This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday everyone! Tuesday here on the blog means it is time to share some of what I have found interesting and thought-provoking this past week with all of you. This week’s topic categories include: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. You may notice that there is a new topic category premiering this week, Millennials. I will comment more on that below, but I hope you enjoy the addition of that section. Please enjoy the links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Here’s some more information from the Pew Research Center about shifting religious identity, in this case, particularly related to “The Ethnic Church” and Latinos in the United States.

Whenever I can work Archbishop Desmond Tutu into the links, you know its going to be good. Here’s a story about how the Archbishop wrote a letter calling attention to religious leaders who refuse to ordain women.

Sad news to share out of Mountlake Terrace, Washington where the building of Mount Zion Lutheran Church was heavily damaged in a fire last week.

Friend and pastor Jodi Houge shared a great post about Humble Walk’s recent relocation and its being “Born again.”

The Minneapolis Multi-Faith network is hosting an event on June 9th that will ponder the question, “Why are millions of Americans leaving their faith behind?” If that sounds interesting, check out the details.

Rachel Held Evans shared an interesting post, “Ask a pastor’s wife and a pastor’s husband…” Check it out and see what insights she gleaned and what insights you might discover for yourself.

LEAD offered a post about “Intentional Listening.” There’s great stuff in this as always, and well worth a few minutes of thought and reflection, particularly for ministry leaders and congregation leaders.

The beautiful Rocky Mountains
The beautiful Rocky Mountains

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber wrote and shared a wonderfully poignant message this past week, “Stop Saying the Church is Dying.” This message was shared at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly. Here’s one excerpt from the sermon which I hope you read, “…God chose to enter the finitude we fear– enter into the uncertainty and danger of mortal human existence in order to point to something bigger.  Bigger than what is fleeting and finite.  In the incarnation God has given us nothing less than a small measure of eternity through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.  And made us an Easter people – not people who vapidly pretend that everything’s ok – but people who live in the Christ reality of death and resurrection. People who live in the reality of a God who brings live things out of dead things.” Amen. Now go and read the whole sermon. 

Are you interested in serving as a volunteer at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Youth Gathering next summer in 2015 in Detroit? If so, here’s the information you need to know! Check it out.

Ministry Matters is asking, “Does Church Membership Matter Anymore?” Good question! They will be taking up this question in a webcast this Thursday at 3pm CT. Check this out for the details, and if you are intrigued like me, check out the webcast.

Katie Stever reflected on “Finding sanctuary outside of the sanctuary.” Give this a read and some thought.

RJ Grunewald asked, “When should you leave a church?” Good question that we either face ourselves at different times, or certainly know of people who have wrestled with this question.

The Reluctant Xtian shared a “not-so secret” secret, that “Your Pastor Dreads Mother’s Day!” If you can’t guess why, give this a read.

Todd asked, in concert with Lost and Found and in preparation of Luther500, do you want to go to Germany?

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Last month Lutheran World Relief announced that Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard has been named its next President and CEO. Congratulations to both Ambassador Speckhard and to Lutheran World Relief!

Do you routinely work from or meet in a local coffee shop? If so, you might appreciate this article by Chris Reed, “5 Reasons Why Starbucks is the only office you need.” If you don’t often work from a coffee shop, you should read into it anyway and see what you think. In case you are curious, reasons given include: coffee venues are the new office; productivity increases with cafe atmospheres; people need variety and other people; you save money on space and your employees will be happier; and co-working places solve any fixed office needs. What do you think?

A few local papers in the Pacific Northwest asked this past week, “could local cities provide equitable Internet access?” What do you think?

Danny Westneat wrote and shared last week, “Take ‘No Child’ school testing and shove it.” What do you think? I think there is value in these insights that Danny is sharing. Why standardized tests are still used as measurements of performance and aptitude is beyond me to be honest with you. They aren’t great indicators of future success and potential, yet we continue to use them as bench marks for how schools are doing. Are there better options though?

Leadership Thought & Practice

You may not know that in addition to this blog, I write for a few other entities. My newest group that I write for, recently published this introductory blog post of sorts on leadership and effective team leadership.

Jon Mertz shared four wonderful “Leadership lessons from Johnny Cash.” The lessons include: work with people who help you find your voice; align your work to a cause; choices impact lives; and go to the studio and do the work. Check it out!

Adi Gaskell shared this post which includes a Ted-Talk with “Bill Gates on the importance of feedback.”

John Baldoni wrote, “Management: Good Service Begins (and ends) with Good Values.” Special attention is given to ethics, civility, and comity. Give this a read.

Nick Tasler shared, “3 Myths that Kill Strategic Planning.” The myths include: productivity is the goal; the leader’s job is to identify what’s “important”; and strategic thinking is only about thinking. There are good insights here well worth some time and thought.

Roger Martin shared, “A Simple Nuance that Produces Great strategy Discussions.” Give this some thought.

