As we begin to explore the “how to’s” of ministry, our journey starts in the Old Testament. It is here that we uncover the spiritual roots that will prepare and position us for God’s power.
God established divine patterns and procedures early on with his people. The Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob understood the fundamentals of approaching God. Moses introduced the formal functions of being a priest to Israel and then expanded the scope of their ministry. With the building of the Tabernacle, God began to interact directly with the masses through these specific men chosen to fulfill that role.
Three key spiritual elements…the priest, the altar, and the sacrifice… pave the way for our understanding of ministry. These concepts illustrate not only the purpose, but provide the scriptural basis for effective modern-day ministry.
The Person…The Priest
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
The priesthood began in Genesis with the Patriarchs and expanded under the leadership of Moses. They performed a two-fold function.
Priests represented the people before God and they represented God to the people. These Old Testament ministers acted as a liason, a practical touchpoint ushering people into the presence of God.
As his children, God has chosen us as New Testament, modern-day priests. Whether we stand at a formal church altar or out in our communities ready to serve, we enter into the spiritual role of a priest. Like those of old, we too have a dual obligation. We come before God and our focus is vertical—we minister unto God and commune with him on a personal level. And, like the priests of old, our focus is also horizontal—we minister in behalf of God, taking the provision of Christ’s work at Calvary out into the world.
The Place…The Altar
We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10
The Old Testament altar was a place of communication, covenant, and blood. It was here that men worshiped God on altars of earth, stones, bronze or gold. They presented certain sacrifices as offerings to God as he directed. After the flood, Noah offered a sacrifice on an altar. Abraham received the promises of God at an altar. Ancient altars became the meeting place where God encountered his people.
We no longer stand at a physical altar where animals are sacrificed. Christ’s death on the cross has given us access to an “altar” of unlimited grace. When he died on the cross, Christ entered a heavenly tabernacle and placed his blood upon an eternal altar.
… he(Christ) went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption… (Hebrews 9:11-12)
Today our spiritual altar is anywhere ministry occurs. We literally position ourselves at this heavenly altar. Here we find grace to help in times of need. This is the place of blood, for Christ shed his blood for mankind. It is a place of covenant, for we have an everlasting covenant with God according to his word. It is a place of sacrifice, for Jesus Christ the “Lamb of God” forever satisfied God’s requirement for a regular blood sacrifice.
This is the place of blood, for Christ shed his blood for mankind. It is a place of covenant, for we have an everlasting covenant with God. It is a place of sacrifice, for Jesus Christ the “Lamb of God” forever satisfied God’s requirement for a regular blood offering. Understanding the Old Testament concept of the altar and the role of
Understanding the Old Testament concept of the altar and the role of priest are important. They position us to receive the power of God for ministry.
Not long ago, the only models for publishing were traditional book houses or limited self-publishing. Not anymore! Today’s author can choose from print books, Print on Demand, or eBooks and sell through bookstores, direct marketing, e-retailers, or web sales.
Why would a modern author want to consider eBooks?
Even though the lion’s share of publishing still goes to printed books, eBooks have sky-rocketed. They offer the reader a variety of formats to choose from. And there are at least ten good reasons why every aspiring writer should consider eBooks!
- Popularity. In the United States, 34% of book buyer households own an eBook reader. Indie publishers are excelling in the marketplace and approaching 50% of the digital market share. That’s besting the Big Five publishers of Hachette, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House. Yes, eBook sales have diminished slightly, but Indies are proving they are here to stay. With Amazon claiming to sell more eBooks than print books in the US, those figures should get your attention.
- It’s Easy…well, relatively easy! There are a few quirks to preparing and publishing to an eBook format, but nothing that is too difficult. And once you learn the process, you are better prepared for your next publication.
Kindle offers guidelines to help navigate their formatting as does iBook and Nook.
- Speed of Publishing. You can finish and publish your book in one day! Once the electronic file is complete, simply upload it, fill in the necessary information, and your book will be available for sale in a few hours. Pretty nifty!
- Huge Market. Amazon is the giant in eBook sales, but Barnes and Noble’s and iBooks have hefty market shares also. These companies are worldwide distributors of books and continue to expand into new countries. This goes one step beyond hoping your book will appear on the local bookstore shelf!
