This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found thought provoking and interesting over the past week with all of you. However, because I had family in town and lots of work last week, you are actually getting two week’s worth of links today. To help make sense of all that I am sharing, I have broken the articles into caegories. 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 this week’s edition of the links.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Before sharing the links, just a note that as we are journeying through Advent I am sharing daily posts on my blog like Advent daily devotionals or reflections. I hope you have been enjoying them and that you continue to. If you haven’t seen them yet, please check them out with yesterday’s reflection here.

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared some thoughts and reflections about the revised common lectionary readings for the third Sunday of Advent in Advent 3B.

Speaking of Advent, RJ Grunewald wrote and reflected in, “Waiting for Christmas.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared some helpful “Advent Resources” which she recommends, as well as some personal thoughts about what she is doing this Advent season.

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston reflected about Advent and Advent practices in, “Amping Up What We Always Do.”

Jan also reflected on membership and faith communities and influence in “Levels of Membership?

LEAD shared “Three Leadership Conversation Starters,” with three good questions to think about leadership, the church/ministry and the year that was as we are coming to a close of 2014. The questions or conversation starters are: Why is leadership development today a “got to have” versus a “nice to have”? How do you create a powerful leadership system needed in our church today? Why is the prevailing paradigm of leadership development limited? What do you think?

Essi Makela wrote, “Now We Know Religion is Not Disappearing,” in response to an interview with Kevin W. Gray on “The Postsecular.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Peter Gasca shared “7 Tips for Creating Your Own Co-Working Space.” The tips are: focus on community, then space; focus on function, then business; focus on location, location, location; focus on utilities, then future; focus on loyal, then beyond; get local help; and consult veteran founders.

Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) president Dr. Thomas Krise reflected on “Talking with Governor Inslee,” the governor of the state of Washington.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Dan Rockwell shared “10 Commandments that Fix All Lousy Meetings.” Check out this list to see some good ideas to make meetings better, more enjoyable and more effective.

Dan also shared a number of other posts, including: “12 Ways to Move from Powerless to Powerful,” “Seven Ways to Be Grateful Like a Leader,” and “10 Ways to Become a Molder of Reality.”

Steve Keating asked, “Are You Truly a Leader?” What do you think? He also reflected on “The Problem with Problems.”

Ping Pong Balls
Ping Pong Balls

Nicole Dunn shared a post for Lead with Giants, “Leading Change, From the Ping-Pong Ball’s Perspective.” Included in this post are five tips for leading change effectively: consider the change; develop the message; use the right medium to announce the change; coach people appropriately and watch for resisters, and be kind and curious.

Susan Thorn shared another post for Lead with Giants in “Artful Leadership.”

Cranston Holden reflected on “How to Deal with Arrogant People.”

Frank Sonnenberg shared “25 of Life’s Most Powerful Lessons.”

Brian Dodd shared a list of “5 Things Great Leaders Do.” According to Brian, great leaders: serve people rather than use them; help people get what they want rather than using people to get what they want; lift people up rather than tear them down; add value to people rather than extract value from them; and give people solutions rather than adding stress to them.

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Ali Jafri about “Why Some Successful Leaders Ultimately Fail.”

Thin Difference shared another guest post by Richard Madison about “Discovering International Leadership Styles.”


Jeremy Chandler shared “5 Questions Millennials Must Ask to Become Successful Leaders.” The questions are: Am I asking the right questions? Am I listening for the best answers? Am I taking time to think about our biggest problems and opportunities? Am I effectively communicating the plan to our team and setting expectations? Am I stepping back to evaluate the strategy and observe the impact?

Many millennials, like myself, seem to be working in multiple different roles and opportunities. With this in mind, Erin explains about “How to Make Time to Develop Your Side Hustle.”

In a sad but not entirely surprising story, Derek Thompson writes about “The Incredible Shrinking Incomes of Young Americans.” The sub-heading is important too, titled, “It’s repetitive for some to hear, but important for everybody to know: You can’t explain Millennial economic behavior without explaining that real wages for young Americans have collapsed.”

