This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on my blog means that I get to share some links with all of you. These are links to things that I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. This week’s edition is special though. It’s the 52nd edition of the links. You see, I started sharing these on Tuesdays just about a year ago. So, Happy Birthday to the Links! Thanks to all of you who have come along for this journey and continue to read and be part of the conversation. Without you, I wouldn’t be so likely to curate this every week.

Happy Birthday to the Links!
Happy Birthday to the Links!

With all that said, 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 entrust these links to you and hope you enjoy them!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared some insights and reflection about the revised common lectionary’s appointed readings for this coming weekend, Pentecost 15A.

Blogger Tony Jones shared some reflection and observations about local seminaries in Minnesota. I thought the post was good about opening the conversation about the changing face and needs of the seminary. The post though was perhaps a bit more controversial than expected. Friend and Ph.D. student Sara Wilhelm Garbers offered a helpful response to Tony’s post that furthered conversation. The conversation was so important and needed, that Tony offered a follow-up post which included a response from Luther Seminary Vice-President and friend Carrie Carroll. What do you think about the changing landscape of theological education and seminaries?

Prayers and support go out to the family and friends of Rev. Dr. Johannes G. J. Swart who passed away suddenly from a heart attack last week.

There’s been a fair amount of news lately about denominational resturcturing and potential restructuring. Regarding this and the role of congregations, Tom Ehrich writes that “Denominational Restructuring Won’t Work; Local Churches Must Innovate.” What do you think? Do you agree?

In a related post, Nurya Parish wrote and shared, “Two Steps toward Denominational Renewal- An Open Letter to TREC.”

In an interesting read, at least one study has found that the “Christian Right is Not Responsible for People Leaving Church,” according to Napp Nazworth. What do you think about these findings?

Many of my friends and talking partners have been asking questions related to church membership lately. That led me to asking some questions about church membership and its implications myself.

Tracy Keenan wrote, “Why Really, Really Pushing Your Teenager to Come to Church with You is a Good Thing.” What do you think?

WCCO, a local TV and news station in the Twin Cities of Minnesota picked up the story about Shobi’s Table Lutheran Church in “Twin Cities Church Holds Services in a Food Truck.” How is that for being a missional faith community?

In another hopeful and missional church type post, Nurya Parish shared, “They Re-Imagined Church.” Definitely check this out and the video included.

If you are free this evening, and find yourself in Chicago, check out friend Rev. Dr. John Nunes‘ lecture, “Re-Imagining our Witness: Speaking and Living with Difference.” The lecture is part of Concordia University’s 150th Anniversary Speaker Series.

Taylor Snodgrass and Heather Stevens pondered, “How Can Churches Engage 20-Somethings?” This is an important question that the church needs to wrestle with, pay attention to and take seriously. I think this is so important, that I am also sharing this post from “Church Marketing Sucks” below under Millennials as well because it fits equally well there.

Garrison Keillor
Garrison Keillor

Friend and pastor Joe Smith reflected about “Garrison Keillor, Lefse, Lexicons, and Hope for the Church.” Read this especially if you are a Lutheran. I definitely had a smile as I read what Joe wrote, especially his realization, “I have an ELCA Lutheran friend who does not know who Garrison Keillor is! I think there’s hope for this church yet.”

RJ Grunewald wrote, “We Don’t Need More Cool Churches.” He argues that instead, we need: churches that make disciples; churches that are committed to translation; and churches that are committed to being a family. What do you think?

Jan Edmiston asked a very interesting, and perhaps uncomfortable question, “Are 60-Something Pastors Irreparably Damaging our Congregations?” What do you think?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth openly and honestly reflected about worship, change, hope and possibilities in “New Under the Sun.” I really love the way she concludes this. She writes, “I can’t help feeling a little wistful, looking back to the dreams from when I first came here.  I suppose I am wistful because I am not one of the people sitting around the circle, although I’m not uninvolved in the dreaming.  I am a little wistful because I believe in this new vision, this new Tapestry, even though it was not my idea and I am not the one making it come to pass. There is nothing new under the sun, they say, but still, we begin again.  We can’t help it.  It is what God is calling us to do.  But even more than that:  it is what God is doing in us.”

Blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans shared her fall speaking schedule in “Barefoot in Phoenix.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

As an economics major in college, this site, “Teaching Economics as if People Mattered” caught my eye thanks to friend professor Dr. Mary Hess sharing about it. To all my econ friends, professors and mentors out there, what do you think about this site and its potential resource offerings? Helpful? Not helpful? Interesting?

