The Church and Millennials- Part 2

Today I am picking up the conversation about what the church might be able to learn from millennials. In continuing the conversation started a couple days ago, here are five other observations that stand out about the implications and opportunities millennials may present to the church.

Laughing during Bible Study with Peggy and Megan
Millennials value authentic stories- spaces and conversations where they are allowed to be themselves and get to know each other at deeper levels.

Millennials value authenticity, and because of this they value authentic stories– in preaching, leading and relationship. They want to know the deeper story (like in the work around authentic stories done by Humans of New York). Millennials don’t want just a Bible Study in the sermon. They want to see what is being preached lived out in life and the way the church or faith community exists. They want to know what questions people are contemplating, what parts of the faith journey are being struggles, and they want to be met in authentic relationship. They desire to be valued as equals by others in their communities and by their communities’ leaders and pastors. The idea of some people being “set apart” over others does not sit well with them, and pastors that hold such an idea of leadership and of pastoring often may frustrate, alienate or altogether lead to millennials leaving a particular faith community (and sometimes, sadly, the larger church) altogether.

Millennials may signify new opportunities for connections and connection making because being connected and connecting people and ideas is something that is seemingly second-nature to millennials. To see this, one only has to witness the way millennials use and engage social media. But beyond the connecting online, millennials connect ideas from different spheres of influence and study with different areas and subjects in their life. In this sense, they are networkers but also able to connect meaning in ways that may not have seemed possible, necessary or even considered before.

Millennials seem to value collaboration, partnership, and working together
Millennials seem to value collaboration, partnership, and working together

Millennials seem to have, more than prior generations, a spirit and desire to collaborate because they see themselves as part of something bigger than themselves and want to be able to help do some good in the world. In their service they look or find depth and are able to make meaning out of why they are doing what they are doing. Thinking of a particular faith understanding, for Lutherans this might mean being able to better connect the work and theological meaning of the work of related non-profits and organizations like Lutheran World Relief to the life of a particular congregation. Millennials love partnership, and because of this they not to be as afraid of giving others power. They are happy to share power and decision making for the sake of the larger need. A good example is the “Friend Raiser” model employed by MIDTOWN Church.

Millennials are cautiously optimistic and hopeful. They love helping others and generally appreciate opportunities to affirm other people in the work they do. For the church this may mean people who can help teach the church how to affirm people in their daily life (vocations).  Everyone brings something beautiful and unique to the table. I believe this has great potential for a new way of deeply articulating what it means to be Children of God, and to be beautifully unique, diverse and loved.

Millennials desire and yearn for depth.  Traditional Bible studies and being told what is important doesn’t really resonate for millennials. There is a deep desire to connect, wrestle, question and engage multiple senses and life with faith. This reiterates the importance of connection and meaning making unpacked above. I also think this speaks to the opportunities presented by some church related undergraduate institutions like Centers of Faith and Life or other such places. If congregations and faith communities open up opportunities for depth and intentionally allow space for it, they may be more likely to engage millennials.

What do you think of these observations and potential opportunities? Do you agree or disagree? What other observations or ideas do you have? What your ideas are will shape the next post in this series so please let me know what you think and join the conversation. I believe it’s an important one for the church.

Image Credit: Hands together

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on my blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking with all of you. To this end, this week’s topic categories are: 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 these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

As has been the norm this summer while Bishop Mike Rinehart has been on sabbatical, Pastor Don Carlson shared some reflection about this weekend’s upcoming lectionary appointed texts. Check this post out for ideas if you are preaching or leading worship this weekend.

Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton joined the “Things That Matter” Podcast last week. Check out the half hour podcast featuring a conversation with Bishop Eaton about a wide range of topics.

Zack Hunt shared news about a pastor who is challenging his denomination over the ordination of women. Pastor Frank Stevenson of St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church recently granted fifteen preacher’s licenses to women in his church.

Don Underwood shared this post simply titled, “Questions” via Ministry Matters. There’s good reflection in this. Spend some time with this, this week.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott wrote about “Monastics and the modern mind.” This is an interesting read, well worth a couple minutes to learn a bit more about an important monastic like Bernard of Clairvaux.

Jan Edmiston reflected on “The Sleep Patterns of Pastors.” As she asks, allow me to repeat, “How are you sleeping?” In a separate post, Jan also asked, “Who are we working around?” Good question.

Allison and I with our friend Emily Wiles
Allison and I with our friend Emily Wiles

Matthew Gault shares news that I honestly think you have to read to believe, “Texas Megachurch Preaches the Power of Drones.” I also appreciate the sub-title, “Poor taste won’t stop this pastor.” What do you think?

