Tuesday means that it is time to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking in the past week. This week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I entrust these links to you now and hope that you enjoy them.
Church and Ministry Thought & Practice
You might be interested in this idea, and the resources and conferences associated with it from Rev. Dr. Rich Melheim, “Killing Sunday School & Birthing Cross+Gen Worship.”
Erik Raymond asked, “Are We Expecting too much or too little from the church?” What do you think? Give this a read and some thought.
Morgan Guyton shared, “6 Ways Capitalism Fails the Church.” You should check this out and see what you think. I have a hunch that not all of you are going to be comfortable with this. In case you are curious, the 6 ways include: when discipleship becomes an industrial complex; when consumerism becomes a moralistic obligation; when churches with bling build their membership on transfer growth from churches without bling; when people who don’t tithe say the church should take care of the poor; when “helping” becomes a consumer product; and when God is defined as a banker instead of a shepherd. Check this out, I think its a very important read.
Tom Ehrich asked, “If the Internet isn’t killing religion, what is?” There is lots of great stuff in this to sink your teeth into and think about. One particular thought I want to highlight is the claim that, “The problem is noncreative leaders who fear new ways and have concluded that new means wrong. Even though Christianity has benefited tremendously from technology — printing press, modern libraries, sound systems, video systems, computerized record-keeping, and now Web-based tools — these leaders fear the new and feel incompetent when presented a new tool, and they mistake those feelings with the will of God.” I bet we have all witnessed this feeling and result by others, and perhaps have all done it in some ways ourselves too. What do you think?
Ed Trimmer shared, “Appointment Time Again!” There are good and authentic thoughts on congregational leadership and change, among other things in this.
Clint Schnekloth shared, “Re-rooting in the Neighborhood.” There is great insight and thoughts about how congregations can be (and need to be) contextually rooted and relevant. Because of this there are also great missional ideas and practices as well. It’s well worth a read, and I suspect will be a helpful thing for any congregational leader to reflect on this.
Magrey deVega shared, “5 Reasons Pastors Should Lead Bible Studies.”
Katie Stever shared, “Making new ways out of old ways: alternative churches,” as part of her blog about “Doing Church Differently.” There are good insights here about mission starts, emerging churches, etc., including notes about Humble Walk and Mercy Seat (congregations in the Twin Cities of Minnesota).
If you are in the Pacific Northwest, and have a free evening this coming Friday, May 2nd, you should definitely check out this discussion, “Spiritual but not Religious: Seeking Transcendence in a Secular Age.”
Leadership Thought & Practice
Drake Baer shared, “9 Tricks Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Other Top Execs Use to Run Meetings.” These tricks include: sticking to a strict agenda; a demand that people be super prepared for all meetings they are going to be in; keep meetings as small as possible; no one should wait for a meeting to make a decision; doodle trough your meetings; meet with people individually; aggressively vet every idea; always bring a high potential employee to participate; and getting people arguing. What do you think of these tricks and ideas?
Kate Nasser wrote, “People Skills: The Secret within every great communicator #peopleskills.” Good thoughts and great questions which I hope you give some time to this week.
Anita Bruzzese shared, “The Secret to Peter Drucker’s Career Success” with insights from Bruce Rosenstein. Important reminders and insights include: don’t just live in the moment; embrace the fact that tomorrow is unknown; don’t ignore trends; be willing to take a risk; pay attention to innovators; and be ready to let go. These are all ideas that Peter Drucker wrote and explained about. What do you make of these? As Anita asked, allow me to reiterate, “what steps do you think we should take to better prepare for our future success?”
Julian Stodd recently shared, “Evolutions in Leadership.” There are a couple great graphics and diagrams, and a lot of wonderful insights and theory unpacking here. Check it out, you will be glad you did!
Tim Kastelle asked “Can asking better questions make us better innovators?” I would say, absolutely! What do you think? As Tim asks, let me repeat, “What questions should you be asking?”
Cranston Holden wrote that, “Your lack of planning is not my emergency.” There are some good thoughts about leadership and boundaries among other things in this. I like the imagery that Cranston concludes with, “A good leader may take on this emergency once in a while. It’s part of the job. But if you’re not careful the lack of planning will become a habit and they will expect you to do it on a regular basis. The only way to break this habit is to force them to fix the problem they created themselves. Your time is valuable and running behind them with a dust buster is not good for them or for you.”
JoAnn Corley wrote, “The Power of Now- the key to increasing leadership effectiveness.” There are good thoughts about being open and aware of the present, as well as flat out, “being present.” Check this out.
Tanveer Naseer shared perspective on “How successful leaders build teams that thrive.” A few important insights that stand out (among many) are: the importance of building relationships to understand the needs of those whom you serve; the importance to demonstrate one’s commitment to doing right and not just being right; it is imperative to build an environment where everyone feels heard and understood; and leadership is not just about you, its about the people you serve. Give this a read and some thought this week.
A couple weeks ago Daniel Fincke shared, “Top 10 Tips for Christian Evangelism (from an Atheist).” There are some very interesting thoughts and ideas here. Give it a read and some thought. What ideas come to mind based on these tips? Anything you want to try in response to these ideas?
Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr shared a guest post by Michelle Voth. There is great stuff in here, so I hope you give it a read. Consider this important passage, “As I have come to see it, life is all about connection. Connection to ourselves, our community, our planet. When we lose those connections, we lose something of ourselves.” I think most of us could definitely agree with this.
Abby Ohleheiser shares this story about Jars of Clay’s Lead Singer and some of his thoughts that he shared recently about same-sex marriage. In my view this really points to the need to create safe space and was to have dialogue and conversation among people we disagree (and deeply so). What do you think? What strikes you from this?