Mary also shared his post from August with a number of short videos about “Reaching Learners of All Abilities.”

In a post that I have found extremely helpful, Parker Palmer shared, “Five Simple Things to Reweave Our Civic Community.” Give this post some time and reflection.

Tom Murphy shared the news that “Humanitarian aid hit a record high in 2013, despite major funding shortfall.” This is interesting and hopeful news for the social sector.

Julian Stodd reflected on “The Illusion of Balance.” There are insights in here for organizations, leadership, etc.

Antonia Blumberg shared about Krista Tippett’sCivil Conversations Project.” This seems to remind me of the pilot I am helping lead for LEAD called, “From Where I Sit.” This is very much a need for society, and it transcends and includes all sectors of it.

If you are a fan of TED Talks and find yourself in Minnesota, then check out the news that “TEDx is Headed to the University of St. Thomas” in October.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Dan Rockwell shared a number of wonderful posts over the past week. He wrote “Get R.E.A.L.” symbolizing recognize, express, ask and listening. He also shared, “Everything You Need to Know about Time Management,” featuring a great quote from Peter Drucker who wrote, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Dan also shared, “12 Ways to End Fear and Inspire Boldness,” and “The Power of Freedom and Focus.”

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman shared, “9 Habits that Lead to Terrible Decisions.” The troublesome habits are: laziness; not anticipating unexpected events; indecisiveness; remaining locked in the past; having no strategic alignment; over-dependence; isolation; lack of technical depth; and failure to communicate the what, where, when, and how associated with their decisions. This is a very important list. What other habits might you add to it?

Lolly Daskal explained about “How to Make the Most of our Mistakes.” There are great insights in here as always.

Perhaps the most famous wall to be torn down is the Berlin Wall.
Perhaps the most famous wall to be torn down is the Berlin Wall.

Back in June, Lolly also wrote, “Tear Down the Walls so Trust Can Get In.” Check this out if you missed it back when it was written.

Anne Loehr shared, “Leadership Lessons from the Kitchen: How to Face Hard Muffins and Hard Situations.” Two particularly important lessons in this are: being an expert is not always helpful, and solve leadership problems by asking new questions.

Speaking of questions, Cranston Holden writes that “Questions Drive Behavior.”

Robert Half shared a guest post by Andrew Brushfield, “8 Signs You are Working Too Hard.” The signs include: you always feel tired; you constantly feel stressed; you are chained to your desk, phone, email and/or social media all day; you’re moody and snap at people easily; you care most about getting things done (not so much focus on quality); you’re skipping duties at home; you hardly see other family and friends; and strangers mention that you look rushed or stressed. Check out this post and spend some time with it.

Skip Prichard shared “3 Smartcuts to Accelerate Your Success,” which features an interview and conversation with Shane Snow, author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success. 

Steve Keating wrote and reminded that “You Represent More Than You Think.” Steve also wrote about “Fresh Leadership.” In this reflection about fresh leadership, Steve offers ideas about how to shift your thinking. The ideas include: look at your situation, issue or challenge from someone else’s point of view; take a gigantic step away from the situation and ask yourself some questions; ask for the opinion of someone very different than you; stay curious; and (potentially) wait.

Kate Nasser shared, “Team Members: 5 Ways to Communicate You are Empowered not Entitled.” The ways include: give more than you request; correct your mistakes and help others to mend theirs; offer sincere apologies; focus on everyone succeeding; and create your rewards by contributing your talent and effort versus demanding rewards now.

Karin Hurt wrote about “How to Help Managers Become More Strategic.” Managers can be helped in being more strategic if you: define it; provide opportunities for broad exposure; move them around; and think out loud.


Many of my most influential books gathered together
Many of my most influential books gathered together

Maddie Crum shared news that, “Millennials Are Actually More Likely to Read Books.” Is this news surprising or unsurprising? What do you think?

Molly Page introduced “Motivated Millennial Leader Hannah Becker.” According to Molly, Hannah is a “serial entrepreneur.” She shared three ideas to give you momentum: don’t believe every feeling you have; nobody but you will pay you what you are truly worth; and learning to fail is the key to entrepreneurial success. Spend some time with this.

