This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that it is time to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. (This week’s edition actually covers the last two weeks, so I hope you enjoy this expanded version.) 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!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday of the liturgical year. If you are still preparing or planning for it, these ideas and reflections from Bishop Mike Rinehart might be helpful and worth some time. Also, if preparing for the first Sunday of Advent, this post from Bishop Mike could be a good resource too.

Bishop Mike Rinehart also shared “An Advent Confession” which might be a nice confession to use in your own faith community.

Melissa explained “Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore.” Do you have “Children’s Church” in your faith community? What are your thoughts?

David Briggs explained about “The No. 1 Reasons Teens Keep the Faith as Young Adults.” What do you think?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth wrote and reflected in “Remembering why I said yes.” Diane also shared, “Of Rivers and Lakes.”

Chad Holtz asked, “Can we stop making excuses for small churches?

Over on the LEAD blog, I wrote and asked, “To Plan or Not to Plan? … It’s Not Really Much of a Question.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Church Council shared an update and report from their most recent meeting in Chicago. I especially appreciate the mention of Appreciative Inquiry in this update.

Ann Haften writes, “Staying alive: seminaries embrace ecumenical, Lutheran future.”

Brian Sigmon writes, “Imagine What’s Next: College students serving God and neighbor.”

Advent Wreath with Advent Candles
Advent Wreath with Advent Candles

Keith Anderson importantly admits, “The Color of Your Advent Candles Doesn’t Matter.” What do you think?

Keith also writes and invites, “Welcome to God’s Hackathon: put on your hoodies, friends. We’re gonna rewrite that old DOS code that’s been running the Church for too long.” Are you in?

Jan Edmiston shared some important thoughts about church and organizational change in “Restructuring Church Organizations 101.”

RJ Grunewald wrote about “Creating a Culture of Mission: Interview with Jon Dansby.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared an honest and I think helpful reflection in “Making Sense of the Mars Hill Saga.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

LEAD reflected about an idea of “Leading to Learn.” Do you lead to learn? Learn to lead? Would you like to lead to learn?

Natasha Lomas writes that “Building a Better Version of Capitalism is a Massive Startup Opportunity.”

Peter Economy explains “How to Tell Your Boss You’re Not Happy in 7-Job Transforming Steps.” The steps include: the gripe list; it’s all in the preparation; set up a time to meet; compose yourself; watch the body language; ask for ideas; and move forward.

Over at Humanosphere, Ami Shah writes and explains, “Selling charity: Of Band-Aids and bling.”

Julian Stodd shared reflections and interesting and visual depictions about “Scaffolded Social Learning.”  Julian also shared, “Frighteningly Global: the democratised, decentralized new world.”

Jon Mertz writes and reminds, “Be Grateful for Second Chances.” Ask Jon asked allow me to repeat, “Will you give someone a second chance? What second chance are you most thankful for?”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Thai Nguyen shared “10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude.” Reasons include: bypassing burnout; heightened sensitivity; dissolving tomorrow’s troubles; improves memory; strengthens intention and action; increases self-awareness; grow your brain; “a-ha” moments; mastering discomfort; and emotional cleansing. Do you make time for silence, rest and solitude?

Kate Nasser writes that, “Caring Words Cost Nothing & Bring You Everything.”

The Ripple Effect
The Ripple Effect

Friend and leadership coach Jody Thone reflects on “The Ripple Effect of Good Work.” How are you a part of the ripple?

Anne Loehr reflected on “Leadership and the Lost Art of Listening.” Are you fully listening to others?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts over the past couple of weeks. Among the ones that stood out to me include: “The Easiest-Most Dangerous- Things Leaders Neglect,” which shares thoughts about neglect of organizational culture; “13 Things You Don’t Need to Lead,” including that leaders don’t need to make all the decisions or have position (among others); and “10 Ways Leaders Increase Stress Unnecessarily.”

Nisha Ahluwalia wrote about “The 5 Qualities Teams Look for in Their Leaders.” The qualities include: work with founders that will broaden your business horizons, not stunt your growth; look for a generous spirit and avoid the know-it-alls or credit seekers; and question how they will support you, not only how you need to support them.

Steve Keating reflected on what he sees as “The Illusion of Leadership.” Within this Steve explains about what he sees as a distinction between management and leadership where he writes, “Never forget, if you’re doing it for the business it’s managing, if you’re doing it for your people it’s leading.” What do you think?