Two friends and now pastors Emily Wiles and Peter Weston Miller from Luther Seminary were featured in a story called “Faithful and Relevant” by Rebecca John in Augsburg Now. 

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Friend, blogger and communications specialist Carrie Gubsch shares this post, “On Mitch McConnell, Giant Metal Chickens and Difficult Conversations.” In this, Carrie looks at the challenges related to listening to people and being in conversation with people we don’t agree with, or struggle to agree with.

In continuing the good writing he has been doing lately about stories, Julian Stodd shared, “Capturing the Moment: the Authenticity of Stories.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Back in May, Ben Dattner wrote that “Most Work Conflicts aren’t due to Personality.” Give this a read, especially if you are experiencing conflict at work or among your team.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders explained “Why Saving Work for Tomorrow Doesn’t Work.” Do you agree? I think I do.

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts yet again this past week. One of my absolute favorites of his in quite some time is, “5 Essentials for Developing Remarkable Leaders.” The five essentials are: put them in high-challenging roles; assign them to a short-term task force; give real-time feedback; provide them with coaches and mentors; and offer them classroom courses and seminars.

be the changeDan also shared, “Four Qualities of People Who Change the World.” They are: curiosity; insight; engagement and determination. In light of this he asked, “What qualities do you look for in top talent?” Great question!

Dan also explained, “How to Succeed at Endings,” a helpful read I think for anyone in transition out of their current or former roles.  Additionally, he shared advice about “How to Invite and Survive Feedback from a Group,” as well as words of wisdom about how to “Take Mentoring to the Next Level.” Finally, Dan also shared, “10 Ways to Lift the Lid on Your Leadership.” Some of the ten include: include others; be accountable to someone; and read. Check out all of these posts for good reminders and food for thought.

Cranston Holden offered a good reminder in his post, “Assume Others Mean Well.” I appreciate his conclusion where he writes, “Assuming others mean well means, your are mentally tough and not offended at the drop of a hat. You can let the little things go and show a high level of maturity, reduce arguments and lower tension.” Give the whole post a read and some thought.

Steve Keating reflected about “Ordinary Leadership Mistakes.” There are some great thoughts here.

Rebel Brown explained “How to Shift Into Change.”

Mike Myatt wrote about “The Difference Between Great Leaders and Posers.” Included in this are five suggestions on how to evaluate an opportunity: alignment; advantage; assessment; accountability; and achievement.

Jon Mertz shared “7 Types of Leadership Intentions and Impacts.” The 7 types of intentions are: evil intentions; bad intentions; selfish intentions; no intentions; good intentions; selfless intentions; and greathearted intentions.


Heidi Oran at Thin Difference reflected on the question “What Makes a Truly Great Leader (to Millennials)?” In unpacking this question she shared five thoughts: listeners make the best leaders; sometimes leading is letting go; compassionate leadership is not a sign of weakness; psychology and leadership go hand in hand; and failure is part of great leadership. What do you think? As Heidi asks, “does it vary from generation to generation or are we all seeking the same thing?” Good question.

I found this article from July by Kathy Gurchiek, “Millennial’s Desire to Do Good Defines Workplace Culture.” What do you think of these ideas and findings?

The Pope with some Millennials
The Pope with some Millennials

Yesterday on the blog I began a series thinking about the church and millennials. I expect this will be a multiple part series and would love to hear your thoughts.

Related to this post, TK reflected on questions about “Millennial Motivations in Seeking Catholic Priesthood.” There is good food for thought in here that I think might further the larger discussion about the church and millennials. What do you think?

Neighbor Love

Friend and pastor Diane Roth reflected about “Doors.” In this she reflects on a summer of picnic church, and how in a small way that was a step out into the larger community.

Friend and pastor Diane also shared some great reflection in this post about “God-sightings.”

Joe Carter shared “7 Figures: Hunger in America.” These are important figures that will help broaden the conversation about hunger in our midst and at large.

In light of all the turmoil that has gone on in Ferguson, Missouri Rachel Held Evans wrote that we are “Not As Helpless As We Think: 3 Ways to Stand in Solidarity with Ferguson.” According to Rachel, the three ways are: lament; listen and learn; and loose the chains of injustice.

In a related post in response to Ferguson, friend and pastor Aaron Fuller wrote, “Reflecting on ‘Free Speech,’ the Media, & Ferguson, MO.”

On the subject, Dr. Norma Cook Everist asked, “How Long, Michael Brown, How Long?

Also related, Elizabeth Rawlings wrote, “Confessing the racism in our hearts is the first step to recovery for ourselves and our nation.”

