Tuesday is here again. That means on the blog that it is time that I entrust some of what I have stumbled across, thought about and enjoyed over the past week with all of you. This week’s topic areas include: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy the links, and thanks to all who have written and shared over the past week!
Church and Ministry Thought & Practice
It would be pretty hard to start this section this week with any story other than this one from Candida Moss. She writes that, “Plotting Nicea III Could be Pope Francis’ Masterstroke.” What do you think? Is it possible?
Also in news involving the Pope, the Lutheran World Federation president was to join him in prayer on Pentecost Sunday at the Vatican.
RJ Grunewald wrote about “Creating a family culture within the church.” I have written before on my blog that I think the imagery of family can sometimes actually be problematic and even at times exclusive in congregations. Nonetheless, this is a very good post well worth thought from a congregational culture perspective.
As we are entering summer, many congregations may be sending groups on mission trips. With this in mind, Michelle Acker Perez’s post, “Things No One Tells You about going on Short-Term Mission Trips” may be a timely read. Among the things that Michelle touches on are the observations that: you’re not a hero; poverty can look different than you expect; historical context may be just as important as immediate context; don’t do a job people can do for themselves; learning takes place in the context of reciprocal relationships; there is something special about going; don’t raise $1000 for a week, and then give nothing else the whole year (a good stewardship reminder in my view); and you don’t have to fly in an airplane to serve the poor.
Nurya Love Parish pondered some wonderfully important questions related to Christian formation and I would say faith formation. As she ponders and asks, allow me to reiterate, “What are your questions about Christian formation in the Internet age?” What do you think?
Somewhat related to these questions, is this reminder to all those who are thinking about and planning formation for the ministry program year ahead. I love the reminder to “spend some time with your parish mission statement and a large calendar.” In planning ministry and formation for the year ago, think critically about connecting them and grounding them within the congregation’s understanding of its vocations, mission, vision and values. What do you think? Further, have you pondered what online faith formation can look like? If so, or if you think that’s an interesting question, check out this case study from 21st Century Faith Formation.
Todd shared thoughts related to personal transition as well as about ministry transitions.
Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller expanded upon an article by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, writing, “Team ELCA: What’s a Small Church to do?” Check it out! Aaron also shared this sermon for Pentecost Sunday.
Timothy L. Owings reflected in “Rest for the Restless,” a reflection based on Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. It’s a good read, one that might be helpful when needing time to breathe a little and hear a word of comfort and assurance, especially in the midst of the work of ministry and some of its more usual related conflicts and challenges.
A few of my friends pondered what this data and post about Generation X by Paul Taylor and George Gao might mean for church and ministry. What do you think? Are they neglected in the church more than Baby Boomers and Millennials?
Katie Chatelaine-Samsen writes that “The Church has been Left Behind.” You will hopefully find this piece thought provoking like I did. I particularly like where Katie writes towards the very end of the piece, “I think we’re at a time in the life of the Church where we are wondering, “What’s next?” We’re sitting with the disciples in Jerusalem waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive, to set our hearts on fire and our tongues ablaze. But — good news — the Holy Spirit is already with us! Once we, the church, recognize this and claim it, then the real work can begin — not the work of self-preservation, of reclaiming the kingdom of Christendom, of being the cultural norm, of witnessing of self — but of witnessing to Christ to the ends of the earth.” What do you think?
Terri C. Pilarski wrote, “The Pastoral is Political- Bossy Girls and the Church.” There is good stuff in here, especially about managing anxiety both for oneself and from a system’s perspective.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops comes this news that the “Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation urges church to lift ban on ordination of married priests in eastern Catholic Churches in North America.”
Mark Oppenheimer wrote this article interestingly titled, “Festival Draws Stars of Christian Preaching (Not as seen on Television),” about the Festival of Homiletics for the New York Times.
Bunny Stoutes asked, “Playing minecraft at church?” I know based on this question you are intrigued. Check it out and see what you think.
Pastor Joe Smith shared some wonderful thoughts in this post, “Meetings and the Joys of Being a Pastor.” I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that “more meetings don’t mean more God or more ministry. If as much passion was invested in tight meetings as is invested in church budgets, maybe the volumes of pastoral burnout stories will come less frequently, and with thinner spines.” What do you think?