Steve also shared a couple other intriguing posts. First, “The Ultimate Test of Leadership” writing and asking, “Do you as a leader have the ability to help common people achieve uncommon performance? Can you help a follower or a weak leader become a strong leader?” Second, he shared, “Turn Criticism into Coaching.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Scott Eblin, “The 3 Questions Leaders Must Ask and Answer.” The questions are: How are you at your best? What are the routines that enable you to show up at your best? What outcomes are you expecting at home, work, and in the community?

Caitlin Schiller shared, “The 7 Simple Habits that One of Today’s Most Innovative Businessmen Swears By.” The habits include: focus on customers; be frugal; make your own rules; focus on tomorrow and two years from now too; risk it; decide with data; and stay hungry.

Dan Forbes reflected on, “Infected Leadership,” writing that “some leaders today are infected, sick, and leading in the wrong direction.” In thinking about this Dan included a few leadership lessons that he has learned: everyone and every organization is susceptible to catching a virus; leaders and organizations can be sidetracked to go off in the wrong direction; infected organizations grind to a halt; a negative issue not totally eradicated will later reoccur and continue to harm an organization; crisis management costs energy, time and money; and leaders can become better leaders by learning how to deal with negative issues.

David and Goliath
David and Goliath

Ted Coine asked, “Is Your Leadership Style More David? Or Goliath?” Good question. What do you think? Ted writes that in the social age, “all that matters is the willingness to: listen actively for opportunities to serve; meet the customer where they are, which is increasingly on social; engage person to person; and delight them so much they bring their friends (or maybe their parents).”

Sam Thomas Davies wrote and shared, “The Kaizen Way: How to Master Creativity by Asking Small Questions.”

Chip Bell writes that “Great Leaders are Dreamers.” I most definitely agree with that. As Chip asks, allow me to repeat, “What are your dreams?”

Jon Mertz reflects and writes, “Not Work-Life Balance, Work-Life Tempo.” Jon writes that, “balancing will not suffice in today’s fast paced world.” I have found that to be true personally in the nature of my work. Have you? Helpfully Jon shares some thoughts about how to find the right tempo. Thoughts include: discern moments; say “no”; and be healthy.


Jeremy Chandler shares, “One Thing Every Millennial Should Learn from Our Mentors.” The thing to learn, is to learn how your mentor thinks. You can do this by: learning how they approach situations; identify the questions they ask when faced with problems; use the resources that helped them gain the wisdom and knowledge they have today; and identify the principles behind the decisions that made them successful.

Molly Page shared about, “Sidney Kushner: A Millennial Leader Listening for Solutions.”

John McDuling explains “Why Taylor Swift is the most important artist of the millennial era.” Do you agree?

Brian Ray shared and wrote, “Confessions of a Young, Prolific Academic: Equating protracted study with quality is exactly what causes graduate students to take so long earning a Ph.D.”

Did you vote?
Did you vote?

Following up on the November 4th elections in the United States, Jenna McLaughlin wrote, “If Millennials Had Voted, Last Night Would Have Looked Very Different.” In a related post, Matthew Segal and Johanna Berkson wrote, “A night of blown opportunities: Why millennials didn’t show up last night.” Did you vote?

Seth Tower Hurd shared about “The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in in Church.” Here are some of the apparent unexpected findings: the building matters; being able to unplug from social media matters; having older fellow congregants matters; and “customer service” matters.

Demetrius Minor in a related post wrote and shared, “Millennials Are Asked What they want in a church- and the answers are anything but shallow.” Demetrius summarizes the findings: don’t rely heavily on the demands of social media; be conscious of your rhetoric; be honest; provide an intergenerational presence; and keep politics out of church.

Friend, social media coach and millennial Carrie Gubsch shared this great post from August with me last week, “Three More Ways to Engage Millennial Donors” by Kathleen Kelly Janus. The ways to engage are: use social media to facilitate action and giving; connect donations with specific projects; and give donors easy ways to get their friends involved.

I found this post from January shared by Chelsea Krost and written by Morgan Pierce about “How Millennials are Shaping the Economy.”

Chelsea also shared this timely post by Kendal Perez about “How Millennials are Reshaping Retail in time for the Holidays.”

Sydney Brownstone shared and asked, “Millennials Will Become the Majority in the Workforce in 2015. Is your company ready?

XY Planning shared, “5 Options for Millennials and Cash Savings.” Options offered include: save with an online bank; create targeted savings accounts; start investing with a Roth IRA; max out a 401 (K); and get the help you need.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shares this thought to ponder, “Young Adults Aren’t Having as Much Sex as Everyone Thinks.”

