Deb’s Books Blast/Deb’s Ministry Blog

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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church, missions, or writing ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

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You could be a winner!

I usually give away a book from another author, but this month I’m going to do something different. To celebrate the release of my new book, Give It a Go, I’m giving a copy of it away instead. You could be the first winner of a giveaway for my new book, Give It a Go.

To enter: just comment on anything in this Book Blast in the comment boxes below or send a comment to this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com.

I will choose a winner to receive this ebook at random from all my Book Blast readers who comment in the next three days (on or before September 27.) Or you can read my free chapters from the link below.

In my August Book Blast, I gave away Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander. The winner was Ruth from Montana.  You can see who this month’s winner is in my next Book Blast.

September 2022 is a special month for me.

 On September 22, 2022 I released the ebook version of my book, Give It a Go, Book 2 in my New Beginnings series. To prepare readers for Book 2, I also lowered the price of Book 1, Short Poppies, to $.99 for the whole month of September. I’ve had a fun month crafting memes, posting on Facebook and Pinterest, even making a video which I don’t do very often. At the same time I’ve been waiting for a visa to come to a pastor’s wife in the US so my husband and I can take a six-month furlough. Just two weeks away from the time we planned to leave, we’re still waiting for the visa to be granted.

Check it out!

 Of course, you could just buy Short Poppies and Give It a Go and read them in order. But if you’re like me, you might want to check them out first. Here are several ways to do that.

Read the summaries.

 

Short Poppies

As the youth pastor of Victory Road Church, Levi’s pumped about the growth he sees—until he gets fired. Suddenly he is pushed into six weeks of missions work at Friendly Bay Bible Church in Oamaru, New Zealand. He comes prepared with 147 sermons and devotionals, and 793 games, but he finds working in a small mission church isn’t as easy as he thought.

MacKenzie is almost engaged to Mike, but when she hears about a six-week mission trip, she feels something calling her that she can’t explain. When a medical emergency changes the dynamics, Kenzie is forced to work under Levi while he tries to force big church ideas on a small mission church.

MacKenzie’s not available and Levi’s not looking. They drive each other crazy but they have to work together to fill a sudden ministry need which no one else can fill. They find even six weeks of ministry can make a difference to at-risk teens at a critical time in their lives.

Give It a Go:

When visitors move on to other churches, Pastor Greg recites excuses for why church attendance is dropping. Two years after the death of his beloved wife, Dana, however, he realizes that, without a trained, fulltime partner in ministry, the church will continue to suffer. Greg feels the Lord leading him to open his heart again.

Jennifer is happy with her life and job in America and glad to live close to her children and grandchildren. When MacKenzie suggests Jennifer take a puppet team to New Zealand, Jennifer suspects a matchmaking scheme. She responds with a definite “uh uh.” No way is she going to traipse down to New Zealand to throw herself at a pastor she respects too highly to consider dating. Or would dating even be possible in their situation?

When the compelling nature of the trip calls to Jennifer, however, she agrees to go, but only to pass new skills on to mission churches. When Greg asks the unthinkable, will she be willing to give the idea a go, trusting God to lead her down a different path, not knowing where it will lead?

Read free chapters.

Read the first four chapters of Short Poppies for free.

Read the first five chapters of Give It a Go for free.

Where can you buy Short Poppies and Give It a Go?

Short Poppies from Amazon 

 Give It a Go from Amazon

Short Poppies from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Rakuten Kobo

Give It A Go from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Rakuten Kobo

Don’t forget!

To enter my giveaway for Give It a Go: just comment on anything in this Book Blast in the comment boxes below or send a comment to this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com.

My New Fiction Book about Ministry

If you’re a fiction reader, maybe, like me, you’d like to read a novel about ordinary people in ministries like yours. That kind of book would interest me and since there’s so few of them, I decided to write some. All three of the books in my New Beginnings series are about Americans partnering with New Zealanders in small church ministry. Today I’m going to share what kind ministry themes you’ll find in these books.

 

Short Poppies

Last December I launched Book 1 in my New Beginnings series, Short Poppies.

What’s it about? New Zealand sounds more like a tourist destination than a mission field, but when Levi is thrust into a short term ministry there, things aren’t as easy as he expected.