Neighbor Love

In the continuing sad news from Ferguson, Missouri with major social justice and neighbor love implications comes this story which just makes me go, how can there be people who are so ignorant, hateful and really evil? Wesley Lowery writes that, “The Brown family’s pastor tries to make sense of the fire that gutted his church.”

John Pavlovitz gets right to the heart of the problem, and the anti-example of neighbor love, “othering,” in “Ferguson, Immigration, LGBT Rights, and the Destructive Myth of ‘Them.'”

Part of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri
Part of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri

Bishop Mike Rinehart reflected on Ferguson in conjunction with the start of Advent.

In a somewhat related post, friend and seminarian Beth Wartick shared some “thoughts on waiting.” Beth nails her thoughts home with this straight to the point conclusion, “Advent may be about waiting, but some waits have lasted long enough.  When it comes to civil rights and basic human dignity, there can be no more waiting.” Amen.

Beth’s husband, and friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his own reflections “On Racial Injustice.” I wholeheartedly agree with his conclusion as well where he writes that, “God has given us a higher calling.”

RJ Grunewald shared his reflections on the topic in “Brokenness in Ferguson.” RJ also shared some thoughts about the tension of being “Saints and Sinners.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller asked in his sermon for November 30th, the First Sunday of Advent, “Can Anything Good Come Out of Ferguson?” In this moving sermon, Aaron writes, “On this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of hope.  It is the light that symbolizes the One we expectantly wait for – Jesus Christ – our hope. Christian hope is waiting expectantly for a promised future – a future that comes in Jesus Christ, a future that only God can bring in its fullness. But Christian hope also is for the present.  We wait, but in that waiting, the hope of Christ’s coming changes how we view the world and those living in it.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson also shared important reflections on the topic in “It’s harder to be thankful as the oppressor than the oppressed (thoughts on Thanksgiving, Habakkuk, Ferguson, and whether we should be affected).”

In response to Ferguson, and in trying to find a way forward, #FergusonNext has been created. Check it out and see if you can (and will) be part of the solution.

Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared a moving reflection in what she called “The Hardest Sermon.” Jamie writes, “The beginning of the good news is preparation.  And preparing the way, in our scripture reading today begins with repentance.  “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  We are called to communal repentance.  As God’s people, we repent of benefiting from systems of inequality, we repent from indifference, we repent from ignoring those in need.  We do this so that we can make room in our own hearts for the good news- but even more so, so that we can make room in our communities and our world for the love, peace, and justice of Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller also shared his sermon for December 7th, “Esther, Pearl Harbor Day & the Gift of Agency.”

With all that has been in the news lately, I especially appreciated this post from friend and pastor Joe Smith, “The Legacy of Lament, and an Invitation from a Kid’s Song.” Check this out.

Rachel Held Evans shared a nice little reminder in “Are you being persecuted?” It’s good to put things in perspective, especially when some of faith argue they are “being persecuted” when “God is being kept out of Christmas.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared a number of great posts over the past couple of weeks including “Incredibly Happy, Incredibly Sad,” “The Other Half of the Bible Verse,” and “A Small Important Thing.” I particularly loved the last post in which Diane wrote, “It was a small thing.  But it was a gift. And it is a kind of leadership, too:  to be able to do it alone, but to say:  I have always wanted to do it with you.  I have always wanted to sing with you.  I have always wanted to serve with you.  I have always wanted to teach with you. It is the grace of leadership.  Or the leadership of grace.”

Katie Leach-Kemon wrote for “The Humanosphere” about how “Harsh laws continue to undermine the fight against HIV worldwide.”

Friend and current intern pastor in Chicago, Chris Michaelis shared a couple timely reflections in “‘I Can’t Breathe…’ -Jesus,” and his sermon for December 7th, “Lights Out.”

John Pavlovitz shared some important neighbor love thoughts in “Weapon of Choice: An Open Letter to Christians Who Believe that Sexuality is a Decision.”

Allison and I
Allison and I

My wife Allison shared a great post about neighbor love, listening, connections and relationships across generations in “The Cost.” One of the many compelling parts in this is where Allison writes, “This is hard work because it requires listening, vulnerability, and humility. Costly, and difficult traits of the human experience, but traits that spur the most beautiful and strong movements of love around us. Love that our world is crying out to embody. Typing hateful racial slurs behind a keyboard is easy. Being humble and putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, someone who believes differently, someone who belongs to a different ethnic and/or social community: that is hard work. But it’s work that we deep down know we are driven to do.” Go and read the whole piece! It’s wonderfully and powerfully done!

