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Nora St. Laurent’s Review, “Who Killed My Church?”

Nora St. Laurent reviews James Shupp's 'Who Killed My Church?' This powerful story reminded me of Francine Rivers’ novel And the Shofar Blew that portrayed a pastor taking his first church assignment; trying to do all the right things. He soon encounters unexpected obstacles to navigate; as he tries to not lose his family in the process. It also reminded me of another dramatic fiction – true to life story written by Randall Arthur titled Wisdom Hunter. This novel reveals aspects of an unhealthy church. It shows a legalistic pastor facing tragedy and for the first time realizes he’s played God in his own life and that of others. He then encounters God like never before, it’s a life changer.

Who Killed My Church? falls in line with these intense-true to life novels. This author grabbed my heart and attention from the very first page and never let go. Churches all across America are facing the same issues Pastor Pete is facing at Green Street Church. This scenario is all too common as pastors and church members lose their way and try to recapture the spirit and momentum of the glory days.

Pete’s been the senior pastor of Green Street Church for five years and in ministry for 25. Offerings were down, which led to pleading for money from the pulpit; which led to people quietly leaving the church. Why wasn’t this church growing? What was going wrong? He thought he was chosen to restore this church back to its spiritual heyday. This wasn’t supposed to happen on Pete’s watch.

The board was calling for a change, Pete suggests a direction they hadn’t expected. They needed help in uncovering why everything they tried at Green Street failed. In walks Marcus Cunningham, a church consultant, author, founder of Movement Strategies. Marcus talks to the board about the life cycle of churches. I found it fascinating and true. Marcus shares, “…Churches start out as movements; then they become monuments, next museums, and finally morgues.” “…changes are happening everywhere. I travel from church to church across the country, and the issues are remarkably similar. For every new church that opens, 4 close their doors. 85% of churches in America are either plateaued or declining…”

Green Street church is in the middle of a spiritual battle for its life and that of their community. Green Street has been a thriving church. What’s gone wrong? This author gives readers a peek at a church and its people who are willing to take God out of the box they’ve placed Him in. They start to see with new eyes and have a fresh awareness of how God is working in their community. They are amazed. It reminded me of the Bible study my husband and I did years ago titled, Experiencing God. It was a powerful and life changing experience. Just like the study this book will open your eyes and heart in unexpected ways if you let it.

I highly recommend Who Killed My Church? as a book club pick, there is so much to discuss. I also recommend it as a must read for the body of Christ. I wonder how many Christians have given much thought to the situation the church is in right now. Many churches in America are in trouble. This novel touches on just one scenario. It’s a fascinating, disturbing and hopeful read. You won’t look at church or your pastor the same. This author has a unique point of view on this matter because he has been in ministry for over 20 years and is currently in the process of helping to heal churches so they can be vibrant and meaningful again. I’m excited to see where this author will take readers in the next book of this series. Visit Nora’s Blog

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Christy Awards 2015, Marcus Brotherton

Marcus Brotherton, Feast For Thieves, Christy Award Winner 2015

Sometimes Serendipity…

At the ICRS convention in Orlando, I was given the opportunity of attending the Christy Awards. After walking around for nearly twenty minutes, I grew frustrated that I couldn’t find the banquet room where the awards ceremony was located. Nearing an escalator, I introduced myself to two strangers and asked for directions.

“Do you know where the Christy Awards are being held tonight?”

“We’re headed there now,” the first man responded. “Just follow us.”

“Thank you,” I grinned with relief as I stepped onto the escalator.

The second gentleman introduced himself next, “Hello, my name is Marcus Brotherton.”

On the short journey up to the second floor, Marcus and I exchanged a few details about our lives. I discovered that he, like myself, was a writer and that he lived in Washington State with his wife and children.

Then the first man added to the conversation. “I’m Marcus’ agent. He’s been nominated to receive a Christy Award tonight.”

My eyes must have betrayed my surprise or glee or both because the agent seemed genuinely entertained by the expression on my face. Just then, the escalator came to the second floor. As a new author, I really wanted our conversation to continue. There were so many questions I wanted to ask Marcus, but we had arrived and the opportunity quietly slipped away.

Once inside the banquet hall, I scouted the room for the people I would be dining with. I was thrilled they were able to save me a chair despite my late arrival. Upon sitting down, I noticed the atmosphere in the room was rife with anticipation. Many notable Christian authors were in attendance. Everyone seemed genuinely excited about what the evening would hold.

The second surprise of the evening came when Marcus and his agent sat down right beside me. To say that I was elated and overjoyed would be an understatement. The conversation picked up right where we’d left off at the escalator. Throughout the dinner, Marcus, a self-confessed introvert, was kind enough to entertain my eager questions about his journey as an author.

We chatted about his book, “Feast for Thieves.” He was surprised that his first published novel had been nominated for a Christy. “I wrote three-and-a-half novels before ‘Feast,’” he stated modestly. “They ended up in the trash!” We both chuckled.

