Interview with Sherree Funk, Author of 'Peter: Rock Star from Galilee"


Well-grounded in biblical Christianity, Sherree G. Funk is passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of God’s Word with the next generation. She has earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and holds a Certificate in Christian Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary. Sherree leads small groups of teens at Ingomar UMC in Pittsburgh, PA. Her teen Bible studies are available at http://www.servingonelord.com/.


Join a facebook group to study Peter this fall at PeterRockStar@groups.facebook.com.

Sherree blogs on her website and also at http://www.sherreefunk.authorweblog.com/.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Sherree. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Peter: Rock Star from Galilee?

About four years ago a small group of young teens asked me to lead them in Bible study, but I had trouble finding a study guide for them. As an adult I have loved the study guides by Beth Moore, so I wondered if a similar style, a bit shorter, with more fun questions might work.

After praying about it, I felt the Lord leading me to focus on a character and then draw out the issues that character faced, many of which are the same things students face today. I show how these characters made mistakes, but learned from them, and eventually trusted God for some big things. I like to integrate both Old and New Testament passages because the entire Bible is there to teach us how to live. My first studies were Lydia of Philippi: Believer in the Lord, Joshua: Strong and Courageous, and Ruth and Boaz: Woman of Excellence, Man of Honor.

Each 8-week study has a personal study component and ideas for small group discussion and activities. Teens want to learn how a Bible study can really be applied in their world. So active participation in outreach and service events is encouraged in my studies.

I have always admired the character of Peter. His natural enthusiasm and leadership qualities placed him front and center in many gospel stories. Either he was stepping out of the boat when everyone else was quaking in fear or he was putting his foot in his mouth, later regretting his words. Because there is so much material about Peter in the Bible, we can see his faith development quite clearly and learn so much from him.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

I wanted a title that would grab the attention of my teen audience. Peter may not have played an electric guitar, but he had a larger-than-life rock star personality. When Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, it was because of his rock-solid statement of faith. (Peter is Greek for rock.) And though he tried hard to be the best disciple, Peter learned that only when he let go of his pride and received the Holy Spirit could he become the star disciple God intended him to be. Peter. Rock. Star. Disciple.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

It’s not enough to just tell students the Bible is something they should read someday. If we really believe the Bible can help us live the life God wants for us, turning us toward the living Savior, then we should help kids get into it. Most of us need some guidance in our study, something to help us put the Bible in perspective for our own lives, and that is what my book can do for young people.
Peter: Rock Star from Galilee has a unique Bible study feature. Contemporary Christian songs and traditional hymns are listed at the start of each chapter. I’ve chosen songs whose lyrics emphasize the themes and issues encountered in the study. It is my hope that by linking the music to the study, teens will retain the truth in their hearts forever.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Winepress, have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

I love the cover Winepress came up with. The title is a bit of a play on words, so I wanted something to evoke both solid rock and the bright spotlights of a rock star performance. They succeeded with the rocky background texture, the big letters, and the upward-shining searchlight feel.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

Marketing is almost a full time job. I have a great book trailer on my website, facebook updates, advertisements, bulk mail postcards, book signings at local bookstores, press releases, and ICRS daily newspapers. Although Winepress has name recognition in the Christian retail industry, I have to do most of the marketing myself. And there is always something new to try.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?
For one thing, this is a personal guidebook, not just a lesson planner. For a great set of Sunday School Bible lessons, go to Youth Specialties’ Creative Bible Lessons series. And it is not a watered-down adult study. There are youth versions of Blackaby’s Experiencing God or Ortberg’s The Me I Want to Be or other popular studies. I have seen studies that link to popular movies. The music connection in this book is unique, I believe. This book is written directly to a young teen audience and encourages hands on Bible study and service to others.
Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?
OK, on page 81, Jesus’s Final Farewell, students are led to Matthew 28:6-20, also called The Great Commission. The questions help unpack the passage, piece by piece. Readers are asked, “Do you think Peter was humbled by the scope of this assignment? How might it impact you?” Then they are challenged to find practical ways to take the Great Commission seriously, with several suggestions to spur imagination.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I do. My next character study will be on Hannah. She was the mother of Samuel in the Old Testament. Childless for many years, Hannah was tormented by bullying. She used self-control and poured out her anguish to the Lord. Her faithfulness and kindness are remarkable – a great role model for young people.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Sherree. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

http://www.servingonelord.com/ is my website, and all the studies are available there. You can also buy from http://www.winepressbooks.com/, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.christianbook.com/, http://www.familychristian.com/, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/, and some local bookstores. In fact, I would love it if you would request your local Christian store to carry it!

In September I will be leading an on-line study on facebook. Join the Peter Rock Star from Galilee Bible Study group at PeterRockStar@groups.facebook.com

Read my blogs at http://www.sherreefunk.authorweblog.com/  and at http://www.servingonelord.com/.
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