These themes are explored in Short Poppies:

  • Finding God’s will in marriage and career
  • The differences in leadership styles for big and small churches
  • How to measure your ministry when you see few results
  • Servant leadership

I am waiting until Book 3 is published before I release the print book, but you can buy the ebook version of Short Poppies here for 99 cents during September 2022. (Sometimes Amazon raises the price a bit, and authors have no control over that.)

Give It a Go

This week I’ve released Book 2 in the series, Give It a Go.

 What’s it about? Pastor Greg needs a new wife, but how can he begin to date when he lives in the goldfish bowl of a mission church, ten thousand miles away from his home in America?

These themes are explored in Give It a Go.

  • Finding God’s will when life changes direction
  • Being sensitive to God’s leading in relationships
  • The need for accountability and encouragement (Isolation is dangerous.)
  • Taking risks and stepping out in faith

I am waiting until Book 3 is published before I release the print book, but you can buy the ebook of Give It a Go here.

Pop In for a Cuppa

I have already written the first draft for this book and hope to release it in 2023.

What’s it about? At fifty-two, Jennifer has never felt called to missions, but dating veteran missionary Greg Fischer makes her rethink almost every area of her life.

In this book, Jennifer chooses to work with two women from very different backgrounds.  One of the women has escaped from Gloriavale.

In 2019 my husband and I became aware of a couple of families who had left Gloriavale, a “Christian cult” commune, had become Christians, and were attending a sister church of ours. We began to pray for others to leave the commune and find true salvation by faith alone. This year, after finishing my first draft, Gloriavale has been thrust into the media spotlight. Right now the court is considering a second case that challenges whether the residents, who give all their income to the church and work almost like slaves, should be treated as employees or volunteers. You can read more about it in this article, one of many on the topic.

The Joys of Small Church Ministry


My Experience in Small Church Ministry

 Back in the 1970’s, as a student at Faith Baptist Bible College, I was part of a debate team that debated the benefits of small churches versus large churches. I don’t know if a winning side was declared, but I came away feeling like our team won. Of course, large churches have their own advantages, but I had grown up in small churches. None of them had an attendance of over 150 people. Some had less than 100. I knew from experience that small churches often provided more opportunities to serve than large churches.

As a teenager, I taught Bible stories to kids, played the piano for church, helped with children’s church, and sang in church choir. My pastor dad started several churches during those years and I didn’t just sit on the sidelines. I got to do stuff.

My husband and I served as missionaries in Taiwan from 1980 to 1996. We learned to speak Taiwanese and we helped start two Chinese churches. In that ministry I not only taught ESL Bible classes, I wrote lessons which continue to be used today as ESL ministries download them off my website. That was small church ministry, but it was quite different from the average American ministry.

Since 1998 my husband and I have served as pastor and wife of a mission church in New Zealand.  This ministry is a lot like small church ministry in the States. I got to start our Discovery Club from scratch, and direct Christmas programs and puppet shows which I wrote. During our “What a World of Wonders” theme, Art and I got to dress of as an Egyptian Pharoah and princess. For the short time they were living at home, our daughters got to do stuff at church too. Lori led our puppet team for a year and a half.

Why wouldn’t you want to do stuff?

 Serving the Lord is a privilege. Why wouldn’t every Christian want to do stuff for God in a church ministry? God equips us with spiritual gifts to serve him. He prepares us for ministry and leads us to opportunities to serve him that make a difference. Yes, we need to balance the areas of our life, but It makes no sense to throw all that away when we can seize the opportunities before us.

 Benefits of Small Church Ministry

While small churches don’t fit everyone, this is what I see. Working with small churches is a very personal ministry. You can get to know, at least to some degree, every person who attends church regularly. The pastor and his wife know every child or teenager and have a personal relationship with them. Several of our church people in New Zealand have told us something like this: “Our children will always remember you. You’ve taught them a lot of things that have changed their lives.” Words like this make serving in church ministry worth all the effort.

Encouragement for Small Church Ministry

Of course, all churches have ups and downs. Maybe you’re in one of those down times and you see few visible results for your ministry. How can you stay encouraged at times like this?

In my book, Short Poppies, Levi comes to work in a small church ministry in New Zealand. His background in ministry is very different from this mission ministry and he has to deal with several issues that are common in small church ministry. One question haunts him from the beginning: How can I be sure my ministry is effective if I can’t measure it?