Rachel Held Evans also shared a guest post by Eliel Cruz, “Bi The Way: 7 Tips to be Inclusive of Bisexuals in Christianity.”

Brian Bantum wrote about “Doing Theology as Though Our Bodies Mattered.”

Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr shared this wonderful guest post on her blog by ben adam Climer, “On Pacifism and Sons.” Give this a read and some reflection.

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links, in this “Really Recommended Posts.”

Do you need some reminders about Twitter? Or, are you looking for some good tips about Twitter? If so, check out these tips from Kevan Lee.


Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy shared a post just in time for all of your back to school shopping needs, in “Frugal Back to School Tips.”

On the COMPASS blog, an interview with Beryl Jantzi is being featured in which he reflects on the importance of budgeting. Check out the first post in the series here.


Now is the time of year where many parents and families send their children and young adults off to school, and some for the first time off to college. For those of you experiencing the latter, Becky Blades shared, “3 Sacred Rules of of College Drop-Off.” What do you think of these rules?

Friends and bloggers featured in this week's edition of the Links:  Carrie Gubsch, Tyler Scott & me.
Friends and bloggers featured in this week’s edition of the Links: Carrie Gubsch, Tyler Scott & me.

Friend Julia Nelson shared some great vocational reflection and personal stories in both her “Friday Favorites” and “Sunday Snippits.” Check out these posts! Thanks for sharing Julia!

Now for a moment of plain truth. My roommate and best friend from college, Tyler Scott, is kind of ridiculous. If you don’t know what I mean, read this post, “Save the date.” While he is ridiculous, he is also great for a good laugh. Thanks for sharing Tyler!

My wife Allison wrote about her “Top 5,” a list of the top 5 things, people and ideas that she currently seems to keep coming back to.


If you are like me and my wife Allison, you probably love to go mini-golfing. If you also find yourself in Minnesota, then you might want to give the mini-golf at Centennial Lakes a try. I am intrigued, are you?

Speaking of Minnesota, we are now in the midst of the Minnesota State Fair, also known as “The Great Minnesota Get Together.” Regarding this, Rebecca Mariscal recently asked, “What’s so great about the great Minnesota get-together?


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. As always, if there are particular questions or ideas you would like me to wrestle with on the blog please let me know. Also, let me know if there are particular ideas or types of articles you would like me to include in the links. Until next time, thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Be the Change; and The Pope and Millennials.

The Church and Millennials- Part 1

The Pope with some Millennials
The Pope with some Millennials

This past weekend I had the chance to participate in an open-space conversation on the purpose and practices of lay theological education. As part of this discussion, there emerged a recognition and need to talk openly with and about millennials. How can the church engage them? How can the church meet them where they are at? As one of probably only two actual millennials in the conversation I had to avoid being a “token voice” but overall, I enjoyed the conversation. I have talked about the implications of millennials some with my parents and some in my parents’ generation, but had never really before seen the topic be engaged by a gathering of people my parent’s generation. My fellow millennials, I think you would have been pleasantly surprised by what the gathered group had to say about millennials. There is a lot of energy around them in the church and the opportunity and possibilities they might provide.

This leads me to wondering today though, what are the gifts and opportunities that millennials provide the church? I don’t use the term “provide” in a commodity like sense for the church, rather I think that millennials through their perspectives and values may be part of a seminal moment in the life of the church (and at least specifically of the denomination that I am a part of,  the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

This is no exhaustive list, but so far I have come up with seven things that stand out. In this post, I will share the first two. The rest I will share in a post later this week.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton with Allison and I  (photo taken by Thomas Siburg)
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton  of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with Allison and I
(a presiding bishop and a couple of millennials by definition)

Millennials who are present or at least engaged in some kind of ministry, force the church to wrestle with questions.  To be a part of something or to engage with something millennials are likely to consider and think deeply about the basic questions of why, who, what, how and where. These are important questions that congregations, faith communities and the larger church should always be forced to wrestle with but often do not reflect on them and take the answers to the questions for granted. By wrestling with these questions though, there is space to really wonder, for example, what might be possible and what God might be up to and calling and leading a congregation to be a part of.

Building off the previous point, millennials are adept at allowing space for questions and the ability to leave a question open without an easy answer. You aren’t likely going to find an easy answer to a question as deep and profound like “what might God be up to here.” However, that fact actually may excite millennials who aren’t looking for easy answers. Millennials, like many people of faith are looking for those who allow the questions to be questions and give space to wondering about them. When there are easy answers there is less gray area, and at least from a Lutheran theological perspective, that doesn’t seem to correlate well with the many tensions and paradox which Lutheran theological ideas seem to create and leave room for.