LEAD shared a reflection on “Unwritten Rules.” I love this post, and want to share its introduction and conclusion with you in the hopes that you will check out the whole thing. It begins, “The resurrection of Jesus frees us for a life of Christian pilgrimage. Now, if we could only allow ourselves to really live as liberated people. How many of the rules we live with as iron-clad are, in fact, self-inflicted and optional?” Great question! It also concludes with a great question, “We live in a country where religious freedom is a gift. We are people who believe Jesus liberated us from sin and death on the cross. Now we have to have the courage to live it. So who makes the rules?” What do you think?
Friend and pastor Amanda Brobst-Renaud wrote, “Unbelief: The Seed of Faith.” It’s a great reflection and message for the second week of Easter. She concludes powerfully and importantly, “It would be a small thing for God to fashion preachers of the resurrection out of people who believed it all 100% of the time. It is a different thing altogether for God to take us- our doubts, our fears, our unbelief- and to make us preachers of the resurrection, inviting others to come and touch, come and taste, come and see.”
Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for this past Sunday, “Welcoming Church” which was grounded in John 20:19-31. Within this, he writes, “What a welcoming church recognizes is that those newcomers….they’re the very presence of the crucified and risen Christ among us, showing his wounds.” That’s powerful! It also looks like Aaron is starting a good and important sermon series unpacking what it means and might mean to be a welcoming church. I look forward to his upcoming posts and will be sure to include them in the upcoming weeks’ links.
Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech this past weekend to a large gathering of Methodist women, and I think this speech sheds a lot of light on her own faith and faith perspectives. To put it simply for her, “faith means caring for others.” I find resonance with this. Do you? (Credit to Adam Beam for writing the report.)
One of the big Neighbor Love related stories from this past week involved Sarah Palin. To put it mildly, it isn’t for a good reason. She gave a speech, using the image and concept of baptism and connecting it with water boarding. Theologically this is bad. But its also bad, because she was basically condoning torture. How can one reconcile their faith (especially Christianity) with such behavior and actions opposite the very basics of love of neighbor? As you can expect there have been responses all over the board. Andrew Sullivan simply wrote, “Sarah Palin: Anti-Christian,” and then dug into the implications that at least within America, those who support the use of torture are often Christian. What does that say about Christians and Christianity? Joe Carter asked, “Is waterboarding how we ‘baptize’ terrorists?” David R. Henson responded by saying that Sarah Palin was right about one thing, “#AmericanBaptism.” Rod Dreher also wrote as part of the discussion on “The Sacrilegious Sarah Palin.” All of this just confirms to me that there is much to be done to expand and respond to explain what it means to really love our neighbors. (Not to mention, to reflect deeply on what it means to be Christian.)
Yesterday, news broke about a suit regarding religious freedom and same-sex marriage in North Carolina. It’s an interesting twist, and perhaps not quite what you might expect.
Clint Schnekloth wrote and shared, “The Struggle against poverty as an object of consumption.” Please read this, there are really important insights for how we love our neighbors, especially in poverty. There is also important reminders and wake-up calls for how the church engages poverty. Let me share some of what Clint concludes with, “All I am inviting in this post is greater awareness not to confuse our consumption of our own struggle against poverty with the struggle against poverty itself. All I hope for is that I myself will be convicted to live in solidarity with the poor, or to even stop making a distinction between myself and “the poor,” for indeed we are all beggars, we are all people. We are human first. We are called to enter the fray as human beings, to share place with our neighbors, rather than live above (or below) our neighbors. We are in this together.” Amen! What do you think? Ideas?
The Reluctant Xtian explained, “Why you get mad when your pastor mentions politics, and why she has to…”
Social Media & Blogging
Mike Poteet wrote, “The Web and the Church.” There is good stuff here worth checking out.
Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr shared a guest post from Nancy Flinchbaugh offering, “Earth Day Reflections” which include good reflections on what it means I believe to be a steward of the earth, nature and creation.
One of my posts was also shared by Ministry Matters, “Leading around the Potholes: Thoughts on Stewardship Leadership.”
Friend and adviser Dr. Terri Elton shared a lot of important self-reflection, which I would call vocational discernment or at least vocational insights, in her recent post, “The Need for Funerals.” There is a lot of stuff about change, transition, changed expectations, realities, etc. Give this a read, I am sure there are things in here that we can all relate with.
Jan Edmiston asked a question many a ministry leader has pondered, “How do we tell people ‘this isn’t your gift’? (When they believe it is).”Good question!
TK shared a great post this morning about the power and importance of books and reading, and how “Minds change with the turn of a page.” As she asks, let me repeat, “How have books changed the way you viewed the world?” (By the way, check out the cover picture on her Twitter profile and see if you can name what cartoon library it’s from.)
By now you probably know that I am a baseball fan. Because of that, when I saw this story that involved baseball, maps, and fans, I couldn’t resist checking this out! You can see, county by county, what are people’s favorite baseball teams! Check this out!
Have you ever wondered about the largest and smallest national parks? If so, here are some answers for you.
Do you know how the border between Canada and the USA was created and continues as is to this day? If not (and even if you do) check this out and watch the cool video tell you the story.
If you like state fairs, then this is the perfect list for you with the dates and details of every state fair in the United States.
That will conclude this week’s offering of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them and found them interesting. As always, if there are particular topics that you would like me to include, please let me know. Additionally, if there are particular questions or topics that you would like me to think about and wrestle with on the blog, please let me know that too. Until the next time, blessings on your week! -TS