- Price Control. You as the author have control of the price. You can decide to give your book away, promote it for a limited time with a price reduction, or just fix a price and leave it. Amazon pays a 35% or 70% royalty, Apple a 55%, and Barnes and Noble a 65% profit of the sale price. eBook authors sell directly to readers, so the profits come straight into the author’s pockets.
- Never Goes Out of Print . Self-published eBooks never disappear off of the electronic shelves. You are not pressured by a three-month promotion and then your book is yanked. This gives you more time to develop, direct your marketing strategy, or re-edit and update your book.
- Immediate Feedback. Readers are able to rate your book and write a review. Their critique appears below your book and can be a great selling point!
- Size of Book. eBooks are redefining the standards of book length. Instead of lengthy works, especially in non-fiction, eBooks can be written in shorter segments or series. One well-published eBook author recommends that the book be a minimum of 40,000 words.
- Shelf Space. With eBooks, you don’t need to store books in your garage or basement. The eBooks take up a small space on your computer, not your shelves.
- Cost. eBooks are cheaper than print. In fact, they can be free! You will never need to print a long run of books just to get a decent price. You can publish for free and sell at a very affordable price. This alone should attract some of you aspiring writers to publish an electronic book
eBooks are here to stay. They are convenient, affordable to publish and read, and a trend that you as an author should consider. The wave of the future is here…give it a try!
From Genesis to Revelation, God has always wanted connection and intimacy with his people. He wooed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He dwelt among the Israelites in the Tabernacle of Moses. Jesus lived his life among the Jews. And at the end of the Bible, God promises to once again reside in the midst of his people.
Connection and empowerment are two sides of the same coin. If we connect to God, his power will flow through us to others. Conversely, power is the product of a vibrant relationship with God. This is the beginning and foundation of all ministry. We act in cooperation with what heaven already wants to do.
When we walk closely with God, we begin to recognize his prompting and respond. Our hands and words become a channel of his goodness towards others. Without him, we can do nothing:
I am the vine; you are the branches…If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:5-7
Peter and John understood the power and authority given to them. They knew their assignment. One day as they approached the temple, they saw a man lame from birth at the gate called Beautiful. Peter spoke these words to the cripple: Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. Peter took him by the hand, helped him up, and the man walked, jumped, and praised God. (Acts 3:1-10)
When we connect to God, we become sensitive to the way he operates. We begin to see with his eyes, hear with his ears, and act with his hands.
In my experience, I have seen God respond to three things…faith, need, and expectation. When any or all of these are present, God is ready to act.
Faith is an important concept, a necessary component of effective prayer. It is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Some believe that the person receiving ministry must attain a certain level of faith before they can receive from God. But that viewpoint does not agree with scripture.
In Mark 2, it was the faith of a few friends that prompted them to lower their sick companion through the roof. Many came to Jesus believing he could heal, but sometimes it was Christ’s faith that activated the power of God. Faith is an essential part of the process, but it is not limited to the one receiving ministry.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
God also responds to Need. There have been times when my presence and ministry are an answer to someone’s prayer. A mother or father may have asked God for intervention, and I found myself as the vehicle that provided God’s reply.
When I worked as a tutor, I was called to assist a young man who was flunking his freshman year of high school. It was Spring and he had just broken his leg in a skiing accident. My assignment was to help him complete the school year. Although nothing was ever said, I sensed that his mother had prayed desperately for an answer to the dilemma. God answered by sending me. In just two months, God reversed the situation in a miraculous way. The young man finished his freshman year with A’s and B’s and went on to be very successful in high school and then college. The compassionate heart of God responded to the need and the heartfelt cry of a mother.
Finally, Expectation is the third component which triggers a response from God. When someone asks for prayer, they anticipate a touch from God. Their expectant hope becomes the connecting point to the power of God. It elicits a reaction and he moves on their behalf.
During times of ministry, I have seen firsthand the difference that expectation makes. Those who come forward with high expectations are much more likely to receive from God. When their hopes are centered on God as the source and not a person, he responds. Their confidence becomes the bridge that joins the natural to the supernatural realm.
And I pray that you…may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God…who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…Ephesians 3:17-20
Connection to God is the basis for all ministry. It makes us sensitive to his leading and empowers us to act. How do we stay connected? The Apostle Paul instructed the church to be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) The verb tense here actually means to be continually filled. Once is not enough. When we connect to God and walk in his fullness, the overflow will impact the lives of others.