Until picking up this conversation on Wednesday, what do you think the church can learn from millennials?

Image Credit: Pope and Millennials

Twelve Questions on my Mind Today

questionmark2Every once and awhile a big question pops into my head. Sometimes I think about those questions and am completely focused on them. Sometimes I ignore the questions because I am just too busy. Other times I write the questions down and allow myself time to reflect and wrestle with them.

I seem to have had a lot of questions lately. In fact, far more questions than answers have come to mind. That is probably a good thing because I have always found life to be more fulfilling and exciting with questions than answers. The questions have reached a point though where I think I ought to write them down and share them rather than hoard them all to myself.

The questions that follow are grouped by a couple categories: congregations, ministry and nonprofits; leadership; stewardship; and vocation and miscellaneous. Give these questions some thought. If ideas, other questions or wondering strikes you about any of these, please let me know in the comments below, via Twitter, Facebook and/or email. All of these questions would likely make for a great individual blog post and I may treat them as such in the coming days and weeks. But until then, I would love to share these with you and see if you have any insights for me.

Congregations, Ministry and Nonprofits 

1) How can faith communities and congregations better create space for those suffering depression?

2) How can non-profits and congregations  innovate; and most effectively financially create, allow and sponsor innovation?

3) What function and purpose does a congregational council serve if they report to the pastor? What are the differences between this model and the other usual way of a pastor reporting to the council? What are the potential implications?

4) What will it be like to serve in an interim capacity on staff in a congregation?


5) What advice about life would my current self tell my younger self from two years ago?

6) As my friend Carrie Gubsch asked, if you ran into a senator, or ended up confined in an airplane with a senator, representative, or other recognizable leader for a couple hours, what might you ask them?

Neighbor Love

listening7) How do we listen in response to events and experiences like that of what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri?

8) As Nate Pyle asked the other day, what is our responsibility in that listening and responding to Ferguson?

9) What is the ethical response to ISIS in Iraq? What is the neighbor love response? What is the humanitarian response?


10) What’s one question that you have always wondered but have been too afraid to ask about finances, donations and/or giving?

Vocation and Miscellaneous 

11) As one of my best friends from college just got engaged, what advice would I give, after four years of marriage, to a newly or soon to be married person and couple?

12) Can the Seattle Mariners make and sustain a run at the playoffs and perhaps even the division title?


Here’s hoping for some insights, ideas, imagining or further questions from you about any and all of these. I’m looking forward to the conversation and wondering together!

Image Credits: Question mark and listening statue.


This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on my blog means that I get to share some of what I have found thought provoking and interesting with all of you. This week’s edition is full of good stuff from ministry job openings to travel journals, to thoughts about millennials and stewardship. The topic categories for this week are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship and Vocation. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Pastor Don Carlson shared some reflections on this weekend’s upcoming lectionary appointed readings on Bishop Mike Rinehart’s blog.

Related to this, Rev. Dr. David Lose reflected about the upcoming lectionary gospel reading in “Who Do You Say I Am?

Richard Chin shares the story about how one St. Paul, Minnesota pastor’s pulpit is a food truck.  How is that for a unique missional ministry?

If you are looking for a job or know someone who is looking, consider the Executive Director position at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp.

Additionally, if that job doesn’t quite do it for you, how about this opening for a Web and Social Media Content Manager with the Mennonite Church USA.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared what I assume is many a pastor’s frustration on some Saturdays in “Saturday Night: Trying to Figure Out what to Say.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared, “First-Call Pastor Stuff: A Letter to myself, one year ago.”  It’s pretty awesome! I hope all people do this for their future ministry selves.

I stumbled on this post from last October from Brad Brisco pondering the different shifts related to “Christendom/Post-Christendom.” Interesting stuff!

Over at Vibrant Faith, Nancy Going asked, “Who Knows You?” Good question.

In sad news, sympathy and prayers go to Pope Francis and his family in the loss of his nephew’s family who was killed in a car crash in Argentina earlier today.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Jesse Lyn Stoner writes that, “Organizational Change can start wherever you are.”  Give this a read. There are important thoughts about change in general in this.

If you too have wondered about what we can do to overcome the polarity in society, check out this idea called “From Where I Sit” from LEAD. Being able to talk and share different perspectives is key to being able to meet each other and from there serve the needs of the common good and society.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Steve Keating wrote about “When Things Really Matter.”

