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"Whoever and wherever you are, these women want to tell you that you are a frontline worker." — From the Foreword by Aileen Challies
From Austin to Edinburgh, from Baltimore to Glasgow, this is the story of women’s ministry as you’ve never heard it before. It’s one story told through different voices as women with ministry experience from across the globe collaborate to share their wisdom, insight and practical advice on how they minister in their communities. If you had the chance to sit down and ask each of these contributors about their lives, this would be that conversation.
A healthy, thriving women’s ministry is possible in your church too.
What others are saying about unexceptional:
"I have been waiting on this book for years. Sharon Dickens has organized and filled a huge gap to empower all Christian women to see their God-ordained value and help them flourish. This is a must read." — Brian Croft, Senior Pastor, Auburndale Baptist Church, Founder, Practical Shepherding and Senior Fellow, Church Revitalization Center, SBTS
"Your heart will be stirred as you read these beautiful accounts of the power of the gospel. Practical and insightful, every chapter is infused with timeless wisdom and gospel-centered grit." — Gloria Furman, author of The Pastor's Wife
"I’m so glad this book has been written. It’s put together with wisdom from women from a variety of backgrounds. Well written, engaging and helpful." — Mez McConnell, Pastor of Niddrie Community Church, Director of 20schemes, Co-Director of Acts 29 Church in Hard Places
"This book is an excellent encouragement to persevere in ministry, in both the routine of life and the difficulties of crisis. It illustrates the biblical reality of gospel ministry, in the midst of the lives God gives us, is the call for every believer and not just a select few." — Jan Timmis, wife, mother and grandmother, long-time church member and disciple
What do you think the responses would be if you asked the average Christian; what is ministry? I think people would say Pastor, elder, they may say student pastor, youth pastor, children’s and families worker, but it generally stops there. Sadly, one of the things that is lacking in so many churches is someone who is intentionally doing ministry for women. But in many cases, even if there is an employed women’s worker, people think that it must look like crafts events, afternoon tea and formal stuff. That is so wrong! Unexceptional is an exceptional book (see what I did there?). Seriously, if you do not have this book then you need to buy it! I picked it up thinking “Yeah, it’ll be interesting, but I’m not really the intended audience for it” Oh how wrong I was! I started the book and literally couldn’t put it down until I’d read it all. This book is written for women, for the wives of pastors, for women thinking about ministry, for pastors thinking about taking on a women’s worker. In this book you find stories of women who are serving the Lord faithfully in many different contexts, each different from each other. You’ll hear stories of how they were converted, how they use their past experiences (as hard as they may be) for the glory of God and the upbuilding of His church. In this book you’ll find a philosophy of ministry that will equip women to be wonderfully gifted disciples who go and make more disciples. “As Christians we have a bad habit of complicating and structuring what is such a simple and natural thing: mentoring and discipleship – doing life together” I love Sharon’s honesty here and I find myself shouting AMEN! discipleship does not fit into a mould, discipleship is not a ‘one size fits all’ model that every Christian must be squeezed into. Discipleship is one sinful broken but redeemed person showing another sinful broken redeemed person how to live out faith in a broken world. That is what this book shows you! Discipleship doesn’t happen if you throw a book at someone or if you stick them on the newest most trendy course. Discipleship happens when two people live life together, go through the ups and downs together and spur each other on to holiness and to live out the Great Commission. In this book you’ll find the stories of 8 different women and how they faithfully serve the Lord in different contexts. One minute you’ll be in Niddrie Community Church (Edinburgh), the next you’ll be in Brazil, then Baltimore, Virginia and Middlesbrough. In each chapter you’ll be swept into different kinds of ministries, you’ll see how God is so gracious and kind and you’ll see the wonderful things that He has done and continues to do with and through these women. Not only that, but at the end of each chapter the women explain practical principles that they’ve learned over the years. These insights are golden and are the result of ups and down, they are the practical wisdom of women who have served the Lord and have the scars to prove it. In these stories you’ll be able to learn from the mistakes of others, develop ministry in a healthy, organic and Biblical way and you’ll be encouraged to praise God that He gives strength to weak humans to do work for His Kingdom. At the end of each chapter you’ll find discussion questions and helpful resources that helped that person develop ministry, grow in their understanding of God and helped them think about how they can best serve Him. One of the things that I love about this book is that it is so helpful and it shows the importance of living–life–discipleship. Discipleship can take many different forms, but too often we forget that just rubbing shoulders with each other can be really helpful. Living life together means that you won’t always see the polished ‘Sunday best Christian’ but you’ll see the reality of faith lived out, the reality of what it means to be a Christian day in and day out. 20Schemes do a wonderful job of equipping women to serve the local church, they train and disciple people to serve the Lord in their own context, with their own gifts and all for His Glory. If you don’t know the ministry yet, check it out here. This is a new website that they have created to equip the local churches. I seriously recommend that you buy this book, it will be money well spent! Be inspired by what God has done, be challenged to be a disciple that makes disciples, be encouraged to see more women discipled in the local church and be pointed to the wonderful work of the Lord being done by faithful women across the globe. Rating 5/5 (If I could, I’d give it a 10, seriously buy the book!)
‘Unexceptional’ is a gritty, honest and vulnerable account of real women really loving the Lord and their neighbours when it costs a lot. It’s a book about investing in others as a ‘thank you’ to Jesus who has invested everything in us. It’s about embracing God’s purposes with a big dose of trust when the way ahead makes no sense in human terms. Sharon has given the concluding chapter the title ‘Persevere to the End’ and I read it on a day when I needed to be reminded of the eternal rewards of keeping on keeping on. I would not be at all surprised if other women have picked up ‘Unexceptional’ and found that it’s message was the right one for that particular moment in their lives too. I have to end by saying a big thank you to all the contributors.
The stand alone chapters are helpful if your pushed for time to read a whole book, or if you’ve long periods in between chapters. There is a thread running through the whole book which you are still able to pick up on even if you read it slowly. I appreciate plain speaking & directness, which is what you get in this book. As well as honesty, boldness, encouragement & a challenge as to what it is we are personally doing in our own situations. I’d recommend this book to any women no matter where she is in her Christian walk, but especially if you are on older Christian who does have a heart for the Titus 2 instructions.
This is a really good book if you wish to read about ordinary Christian women who are being raw, honest, and open about their experiences of ministering as women in different ways (e.g. in church planting, mercy ministry) along with practical tips and reflections. It does not sugar–coat women’s ministry but helps the reader see the difficulties and sacrifices that are part of it when reading the contributors’ stories. It is a recommended read!
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