This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on my blog means that I get to share links to some things I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. 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

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared some thoughts, ideas and reflection about the revised common lectionary’s appointed readings for this coming weekend, Pentecost 16A.

If you are in leadership in a congregation, then you probably already know that your website and social media is your front door for your congregation and faith community. They are also a place, when effectively engaged, where faith formation and fellowship can happen. With that in mind, AJ Fenlason offers good insight to “Use Your Website to Share the Stories of Your Church.” How do you share the stories of your faith community on your website and through your online presence?

Dr. Jolene Erlacher brilliantly shared, “3 Keys to Engaging Millennials on Your Ministry Team.” The keys are: take time for team relationships; encourage questions and honest dialogue; and give and request timely and consistent feedback. From your own experience, what keys might you add to the list?

In a somewhat related post about millennials and ministry, two PK’s wrote, “Please Stop Telling Us Why We’re Leaving the Church.” From their perspective: “We’re more educated than previous generations, but the church doesn’t continue to feed our minds. We came of age in a recession, but the church hasn’t changed its teachings about money. We’re still processing bad experiences with the church, and that’s going to take time. We have good ideas, and nobody cares. Everyone assumes we’re leaving the church because want to sin, but that’s simply not the case.” Please spend some time on this. For as much as I have written and reflected about the church and millennials, this is a hugely important post sharing a couple other people’s experiences.

Jan Edmiston reflected on “Long-Term Pastors & Age.” Give this a read and spend some time thinking about this.

ChurchPastor shared “10 Traits of Inwardly-Focused, Ineffective Churches.” I’m guessing that you could probably name many of these traits off the top of your head. Traits on the list include: worship wars; prolonged minutia meetings; facility focus; program driven; inwardly focused budget; inordinate demands for pastoral care; attitudes of entitlement; greater concern about change than the gospel; anger and hostility; and evangelistic apathy. What might you add to the list?

Cathy Lynn Grossman reflected and explained, “Many church choirs are dying. Here’s why.” What do you think?

Karl Vaters explained, “The Growing Disconnect Between Spiritual Hunger and Church Attendance.” There’s a lot of great stuff in this. I appreciate the recognition by Karl that “Doing matters more than attending.” With that in mind, he provides a few starter ideas: give people the chance to make a difference; make the communication two-way as often as possible; tell stories more than statistics; and make the connection for them.

Friends with Dr. Fretheim
Friends with Dr. Terry Fretheim

Randall Hardman explains, “Why ‘Left Behind’ Should Be… Left Behind.”

Have you ever considered an immersion as a way to “Love God with all your heart,” and be opened to new ways, ideas, and perspectives? If so, or if not, but you are interested in the potential check out these ideas and opportunities about immersions from LEAD.

Last night I had the great pleasure of listening to Dr. Walter Brueggemann pay tribute to Dr. Terry Fretheim and his wife Faith, in the first annual Terence E. and Faith L. Fretheim Lecture in Biblical Theology, entitled, “Why the Old Testament Must Not Go Away.”

Dave Barnhart reflected on “The 7 Billion Rule,” reflecting about population, people and also the Kingdom of God.

Check out the resources from last week’s Lutheran World Federation Conference on Diakonia, “Called to be transformed and transforming.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Anne Loehr rightfully cautions that, “An Excellent Business Plan Does Not Guarantee Success.”

Ron Edmondson wrote that, “Great Organizations Empower People to Think.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement.  I also appreciate the reflections that: great organizations empower employees the freedom to think for themselves; and when a person has the ability to alter the script, they are more likely to provide a positive experience for the customer.

Tom Paulson wrote and asked, “From Scotland to Cascadia, a new push to empower locals?” What do you think?

Could the world population swell to 11 billion people? Gabe Spitzer shared the news about this possibility.

Gabe Spitzer also shared about, “How the aid and development industry helped cause Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

Lolly Daskal explained, “What Nobody Tells You About Being an Entrepreneur.” The things that nobody tells you are: there’s a dark side; passion alone won’t cut it; it takes years of hard work to build a business; isolation is a fact of entrepreneurial life; to lead others, you must manage yourself; you probably won’t get rich; a crisis of confidence is probably in your future; don’t fake it, ever. This is an important list. From your experience, what might you add?

Julian Stodd reflected more on his blog about the social age, particularly about “Social Learning: Global Reach.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Lolly Daskal reflected on “How Perfectionism Can Hold You Back.” Lolly listed 8 ways that perfectionism might be preventing you from doing something or being most fully who you are capable of being: you don’t take risks; you insist on going by the book; you’re not developing; you can’t push the envelope; you aren’t open to new ideas; you cannot adapt to new situations; you’re thrown by unexpected demands; and you can’t adopt new strategies.

Lolly also shared “The Leaders We Remember Most.” According to Lolly, the leaders that are remembered are remembered because they: challenged us; acknowledged us; listened to us; trusted to us; made time for us; cared for us; supported us; gave us room to make mistakes; believed in us; and they honored us.