If you are in leadership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and would like there to be a staff role at churchwide related to children’s ministry, check out this letter and consider joining the signers.
If you live in the United States, do you know what the most common religion, other than Christianity, is in your state? Thanks to Matt Connolly for sharing this very interesting information.
Here’s a potentially loaded question for you, “What should a minister be good at?” Sarai Schunucker Rice shares her thoughts. What do you think?
Rachel Held Evans is calling for questions in her “Ask” series. The next installment features Brian McLaren. So, if you have questions for Brian, send them to Rachel. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes from this conversation.
Cyndi at Living in God’s Story provided this quick update of appreciation heading into the summer.
Jan Edmiston wrote, “In Search of the Spiritually Confident Congregation.” This is a good post with nine competency areas which Jan outlines. What do you think of the list?
Jan also wrote this nice reflective and honest post about, “Letting Go of Impression Management.” If you are in congregational leadership, how do you approach this idea? Do you find yourself trying to manage impressions? Or, have you found an ability to live authentically in your leadership and in talking about and participating in your faith communities?
Jeremy Rifkin wrote this post about the concept of a sharing economy which really caught my eye this week. He writes that, “The Sharing Economy holds promise for more goods to be offered at near zero marginal cost.” What do you think of this idea and concept?
I stumbled across this survey about “Women with PhDs having kids.” What do you think about this? What do you make of the findings and results?
Julian Stodd continued his great exploration on his blog this past week. He wrote “The Road to Agility,” sharing reflection about the “journey to unlocking creativity.” Julian also wrote this post about “Unlocking Innovation in Teams.” What do you think of the relationships between creativity and innovation, as well as between co-creation, narrative, disturbance and framework?
Leadership Thought & Practice
Dan Rockwell shares “One Response to Ten Dangers Leaders Face.” The one response which Dan unpacks is humility, and then he includes seven questions to help practice humility. Somewhat related is another post by Dan about “How two conversations changed a life.” Within that post Dan shared three ways to change a life: challenge assumptions; recognize performance; and suggest a path forward.
Dan has actually written quite a bit that I have loved over the past week. Other posts which I recommend include: “12 Ways to Become Extraordinary,” “Three Steps Toward Getting What You Want,” and “The Little Eye and the Big Eye.”
Dilbert provides some humor and puts into perspective all of these sort of leadership posts about things you do that will make you successful. Check it out for a laugh, but also for the resulting “hmm” moment as well.
Back in April, Maren Hogan wrote this post about “Breaking down silos.” As I use the concept and imagery of silos often, I figured it might be helpful to share someone else’s perspective about what that term means in organizational and leadership thought. What do you think?
Skip Prichard asks a rather profound question, “What’s Your Leadership Legacy?” He ponders this question with business coach and consultant Andrew Thorn. There are great thoughts here which I hope you will give some time to thinking about.
Last month Bruce Rosenstein wrote about “Peter Drucker’s Path to Success in Work and Life.” Rosenstein pointed to five principles in particular: diversify your efforts; develop and nurture your personal brand; maintain a global outlook; remain relevant; and create work that helps other people. Spend some time with this post and see what you think.
Bruce Kasanoff shared, “Nine Leadership Traits that stand the test of time.” The traits include: the commitment not to lead a little life; vision; voice; heart; team building; backbone; listening; emotional intelligence and diversity. Do you agree? Are there other traits that you might think about adding to this list?
Alli Polin wrote about “Leadership and the Battle of Perceptions.” Within this, Alli offers a list of “5 ways of being to eliminate the battle of perception and create shared success.” The list includes: be transparent; be inclusive; be welcoming; be accepting and be forthright.
Anne Loehr shared a guest post on Leadership in the Zone by Tom Ward, “How to Fully Engage Emotionally.” Three strategies which are reflected on that might foster a more positive mindset are journaling, mindfulness and acts of kindness.
Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared the “Boleman and Deal four-frame model” for reframing organizations from Phil Vincent. If you like that post, you might also appreciate this post about managing complex adaptive systems.