Neighbor Love

From the past couple weeks one of the local stories in Minnesota that has quickly become a major neighbor love concern is what is now being called “Pointergate.” Involved in the story, was the report followed by KSTP, the local ABC station in the Twin Cities; the local police; Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis and the young man she is standing next to, Navell. At that first link in this paragraph, if you feel compelled to ask for an apology, I urge you to join me in clicking on it and then signing a petition calling for an overdue apology.

The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show."
The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.”

Much has been written about this story, and I’m not going to link to everything I have seen. In these links I am offering a sampling of perspectives and responses to this story that I have found interesting, convincing and effective in calls for change. Kristopher Tigue provides some context in, “KSTP reports Mayor Hodges flashing gang sign; Social Media erupts in anger.”

Bob Collins writes that the “‘Gang sign’ story backfires on KSTP.” Brian Lambert wrote, “KSTP savaged for Mayor Hodges ‘gang sign’ story.”

As the story spread via social media beyond the Twin Cities, it was picked up nationally, in part thanks to this take by Shaun King, “#pointergate may be the most racist news story of 2014.” Kia Makarechi wrote for Vanity Fair that “‘Pointergate’ is the Most Pathetic News Story of the Week.'” (At this point, it’s the most pathetic of the month and perhaps year.)

Locally in the Twin Cities, one of the first and best responses to the story came from Nekima Levy-Pounds who wrote bluntly, “Dear White People: Mayor Betsy Hodges is Not in a Gang.”  Another great response came from Javier Morillo in “This Brown Guy Quits KSTP. You can do something, too.”

The sad thing is, what makes the story worse is that the local news station which reported this story has continued to defend it. That continued defense has also been widely (and rightfully) panned locally and nationally. Jason Linkins and Ryan Grim write, “Even KSTP’s Response to its racist ‘gang signs’ story is racist.”

The story could use some more context, so Bob Collins, Molly Bloom and Meg Martin helped to do this in, “Explaining #pointergate: The missing context.” From a journalist and press perspective, I found this post by Julio Ojeda-Zapata also helpful, “I point to my moments of press stupidity.”

That’s more than enough links on that story for now. If KSTP continues the nonsense or finally apologizes, I will be sure to let you know in the upcoming editions of the links. As for this week’s version, let’s turn now to other neighbor love stories from the past couple of weeks.

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared a good neighbor love story and reminder, as well as a good story to reflect on in thinking about Advent and Christmas, “Silent Night: the 1914 WWI ‘Christmas Truce’ that actually happened.”

RJ Grunewald reflected on “God Hidden in Our Suffering.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for November 9th grounded in Micah 3, 5 and 6, “Elections, Politics and a Third Way.” In explaining this “third way,” Aaron writes, “This third way, this invitation to relationship leads somewhere.  It leads to God’s vision of God’s inclusive family where security and peace isn’t just an empty promise – but it becomes a reality.  Real change that makes a difference. Real change….that changes us, and changes how we live.” Go and read the whole sermon.

In thinking about that same text, friend and pastor Frank Johnson asked and shared, “Does fear of the Lord still matter? (And other leading questions).”

Peter Crutchley wrote and asked, “Did a prayer meeting really bring down the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War?” If you are unfamiliar with this story, check it out. It’s a very helpful reflection and one that makes for a good way to think about the common Isaiah Advent text theme of “turning swords into plowshares.” I know this is so, because it was the passage for the Narrative Lectionary this past weekend and friend and pastor Diane Roth made this very connection powerfully.

Speaking of friend and pastor Diane Roth, she shared a couple powerful pieces recently. She reflected in “Seeing God in a Man I Didn’t Know,” as well as in “Grieving with Hope.”

Rick Steves
Rick Steves

In preparing and thinking about Christmas, famous travel guide (and Lutheran from Washington State), “Rick Steves Has a Christmas Challenge for You,” in thinking about supporting Bread for the World. This is a great challenge with some wonderful gift incentives. What do you think?

Friend and seminarian Beth Wartick shared some good “thoughts on loving evildoers and sinners.” Within this Beth writes and summarizes the depth of neighbor love well writing, “If these are our two choices, it seems clear to me that we are obliged to take the choice that leaves the other person with hope and the possibility of reconciliation. We are obliged to hate evil and sin, yes, but we are also obliged to love other people, whatever their sin might be, and see them as our neighbors, as fellow children of God.”