In this DIY age, we take pride in our ability to do it our self. But at some point, DIY becomes counterproductive and begs for a different solution. What is the #1 way to time and money? Hire a professional!
The DIY dilemma seems to raise its ugly head in many situations…business, ministry, and on the personal level. After I recent move, I had to decide if it was worth my time, effort, and money to single-handedly attack the organization of my new home. Should I recruit professional help for the daunting task of decorating, organizing, and purchasing furniture or wing it on my own?
Three weeks into this project, I was exhausted and my energy level was low. I became open to professional help and it came through two different sources.
The first professional was free! She was the custom drapery designer at a local department store. Lisa spent almost three hours with me choosing drapes, rugs, curtain rods and designed my entire family room and kitchen area. Plus, she found an additional 20% off the already low sale price. What a bargain!
My next experience for opting for professional help came after purchasing a desk and five bookcases at IKEA. I chose the delivery service and professional assembly. Omar and Ivan took less than one hour to construct five bookcases, their extensions, and a pull-out desk. Not only did they put them together, but they consolidated the bookcases into one unit and attached them to the wall. It saved me hours if not days of reading instructions, locating the appropriate tools, and assembly. Wow!
Yes, my recent experiences did cost a little money. But what I saved in time, effort, and sheer frustration was well worth every penny spent.
Why do we often choose to take the long, wearisome route when a shorter, convenient one is available?
How do we decide when it is more advantageous to let the professionals do it than handle things ourselves?
When I consider these recent choices and others in the past, I came up with several reasons why professionals are often the best choice:
- Professionals remove the burden. You can shift the responsibility to their shoulders. There is no shame in asking for help.
- Consultants can create an overall plan and direction forward. Often, they can implement part and then allow portions of it to be done yourself.
- Professionals save valuable time. Their expertise can be a short cut. By employing their skills, you are released to focus on the tasks that only you can do. I don’t know how many man hours I spent at the computer perusing websites. What a waste!
- Specialists limit frustration. What is the learning curve for your task? How much time will it take to struggle through the process? Give yourself the gift of grace and let someone else handle the problem.
- Authorities get the best possible results. I find that I am confident in my decisions and I am not second-guessing the outcomes. In the above example, my home is now ready for living instead of in a state of upheaval. The colors and selection appeal to me and I know they are up-to-date.
- Pros have a higher skill level and greater expertise. They can draw upon years of experience in similar situations. Ask for pictures or references from previous projects. Yes, you do pay for that expertise, but it can be well worth it.
- Experts come equipped. If your project requires special tools or equipment your professional will have access to them. You can forget the added expense of purchasing new tools.
- Specialists add value to your project. They already know building codes and which permit to pull. They can suggest ways to improve that you are not aware of.
- Professionals save money in the long run. Mistakes can be costly. A sound expert can get it right the first time.
- Pros give peace of mind. If you give your input throughout the project, when the job is done you can relax.Time to move along to the next item on your list.
I am a DIYer at heart. I pride myself in being able to learn and tackle almost any task. However, do I really need to? If I hire a professional to do the job, I can rest easy knowing that it is done correctly. For me, when the to-do list seems endless, the choice is easy.
A self-published author must wear a variety of hats. Writing is just the first step in the process. In his classic book APE: How to Publish a Book, Guy Kawasaki describes the multi-faceted role of a self-published author. She is Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur.
When you are ready to see your book in print, it’s time to move into the publisher mode. With a little practice and patience, you can manage this process yourself. Here is my list of seven basic steps that prepares your book for publication.
7 Steps to Prepare for Self-Publishing
#1 Write the Manuscript in Its Final Form
The final copy-edit should be complete. This can be done by you or with a professional editor. (see my post The 5 C’s for Choosing the Right Freelance Editor ) Identify any pictures, graphics, or tables that will be included in the body text. If you are using pictures, make sure you have obtained copyright permission to use them. Also, shrink pictures down to a low resolution suitable for the printing format you will use.
#2 Determine Your Budget
Publishing can be expensive and the costs can easily get out of hand. You may need a graphic designer for the cover, someone to format your book, and marketing help once it is published. Make a list of those items that you are able to provide, what is needed to ensure your book’s success, and which items will need to be contracted. Set some budget guidelines for each of these items and determine to stay within them.