Here’s an interesting question for you from Robert Terson, “Which do you think is more important- Talent or Tenacity?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts. Among them, he shared about “The Pros and Cons of Dreamers and Doers,” “The Secret to Expanding Influence by Wooing Hearts,” “12 Powerful Ways to Make People Feel Powerful,” and “13 Ways Leaders Make Dumb Decisions.”

My wife Allison and I with our friend, mentor, and my Thesis Adviser, Rev. Dr. Mary Sue Dreier
My wife Allison and I with our friend, mentor, and my Thesis Adviser, Rev. Dr. Mary Sue Dreier

In addition to these posts, Dan shared what he sees are “The Top 4 Qualities of Great Mentors.” The qualities in his mind are: humility; not helping; truth with compassion; and courageous candor. What qualities do you consider when you think about your great mentors?

Dan also shared, “The Top Ten Qualities of High Performance Teams.”

Speaking of teams, Dr. Ron Byrnes shared that “Every Team is Better and Worse Off Because You’re On It.” What do you think about that? Agree? Disagree?

Steve Keating writes that you need to “Let go to Lead” in “Massacre by Micromanaging.” There are many good nuggets in this. I especially appreciate the quote he frames this post with from the Horse Whisperer, “The more you use the reins, the less they’ll use their brains.”

Steve also shared, “The Time to Lead.” I love his conclusion in this, “The reality of leadership is this: if you don’t have time to invest in your people then you don’t have time to succeed as a leader.”

Frank Sonnenberg shared, “Get It Done!

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by James Kouzes and Barry Posner entitled, “Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership.” There are four attributes lifted up in this: honest; forward thinking; competent; and inspiring. Take some time to read this and reflect on it.

In a somewhat related post, Julian Stodd shared some thoughts about “Earning trust.

Jacquelyn Smith shared a list of “10 Things The Best Leaders Never Say.” The 10 things are: “I’m the boss”; “that’s not my fault”; “I’ll do it myself”; “I know that- I’ve thought of everything”; “failure is not an option”; “that’s not the way we do it here”; “I want results, not relationships”; “I don’t care if its unethical. If it’s not illegal do it”; “don’t bring me any bad news or surprises”; and “you’re lucky to have a job here.”

Skip Prichard writes, “To Speak Fearlessly, Take Yourself Out of the Equation.”


This was shared above under “Church and Ministry,” but it fits well here too. Jolene Erlacher shared, “3 Keys to Engaging Millennials on your Ministry Team.”  Also shared above and here as well, is this post, “Please Stop Telling Us Why We’re Leaving the Church.”

Heidi Oran reflected on “Learning How to Handle Failure.” In thinking about how to become better equipped to handle failure, she offers these tips: give yourself some space; don’t think positive; and break the striving cycle. From your own experience, what might you add?

Jesse Evans asked this past week, “What is up with my generation?

Jennifer Lien wrote about “Millennials and the Urgency to Succeed.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared and re-blogged a post, “In Memory of Jannie Swart: ‘I Really Believe this Stuff.'” This is a powerful read, one that I hope you will spend some time with.

When I first stumbled on this story, I couldn’t believe it. But, apparently, horribly and sadly its true. The NRA asserted that a Chicago priest is a terrorist for “protecting Chicago kids.” If you find you want to do something about this, feel free to sign the online petition.

Actress Emma Watson speaks before the United Nations. She is currently serving as the UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador.
Actress Emma Watson speaks before the United Nations. She is currently serving as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.

Actress Emma Watson gave one of the best and most important speeches before the United Nations in recent memory, as she spoke out against gender inequality.

Also related to gender, friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a nice little video with reflection “Thinking about gender pronouns.”

I really try not to share what seems to be “political” news on my blog. So, forgive me for the title of this link, “Republicans Unanimously Block Equal Pay Bill.” That said, this is a neighbor love issue. The gap in pay difference by gender exists. Ask any economist, it would be nearly impossible to argue otherwise against the data. The only way to do so is to deny the statistics. If you do that, not only are you lying to yourself, you are lying to your constituents too.

Blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans was back to blogging in a big way this past week. She shared some discussion centered around the first couple chapters of God and the Gay Christian. Rachel also wrote, “Canaanites, Reality Checks, and Letting the Bible Out of the Box.” Rachel also shared, “Changing the Culture that Enabled Mark Driscoll: 6 Ways Forward.” The ways forward include: educating Christians about bullying, abuse and misuse of power; value and preserve accountability; take misogyny and homophobia seriously; measure success by “Fruit of the Spirit” and not numbers; protect people over reputations; and treat pastors and church leaders as human beings- flawed, complex, and beloved by God.

In thinking about both the revised common lectionary and narrative lectionary appointed texts and themes, a number of friends, pastors and bloggers shared their sermons and ideas for this past weekend.