In a post shared above as well, Taylor Snodgrass and Heather Stevens asked and reflected about, “How Can Churches Engage 20-Somethings?” What do you think? There are important implications for millennials and the church in this post.

Chelsea Krost shared a list of the “Top 5 Ways to Mitigate Career Risks for Millennials” by Leigh Fletcher. The 5 ways include: loyalty is a false security; innovate at all times; management is dying; create and convey quantifiable value; and have industry vision and stay relevant. What do you think of this list and advice?

Neighbor Love

Dan Jones shared about, “Bearing Prophetic Witness in Ferguson.” Dan concluded powerfully, “The continuing rebellion in Ferguson, for better or worse, will act as a laboratory for modern organizing strategies. It is my hope that the presence of Rev. Barber and Rev. Sekou will add a much needed historical perspective to the urgency on display by Hands Up United and other emergent organizations led by the young people of Ferguson. My fear is that direct nonviolent action will fail to end the litany of people of color executed without regard to the protections embedded in the Constitution of the United States.” Give the whole piece a read.

Nikki Massie wrote that, “These summer campers did more than just sing and swim.”

In a very important post and article in The Lutheran, Peter Marty wrote about “The sadness of suicide: Our concern should be to help people retrieve hope, meaning for their lives.” Give this a read and spend some time reflecting on this.

Timothy Brown wrote that, “Victoria Osteen Told the Truth, and Half the Christian World Got Mad.” What do you think? Timothy wrapped up this reflection, writing: “And if that’s not the point of the Gospel, which I do not think it is, then instead of getting mad and making fun of Osteen (either of them), we should look at ourselves, our message, and realize that we’re largely sucking at getting it across effectively in many pockets of Christianity. See, I think Victoria Osteen said something really true about Christianity today, and I think that our vehement reactions against her words are not just because we disagree with her assessment (which I truly do), but also because we know that she’s just, on TV, pointed out that the emperor is naked in many places. Which means we have more work to do. Osteen is not where the Gospel is going out of orbit.  Osteen is a product of a Gospel that is largely out of orbit, and has been for a long time.”

Bunch of friends gathered together (including J.W. Wartick)
Bunch of friends gathered together (including J.W. Wartick)

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared, “An Apologist’s Insights on ‘God’s Not Dead.'”

On September 11th, Jan Edmiston pondered, “What Do We Pray For Today?

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from this past weekend, “Call & Blessing.” The sermon was grounded in the focus text of the second week of the Narrative Lectionary for this year, Genesis 12:1-9. Aaron concluded his sermon by writing that, “Blessing is about an enduring relationship with a God who takes us through the peaks and valleys of life; who stays faithful to us when we’re faithful and even more so when we’re not. It’s about a God who led Abraham and his family 350 miles on foot through the desert of present-day northern Iraq, over the mountains of Jordan, and to Israel. It’s about a God who remained faithful to Abraham even when he passed his wife Sarah off as his sister to save his own skin, and a God who remained faithful to the promise of a son, even when Sarah laughed in her lack of faith and trust at God for such a notion. And such a notion of blessing…..maybe we can go after all…..we can be faithful, we can be church, we can tell others about this God, and we can be a blessing to others….even when we have no freakin’ clue what that looks like or how it’s going to work out. Amen.”

Jesse Evans asked, “What kind of Christian am I?” There’s some good introspection in this.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared, “Signs from God.”

Social Media & Blogging

Here’s some food for thought. Nurya Parish shared this updated Google Trend, that “‘God’ is soon to be more popular than ‘Church.'” What do you think about this? Quite honestly, I am surprised that “Church” is searched for or about online more than God. Anyway, I do think this is actually a good trend, like Nurya writes about.

Back in July, Alex Manthei shared, “5 Methods and 15 Tools to Find Your Audience and Build a Community.”

Also in July, Neil Patel shared, “The 7 Key Ingredients of a Powerful Twitter Bio.”

Chelsea Krost shared a post by Brian Hart, “Social Media is a Game of Chess; Not Checkers.” What do you think of that idea?

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

If you have ever wondered about “Social Media Narcissism,” check out this video about “The Upside of Social Media Narcissism.”


Here’s a stewardship related question for you, “Are Your Offerings Boring?” Mark Brooks asked this question last week and shared reflection about how you can make offering in your faith community interesting and engaging. What do you think?

Friend, stewardship blogger and “Classy Frugalist” Grace Duddy is in the home stretch leading up to her wedding. Because of this, this will probably be her last post for the next month. Congratulations Grace, we’re so excited for you and Tyler!