I asked Marcus about his other books and discovered that he’s authored or coauthored more than twenty-five non-fiction titles. He’s known internationally for writing the stories of Easy Company—the WWII paratroopers featured in HBO’s popular miniseries, “Band of Brothers.” As a New York Times bestselling author of “A Company of Heroes,” Marcus has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, BBC World News, HuffPost Live, and PBS.

During the awards ceremony, the third surprise of the evening came when the winner was announced for the category of “First Novel.”

“Marcus Brotherton, ‘Feast for Thieves,’” declared the judge.

So the guy I had just met on the escalator a little over an hour ago had just won one of the most prestigious awards in the Christian publishing industry. I was so happy for my new friend. His agent handed me a camera and I snapped a few photos for them. The crowd around Marcus grew quickly as people congratulated him for winning.

Then Fred St. Laurent walked over and introduced himself, “Marcus, we’d like to interview you for “BookFun Magazine.” You’ve been talking with James most of the evening. I’d like him to do the interview for us.”

Marcus simply smiled and said, “Great.”

That was the fourth surprise of the evening, and the unexpected serendipity continued. I had the opportunity to interview Marcus the next morning.

What prepared you to be a writer? To read the full interview, click here.

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Deb Haggerty’s Review: “Who Killed My Church?”

Deb Haggerty's Review of Who Killed My Church Pete Blackman was frustrated. His wife, Monica, was hurt and angry. Green Street Baptist was not a good place to work—full of contention and controversy. As he drove into the parking lot on his way to a church board meeting, Pete tried to figure out what to do.

To his surprise, one of his parishioners, Frank Sanders, was standing there in the cold waiting for him. Frank told Pete that the meeting had started an hour earlier—that they wanted a drastic change. Thankful for the heads-up, Pete headed to his office before entering the meeting, wondering if he indeed was the problem.

Then he remembered—he’d been at a church growth conference about two years before and remembered one of the speakers who’d seemed to be describing Pete’s church. Rummaging through the desk, he found the business card stuck to the back of a Post-It note. Marcus Cunningham—that was the consultant’s name. Grabbing his Bible, Pete stuck the card inside and headed off to the meeting.

So starts the saga of Green Street Baptist. After getting pummeled in the meeting, Pete remembers the card, thinks back through the past few years, hears clearly in his mind Marcus Cunningham’s speech, and says to the board, “Gentlemen, let me tell you a story.”

I had the privilege of being the editor for this book, and I do mean privilege. Green Street could be any church, any denomination, any place. The problems and situations described in the story are only too common. James Shupp, however, has written this story with believable characters and situations. You will be rooting for Pete and Monica and Marcus and the others as they go on a journey to rediscover what once made Green Street great.

Who Killed My Church? should be required reading for every pastor, every church staff member, every church board, and recommended strongly to the laity within. Although fiction, Who Killed My Church? lays out concrete methods for revitalizing a church as well as descriptions of how churches lose their way in the first place.

In today’s society, more important than ever is that our churches be strong, with parishioners energized and seeking to draw in and provide the environment where the lost can be drawn to the one true solution, Jesus Christ. Five stars!

Buy this book. Read the book yourself, then buy another for your pastor or give him/her your copy. Who Killed My Church? will change the way you view church—you’ll never quite see church the same again.

Five stars! Purchase here.

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“Who Killed My Church?” Published

So excited that Who Killed My Church? is finally published. Here’s the blurb on the back cover.

An emotionally frail pastor’s wife pleads with her husband to find a new career. A burned-out pastor is about to face a forced resignation. A struggling church is nearing the end of its lifecycle. All too often, these scenarios end in broken hearts lying beneath piles of rubble. What if a miracle occurred instead? Who Killed My Church? opens a stained-glass window into the realities of what happens inside houses of worship all across America, perhaps even in your own. Take an emotional journey with some gutsy people who believe that the aging bride of Christ has not lost her beauty. Their journey will inspire you. What they do, however, may challenge you to go and do likewise.
Read the Endorsements.

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Final Book Cover Design

Who Killed My Church by R James Shupp The graphic arts team at Elk Lake Publishing has designed a book cover for “Who Killed My Church?” The picture in the background features a ruined church that has obviously seen its better days. The first time that Cherry looked at the design, she said, “I really like that. It creates intrigue and mystery.” One of her favorite authors is Charles Todd who writes murder mysteries. She continued, “This reminds me of his book covers.” With that comment, the decision was settled. We are both excited to see the realization of a dream coming true.

Two years ago the Lord challenged us in a big way to take huge risks, walk by faith, and build up the body of Christ. Each day has been a step in that direction, sometimes stumbling forward, but always with joy.

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Book Cover Concept

Who Killed My Church by R James Shupp The publisher sent me a book cover concept for “Who Killed My Church?” The design was intriguing, but didn’t really fit with the storyline or the message of the book. Since I dabble in graphic design, I decided to try a concept of my own. The editors loved the concept, but the publisher said, “We can do much better than this.” That being the case, I’m exited about the creative process and can’t wait to see what the final product will look like. Click on the picture if you would like to see it enlarged. We’re nearing the end of all the work that goes into publication. Next comes the marketing phase. Anything you can do to help me spread the word would be awesome.

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