Leading with Heart
Leading with Heart

Dan Rockwell shared a number of wonderful posts this past week. I particularly loved his post, “15 Ways to Lead with Heart.” The list is fantastic. A couple of my favorite ways that leaders with heart lead are: they say what they really think; live by values more than results; admit their own mistakes; ask forgiveness for offenses; express gratitude and support the development of teammates and teams. Check out the whole list!

Dan also shared, “5 Things Successful Leaders Judge,” which are: results; attitudes; interactions; inclusions; and learning. He also wrote, “5 Essentials for Developing Remarkable Leaders.” Check out all of these lists!

Lolly Daskal shared what she sees are the “Top 10 Qualities of Highly Successful People.” The list includes: drive; self-reliance; willpower; patience; integrity; passion; connection; optimism; self-confidence and communication.

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared some reflection about intimidation and not giving into it, in “‘Intimidation Factor:’ Lessons from a USMC Colonial.”

I seemed to have found a few posts from last October this past week. This post comes from Robyn McLeod and it explores, “The Body Language of Leadership.”

The tributes about Warren Bennis continue to be written and should continue to be written. Will Yakowicz shared these great “Leadership Lessons from Leadership Guru Warren Bennis.” The lessons are: leaders are made, not born; leadership is like beauty; leading means deeply affecting others; a leader is self-aware; curiosity and risk-taking make a leader; a leader sees the big picture; and the leader does right.


Jeremy Chandler wrote, “What I Learned about ‘leading up’ from being yelled at in the parking lot.” In this post he shared three lessons: reassess your idea; respectfully respond and move on.

In a post that is helpful not just to millennials but to all members (or hoping to be) members of the workforce, Danny Rubin explains “Why Your Reference Letters are Worthless.”

Rashida Thomas shared this post back in March which I found this past week, “3 Vehicles that will help you land a job after College.” Good advice for millennials and non-millennials alike.

In a post that could be shared here or below under “Stewardship,” friend Grace Duddy shared some important thoughts about millennials and particularly related to millennials and giving and stewardship. Give this a read!

Mom and Dad and me on Easter Sunday by the baptismal font
Thankfully for me, my parents have generally always understood why I am passionate about what I am passionate about. Because of that, I don’t generally have to worry too much about how to explain what I do to them.

Jon Mertz shared this post from Danny Rubin, “Explaining What You Do to Your Parents.” I have a hunch that most millennials struggle with this. In wrestling with this Danny shared five key points: your parents won’t “get it” right away; the simpler, the better; compare your job to something from the 70s; no need for devices; and remember, they gave birth to you. Spend some time with this!

Sam Tanenhaus writes that, “The Millennials are Generation Nice.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Neighbor Love

Last Saturday my wife Allison shared the sermon based on the text of Luke 19:1-10. As she was “Sermonizing: the courage of Zacchaeus,” naturally she had to lead the congregation in the song. Check out the sermon!

Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis recently wrote a post about “When We Can’t Walk on Water,” based on Matthew 14:22-33. Give this a good read!

In this day and age where it is so hard to have a conversation without it leading to polarities and people being placed and categories or boxes, Andrew W.K. shared this important post and response, “Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad is a Right Wing…

There have been so many neighbor love stories this past week. The death of an unarmed man named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the loss of Robin Williams, the on-going potential genocide in Iraq, just to name a few. In response to some of these, Pastor Timothy Brown shared some timely reflections in “Death on Vacation.”

In another timely post, blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans shared this post, “Mental Illness & The Church: An Interview with Amy Simpson.” I greatly appreciated this post, especially this perspective, “I feel like I have a front-row seat on God’s gracious work, and I am more convinced than ever of the truth of Romans 8:35-38. Absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. If death and hell themselves don’t have that power, mental illness certainly doesn’t.”

Ann Voskamp wrote in a related post, “What the Church & Christians Need to Know about Suicide & Mental Health.”

Rachel Held Evans also wrote another timely piece, “On Race, the Benefit of the Doubt, and Complicity.”

Related to this post, Nate Pyle wrote, “Learning to Listen in the Wake of Ferguson.” Give this a read and spend some time wrestling with the questions Nate concludes the post with, “Who have you been listening to? What do you think is your responsibility?”

Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto and a few others shared some related thoughts in this important post, “Preaching Reflections on Michael Brown and Ferguson.”

Rev. Dr. David Lose also reflected on the death of Michael Brown and what is going on in Ferguson in this post, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

As the protests continue in Ferguson, not even pastors are immune, as one female pastor was shot by a rubber bullet according to Jill Bond.

Additionally, at least one local pastor believes that “Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson should resign.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from this past weekend, entitled, “The Human Element.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of The Links in his, “Really Recommended Posts.”

