This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking from the past week with all of you. In doing this, 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; Worship and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links and entrust them to you now.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing for worship or a sermon for this upcoming weekend, and using the revised common lectionary, check out these reflections from Bishop Mike Rinehart for Pentecost 18A.

Jerod shared some thoughts about “Common Church Website Mistakes.” Some common mistakes include: images that are too small; cluttered design; information overload; outdated; and not mobile friendly. Does your church’s website have any of these mistakes?

Thinking about what might be a great and cool experience to attend and participate in imagining what’s possible for the church? If so, check out Christianity 21, which will be held in January in Phoenix.

Elizabeth Drescher wrote a timely piece reflecting on “Mark Driscoll, the GTS 8, and the End of the Church.” If you haven’t seen this post and read it yet, please do. I am with Elizabeth when she writes, “The GTS 8 look to be pointing at least to higher ground. I think I’ll head that a-way. I’m hoping there’s a new church there.”

Bob Smietana reflected about “The Changing Face of the American Church.”

In a post you might find interesting if you are a little bit familiar with what is happening in Hong Kong, comes the story that, “Behind Hong Kong’s Democracy Protests, a Quiet Force: Christianity.”

The Rev. Canon Robert Hendrickson wrote about, “The Eucharistic Heart of Christian Leaders.” I greatly appreciate this post, and I am grateful that friend and pastor David Hanssen shared it. One passage that particularly stands out: “The Eucharistic Heart of leadership is not really about “leadership” at all – at least not in the classic sense of force of will or charisma.  It is about creating the space for holy and utter transformation to occur – this can never happen in communities that are fearful of our authority.  It can only happen in communities that trust that we too are letting the Spirit make of us a new thing – that we are letting the Body feed us for some new work of holiness.” Give this piece a read this week.

Peter J. Leithart reflected on “U2’s Thickening Ecclesiology.”

Adding a little church history discussion to the links this week, friend and blogger J.W. Wartick wrote about “Constantine’s Faith and the Myth of ‘Constantine’s Takeover.'”

If you follow my blog, you probably saw this post with an excerpt by my wife Allison. Well, if for some reason you haven’t seen my wife’s entire post entitled, “Enough,” please check it out. It’s amazing, powerful and asks such important questions for the life of the church.

John Meunier wrote, “If we want war, we have it.” This is a post offering some reflection about “Christian discourse” in the midst of differences of thought and perspective.

The Catholic Synod of Bishops (photo from CathNews USA)
The Catholic Synod of Bishops (photo from CathNews USA)

In perhaps the biggest church related news story of the week (and perhaps month), a two-week long Catholic Synod has just begun at the Vatican including bishops from all over the world. Sylvia Poggioli writes that the “Vatican Synod tests the Pope’s vision of a more merciful church.”

Jan Edmiston reflected on “Channeling Oliva Pope,” the fictional main character of ABC television’s hit drama, “Scandal.” This is a fun little reflection. Jan writes, “In a post-denominational world, we must remain agile which occasionally means that middle judicatory staffers need to tap our inner Olivia Pope and become the behind-the-scenes fixer.” Check out the entire post.

Jan also wrote and shared, “We All Die. But Maybe Not Yet.” There’s good stuff in this about congregational life cycles.

My cousin Erin Parks is very awesome! Erin is working with the Justice for Women office at the churchwide offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) during her year of service with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. As part of her work so far, she has helped compile and provide footnotes for a “Draft of a Social Message on Gender-based Violence.” Check out the draft, and provide comments and input which they are seeking now through November 26th.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard, President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief wrote and explained about, “Growth in Impact: What’s ahead for Lutheran World Relief.” He highlights and elaborates about the importance of partnerships, innovation, efficiency, and influence. Check this out and see what he sees in the world, and the need for NGOs, the larger church, and other organizations and sectors in responding to the needs in the world.

Julian Stodd wrote about “Tempo in learning.”

Back in August, Chelsea Krost shared a post by Erica Strother, “No More Excuses! 3 Easy Ways to Make Time for Exercise.” The 3 Easy Ways are: invest in an at-home workout DVD you really love; get social; and ditch the chair.