Frank also shared, “An All-Call for a New Style of Leadership.” I really resonate with his conclusion where he writes, “If you supplement today’s forms of employee motivation by instilling a belief in your organization’s mission and stress the importance of every employee’s contribution, you bring about commitment that motivates people forever. The question is, ‘Is it possible to create this kind of environment and strive for market leadership?’ The answer is, ‘You don’t have much of a choice.’ What do you think?
Terri Klass shared this timely piece (at least for me and the blog), “Finding a Magical Leadership Mentor.” Give this a read and some thought, especially related to your own mentors, mentor experiences, and your current acts of mentorship.
Kyle Stokes asked, “Millennials: The Greenest Generation or More of the Same?” Give this a read and see what you think.
Out of the story about the gun man and violence at Seattle Pacific University last week, news has spread about the hero who stopped the gunman, Jon Meis. Yesterday, Meis spoke publicly for the first time and his message is important to share.
Jon Mertz shared an important message for new graduates and millennials. From what he sees, the most marketable skill for a new graduate is problem solving. I think Jon is right on with that idea. Jon outlines five key elements of problem solving, including: absorb information; critical thinking; open to possibilities; scenario thinking; and decision making. Check out the post and see what you think for yourself!
Paul Raushenbush wrote a post that could have been placed in the church and ministry section, but winds up starting the neighbor love section. He wrote, “The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity.” Let me share Paul’s conclusion with you, and if you are interested please check out the whole article. Paul writes, “While the influence of the old religious right has waned, I’m not sure that just replacing it with the ‘religious left’ is what this county needs. The way forward is for people of good will of all faiths and no faith to work together on matters that promote the common dignity, respect and well-being of all Americans.” Amen!
Kurt Willems wrote “Hookah & the Gospel of Reconciliation: Loving Muslim Neighbors.” Check it out and see what you think.
If you haven’t seen this story yet about a man with Alzheimer’s on a mission to get something for his wife around Mother’s Day, then you have to take the two to three minutes necessary to read/watch this story! Your day will be much better for it, trust me.
In another example of literal neighbor love in action comes this story about neighbors and perfect strangers coming to the aid of one family to save their home from falling off a cliff.
In a story that should horrify you, here is proof that horrible racism still exists in today’s workplace.
In a disappointing story, a “Canadian ‘peace coordinator’ [has been] barred by Israel for ten years.”
This story broke last week detailing “The most LGBT-Friendly City in America.” The top ten list includes both Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota as well as Austin, Texas and of course San Francisco. The most friendly city though is apparently Seattle! What do you think?
Jack Levison, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, wrote this very powerful reflection, “After the Shooting at SPU: Desolation, Consolation…Hope.” You have to read this post, it was the most powerful thing I read all of last week.
Friend and pastor Frank Johnson wrote, “Our biggest handicap: The #1 thing life in Kittson Co. lacks.” There are great thoughts about diversity, mission and service in this. One passage that really stands out for me is where Frank writes, “We need one another to strengthen our faith, even as we need one another to give us perspective that is so badly needed. We tend to think that mission is about us going out into the world and offering something that the world needs, but more often mission is about going out into the world and discovering what it is that we need that we never could have seen at home.”
This is a post by Morgan Guyton from over a year ago, but given recent events it resurfaced on social media this past week. I am sharing it with you now because I think its still as thought provoking as it was then. Morgan asked, “How did Jesus come to love guns and hate sex?”
Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick reflected on the claims about “the Feminization of Christianity.” What do you think? Much of J.W.’s response is grounded in an understanding of Galatians 3:28 which I share. Anyway, check out these thought-provoking reflections and see what comes to mind for you.
Jim Wallis reflected on “How the Bible Understands Justice.” Read the whole article and see what you think. I appreciate his conclusion, where he writes: “justice, most simply, means putting things right again — ﬁxing, repairing, and restoring broken relationships. And doing justice restores our relationship with God and makes our worship of God authentic. That should be our justice lens for viewing any society — looking at what’s wrong and ﬁguring out how to make it right. Justice is as basic as that. And acting for justice shows that we love and worship the God of the Bible, who is a God of justice.”
In this spirit of justice and neighbor love, Tom Murphy shared, “Making visible the stories of immigration.” Stories are critical to helping broaden awareness and understanding about anything, especially immigration and other neighbor love related topics, challenges and issues.