If you are new to using Twitter, haven’t used it but would like to, or could use a quick refresher, check out this post from Brian Fanzo, “Social Media is a skill but Twitter isn’t hard! 6 ways to make it easy!

Leader Lab shared a great list of the “Top Professors on Twitter.” Check out this list and see who to start following!


Friend and “Classy Frugalist” Grace Duddy shared some more about financial bad habits in this post about “Impulsive Spending.”

Pastor Sam Chamelin wrote about “God’s Problematic Abundance.” Give this a read! At the very least its a good reminder. I believe it’s probably more than that though. What do you think?

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared, “Simple Green- The Key to Financial Well Being.” Maybe you can relate to this.


My sister Tamara in the middle of my brother Thomas and I.
My sister Tamara in the middle of my brother Thomas and I.

Apparently my brother Thomas has been blogging for a little while now. If you, like me, didn’t really know that, check out his blog titled: “Social Justice Ramblings, Journals and Thoughts.”

Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr shared this beautiful post to her daughter, “On Being Two: A Letter to Toddler E.” I love this on so many levels. I hope all parents feel like writing such things. Just to really get you to read it, here are a few little lines that stand out: “I hope that you always feel surrounded by a community who loves you. I hope that you find ways to see God’s lure in your life, and that you would feel brave enough to follow wherever it might lead you. And I hope that you never lose the exuberance you have now for aging. May you be ready to greet each new year with a resounding exclamation point, whether you are celebrating “two” or ‘twenty’ or ‘forty’ or ‘fifty-five.’ We love you more than you will probably ever be able to really comprehend.” Read and share this!

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a life update about new life, in her “Friday Favorites!

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes reflected “On Robin Williams and the End of Life.”

My wife Allison wrote another wonderful post, admitting the problems and challenges on-going in life and the world now, but also the fact of being “Reminded” of some wonderful memories (in part thanks to friend Kaitlyn Ferguson).


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always if there are particular questions or topics that you would like me to wrestle with on the blog, or types of articles to include in the links, please let me know. Until next time, thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links and Heart.

From Where I Sit

Sitting on a blue butterfly with my own unique perspective.  I'm interested to hear your's.
Sitting on a blue butterfly with my own unique perspective. I’m interested to hear your’s.

I’m excited to announce a new pilot project I am helping get off the ground with LEAD.

“Have you ever tried to talk about a major issue in society or the world with your family members or friends? Was it a positive experience? Or did the conversation turn into a debate or argument with polar opposite views, anger, and frustration?

If you found yourself nodding your head in agreement with the last question, LEAD has an invitation for you. LEAD is launching a new program called From Where I Sit to start conversations around difficult topics in communities, congregations and faith communities.”

We are looking for interested volunteers to host conversations and see how our process works and could be improved. Read more at the LEAD Blog




This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday usually means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought-provoking over the past week with all of you. Because I didn’t quite complete these yesterday, this week’s edition comes on Wednesday. Hopefully the extra wait was worth it. In terms of what is covered this week, topic categories are: 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 these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing to preach or lead worship this coming weekend, check out some reflections by Pastor Don Carlson on Bishop Mike Rinehart’s blog about the appointed lectionary readings. Related to this, also see David Lose’s post in advance of this weekend’s gospel reading about “What the Canaanite Woman teaches.”

Apparently protesters are now calling for the resignation of Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church. Thanks to Yasmine Hafiz for sharing the story.

In Iraq, the fleeing of Christians continued this past week as “Islamic State takes Qaraqosh.”

Dan Ruth shared “Five ways Lutherans are fighting Ebola in West Africa.” Ways include: treating Ebola patients; sending protection equipment; training healthcare professionals; raising awareness in communities; and working with religious and community leaders.

Speaking of Lutherans, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America along with the church’s Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton invite you to join in a day of service on “God’s Work, Our Hands Day” on September 7th.

Apparently the Pope just released a list of “10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person.” Check these out!

David Lose asked, “What role does the church play in our lives?” There is so much depth and things to unpack with this question. Take a look at Dr. Lose’s wrestling and then ponder and wrestle for yourself.

Here’s a post that can be put in the “What to Not Do” File. Ron Edmondson shared, “21 Ways to Keep a Church from Growing.”  It’s such a great list, but far too much to list it in its entirety. Here are 4 ways that really struck me though: only do “church” inside the building; put more energy into structure than serving; the ministerial staff does everything; and be stingy investing in the next generation. As Ron says, do the opposite of these ways. Be sure to see the whole list, it’s an important one!