Liz Ryan explained “The Five Deadliest Career Mistakes.” The five mistakes reflected on here are: leaping without looking; letting someone else run your career; burn bridges; to put your career ahead of your life; and to go to sleep in your career. What mistakes might you add from your own perspectives or experiences?

Leadership Thought & Practice

Jon Mertz and Thin Difference shared a guest post by S. Chris Edmonds, where he writes “Make Values as Important as Performance.”

Dan Rockwell shared “7 Questions that Confront Paralysis.” The questions are: What have you done to address this issue? What can we do? What makes things better? Who do you want to be in this situation? What would your best self do? What happens if we continue on this path? What happens if we do nothing?

Dan also shared, “Courage to Take a Different Path.”

Lolly Daskal shared “6 Questions to Ask Before Planning Your Next Meeting.” The questions to ask are: How often should we meet? What information should be shared? Who should be invited? Who should speak? Why are we meeting? Where are we meeting?

Lolly also explained, “Why You Should Play on Your Strengths- Not Focus on Your Weaknesses.” Lolly includes some important questions to help reflect on about this: What are you a natural at? What does reflection tell you? What makes you feel good? What should you focus on? Why play to your strengths?

Bjorn Jonasson wrote, “I Quit My Job- And it was my biggest mistake ever.” Have you had a similar experience?

Steve Keating wrote, “Failing to Lead.” Included in this reflection, is this great observation by Steve that, “there’s another area of leadership that requires true courage that is often overlooked. It’s the courage to say something when something needs to be said. It’s the courage to have uncomfortable conversations with those you lead. It’s the courage to tell the truth when the truth is highly inconvenient.”

Steve also wrote that, “Trust is no Accident.” He concluded this post by writing, “Do not take the trust of others for granted. Building trust isn’t something that happens, it is something you do. You may be the most trustworthy person on the planet but if you’re not proactively building trust then trust most certainly will not be built. Build yourself a bit of trust today….. and everyday!”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this report from the University of Bath’s School of Management entitled, “Experiencing trustworthy leadership.”

As a "free-lancer" of sorts for some things, this is sometimes how my office looks.
As a “free-lancer” of sorts for some things, this is sometimes how my office looks.

Karin Hurt wrote about “A Better Way to Address Performance Issues,” explaining “the Confidence Competence Model.”

David Witt asked and shared, “Are You Enabling a Dysfunctional Company Culture? Four Questions to Ask Yourself.” The questions to ask: Are you overly insulated? Are you genuinely connecting with others? Do you have truth-tellers? Have you checked your assumptions lately? These are all great questions. How might you intentionally ponder them and give them space this week?

Anne Loehr asked an important question in today’s economy, “How do you Effectively Manage Freelance Workers?” In thinking about this question, Anne points out “Four common challenges managers face when working with freelancers.” Those challenges are: inefficient communication between managers and freelance employees; difficult collaboration between full-time employees and freelance employees; projects not being completed correctly or on time by freelance employees; and trying to maintain organizational culture and values with freelance employees. What have been your experiences either as a freelancer or as someone managing freelancers?


I’ve probably shared this post by Tamera Darden before, but in case you missed it, here’s “Could I have been a Ballerina? Millennials Insatiable Appetite to Try Everything,” shared by Chelsea Krost.

Do you work from home at least part of the time? If so, you might appreciate this post that Chelsea also shared by Erica Strother, “3 Things No One Tells You About Working from Home.” The things are: it’s really easy to lose track of time; it can get lonely; and snow days lose their charm.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania shared findings explaining about “How Millennials Think Differently about Brands.” Give this a read and check out these findings. What do you think?

Kate Nasser shared, “Millennials Success: Be Included not just Recognized.”

Friend, blogger and millennial Ben Tully is back this week with another update from Hong Kong, in “Occupy Part 2: What’s At Stake.”

Neighbor Love

Shane Claiborne wrote, “Welcoming the Stranger, Even if It’s Against the Law.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for this past weekend grounded in Exodus 19:3-7 and 20:1-17, “10 Commandments: ‘for’ or ‘from’?” Give the whole text a read, and pay special attention to this passage: “But if the 10 Commandments are 10 words from God on how to we set ourselves apart “for” the rest of the world, then they become about acts of love and service to our neighbor…for their sake, rather than ours.  These 10 Commandments become words that shape our lives of faith so that they might know the God of promise we serve – and that God’s blessing is for them as well.”

