This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday!  As is the custom, that means its time for this week’s links, a sampling of things that I have read or found interesting in the past week which I now share with and entrust to you for your reading and reflecting.  This week’s categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought and Practice; Leadership Thought and Practice; Neighbor Love; Vocation; Worship; and Miscellaneous. Enjoy!

Church and Ministry Thought and Practice

This post on innovation (or the lack thereof) is both thought-provoking, and affirming for me, as someone hoping to help enable the church to continue to discern and imagine what God might be up to in the world.

One of the discussions I have seen on the uptick over the last four to five years has been among religious and faith based institutions, especially academic ones like universities and colleges, in reflecting on what it means to have that religious or faith identity as part of its name.  My alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) has begun a series to reflect on its “middle name,” “Lutheran.”  The first essay in the series comes from adviser and friend, Dr. Samuel Torvend.

Karen Wilk offers reflection on “Leadership in the Space Between,” a missional conception of community and leadership built from a core understanding of the Trinity.

Rev. Joe Smith wrote something last week which I have also thought for quite a while, “The First Question is Not, ‘Where Are Our Youth?‘” Please read this and reflect on it, especially if you are a part of a congregation where this question has come up (like every other congregation).

Rachel Held Evans offers a starting, work-in-progress list of some Christian women speakers.  As she repeatedly points out, this is not complete, definitive, or exhaustive, nor an attempt to help others “find their token woman speaker.” This was a starting place by her to respond to what she sees are many conferences and gatherings which fail to include multiple perspectives and voices. One day, I believe firmly that this woman will be on the list. Thanks to Rachel for writing this down, even though it has led to some controversy.  Lists are never easy, but when they are used and treated simply as starting places and tools, and not exhaustive or definitive they can be helpful and appreciated.

Shane Raynor offers this piece which he wrote to dis-spell what he sees are “millennial myths,” about why some people leave church.

About a week ago Carey Nieuwhof offered this reflection on how to get one’s church passionate about its mission.  It’s a good reflection on congregations and mission.  Strategy is important, instead of just doing thousands of things in different directions without some core guiding concept.  However, as is the challenge whenever dealing with what mission is, there becomes the tension of how is it God’s mission, as opposed to the church’s mission?  (For example, see this conversation.)  I would suggest that for any congregation that does any kind of ministry, its imperative to always link those examples of ministry back to the church’s vision (or mission) as well as how that is a reflection or part of God’s larger mission in the world.

And fresh off the press today, comes this reflection, “Rooted:  All I  know about missional church” from Amy Martin.

Leadership Thought and Practice

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries offers this important look at “Leaders Who Can’t Forgive.” As he writes, “When you forgive, you don’t change the past, but you can change the future by taking control of your destructive feelings instead of letting them control you, and creating a new way of remembering.”

Marla Tabaka shares, “4 Surprisingly Effective Things to Say.”  These four are:  “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,” “I need help,” and “I don’t know.” What do you think about these?

William Powell writes about “The Struggle for Authentic Leadership.”

This could have been shared under just about any category in this week’s links.  In response to the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing away, Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered his powerful reflections.


Mark P. McDonald offers this helpful reflection on “Redefining Collaboration.”  If you are as interested in the concept and implications of collaboration in your contexts as I am, definitely give this a read!

Mark V. Hurd shares what he sees as “Five Leadership Qualities Great Executives Must Have.”  His list of five includes:  1) getting the strategy right; 2) executing that strategy; 3) putting the right people in the right places; 4) managing dual priorities that others see as conflicting; and 5) keeping everyone focused on what matters. Check out this article to see how he unpacks these qualities.

Neighbor Love

With John the Baptist in the spotlight this past Sunday in the lectionary gospel reading appointed for the Second Sunday of Advent (Matthew 3:1-12), and with the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, came this wonderful reflection from Joel Crouse.

Much has been said about the “Pope’s War on Capitalism.” I won’t add much of my own commentary about this today, but let me just remind you that money is one of the things talked about absolutely most in the Bible. So, there is that.  Anyway, Kaisa Snellman offers this great reflection in light of this news, but especially when looking at “why rich kids stay rich” and how to move towards more “equality of opportunity.”

Also, in light of the Pope, comes this story and a claim by Rush Limbaugh that apparently the Pope may be Marxist. Robert Ellsburg offers an important response. As he concludes citing “Dom Helder Camara a prophetic archbishop from Latin America, ‘When I give to the poor they call me a saint.  When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.’ Some things never change.”

Nate Pyle offers an authentic reflection on what it means to love one’s neighbor and stranger. His reflection points to just how hard that really is, and how short we come up in relating to and meeting our neighbor and stranger where they are at, and showing love to them. Please give this a read! Perhaps even share this, for those of you who are active in faith communities, with your faith community or congregation.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush tries to bring some sanity to the societal debate of “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays” and the supposed “War on Christmas.” Nate Pyle also offers reflection, somewhat relatedly to this conversation, on Jesus being the “reason.”

Adviser and friend of this blog and blogger, Dr. Terri Elton, is offering a daily reflection on her blog as we journey through Advent. In this post from December 2nd, Terri asks about what are we waiting for? Check out her blog and join the Advent journey with her.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), calls for prayer to end hunger.


For those of you in discernment of what’s next, or simply who are trying to make connections and network, its always a good idea to make a strong first impression.  Here’s a good tip from HBR.


In case you haven’t seen it, I was asked to offer some reflection on why it’s important to worship during Advent.  Thanks to the First Third blog for the opportunity.


Christmas at PLU
Christmas at PLU

Now that we are well into Advent, we are also in the midst of Christmas Concert season.  For those of you like me, who are or have been a musician for fun on the side, as part of your job, or while a student, you know well what this means.  This year, if I am made aware of concert dates to share I will do so.  So, with that in mind, St. Olaf College’s “Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir” will be airing on PBS, December 23rd at 8pm.  In Minnesota, there will be other air dates which can be found here.  Pacific Lutheran University’s (PLU) Christmas Concert series will include a simulcast on-line at their website on Friday evening, December 13th at 8pm PST.  Enjoy!

For those of you who are looking for some gift ideas, Addie Zierman offers some for those friends, family, and people in your life who might be struggling in some way.


I hope you have enjoyed these links.  If there are particular stories or information you would like to see shared, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics that you would like me to reflect on as a blog post or two or three, please let me know that as well. Blessings on your week! -TS

Photo Credits:  1) The Links;  2) Collaboration; 3) PLU Christmas

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