Speaking of Grace, she will be among four major presenters at the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s Leadership Seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in early December. If you are looking for a good reason to go south during the first part of winter, this is a great reason. The speakers and seminar are sure to be wonderful. Check this out!


John Saddington wrote and reflected about “Vocation: Where Joy Meets Need.”

Helping Allison set her Fantasy Football roster for the weekend (yes, Allison has a fantasy football team too!)
Helping Allison set her Fantasy Football roster for the weekend (yes, Allison has a fantasy football team too!)

My wife Allison asked quite profoundly, “Do you see it?” I was so impressed with this post, that I had to share it on my own blog as a summary post. Of the great insights and brilliance in this, two main insights about vocation that stand out to me are that “no two people vocationally discern the same way” and “vocational discernment is not for the weak.” If you haven’t read this yet, please check it out!

RJ Grunewald shared an honest vocational and self-care post in “Fantasy Football is Good for My Soul.” Like RJ, I love fantasy football too. It’s refreshing and a lot of fun to be able to be in community with friends from across the country in this way during football season.

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson asked and reflected, “Individual purpose? Meet the Body of Christ,” in his sermon for this past weekend. This is full of great theological reflection. I especially loved when he reflected, “when I hear somebody tell me that their life is without purpose—whether it’s a young person in the throes of depression or an old-person who believes their time on earth should be spent—I nod; I understand the feeling; and I don’t try to correct them with vague platitudes about how God has foreseen this struggle or intentionally brought them into the depths of despair. Instead, I usually don’t say much, but I wonder… I wonder if purpose breaks into despair in the most desperate and unexpected of places… I wonder if God doesn’t change the world more often through the addict, the hopeless, and the completely lost than with the person who has it all together… I wonder if it takes reaching the end of the line for God to get through our thick heads.”

Meta Herrick Carlson reflected profoundly in “weaning.”

Friends Katie and Will continued their adventures in South Africa this past week. They also continued to reflect and blog about their experiences. Will shared about their experiences at a prayer service in “Prayer and Preaching.” Katie added her input in “We all have monkey problems” and “A new day.” Katie added some more observations about the weather as well. I have to admit that I laughed at her insight and observation that, “I have come to the conclusion that I am responsible for the fun and day-to-day posts and Will is responsible for the more serious, GPF related posts. I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.” I think Katie’s right on all accounts. Thanks for continuing to share about your adventures you two!

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared three vocationally rich posts and reflections this past week. First she shared some “Tuesday Tea Time.” She also added some “Friday Favorites” and “Sunday Snippits.”


Have you ever wondered about “How to get upgraded to First Class like a boss“? If so, Kate Sioban Mulligan has you covered.

Somewhat of an interesting brouhaha seems to have emerged between the country of Norway and the Disney company. Those that are familiar with Walt Disney World, and specifically Epcot, might know that Norway has long been one of the countries featured in the World Showcase. The Norway space has long featured a ride that helped depict some about Norway’s history and culture, called “Maelstrom.” But, given the recent overwhelming success of “Frozen,” Disney is looking for ways to capitalize on it. So, out with “Maelstrom” and in with a ride based on “Frozen.” This isn’t necessarily sitting well, because a fictitious place featured in a cartoon movie is replacing an actual teaching type ride. I know the ride wasn’t the most entertaining, but I always appreciated it when visiting Disney World as someone of Norwegian heritage. I don’t fault Disney for this, but I kind of wish they could have just added the Frozen attractions without removing Maelstrom.

Friend, blogger, Mariners fan fanatic and math teacher Tim Chalberg wrote, “Enjoy the Moment” as the Seattle Mariners find themselves squarely in the playoff chase with two weeks to go. Here’s hoping they can find a way into the playoffs. With their pitching, anything is possible, and if they were to make the playoffs, I would like their chances with Felix Hernandez.

Finally, to close out the links, here’s a story about how my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is seeking lyrics and lyrical input for its new “Alma Mater” composed by PLU professor Greg Youtz. So, if you’re a PLU alum, what lyrics would you add?


That concludes this birthday edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always, if there are particular topics or articles you would like included, please let me know. Also, please let me know if you have particular ideas, questions or topics you would like me to wrestle with on the blog. Until next time, thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Garrison Keillor; and Berlin Wall.

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