Aaron also shared about “Something new… Theology Thursdays.”

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wrote about domestic violence in “Let’s Talk About It.” I love the idea of the “Pass the Peace” initiative. For those who worship, this is usually a common practice within a faith community, but this process and initiatve broadens this beyond faith or religion. This is a great idea and a wonderful response to a major problem in our society.

Pastor and blogger Nadia Bolz-Weber shared a powerful “Sermon on ‘us’ and ‘them.‘” One particular passage that stands out is where Nadia writes, “So the reason there is no “them” and there really is only “us” is not because of some lofty, self-congratulatory lived-into commitment to inclusivity and being nice. It’s because Christ has made it so. God has taken all the domination and the borders and boundaries and divisions among people and destroyed them by willingly taking all that sin into God’s own self in Jesus’ death on the cross and then defeating it all thought the glory of resurrection.”

Tyler Huckabee explains, “The Trouble with ‘Being a Voice for the Voiceless.” The sub-title of this article raises an important question asking, “Speaking out for injustice is a good thing, but how can you speak for the oppressed before you listen to them?” Excellent question. Listening is imperative. What do you think?

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton with Allison and I  (photo taken by Thomas Siburg)
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton with Allison and I
(photo taken by Thomas Siburg)

Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Bishop Elizabeth Eaton writes, “See each other as brother, sister.”

Friend and Ph.D. student Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared, “The Song of the Beloved.” This is such a beautiful piece, I hope you read the whole thing. Just to convince you, here’s Amanda’s closing paragraph, “Let me sing a song of my Beloved, whose faithfulness has covered my unfaithfulness, whose righteousness has covered my unrighteousness, whose gift has covered my guilt. Let me sing a song in which the world is turned upside down to reveal the nature of the Giver in the Gift. Let me sing a song of the world as gift, a reminder that the Lover of Creation is its Creator and its Giver.”

TK asked an important question, “Who will really suffer at the hands of climate change?

Blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans shared some reflection in “From the Lectionary: A Kingdom of Rejects.”

Rachel also shared more discussion in an on-going series on her blog in, “‘God and the Gay Christian’ Discussion, Week 3.”

Parker Palmer shared, “Memo to Myself: Avoid Domesticating Our Prophets.” Within this nice reflection, he writes, “I can’t speak for Jesus, but I’d bet the farm that he’d be very unhappy with certain features of American life, not least its gross economic inequities and its calloused culture of violence. I’m also pretty sure that many of my fellow Christians would be extremely uncomfortable with Jesus were he to show up in their churches.” What do you think?

A little over a week ago one cable news network made a very poor and sexist comment and name for an Air Force Major serving from the United Arab Emirates. In response to this, a number of leaders and military personnel signed an open letter.

Jordan Carlos asked, “Do You Speak Gentrification?

Tom Paulson wrote a post with a title that certainly caught my eye, “Global health tough sell: Immunizing against idiocy.” There’s good food for thought in this about global health, changes, challenges, positives and negatives and how the stories about these are told and understood.

RJ Grunewald wrote, “Building the Foundation.”

Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared her sermon for this past Sunday, “Another Parable about a Vineyard from Matthew 21.” Repeated throughout this post is a great question, “Are we listening?” There’s so much good stuff in this. One snippit for you, Jamie writes, “The lens of our faith helps us see this reality clearly. When we use our faith lens, we do not simply see an ordinary world. We see an extraordinary world that was created by God and is deeply loved- not perfect but good- and someday will be completely healed by God. And we are a part of this creation- each of us extraordinary children of God. We have a purpose; we are a part of something larger then ourselves. We have the opportunity to do God’s kingdom work and to bear fruit. We are blessed beyond measure as God’s extravagant grace comes for us time after time finally bringing Jesus to us, to help us see the truth of God’s love.”

Jamie also shared some reflection about “The Mystery of our Faith.”