Based on the revised common lectionary: Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared her sermon based on Matthew 20, “Generosity: The last will be first.” Jamie writes that “Jesus tells stories to teach us about the kingdom of God.  And in this story we see that God’s generosity and grace go beyond the bounds of what we might expect.  It reaches everyone- even the lost and last.  This sort of grace does not make sense.  It is abundant and extravagant.  And when we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we pray for this radical grace to overtake our world and our own lives.  We pray that God’s overflowing generosity will overflow into our lives so that we may share it with the world.”

In a related post, Rachel Held Evans shared, “A Generous Master.”

Based on the narrative lectionary: Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon based on Genesis 39, “Joseph & Doing the Right Thing.” There seems to have been a common point of good, right, and even perhaps generosity that was made possible in both the narrative and revised common lectionary readings. One line that Aaron wrote which I really loved, “It’s the right thing because it really isn’t about the 5 bucks.  Rather, it’s the right thing because in the act of giving, I’m saying “I see your need, and I care enough to do something about it.  You are worth that, because you’re a human being.”  And more than that, this act communicates that there is a God who sees them, sees their need, and meets it in an act of steadfast love.  Because in God’s eyes, we are all worth that much.”

Friend and PhD student Amanda Brobst -Renaud shared, “Prodigal Prophets and Faithful Foreigners.” This is such a rich reflection, especially about Jonah and his story, and I hope you read the whole thing. Her conclusion is amazing, as Amanda writes: “The grace of God offends our imaginations. The mercy of God extends beyond our capacity to forgive. God’s steadfast love holds us fast in our anger, in our bitterness, and in our hatred. It is big enough to cover a prodigal prophet, who insists that grace, love, and mercy be deserved, and saves him in spite of himself – in spite of his own undeserving. Fortunately, God’s idea of justice is far different from ours; it is the justice that declares the sinner has been made righteous, that proclaims the prodigal is beloved, that repeats – again and again – that it is never too late to find your way home.”

Otrazhenie wrote, “Look for strength in people, not weakness…” This is a good quick little reminder I think that nicely adds to a discussion about neighbor love.

Social Media & Blogging

Otrazhenie wrote, “Blogging for authenticity in the world of fake smiles.” As they asked, allow me to repeat: “What is so special for you in writing blogs? Or why do you keep reading?

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links in his “Really Recommended Posts.” Included in the posts is one about poverty and foreign aid. Check this out!


In thinking ahead to Advent and Christmas, Ashleigh Joyner and Rethink Church share some good starting place ideas for this year in “Checking, Decking and Dashing.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared thoughts about Generosity, Attitude and Actions.

David Radcliff reflected over at the COMPASS blog in “I Consume.” There are great reflections about consumption, choices and impacts in this. Spend some time and think critically about how the choices you make and the things and ways you consume may (or may not) impact others.


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a couple vocationally rich posts again this past week. She shared both some “Sunday Snippits” and some “Friday Favorites.”

In your daily life, if you’re like me you probably use and make checklists. Regarding this, RJ Grunewald wrote about “Death by Checklist.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson reflected on “‘Unconventional’ Prayer.” There are good reflections in here related to daily life, intentions, and other ideas about pausing, praying and being more intentional.

Alli Polin shared, “I don’t Journal, I Do This Instead.” Check this out. Perhaps it might be a helpful way for you to reflect and take stock of your daily life, thoughts, ideas and questions.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some important reflection about “Conversations.” I can’t help but feel like her conclusion could be mine, and I am guessing your’s as well. Diane concludes, “Sometimes I think that my real job is having conversations: simple, small, ordinary conversations. It keeps me humble to think it.” I think that’s a huge vocational insight, but also about what it means to be in relationship with others. What do you think? Do you share similar ideas about conversations?

Friends Will and Katie continued sharing about their adventures and experiences in South Africa. This week they are back sharing, “…and then a bird pooped on my head.” You know with a title like that, you have to check out this post!

Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson


As it is now officially fall, now is the time that many people start thinking about “Oktoberfest.” If you find yourself in the USA, you might appreciate this list of 5 Awesome Oktoberfests, including especially the famous one in the small “Bavarian” village of Leavenworth.

My friend Tim Chalberg is back with an update on the Seattle Mariners as they enter the last week of the season, still hoping and fighting for a playoff spot.

Speaking of Seattle sports teams, Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks is Alaska Airlines’ “Chief Football Officer,” and because of that, if you are a fan traveling this season to watch the Seahawks play elsewhere in the country, you may well be in line for a discounted airfare.

Regarding the Seahawks, Jerry Brewer shared a nice post about the Seahawks-Broncos game and some stories about the man who announced the game for CBS, Jim Nantz.

If you are looking for a sight to see, or for some travel ideas in the Pacific Northwest, consider visiting Olympic National Park.


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. If you have particular types of articles and stories you would like to see included in future editions, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics or questions you would like me to think about and wrestle with on the blog, please let me know that too. Until next time, thank you for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Emma Watson at the United Nations; and Russell Wilson.

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