Last week I included a link or two to stories about the increase of child immigration. Yesterday a story about photos of what this actually looks like was published by Ted Hesson. It’s numbing and heart wrenching, to say the least. If you haven’t heard about this, or would like to read more, check out this story.
Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared two posts related to Pentecost Sunday. One she wrote prior to Pentecost about “The Meaning of the Light.” After Pentecost, she reflected on it in “Pentecost: Being There.” Give these a read!
Rachel Held Evans shared this post about a “Southern Baptist pastor on why he changed his mind about homosexuality.”
In a post with meaning and significance for faith, faith relationships, the church, and I would say even families and couples, R.J. Grunewald writes that “Dating Doesn’t End with ‘I Do.'” Give this a read and some thought this week.
Last, but most definitely not least within the neighbor love section is this moving and powerful piece about hope by my wife Allison. If you missed it last week, please give this a read! It’s fantastic, and I am not just saying that because Allison is my spouse.
Social Media & Blogging
One of my college professors Dr. Ron Byrnes shared this post, “In Praise of Digital Minimalism.” Do you share the sentiment and find that in order to be fully present you need to at times not be so socially or digitally connected?
Speaking of college, Pacific Lutheran University has re-branded its flagship magazine. It had been called Scene. Now it is called Resolute. The new version launched this past week, so check it out! It has a much more beefed up digital content side to it. To that end, thank you for including my wife Allison and I among the bloggers on the alumni blog roll. That is quite a humbling honor.
Scott Gerber shared, “8 Ways to beat Facebook’s Algorithm and keep your consumers engaged.” Thanks to Carrie Gubsch for drawing this to my attention.
Friend and “Classy Frugalist” Grace Duddy is getting married in a few months. With that in mind, she shared this honest reflection, “A Ring, A Wedding, A Rant: My Adventure in Frugal Weddings.” For those of you who have gone (or are currently going) through the wedding planning process, perhaps you might be able to relate to this post.
Friend and soon to be called pastor Kate Longtin Johnson shared this very honest and authentic post, “Living in the Inbetween Time Sucks Sometimes.” It’s very true, having been in that time quite a bit over the last couple of years, but as Kate writes, “it can also be a great excuse to live in the moment and there’s a funny kind of freedoms about that.” What have been your experiences of living in the in between times of your life?
Friend Julia Nelson shared more life and vocational thoughts in her weekly Sunday Snippits post. Julia will be spending all summer at camp, and I am certain that makes some of you (rightfully so) jealous. Read all about it in her post.
Friend Nancy Giddings reflected and wrote, “Looking for hope.” Nancy, I am honored that you read my blog, and I am grateful and glad that Allison’s words helped you.
Heatherlyn shared a couple posts this past week including “Thoughts from a Day in our Lives in Soundbites,” and some reflections from “A Day trip to one of the world’s 15 most spectacular theaters!!”
Siobhan Harmer shared this very interesting post, “The World if there were only 100 People.” Check it out! It’s very visual and helpful for understanding some of the complexity, beauty and diversity within the world.
As a chocolate chip cookie lover, this post from Anne Miller about “The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever” was a very welcome one to find. Based on your own recipes and experiences baking cookies, what do you think of this post?
If you are excited for the World Cup to start this week in Brazil, check out this page for the latest information and stories. Bryanna Plog offered a great post about the building excitement for the World Cup around the world and particularly in Colombia.
If you are curious about the organization that oversees and is behind the World Cup, this story and presentation by John Oliver about FIFA will definitely make you think. You might laugh, but you also might be horrified too.
For those of you who are golf lovers, the U.S. Open is this week and I’m sure you are excited about that. Next year’s U.S. Open will be at Chambers Bay in Western Washington state. In fact, its on a site nearby where at one time I went on a field trip and survey study as part of a geology class in college. There are beautiful views of the Puget Sound and the mountains. If you want to take in these views, as well as championship and top level golf and golfers, tickets for next year’s open are on sale.
That will conclude this week’s marathon edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always, if you have topics or questions that you would like for me to wrestle with on the blog, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics that you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thanks so much for reading, and blessings on your week! -TS