Karin Hurt wrote and Kate Nasser shared, “9 Career Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Sooner.” The lessons include: bad situations are a blessing; give away your best secrets; your peers are your lifeline; communicate 5 times more than you think is necessary; spend more time developing others than anything else; surround yourself with people who will challenge your thinking; their frantic urgency may be misguided; don’t let the meanies get you down; and build a strong, highly visible brand. What do you think of these lessons? As Karin asks allow me to reiterate, “What career lessons do you wish you’d learned sooner?” Good question.

Randy Conley shared, “25 Ways to Build Trust at Work.” There is a great list here. Check it out and see what you might add to it.

Football! That’s about all you can say when thinking about the NFL Draft, right?

If you don’t follow sports, you might not be aware that the NFL Draft was this past week/weekend. In that spirit, Kevin Eikenberry shared, “Five Lessons All Leaders Can Take from the NFL Draft.” The lessons include: invest in selection heavily; select broadly; welcome new team members intentionally; prepare people for success; and don’t hold on too long.

Barry Salzberg shared, “5 Reasons Nice-Guy Leaders Actually Finish First.” Reasons given include: inclusive leaders commit to diversity; creative leaders encourage employees to take risks; ethical leaders have the highest ethical standards; balanced leaders don’t keep employees chained to their desks; and grateful leaders are never too busy to say “thank you.” I really like this post, and hope you read it, because it gives me great hope and assurance. Do you have a similar response or reaction?

Sean Glaze wrote, “Three Incredibly Powerful Ways for Leaders to use the word ‘If.‘” The ways given include: team motivation; creating a culture of awareness and ownership; and removal.

Mike Henry Sr. shared, “7 Signs it’s time to un-follow a leader.” The signs include: realizing their never wrong; realizing they never get the short end of the stick; hearing the word “but” regularly; realizing they spend a lot of energy managing perceptions; when noticing that what they hold on to at all costs is more valuable to them than us; when every answer and solution seems to inconvenience them; and when feeling outside the inner circle. It’s a good list. What do you think?

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Kevin Kelly, “Learning the Keys to Exceptional Execution.” Three keys that he includes are: commit to ongoing learning from everyone; learn from the university of the customer and co-worker and recruit right.


Beginning this week, I have decided to try out a new topic category:  Millennials. Since I have found myself recently writing some related to this topic, and including a number of links related to it, it seemed like it would make sense to begin just treating it as its own section. Do you think this is a good idea?

Beth Rankin wrote a post, which given my recent writing on millennials on the blog, caught my eye. I love her conclusion, and its fitting given the link to the Danny Westneat editorial I linked to earlier. She writes, “Maybe instead of several dozen stories about selfies, someone will write a piece about the fact that in school, I learned more about standardized testing than I did about how to manage money or cook or just plain survive. Is it any wonder why I’m 28 and struggling?  Millennials are not the problem, the solution or anything in between — we’re just trying to figure out how to clean this mess up and create lives we don’t hate while treating each other with kindness and respect. But that doesn’t make for a very juicy headline, does it?” What do you think?

In another post about millennials, Kelley Holland shared this, “What millennials don’t know about the job market.” Would you agree?

In the spirit and theme of more thought about millennials, here is a reflection from last summer by William Powell with thoughts about “Developing Leadership in Millennials.” What do you think of this post?

Brandan Robertson wrote a letter “To the Dying Church from a Millennial.” I can’t help but think Nadia Bolz-Weber (with her sermon linked to above) and many others would have something to say in response to this. What do you think? It may not quite be what you expect though. Here’s one example, in it Brandan writes: “Church, I am convinced that our best days are ahead of us. I am certain that God is not finished with us yet and will continue to use us as the vehicle for his redeeming work in our world. But it will look very different than it has in the past. We are moving in to a new age of human history where God’s Spirit is doing fresh work in our world. The expression of our faith will look significantly different than it has in the past, but the object of our faith will remain steadfast. May we be open and willing to allow God to do his refining work on us, understanding and embracing the pain of change, and looking forward with great hope and expectation for the days to come.” Give this a read! 

Neighbor Love

Addie Zierman shared insight this past week on why she “doesn’t write about ‘hot button’ issues.” It’s an honest and authentic post, and well worth a read with neighbor love and vocational ideas in mind.

Rachel Held Evans wrote, “On Faithfulness (A Brain Dump).” There is great and authentic thoughts related to neighbor love in this, including the honesty that she is still wrestling with all of the fall-out related to the World Vision decisions/reversal. Give this a read to see and contemplate what faithfulness means and might mean. In case you want one further nugget, one particular passage which stood out to me reads: “What I’ve realized over these past few weeks is that God didn’t call us to win, God called us to be faithful. God doesn’t call us to change the world, God calls us to serve the world.” What do you think?

Adam Nossiter and David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that, the “Abduction of Girls an Act Not Even Al Qaeda Can Condone.” This of course is referencing the kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria.

Michael Winter shared the sickening news that an “Indonesian woman gang-raped, faces caning for adultery.”