In a good read about communion, fellowship and community, Mihee Kim-Kort writes, “Tables of Confrontation and Reconciliation.”

Andy Gill wrote about “Pseudo-Pacifism: Why Privileged People Love Quoting MLK.” What do you think about this?

A big news story broke on Monday when the United States Supreme Court refused to take up a couple cases regarding same-sex marriage. Because of that decision, it’s quite probably that same-sex marriage is now legal in 30 states. Richard Wolf’s report was picked up by Ministry Matters.

Nate Pyle wrote “To Those Who Doubt.”

Meta Herrick Carlson shared some good thoughts about “Trust.”

Social Media & Blogging

Gregory Ferenstein wrote about how, “Google’s Eric Schmidt explains the #1 email habit of the most effective people.” That top habit is to “respond quickly.” I think I have some work to do along those lines. Do you?

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

Julian Stodd shared some thoughts about “Volume Versus Relevance.” There are some good reminders about communication in the “Social Age” in this.

Michelle shared news that it is possible to make a living through online income, in her September online income report.


Kim Bellware shared an amazing story in, “This Church Needed The Money, But Gave $500 to Every Member to do Good in the World.” Would your church, faith community or congregation be so bold, trusting and faithful?

Stephanie O\’Connell asked, “Is it Irresponsible to Give When You’re Poor?” What do you think?

David Crary shares the story about a new report which says that the “Richest Americans are giving a smaller share of their income to charity.” Does this news surprise you?


Stephanie O\’Connell asekd, “Should I Invest in Myself or Myself?” What do you think? This is probably both a stewardship and vocational post, but also one that could fit under the millennial section as well.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some wonderful life and vocational reflection in “The People Who Raised Me.” This is a post I bet most anyone can relate with at some point, given life, generations and aging. Diane writes, “The people who raised me are dying.  They taught me what it meant to be human, to laugh, to listen, not to make fun of the children, to be kind. They showed me what faithfulness looks like, like a small ordinary thing, rare as a diamond, beautiful as an autumn maple leaf. The people who raised me are dying.  May they live forever.”

Chances are you attend parties, social functions and gatherings at least some times in your life. For those occasions where you are introducing others, consider the ideas in this post by Cadence Turpin in “A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson offered some wonderful vocational insights, humor and reflections as always with her “Friday Favorites” and “Sunday Snippits.”

Jon Mertz reflected about “The Simplicity of Life Dreams.” There are great reflections about life, dreams and vocations in this. Spend some time with it and reflect on it for yourself.

Friends Katie and Will continued documenting their year abroad with this post, “Beep. Beep. Boop… the system is down.”

DC explained some vocational and perhaps profitable insights about “How to Get Rich: Side Hustles and Startups.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared a great idea for self-reflection and gratitude in “Once a Week Write Down What You’re Most Thankful for.” Ron also shared a little life and vocational reflection in “Writer’s Block.”

TK shared a post that probably would find resonance with many other young (or younger) adults in “Living the Life I Want, Yet Fearing Parental Reactions.”

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons growing up
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons growing up


Relevant shared “A Conversation with John Mark McMillan: On authentic worship and music’s impact.”


I grew up enjoying Saturday Morning Cartoons. Did you? If you are like me, the story about the past weekend being the first in the United States without Saturday Morning Cartoons in over fifty years probably makes you kind of sad.

I had the distinct honor and privilege to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). When I find a fun story to share about PLU, I can’t help but include it. Here’s a list of “5 Things You Don’t Know about PLU.” The list includes: W.M. Keck Observatory; the Bike Co-op; cup credits at OMM; movie collections in the library; and the fact that the KPLU radio station is owned by PLU. This is a great list for new and current students to be made aware of, but it’s also good reminders and updates for alumni like myself.

If you celebrate Halloween, and find yourself in Minnesota, check out this post, “Halloween in Minnesota: The Top 5 Ways to Celebrate.” The ways include: visit your local movie theater and see a scary movie; go to Valley Scare (at Valleyfair); take a caves and graves tour in St. Paul; and check out the Haunted Basement in the Minneapolis Soap Factory.


That concludes this week’s links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if there are particular topics or questions you would like me to wrestle with, or 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; Synod of Bishops; and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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