Friend and blogger Hannah Heinzekehr offered important and beautiful reflections “On Racism and Having a Son.”

Friend and PhD student Amanda Brobst-Renaud also shared one of her very powerful recent sermons that I hope you dwell in like I have, “Waiting in Exile.”

With the second Sunday of Advent in mind, David Garber wrote, “Voices Crying Out: Comfort and Transformation in an Age of Mass Incarceration.”

For the feel-good neighbor love in action story of the week, check out this story by Lauren Casper, “To the Trader Joe’s Employee Who Noticed My Family in the Parking Lot.”

Social Media & Blogging

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

I also came across this post from early November by Peter Borden sharing “7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Twitter Trends.”


Family gathered over the Thanksgiving weekend with Grandma right in the middle.
Some of our holiday memory making so far this year.

Erin shared, “5 Reasons Why Making Memories Beats Spending Senselessly for the Holidays.” Reasons offered include: gifts are (sometimes) overrated; you can make memories and give at the same time; you can spend consciously on making memories; memories make it less about competition and focus on making the holidays memorable.

Given that I have not done the links in a couple weeks, there were quite a few Thanksgiving themed and related posts that I saw. Among these posts, include this reflection by friend and blogger J.W. Wartick entitled, “Some Thankfulness.”

I also shared some Thanksgiving reflections in “Friday Thanksgivings” right here on the blog too.

In a timely post for Thanksgiving, Parker Palmer shared, “Gratitude for the Work of Loving the World.”

Lincoln Arneal reflected in “Recognizing the Importance of Gratitude.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes reflected about his own life and specifically his “spiritual self” and “material self” in “Of Coupon Codes and Meaning in Life.”

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston wrote about, “That Pesky Budget Shortfall.” Jan concludes with this nice point and question, “Blackbaud reports that $26,183,217.42 was donated to over 4000 non-profits on Giving Tuesday last week. People want to give. Are we in the institutional church offering ministry that inspires generous giving?” What do yout hink?

In a somewhat related story, Ruth Graham writes that, “Church Giving Tops $50 Billion a Year in U.S.- And Its Future is Not a Collection Plate.” Definitely check out this story if you are involved in congregations, faith communities and/or non-profits and finances, stewardship and/or development.


Friends Katie and Will continued to update us on their adventures in South Africa. Katie wrote “Happy Advent!” talking about how things are so different this year (as compared to their usual Advents from the past) and some of the feelings and emotions that have come with that. Will shared a look at “A six hour service” that they went to.

Jane Webster shared and reflected about the importance of self-reflection and how to create safe space for it in, “A Safe Space for Self-Reflection.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a few more wonderfully vocationally rich posts with her “Friday Favorites,” “Sunday Snippits,” “Tuesday Tea Time,” and more “Tuesday Tea Time.” Congratulations are also in order as Julia will be formally consecrated into ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America this coming weekend. Blessings and congratulations Julia!

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes offered a nice reflection and great vocational question in “The Musician’s Soul.” Ron asked, “Do you know, accept, and trust yourself? How might your vocation and life change as a result of greater knowledge, acceptance, and trust?”


Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a video of “The Piano Guys,” providing a moving and stirring rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” to get you in the right mood for Advent.

RJ Grunewald asked and reflected about “How Should We Think About Worship?

In celebration of Thanksgiving, LEAD shared a “Thanksgiving Blessing for You.”


Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared a review and commentary from a Christian perspective on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” Having watched the movie a week ago, I must say that I thought it was very moving and thought provoking.

TK reflected about “Cherished Traditions and the Secularization of Christmas.”


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed all of these. As always, if there are particular topics or questions you would like me to wrestle with and consider on the blog, please let me know. Also, if there are particular types of things you would like me to include in the links, please let me know that too. Thanks so much for reading and being part of the conversation. Until next time, blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Ping Pong balls; and Protestors in Ferguson.

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