Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some links to what I have found interesting with all of you from the past week. 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
For those of you working in congregations or faith communities and planning worship or your sermon for the coming weekend, Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some helpful thoughts and ideas in unpacking the revised common lectionary readings appointed for Pentecost 19A.
Rachel Pritchett shared a story in The Lutheran about a faith community and story from the Pacific Northwest, “Beautiful to behold: Art, faith collide at Grunewald Guild.”
Antonia Blumberg explained about “How Meditation, Prayer and Spiritual Communities are helping these College Students Thrive.” This is a great post and good look at millennials and young adults in college and their faith practices. How, if at all, did you engage or practice a faith while in college yourself?
Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth reflected about, “The Altar Rail that Divided the World.” There is tons of great thoughts, questions and ideas in here related to the tension between lay/volunteer and clergy/staff of congregations and faith communities. What strikes you in the challenges that Clint reflects on? How might the concept of the Priesthood of All Believers be helpful here (or not)?
Clint also reflected in, “Busy is the new works righteousness.”
In news that might be hard to believe for some, Sara Grossman shares the news from a study that “Americans want more religion in politics.” Do you want more religion in politics? What would that look like?
Mark Regnerus asked some important faith community questions in “Diversity as Slogan and Reality.”
Friend and recent seminary graduate Lisa Lehnherr Hansen wrote about “A Tapestry of Healing: Trauma, Trust and Theology.” This is an honest reflection about the missional church, possibilities for the church, vocational wrestling, neighbor love and much more. Give this a read.
The Children Youth and Family Ministry Network shared a guest post by Rev. Stephen Bouman about the needs of children within the church.
Brian McLaren wrote, “I Thank God for Pastors.” There are good words of appreciation and gratitude in this, including when Brian writes, “If you have a pastor who is doing a good job, be good to them. Let them know. When others lob grenades of criticism at them, speak up. Write a note. Say a good word of encouragement.” I too am thankful for pastors, and all leaders who do hard and important work.
Blogger RJ Grunewald wrote, “Church of Cain vs. Church of Abel.” There’s great reflection in here about church and the neighbor. Here’s a small sample: “This is what happens in the story of Cain and Abel and this is what happens in the life of Jesus. Jesus comes preaching this message of grace. And this message is so radical and scandalous that Jesus even starts preaching it to sinful people like tax collectors and prostitutes. And the religious people get ticked. Because that’s what the self-righteous people do. They get angry when the see God’s grace extend to certain groups of people. When you and I believe that it is up to us to earn God’s favor, we will get angered by the scandalous lengths that God will go to in order to love everyone.”
David Edwards shared the news of a horrible story about a pastor and televangelist from Ohio.
Friend and pastor Erik Gronberg shared some good reflections about the church in “Foundation Laying.”
Zack Hunt wrote about what he sees as “The Single Greatest Challenge to Christianity.” Zach writes, “the single greatest challenge to Christianity is the same great challenge we’ve always faced: the proclamation of a good and loving Creator in the face of a creation filled with so much evil.” Check out the whole post and give it some serious reflection.
Sarah Hulett explained how “‘Mass Mobs’ Aim to Keep Pews Full at Old Churches.”
Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston asked, “Why Does Calling a Pastor Take So Long?” Having heard many congregations and leaders ponder this question, I know its very much a repeated one that is widely held. As Jan asked, allow me to reiterate, what slows down the process as far as you have seen?
Friend and leader of LEAD, Peggy Hahn wrote, “Leading Change: following the Holy Spirit into the future.”
Holly Inglis asked an important, yet some times overlooked question, “What is Learning?”
Bob Herbert unpacked what he sees as “The Plot Against Public Education: How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools.” What do you think about this?
Tom Murphy shared the claim that “Better foreign aid starts with re-defining ‘aid,’ says ONE Campaign” and then unpacked the claim. Give this a read and some thought, especially if you are interested in foreign aid, non-profits, NGOs, and/or development economics.
In a related post, Tom also shared that “Aid donors [are] way behind in meeting transparency commitments.”
No matter the sector you work in or may work in, chances are you occasionally (at least) work with some kind of freelance employees (or are perhaps one yourself). Anne Loehr shared some helpful ideas about “How to Manage Inefficient Communication with Freelance Employees.” Within this helpful post, Anne shared five tips for efficient communication: set email protocol in advance; schedule all check-ins in advance; establish a system to recap meetings; remember moods and attitudes don’t always translate; and track projects in an easy way for both you and your freelancer.
Julian Stodd shared some thoughts and reflections about “Skills for the Digital Learner.” In unpacking this some more, he focused particularly on ideas of safeguarding, productivity and environment. Give this a read and some thought.
Walter Isaacson explained, “Why Steve Jobs Obsessed About Office Design (and, yes, bathroom locations).”
