).

In terms of beliefs and attitudes, there are marked differences between the generations. The two youngest generations — the Mosaics (56%) and Busters (49%) — were more likely than were Boomers (44%) or Elders (30%) to believe that "the charismatic gifts, such as tongues and healing, are active and valid today." However, age was a less consistent indicator of people's awareness of spiritual gifts. Mosaic Christians were the most likely to be aware of such gifts, while Buster Christians were the least aware.

Regarding the best-known and most controversial of the charismatic gifts, the spiritual prayer language known as speaking in tongues, younger Christians were more likely to believe that tongues are "valid and active today." In total, 43 percent of Mosaics and Busters believe either that God provides every Christian with the ability to speak in tongues or that God gives the gift to some, but not to others. This compares to 37 percent among Boomers and Elders combined. However, among young believers, just seven percent of Mosaic Christians and nine percent of Buster Christians had ever spoken in tongues, compared to 13 percent of Boomer believers and nine percent of Elder Christians.

The generations also demonstrated contrasting perspectives about the Holy Spirit. Even though they have skepticism about the charismatic and Pentecostal expressions of Christianity, older believers stood out from younger Christians for their likelihood of saying that they "consistently allow their lives to be guided by the Holy Spirit." And, in spite of their openness to the charismatic and Pentecostal elements of the faith, 68 percent of Mosaic Christians said they believe that the third person of the trinity is just a "symbol of God's power or presence, but is not a living entity."

Click here to view the full report at Barna Research.

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

'God' Stays in Our Pledge

After years of atheist Michael Newdow pushing to have "one nation under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Thursday that teacher-led recitations of the pledge of allegiance in public schools is constitutional. The court ruled that the "pledge is not a prayer." In a separate decision on a companion case, the same three-judge panel unanimously rejected Newdow's challenge to the use of "In God We Trust" on coins and currency. [The Associated Press]

When is Easter?

Figuring out when Easter is can be like doing calculus it seems.

We all know that Christmas falls on December 25 and that our Independence Day celebration always takes place on July 4, but why do we observe Easter anytime from March 22 to April 25, and why is Easter usually after Passover, but sometimes before? And, to add to the confusion, for over a thousand years, the Western Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have seldom celebrated Easter on the same day.

While both branches of the church calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon — on or after the Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring) — the Eastern Orthodox Church bases the calculation on the Julian calendar, while the Western Church uses the Gregorian calendar. The date of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is not based on the Julian or the Gregorian, but on the Jewish calendar, which places the beginning of Passover on the 15th day of the month of Nisan. As a result of the differences in the rules between the Hebrew and Gregorian cycles, Passover falls about a month after Easter in three years of the 19-year cycle.

Because of the changing date for the observance of Easter, some Christians feel that, for the sake of unity within the church around the world, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ should take place on the same day each year — such as the second Sunday of April. In 1963, the Second Vatican Council agreed that Easter should become a fixed holiday and, in 1997, the National Council of Churches proposed that the Western and Eastern churches find a unified method of calculating the date of Easter. This year and next, Easter just happens to be celebrated on the same day in both the Western and Eastern Church, but that is not scheduled to take place again until 2014 and 2017.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Eagle Brook Church - Relevance Church Conference 2010

6th Annual Relevance Church Conference
May 13, 8:30 am-4:30 pm
Eagle Brook Church—Lino Lakes, MN (just 15 minutes from St. Paul)

Practical. Regional. Affordable.
Visit the Relevance website and REGISTER NOW! Only $65 by April 26, with group rates available.

Join with church leaders across the five-state area on May 13 at Eagle Brook Church for our 6th annual Relevance Conference. Eagle Brook Church Senior Pastor Bob Merritt will head it up, plus we’re delighted to welcome author and pastor John Ortberg! This is a great opportunity to get away with your church staff, board members and key volunteers for a day about RELEVANCE—what it is, how to get it and how to even get it going in our churches.
We’re here to encourage you. Big changes CAN happen. (Even one little step at a time.)
Let’s face it: there’s an elephant in the church. Actually, the elephant IS the church, and you need it to move. Working together, you can harness the energy of your church to accomplish big things. Relevance is not a leadership conference; it’s a practical, how-do-you-do-it conference. We hope to see you there!
About Eagle Brook
EBC is one of the fastest-growing churches in the Midwest, and has four campuses—three are simulcast venues. The Eagle Brook Association (EBA) was created to help strengthen, support and equip other churches through conferences and other leadership offerings throughout the year.
Eagle Brook Church | Office: 7015 20th Ave., Centerville, MN 55038
(651) 429-9227 | www.eaglebrookchurch.com

I along with some leaders from my church will be attending this great regional conference.  The price is great and the content is outstanding.  Plus, the added bonus this year will be getting to hear John Ortberg speak again!

Monday, April 05, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine - book review


I was sent this book recently to review.  I don't get a whole lot of children's books, so take my review with that in mind.

As I read the book, I found the story easy to read and the artwork engaging.  This would be a simple to read and generally enjoyable nighttime book for children ages 3 and up I would guess.

But here comes the big but of the review - but I found it lacking and frustrating because it was clear the author did not want to use the word Jesus so that they could appeal to the largest market possible.  Is this a trivial detail?  Not to me.  Every page turn, I looked for it, hoping, waiting for it to appear.  Never did it.  And it is precisely because of this that I cannot recommend it, in spite of very good art and a cohesive story line.  Does everything have to have Jesus?  No.  But when we are talking about God over and over in my house, it does.  With a few small edits this could be an outstanding children's book.  You can see below this approach was intentional as the publisher points it out proudly.


From the Publisher:

Author:  Anthony DeStefano, Illustrated by Mark Elliott
Dates:  April 5-9
Summary:   Author Anthony DeStefano’s adult books, The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven, have sold a quarter-million copies. Illustrator Mark Elliott’s cherished artwork has appeared in popular picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine’s ever-popular Princess Tales series.
Now, these acclaimed inspirational experts have come together to create This Little Prayer of Mine, a beautiful and alluring book designed to guide children into a very simple, real and expressive relationship with God.
Through engaging  rhymes and alluring illustrations, This Little Prayer of Mine shows children—and their parents and grandparents—that complete dependence on God is what brings peace and fulfillment. It invites children to know and believe that God is always  just a simple prayer away and that He longs to respond to them with a resounding, “Yes!”
This Little Prayer of Mine appeals to readers from all different faiths. (meh.) Easy-reader format allows children to read alone, or with someone older, and encourages them to openly express their fears, thanks, and needs directly to God.

Author Bio:
Anthony DeStefano is the author of The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven. He has received prestigious awards from religious organizations worldwide for his efforts to advance Christian beliefs in modern culture.
Mark Elliott’s brilliant illustrations have appeared in popular picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales series. His acclaimed artwork delivers inspiration, wonder, and timeless beauty on every page.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.