Ron also shared, “7 Easy Ways to Put a Not Welcome Sign on Your Church.” Again, file this one away in the “What to Not Not Do” File.

Derek Penwell shares what he sees are “4 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Get Progressive Christianity Shockingly Wrong.”

Steve Thomason shares some notes and ideas inspired by Deanna Thompson about “The Virtual Body of Christ.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Greg Satell wrote about “How to Transform Your Brand into a Movement.”

Paul VanDeCarr shared, “4 Questions to Develop Your Storytelling Strategy.” The questions are: What do we want to achieve?; Who can help us achieve our goals?; How do we reach our target audiences?; And what stories do I tell them, or ask them to tell? Check this out!

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick pondered in his “Question of the Week” about “Paradigm Shifting Books.” As he asked, I am wondering, have you ever read a book that shifted your paradigm?

Julian Stodd explains about a “Business Covenant” writing that “We need a new covenant between business, government and society. One that delivers value over time.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Karin Hurt shared, “10 Questions Your Team is Afraid to Ask.” One of the questions posed is a personal favorite, “Why are we doing it this way?” If you are too afraid to ask that question then group think sets in, and innovation and clarity may well go out the window. What questions are you (or your team) afraid to ask?

Peter F. Drucker & Masatisho Ito School of Management Professor Dr. Jeremy Hunter
Peter F. Drucker & Masatisho Ito School of Management Professor Dr. Jeremy Hunter

Drucker School professor Dr. Jeremy Hunter helps explain, “Why Mindfulness Matters” in this article by Roberto C. Hernandez.

Steve Keating reminded that “Titles Can’t Lead.”

Steve also asked two great questions. First, “Where have all the Servants Gone?”  I think he is quite right when he writes, “The more ‘serving’ as a leader is recognized the more likely leaders are to serve.” What do you think?  Second, he asked, “Do you have a vision?” This is such an important question that needs to be reflected on often.

Jesse Lyn Stoner shared a total of six lessons in this post, “My Leadership Lessons as Executive Director.”

Skip Prichard shared about some “Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership.”

Sam McNerney wrote what I think was one of the absolute best posts of the week, “12 Principles that Enable Creative Culture, as Recommended by Pixar President Ed Catmull.” Definitely check out this post!

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts as usual. First of all, he seems to have started an alphabet based series with both “12 Powerful A’s for Leaders” and “10 ‘B’ Words for Successful Leaders” as well. Dan also shared “Two Steps to Overcome Fear and Find Courage.” The steps include acknowledging the fear and then doing something. If you are dealing with some problematic teammate, you might want to check out Dan’s post offering “10 Strategies for Dealing with a Toxic Teammate.” In sort of a follow-up, Dan shared “10 Ways to Defeat Blood Sucking Vampires.” Check these all out and spend some time with them.

Anne Loehr shared, “Four Leadership Lessons from the Kitchen.” The lessons include: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen; communicate clearly; Mise en place; and if you have time to lean, then you have time to clean. Check this out.

Lolly Daskal writes that, “Leadership Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone.” She offers these thoughts for going beyond one’s comfort zone: be smart and challenge yourself; be fearless and challenge the vision; be daring and challenge the organization; be heroic and challenge the stakeholders; be innovative and challenge best practices; be strong and challenge the culture; and be bold and challenge the talent.

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman share what they see are “The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level.”

Jon Mertz shared a guest post by Andrew Brushfield asking, “Are You Respected in the Workplace?” As part of the post Andrew shared six traits of highly respected bosses, which are: be a mentor; be real; give credit where credit is due; set expectations; lead by example; and be firm, but fair.

Jon also reflected in this nice post that I hope you all check out, “In the Middle of You and Life is Leadership.” Give this a read and see what you think.


Jamie Smith writes and asks for millennials and “Young Nonprofit Leaders (to) Speak Out.”

Molly Page shares this post and story about “Savvy Millennial Financial Advisor Sophia Bera.”

Neighbor Love

In a story that reminds me of the deeply devotional practices of giving alms, read about how, “In Greece, Orthodox Priest Buys Inmates their Freedom in the midst of the Financial Crisis.”

A Greek Orthodox Church
A Greek Orthodox Church

Denise Grady and Sheri Fink report that researchers suspect that a “2-Year-Old” was “Patient Zero,” the beginning of the current Ebola crisis.

In the midst of fear and uncertainty from health crises like Ebola, one of the major things that happens (unfortunately) is mis-information (and the panic that can cause). Michael Lester and Jeffrey Kluger help set the record straight, in “Watch a Science Cop Take on Donald Trump” who recently has said somethings that are no where near fact.