At the risk of spoiling the plot, I’ll give you a pastor’s answer: Pouring your life into people is always worthwhile, whether you can measure the results or not.

If that’s not enough, remember God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (NKJV) As we do God’s work in his way, he is using our labor, even when we don’t see visible results from it.

Short Poppies, Book 1 in my New Beginnings series, deals with small church issues on a mission field similar in many ways to the US. It is available during September 2022 for 99 cents. See my next blog when I launch Book 2 on September 22.

You can buy Short Poppies here  on Amazon and here at other online stores. (I have set the price at .99, but sometimes Amazon changes prices on authors without notification. Thanks for understanding if the price is slightly higher.)

How about you?

Which of these ministries have you performed in a small church setting on a regular basis? How do you keep the joy in your ministry?

  1. Preached a sermon
  2. Taught a class
  3. Played the piano or another instrument
  4. Led game time
  5. Served as a Deacon, Trustee, or other church officer
  6. Entertained groups in your home
  7. Provided transportation to church activities

Virtual Vacation in New Zealand – New Beginnings

Discover New Worlds

When you read a novel, you discover a new world and you may go where you have never gone before. My New Beginnings series takes you to New Zealand. If you want to visit those places virtually while you read the books, these links and photos will help you visualize those places.

 

Short Poppies

In Short Poppies, Book 1 of my New Beginnings series, Levi and MacKenzie visit many of the places in this list. For places not on this list, check out my Short Poppies Pinterest Board.

These are the places they visit, listed by chapter:

Chapter 6: Moeraki Boulders, #1 on this list

Chapter 7: Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, #3 on the list

Chapter 10: Oamaru Harbour, #13 and Friendly Bay Playground, #15 on the list, and the Moana boat pin

Chapter 17: Waitaki and Oamaru Visitor Centre, #12 on the list

Chapter 27: Oamaru Public Gardens, #5 on the list, and the statue pin

Deb Brammer in a Moeraki Boulder

Art Brammer being eaten by a Moeraki Boulder

Give It a Go

In Give It a Go, Book 2 in the series, Jennifer, Brayden, and Alyssa visit these places which you will find on my Give It a Go Pinterest board.

These are the places they visit, listed by chapter:

Chapter 7: The Victorian Precinct: see the corner historical building (Things to do in Oamaru)

Chapter 9: Blue penguins waddling in from the coast

Chapter 12: Zigzag bridge at Oamaru Public Gardens

Chapter 13: Dunedin’s railway station and Baldwin Street

Chapter 18: Friendly Bay’s Steampunk Playground

Chapter 19: Coronet Peak and Queenstown Gondola and Ledge Bungy

Chapter 20: Lake Wakatipu

Chapter 23: Harbour at Friendly Bay

Chapter 29: Monarch Wildlife Cruise in Dunedin

Chapter 32: Gazebo at Oamaru Public Garden

Chapter 35: They eat a hangi meal.

Deb at the Steampunk Playground in Oamaru

 

Art and Deb at Whitestone City in Oamaru

 

 

You could be a winner!

You could be the winner of this ebook, Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander.

To enter: just comment on this Book Blast in the comment boxes below or send a comment to this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com.

I will choose a winner to receive this ebook at random from all my Book Blast readers who comment in the next three days (before August 10, 2022.)

In my May Book Blast, I gave away Private Justice by Terri Blackstock. The winner was Anna K.  You can see who this month’s winner is in my next Book Blast and read more about Second Opinion at the end of this Book Blast.

Coming September 22, 2022!

This is an exciting time for me! I’ve just finished writing Give It a Go, Book 2 in my New Beginnings series. I should get it back from the proofreader in about a week. Then pre-launch readers will take a look at it after that. I’ll make final changes. On September 22, 2022, I’ll launch it and it will be available to buy as an ebook. Though I’m done with the basic writing, I have many tasks to complete before September 22.

All three books in this series feature Americans partnering with New Zealanders in church planting ministries. I really enjoyed writing this book because the situation really made me think. What would it be like for a non-missionary widow, about fifty, to date a missionary pastor who had lost his wife? What kind of changes would she have to make if the relationship ended in marriage?

 

Pastor Greg needs a new wife, but how can he begin to date when he lives in the goldfish bowl of a mission church, ten thousand miles away from his home in America?

Two years after the death of his beloved wife, Greg finds being a single pastor creates a lot of problems. When a married woman misreads his intentions, Greg feels the Lord leading him to look for a new wife.