Leadership Thought & Practice
Seth Godin shared, “Four steps on the road to organizational growth, dominance or irrelevance.” The four steps which Seth unpacks are: struggle, servant, bully and utility. Give this a read. Thanks to Joe Smith for initially sharing this post with me.
Last month Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt asked, “Are you ready to be a social age leader?” Good question. They include some important observations about the social age, including that transparency rules and empowerment isn’t optional, and trust is everything.
Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Mark Royal, “Revealing the New Realities of Employee Engagement.” As part of this post, four measures for improvement are offered, including: instill confidence in the direction your organization is taking; have integrity; be transparent; and be flexible.
I reflected on “The Importance of Giving Space in Leadership.”
Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts. He wrote about “12 Courageous Acts of Leadership.” The courageous acts include: extend trust; stop talking and listen; ask awkward questions; comfort; connect; surrender control while remaining responsible; and honor the success of others without mentioning your contribution.
Dan also shared, “10 Principles for Coaching Your Players to Success.”
Dan also shared a couple great posts inspired by John Maxwell’s thoughts and ideas. First, he shared, “John Maxwell’s Hatchet Committee.” Also, he explained, “What John Maxwell Learned from John Wooden.”
Steve Keating, in light of recent news by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, wrote, “How Much a Woman Should Earn.” Steve doesn’t mince words, and I couldn’t agree with him more. He writes, “Fair is fair. I don’t know if there was ever a legitimate reason for women to be paid less then men but I can guarantee you there is no legitimate reason today. Karma doesn’t pay bills, equal pay for equal work does!”
Scott Huntington provided a guest post at Thin Difference about “Making Workplace Incentives Work.” Scott shares four points of consideration: help workers see the big picture; develop teamwork incentives; instill meaning in the work; and make the incentives worth working for.
Jeremy Chandler wrote, “What I Learned about Leadership from an Artist in a Coffee Shop.” Two things that Jeremy learned were “trust yourself, you know more than you think you do,” and “leaders make ‘art’ for others.”
Joel Trammell shared a post where, “7 CEOs Give Advice to First-Timers.”
I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t think of this type of post before, but kudos and thanks to Paul Sohn for sharing this great guest post by Bruce Rosenstein. Bruce wrote about “What Millennials Can Learn from the Father of Modern Management,” Peter F. Drucker. Five lessons from Drucker that Sohn points out to as particularly helpful for millennials are: common ground in the future; build on fundamentals; focus on the existential; living in more than one world; and the ultimate role model.
Brian Hart shared “3 Ways Millennials Can Frame Youth and Inexperience as a Professional Advantage.” The ways are: make experience seem overrated; highlight your mastery of new technology; and stand out from the crowd.
Selena Simmons-Duffin explained, “Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously.”
Here’s some news from Rick Newman that both economists and millennials alike should be interested to note, “Why the White House is wooing millennials.” Check this out and see what you think.
Over on the COMPASS blog, I shared some thoughts yesterday about “Millennials, Renting & Home Ownership.” This month on that blog there will be a series of posts related to renting, ownership and mortgages. This is the first post in that series. If you are a millennial, know millennials, or have millennials in your family, what do you see related to their choices, needs and values related to renting and/or owning?
Broke Millennial asked a good question, “Is Convenience when paying your tuition worth a 2.62% fee?”
All faiths and religions are diverse in their own ways. For example, Christianity is very diverse in how and what its adherents believe and practice what they believe. Nicholas Kristof brings some sanity back into the conversation about faith and diversity in this reflection about “The Diversity of Islam.”
Ylan Q. Mui reflected about “What the Ebola outbreak tells us about global inequality.”
Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for this past weekend, “War and Peace.” The message was grounded in the narrative lectionary’s appointed text of Joshua 24. Aaron writes, “In faith, we choose to live in relationship with Almighty God who has been so faithful to us in the blessing of covenant and in Christ. In faith, we choose to see the beauty that exists in our world; we choose to trust and hope in the power of relationships and community. In faith, we choose to serve God…so that through us, others might know this God in Christ who blesses them with beauty and hope and peace too. That is why ‘this house’ – why we as a church are here. To be A place of safety; a family built on trust. And it is why this church is called…..to serve the Lord. Amen.”
Also based on Joshua 24, friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared his sermon, “Choose your gods wisely.” Within this Frank writes, “Somehow, against all odds, this God who values self-sacrifice, humility, and turning the other cheek has remained our God in a world that values pretty much the exact opposite. When it comes down to it, it is left to us to decide as Joshua does. There are plenty of gods out there, plenty of powers that offer nice, new things, but—for everything I’ve experienced and all the roads that lead to nowhere—we have decided that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
Frank also shared his sermon from the week prior on Exodus 20, “Law, love, power, and death; the commandments pretty much have it all.”
Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared a little reflection about “Tourism, Borders, and the ‘Other.‘” J.W. poses some important questions in this piece. He ponders, “How might we live our lives in the world in such a way as to avoid making the “other” into an object for our observation? How can we become “pilgrims” in a world which increasingly demands tourism? How can we sanctify a world which seeks to build barriers?”
J.W. also wrote and asked, “Alvin Plantinga, the Compromiser? – A Call to Christian Charity in Disagreement.”
Neale Godfrey reflected and asked, “The Poor Worry about Money. What do the Rich Worry About?” This is a post with both neighbor love implications but also stewardship as well. There are ideas and challenges of abundance and scarcity here. Check this out and see what you think.
Friend, blogger and photographer Jessica Young shared a great post, “i am malala yousafzai:: literature.” This post speaks to the power that Malala has inspired, and why she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi.
Friend and pastor Alison Shane provided the sermon last week on Joseph in chapel at Luther Seminary.
Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared her sermon for this past weekend, “Invitation to the Feast.” The message was grounded in Matthew 22 and Philippians 4. Jamie writes, “This gospel is a dangerous thing. It is not politically correct. It shines light on ourselves as sinners. It calls the world into judgment. And it reaches out to those not usually invited to society’s table. It is radical and at times impossible to believe. But we come to church asking, ‘Is it true?’ Can God love me as I am? Can I be forgiven? Can I be accepted by a Christian community? And we find in our baptism, a resounding “Yes!” and a beautiful robe to wear to the banquet.”
The “High Calling” shared “An Interview with Kay Warren about Suicide, Mental Illness, and the Church.”
Friend and pastor Diane Roth reflected about “Native and Foreign Languages.” I love this post. One particular passage that stands out is when Diane writes, “But somewhere along the line, if we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus, we will need to become bilingual, learning foreign words like ‘community’ and ‘purpose’, ‘mission’ and ‘neighbor.’ Perhaps at first, it will be enough to learn to sing the line, or perhaps to pronounce the words, without knowing what they mean, or to taste bread with a different flavor than we are used to. Later we will sit down with one another, rise up to go to the world, and realize that we are here for reasons so different than we had originally planned. We are being transformed when we just came to get a piece of bread; we are changing the world when all we planned to do was sing a song.”
Candice Czubernat wrote, “Love the Sinner.” This is definitely well worth a read. One hope that I share with Candice is as she writes, “To me, I want to be the kind of Christian who loves people in a way that doesn’t highlight their “sin” but that highlights their loveliness and Christlikeness.” What do you think?
Social Media & Blogging
Brian Fanzo shared, “9 Ways to Utilize Social Media for Storytelling!” The ways include: blogging; content curation; own a hashtag; social actions with a strategy; personal brand footprint; video blog; podcast; create visual content; and community digital events. Check this out.
Michelle shared some good stewardship, budget, and self-awareness in, “7 Things I Won’t Cut from our budget to save for a down payment.” What might you not be willing to cut and why?
Stefanie O\’Connell asked, “Are You using the right tools to change your financial behavior?”
I shared a post last week called, “I Love to Tell this Story,” reflecting on the famous hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” and its use as a theme for a faith community’s understanding of and practices related to stewardship.
Stefanie O\’Connell also reflected in “Rethinking the Survival Job.”
Addie Zierman reflected in “Rethinking the Why.” I love this blog, and reading all of Addie’s wonderful insights. She always puts things in a nice reflective way related to neighbor love, the church, vocation and more. One passage in this post that really stands out is where she writes, “Read it because living in the tension of faith and doubt is hard and lonely, and it shouldn’t be. Read this blog when you’re not ready to go back to church. Read it if you’re looking for a church – a place,your people – and it’s breaking your heart. Read it as you sort out your baggage and try to figure things out. There is no Band-Aid Jesus here. Only real, broken hearts, somehow — miraculously — not crumbling into dust. Come to this space when you find yourself at that narrow edge between cynicism and hope, looking for a way to move forward, not sure at all what it is. Come to re-imagine. Come because you don’t have to be good to be loved…and because it’s so hard to remember that.” Go and read the whole post, and if you love it like I do, follow her great blog regularly.
DC asked a vocational type question I believe, “Do your Hobbies Become your Work?” What do you think?
Friend, professor and blogger Dr. Ron Byrnes shares news that “Lola the Doodle Has More Twitter Followers than Me.” There’s great vocational reflection in this, especially related to his blog and how it will soon turn eight years old. Go check this post out and follow his blog.
Friends Will and Katie continue to document their journey and adventures in South Africa. Last week they reflected about “The Dangers of Saying You’re a Preacher.” Katie also shared great insights, and some good humor too, in “Battle of the Dialects.”
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 you would like me to wrestle with on the blog, please let me know. Also, let me know if there are particular topics you would like to see included in the links. Until next time, thank you for reading and blessings on your week! -TS