Eighteen months ago, I wrote my first entry for the Five Practices Blog. I’m now writing my 125th contribution. Hundreds of people receive copies of the entries by subscribing to an email blast that goes out after each new blog entry is posted. Other people find the www.FivePractices.org website and discover the blog while preparing to teach or lead events related to the book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. Site traffic comes from every U.S. state and many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
While few people post comments on the site, I’ve been amazed at the number of personal email responses and the comments, suggestions, and questions I receive in person when I’m preaching or teaching or visiting churches. Several blog entries have been republished by the United Methodist Reporter, Lewis Leadership Center, service agency newsletters, and church newsletters. Almost every week we receive requests to quote or reprint all or part of a particular piece. Many are quoted or linked by other bloggers. From time to time I re-evaluate whether to continue the blog or whether I should focus on other projects. While it’s impossible to measure the impact or evaluate the effect of the blog, I receive enough positive interest to encourage me to write another post, and then another, week after week.
A few months ago, Abingdon Press approached me with the idea of compiling some blog entries into a daily devotional book. We chose thirty, and I set to work to rewrite them to focus the topics more directly on personal discipleship. I’ve added scriptures, questions for reflection, and a daily prayer.
The Balancing Act: A Daily Rediscovery of Grace has now been released by Abingdon. The collection includes many favorites of mine and those identified as most helpful and interesting to readers, including rewrites of “Somewhere Out There,” “Labyrinth,” “The Bear,” “Changing Metaphors,” “Paradox,” “Thank You, Kathleen,” “Seeds with Wings,” and many others.
Many churches and classes who have appreciated the daily format of the devotional guide Cultivating Fruitfulness have requested something more in the same pattern. So these readings are slightly longer, more in-depth, and cover a larger range of issues.
Use the book personally for daily readings, as a month’s reminders not to neglect the spiritual life, or use it with friends, colleagues, or family members, all reading the same stories on the same days to stimulate conversation and reflection. The collection is also designed for study groups, ongoing classes, short-term gatherings, house groups, or adult Sunday School classes. The material is divided into six sections so a study group can cover one section per week, reading the five daily readings and bringing their thoughts and notes with them for the weekly discussion on the larger theme. Abingdon has priced the book to make it readily accessible for small group use.
The Balancing Act: A Daily Rediscovery of Grace reflects the conversations we’ve had together on the Five Practices Blog over the last eighteen months. I view it as a co-creation involving the regular readers of the weekly writing. Thank you for your encouragement of this ministry. I give God thanks for our common journey of exploring the incredible gift and task of ministry together in Christ’s name.
Yours in Christ,
Learn more about The Balancing Act: A Daily Rediscovery of Grace.