Related to this, Sarah Pulliam Bailey shared news that “Ann Coulter, Donald Trump Ebola Comments Prompt Christian Backlash.”

John Meunier shared about his “Problem with Pluralism.”

In the on-going humanitarian crisis and war in Iraq, there comes this report that “Up to 70 percent” of the Yazidis may be dead. Tom Murphy asked if there is “A Genocide in Iraq.” If the reports I have seen are accurate, I have to wonder, when will the international community step up and announce that there are not only war crimes happening here, it’s altogether genocide which must be stopped now!

Related to this, Bishop Mike Rinehart shared this post about “Christians in Iraq.”

Peter Marty reminds of the dangers of specific and limited gender understandings of God in this post, “God language.”

RJ Grunewald shared what he sees are the “2 Biggest Lies About Homosexuality that Threaten the Gospel.” RJ writes that “The two biggest lies people falsely believe” are: “they are not like us” and “our sexuality is our identity.” Give this a read and reflect on it this week.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared this post, “Elijah without Exegesis.” I love Diane’s closing thoughts where she writes, “being curious is more important, in some ways, than understanding.  And being inside the story, however you might manage it:  is the beginning of wisdom.” Give the whole post a read!

Blogger Rachel Held Evans reflected “On Forgiveness and Abuse.” This is an important read which I hope you will give some time to. Within this post, she shares four thoughts to build and further the conversation. The thoughts are: forgiveness does not require staying in an abusive situation; forgiveness does not require accepting empty apologies or trusting the bully/abuser; grace does not require remaining silent about bullying and abuse; and forgiveness and grace do not preclude justice or demand superficial reconciliation.

Friend and Ph.D. student Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared two wonderful posts. First, “On Density and Walking on Water.” To show you how wonderful this is, check out this excerpt from Amanda: “If courage means living from the heart, then vulnerability must mean being brave enough to be human. It means that we try to walk on water, knowing we will sink every time. It means knowing that we are loved beyond belief, even though we don’t feel like we are fabulous. Jesus doesn’t eradicate our faults or make us impervious to our surroundings or our neighbors before he loves us. Instead, he beckons us to tell the truth, to be courageous, to be vulnerable.”

Amanda also shared this post, “I Met Christ in a Truck Stop Town.”

Here was some good reflection from The Economist on “Poverty Measures: Width, not depth.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from the past weekend, “Operational Risk Management.” Sounds like the perfect medley for someone with passion around leadership, ministry and theology, doesn’t it?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the Links in his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Similarly friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared what he sees as “The 5 Most Important Things You’ll Read All Week.”


Bishop Mike Rinehart shared a review and reflection of the book Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good by T. Carlos Anderson. Check out the review, and then read the book for yourself.

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this post about “Enoughness.” Check this out and the potential correlations with an understanding of a “theology of abundance.”

Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy shared a great post on her blog full of practical tips and ideas for all, especially young adults and millennials in “Summer Grocery Tips” well worth a read.

Grace also shared this important post, and something to be filed away in the “What Not to Do” file, “Bad Habits: Stealing from Your Emergency Fund.”

Glennon Doyle Melton wrote, “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.”  Check this post out which has really taken off since it was published yesterday.


Photo of newly ordained Pastor Amanda Ullrich with her husband Pastor Jeremy Ullrich and Luther Seminary friends Mandy Brobst-Renaud, Allison Siburg and Timothy Siburg (photo courtesy of Allison Siburg)
Photo of ordained Pastor Amanda Ullrich with her husband Pastor Jeremy Ullrich

Friends and pastors Amanda and Jeremy Ullrich made the local paper in Lubbock, Texas in a story detailing the beginning of their first calls in ministry and their new chapters in their lives and vocational journeys.

Friend Jodie Rottle was interviewed and profiled recently by Shunying Wang & Sandy Deneau Dunham in “A Flutist’s Unplanned Path to Success.”

In case you missed it, I shared some vocational and life related thoughts in “Four Amazing Years.”

Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr shared some reflections “On the number two,” which is part of a week-long series honoring her daughter’s second birthday.


If you like to travel, this post is for you as it features “Top Travel Money Saving Tips and Tricks.”

Friend Erik Bergs shared a movie review about “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” which he says “Serves up a Delicacy.” I couldn’t agree more! It was a fantastic movie and I hope you get to see it.


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if there are particular questions or topics that you would like me to wrestle with on the blog please let me know. Also, if there are particular types of articles or stories you would like included in the links, please let me know that too. Thanks for reading, and until next time, blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Dr. Jeremy Hunter; and Greek Orthodox Church.