#3 Choose Your Publishing Format
Your first question…will my book be electronic and/or in physical print? If you decide to go digital, the most popular formatting choices are mobi, ePub, or PDF. Click here for a more detailed comparison of these and other eBook formats.
Print formats are dictated by the individual publisher. They will supply a list of pre-determined formatting parameters that are acceptable. These guidelines include margin, typeface, font and much more. The publisher may also suggest compatible software with their individual publishing company.
#4 Select the Publisher
This may be the most difficult step and will take some investigative work on your part. Some questions to consider will be…
- Do you want hard copies of your book?
- How much are you able to financially contribute to the actual publishing?
- What services do you need and how are they provided by the publisher?
- Which marketing and distribution channels does the publisher use?
#5 Create Front and Back Matter
These are additional pages which are added to the front and back of your book. You will want to include a title page, copyright page, and table of contents as well as an author page at the end. Other options are a dedication, forward, preface, appendix, or bibliography. If you are going with an ebook, keep it simple!
#6 Format Your Book
Once you have chosen your publisher, find their specific guidelines. Publishers will insist that your submission comply with their standards. For a print book, this means book size (i.e. 6×9, 8 ½ x 11), margins, trim size, even font. Digital publishers will have a set of parameters that you must meet in order to fit their templates. Once you know the requirements, you can format the book yourself or hire a professional to prepare the manuscript.
#7 Design a Cover
Your cover is the first impression of your book. It will influence a potential reader to take a closer look or skim past it in their search. The 3 Second Rule means a potential buyer will decide in 3 seconds whether your book is worth consideration.
As a self-published author, you may want to be frugal. But, if you do not have the skills to create a compelling cover, hire a graphic artist to design one for you. Also remember to include back copy, a picture of yourself and short bio (this is optional and you should check the current trend) ISBN number (if you choose ), and bar code.
As a self-published author, you may be tempted to cut corners and do the entire work yourself. Be frugal when it is possible, but also realize you may need to invest some upfront money. Publishing is a process just like writing…don’t scrimp on time or money. Ensure that the quality of your published book reflects the quality of your written work.
We have all been there…writer’s block! It visits when you least expect it and remains an unwelcome guest. You may ask yourself…
What should I write about? I am out of ideas!
I have hit a dead end. Help!
Writer’s block is defined as the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. When it hits, any writer can feel paralyzed. So, how do you overcome this debilitating mindset? Here are a few ways that have helped me out of the slump and back to the keyboard:
- Pray. Ask for God’s intervention. He has always been faithful to give me fresh ideas whenever I need them…and that is quite often! I know I could not continue to write without his input and support. This is my first choice when I hit the
- Immerse yourself in nature. God is once again at the heart of this suggestion. There is something about getting out of the home or office and enjoying his creation that perks you up. Birds twitter, leaves rustle, and even the silence of walking down mossy paths wraps you in a mysterious cocoon of peace. And once your mind and body come to rest, it is much easier to grapple with those elusive thoughts.
- Be creative. Writing is only one way to stimulate the creative side of the brain. Try another media like painting. Sew, draw, or even garden. Stimulating the creative center of the brain through any expression can jumpstart the creative process in writing.
- Take a break. Rest is good for the soul…and the mind. Embracing those times of rest and refreshing can do wonders for the busy mind. Allow your mind to relax and do something fun. Watch a favorite movie. Bake some cookies…the taste and smell comfort the soul.
- Call a friend. Chatting with a close friend bolsters the inner man. We are social people. It is how we were created. So, if writing has caused you to isolate yourself, take some time to reconnect with those you care about. Build up your emotional tank and then return to the writing process.
- Get physical. Exercise stimulates all parts of the body…the physical, mental, and emotional sides of our being. Taking a prolonged walk may be the force to dislodge the block and get you flowing again.
- Go shopping. Alright, you may not agree with this, but it works for me. I am not a shopaholic, but I love a bargain! If I can catch a sale or find an elusive item on my “got-to-have-it” list, I am elated. It is an emotional charge and puts me back in a positive frame of mind. I am ready to tackle the word processor once again.
When writer’s block raises its ugly head, don’t panic. Take some time to regroup in one of the ways above. Your creative juices will flow once again!