Jennifer is happy with her life and job in America and glad to live close to her children and grandchildren. When MacKenzie suggests Jennifer take a puppet team to New Zealand, Jennifer suspects a matchmaking scheme and responds with a definite “uh uh.” No way is she going to fly to New Zealand to throw herself at a missionary pastor she respects him too highly to consider dating. Or is dating even possible in their situation?

When the compelling nature of the mission trip calls to Jennifer, however, she agrees to go, to pass new skills on to mission churches—and nothing else! When Greg asks the unthinkable, will she be willing to give the idea a go, trusting God to lead her down a different path, not knowing where it will lead?

Pre-launch Readers Wanted!

Do you love reading Christian contemporary fiction? Would you enjoy taking part in the publishing process? If your answer is “Yes!” you might want to become one of my pre-launch readers.

Pre-launch readers read a book before it is released so that they can help the author in several ways. Right now, I’m looking for three kinds of pre-launch readers.

  • Review builder (AKA ARC reader): They prepare reviews of my book ahead of publication to post a few days before launch day.
  • Feedback reader (AKA beta reader): They give feedback to me to improve my writing.
  • Buzz group (AKA street team): They share posts and memes during my book launch with social media.

You choose what level of involvement you have in my launch. If it all looks like fun, you can do all three.

Review builders agree to read my book by September 15. (They should receive it by August 16.) They are encouraged, but not required, to post a review of the book at an online bookstore (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Rakuten Kobo) in the week prior to launch day (September 15 to 22.) A review can be as simple as a couple sentences stating what you liked or didn’t like about the book. As an independent author, I greatly appreciate every honest review. If a person really doesn’t enjoy the book and can’t think of anything good to say about it, she is free to bow out, but a review builder shouldn’t feel pressured to give a certain star rating or feel she can only give positive remarks. If you choose to be a review builder, I will guide you to the information you need.

Feedback readers agree to read my book by September 6. (They should receive it by August 16.) They give me feedback about various aspects of the book. A feedback reader is not a proof reader or an editor or even a writer. A feedback reader is someone who reads a book like an average reader and helps the author know what works and what doesn’t. The author considers the comments of her beta readers, considering what changes can be made to make the book stronger before submitting the final form for publication.

 After you read the ebook, you would share your viewpoint as a reader. I’d give you some questions you might want to answer and you could comment on anything in the book that you like or don’t like. When I receive your comments, I would gather comments from all my feedback readers and consider making changes to make the book stronger. I promise to consider the suggestions you make, but I may not make all the changes you suggest or explain my reasoning. If several feedback readers mention the same concerns, I’ll know I need to make changes in those areas.

Buzz group members would agree to share at least some of the posts I share at launch time. This would include memes and posts that show what my book is about and give buy links. I never pressure people to buy my books and buzz group members get to choose which posts they share. At present, I primarily post on Facebook.

 If you choose to be my pre-launch reader, you would receive these benefits:

  • You’d get the first peek at my new book
  • You’d be able to take part in the writing process
  • I would acknowledge you in the book
  • I would gift you the published ebook when it comes out
  • I would send you a small gift to thank you for your participation

If you are interested in becoming one of my Pre-launch readers, please email me at this address: artdebbrammer@gmail.com . I will send you a letter that will give you more details.

Special offer in my next Book Blast:

I will offer Short Poppies, Book 1 in New Beginnings, at one quarter of the regular price! That gives you a chance to read Book 1 before Book 2 comes out.

 Now for the free drawing of Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander.

And the winner is …  It could be you! All you have to do to enter the draw is to leave a comment in one of the comment boxes below or write to me at this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com .

Here’s my review of Second Opinion, #1 in Healing Touch series:

Archer Pierce is the single pastor of Dogwood Springs Baptist Church and also serves as chaplain to the ER department of the local hospital. Lauren McCaffrey is a caring nurse in the ER. Grant Sheldon, a father of twin teenagers, has recently lost his wife, and is struggling to come to terms with her death. This small-town series brings caring church members and caring hospital staff into contact with a hurting community. It deals realistically with church and medical issues and explores the path from romance to marriage with Christian singles who want to please the Lord. I’ve just read this series for the third time and enjoyed this distinctively Christian novel just as much as ever.

I highly recommend this book and this series.