Brian McLaren shared this sobering and important look at the death penalty in the United States. Check this out and see how you feel and what comes to mind when looking at this information.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Last week, Pope Francis made news again. This is becoming a weekly thing and should hardly be surprising at this point. What he did though is that he called for the “‘Legitimate Redistribution’ of Wealth to the Poor.” As an economics and theology student, I love this idea. I just wonder about how this might look. What do you think?

In what was probably the most powerful and emotionally moving and thought provoking piece I read over the past week, Peter Bach shares his story as a cancer doctor who lost his wife to cancer. He titled the essay, “The Day I Started Lying to Ruth.” You have to read this. What would you do in his shoes? How are we present in such situations and struggles? How do we show love, hope, peace, and mercy in situations like this?

Billy Frank Jr., the Native American fishing rights and environmental advocate, as well as 1992 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism was remembered in a large memorial service over the weekend. If you are unaware of his story, give this a read.

Luther Seminary professor, Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto wrote, “Heaven is a Home.”  He concludes powerfully, “If God has prepared a home for us, ought we not prepare a home for our neighbor? If God has prepared a home for us, perhaps God is building some today even as we try to erect fences around our own.” Please read this and give it some serious thought and reflection! 

Tony Jones this week is asking, “Can you be evangelical and gay-affirming?” He will be part of a live chat on Wednesday with Rachel Held Evans, Matthew Vines and Jay Bakker. If you are interested in this conversation and question, check out the details.

Friend and pastor Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared this very powerful and personal reflection, “On Being Honest.” If it weren’t for the cancer story earlier, this would easily have been the most moving thing I have read in the past week!

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for this past Sunday, “Unjust Suffering,” grounded in 1 Peter 2:19-25 and John 10:1-10.

Social Media & Blogging

Blogger and theologian Sarah Bessey shared her own version of the links at the end of last week. Check out her list for some great links and reads!

Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, Jim Kast-Keat and Christina Fleming shared a list of “10 Ways Congregations can engage with Social Media.”  Ways offered include: listening; connecting; participating; organizing; reflecting; specifying; caring; augmenting; including; and transcending. Give the list some thought.


Friend, blogger, and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy shared a great list of “10 Everyday Frugal Tips.” The list includes: be a smart grocery shopper; start saving; give to a cause you care about; shop your home; keep an eye on your spending and saving; try out the envelop method; pay more than your minimum payment; eat at least one vegetarian meal per week; have a 30-day purchase list; and adjust the temperature in your home seasonally. Great ideas which could certainly have a positive result on your budget and savings.


Rachel Held Evans shared a fantastic post given Mother’s Day was this past Sunday. Check out “‘What My Mother Taught Me…’ With Shauna Niequist.” I thought this post was a helpful reflection on life, vocation, and especially about “mutuality in marriage and calling” as Rachel noted.

Alyssa Frank noted recently and asked, “The Current career model is broken. Can we fix it with vomit-flavored Jelly Beans?” Interesting question, and a humorous way to approach a humbling reality of sorts. I love her conclusion though, and it really resonates with my own understandings and beliefs about vocation. Alyssa writes, “The framework is simple: Anchor your career in your interests. Because whether you love science, business or knitting hats for cats, if you can pay the bills by doing what excites you, you’ll be less inclined to see work as a soul-crushing purgatory between breakfast and dinner. That’s the career philosophy we need to teach future generations.” What do you think?

TK shared a look back and some reflection at the question we all wonder from time to time, what is the meaning of life?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth wrote a post about “Telling.” I love this! Diane concludes, “What if we all learned to tell stories to one another?  What would we learn, and what would we hear, and what would we remember, if we told the ancient stories, if we learned to walk around in them, hearing the cries and dreaming the dreams, hoping against hope?” Give this some real thought.

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared some good reflections in her Sunday Snippets. Check them out.

Dan Rockwell, also known as “The Leadership Freak,” shared “Five Ways to Connect with Your Beautiful Obsession.” Check this out for sure!


An Orca (also commonly called a "Killer Whale"). These are a beautiful sight in the waters of the Pacific Northwest- especially British Columbia and Washington state.
An Orca (also commonly called a “Killer Whale”). These are a beautiful sight in the waters of the Pacific Northwest- especially British Columbia and Washington state.

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared a book review on Pig and the Accidental Oink! – Picture Book ApologeticsYou have to check this out!

For those of you looking for travel or vacation ideas, KPLU shared “5 Reasons to Consider a Vacation in B.C.” (That’s British Columbia, for those of you not as familiar with the Pacific Northwest.) Reasons offered include: you don’t want to leave the Pacific Northwest in the summer; it’s easy to get there; you can be alone; or you can be with people; and the world is coming here.


That will wrap up this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if there are particular topics you would like included, please let me know. Also, if you have particular topics or questions you would like me to wrestle with here, please let me know that too. Until next time, blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Rocky Mountain National ParkFootball; Pope Francis; Orca

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