Christena Cleveland shared “7 Signs that Jesus Reveals Himself Most Clearly to the Oppressed.” The signs she highlights are: Jesus turned water into wine; Jesus healed a powerful man’s son; Jesus healed a paralytic homeless man; Jesus fed 5000; Jesus healed a blind homeless man; Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead; and Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared, responded and asked, “Why read the Bible???

In thinking about election day a couple weeks ago, Tony Campolo shared and asked, “Election Day Dialog: How are we political?

In a major neighbor love story with huge justice implications, “Police charge 90-year-old man, 2 pastors with feeding homeless.” How can this be?

In response to this story, friend and pastor Erik Gronberg offered good neighbor love reflections in “Help vs. Hype.” Within this Erik profoundly writes, “to help people, to accompany our sisters and brothers in need, requires much more than setting up a table with some food in a park. It takes engagement, relationships, case-management, knowledge, and connections to services and spiritual care. There is work to be done year round. So I applaud Mr. Abbot’s desire and take a challenge from him. If a 90 year old can do it, so can you. Let go of the hype and get to work with help.”

Friend and pastor Erik also shared, “Ruling at 53%.”

Rob Watson shared “A survival guide for Christians who have been fighting against marriage equality.”

For another perspective about love, check out this post by George Weigel, “Exploded into Being by Divine Love.”

Social Media & Blogging

Peter Plasterik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland wrote, “Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his Really Recommended Posts from two weeks ago and last week.

Speaking of the links, my wife Allison took the lead last week with her take on them. What did you think of her version?

Daniel Newman shared a guest post by Ron Sela, “3 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Plan.” The tips are: timing; tracking; and testing.


On my blog during November I am sharing a weekly post on Fridays to share some self things about what I’m thankful for. I am calling these posts “Friday Thanksgivings.” Here are the first and second such posts.

John Schmoll shared “5 Easy Steps to Not Fail at Budgeting.” The steps are: start with tracking; accept failure; create a ‘blow’ category; make budgeting easy; and make it automatic.

Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other
Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other. Who and what are you grateful for?

Over on the COMPASS blog, in the spirit of Thanksgiving later this month, COMPASS is sharing posts related to the theme of “An Attitude of Gratitude.”

I began the series with that introductory post, and then it was my great joy to introduce the second post in the series written by my wife Allison, “The Challenges and Beauty of Gratitude: A Millennial Perspective.”

Brian Dodd shared a list of “5 Things Churches Can Do to Increase Year-End Giving.” The things are: make sure it’s easy to give; find and share stories of life change; include a clear call to action; time your communications right; and celebrate your milestones.


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a number of vocationally rich pieces as always over the past couple of weeks. A couple weeks ago share shared some Sunday Snippits. She also shared some “Tuesday Tea Time” as well.

Kimlai Yingling asked, “What Grounds You?

Friends Katie and Will shared some more updates and reflections from their continued adventures in South Africa in “The Dangers of Saying You’re a Preacher,” and “A dark and stormy night.”

Nate Pyle explained, “Why I’m Becoming a Mentor.” I love his conclusion in explaining why it is so important for people to have the courage to risk and share their gifts. He writes, “You have something to offer. You have stories to share. You have wisdom learned. Your presence can comfort and heal. Don’t keep it from us.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some great life reflections in “Sunday Afternoon.” I’m guessing that many people can relate to this. I know I can.

Friend and blogger Sue Leibnitz shared, “The Old Lady and the Fountain of Youth.”


Friend ad pastor in waiting, Emmy Kegler shared some wonderful worship and interactive ideas for Thanksgiving in “For Thanksgiving: A Table Full of Hope.”

Have you heard about the Narrative Lectionary and wondered what might be a helpful starting place? If so, here’s what I have found to be a helpful introduction.

If you are thinking or planning worship for Advent and Christmas, you might appreciate this post about Christmas Carols and Hymns during worship from a year ago.

Speaking of hymns, Sean Palmer shared reflection on “Singing as a Spiritual Discipline.”


I’m quite proud to announce that my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), was listed among “The Top 10 Best Landscaped Colleges.”


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. With Thanksgiving being next week, the next couple Tuesday editions may be a bit shorter than usual. I hope you don’t mind though. Until then, if there are things you would like to see included in future editions of these, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics you would like me to think about in future blog posts, please let me know that as well. Thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Advent Wreath and Candles; Ripple Effect; David & Goliath; Voting sign; Pointergate on Daily Show; and Rick Steves.

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