This Week’s Links

Internet1With Christmas, New Year’s and spending time with family the past couple of weeks, the links took a bit of break. Well, they are making a return today, a Thursday, to share some of the great stuff I saw and found from the past couple of weeks. They’ll return to Tuesdays, their normal day, next week. To help sort through the links, I have categorized them under the topics of: 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

If you are still planning worship or a sermon or message for this weekend you’re in luck! Bishop Mike Rinehart shared some thoughts and reflections about the readings for “The Baptism of Our Lord.” Also, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some important thoughts for those of you who may be preparing to preach this weekend in “Baptismal Blessings?” Definitely check her reflections out.

Ed Stetzer wrote that “Some Churches Should Die and Stay Dead,” in thinking about “How replanting could be the best answer for a dying church.” What do you think?

A cross covered in pictures of the "living saints" who are part of a particular faith community's body and congregation.
One of the creative ideas that Diane Roth blogged about this past year was this- a cross covered in pictures of the “living saints” who are part of a particular faith community’s body and congregation. This

The Christian Century released a list of “The 14 most-read network posts.” Congratulations are in order for friend and pastor Diane Roth, for authoring the most-read post, “Why you come to church.” Congratulations are also in order for fellow blog friend and pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana who wrote the second most read post, “Lessons from Jimmy Fallon on stepping into leadership.”

John Meunier asked and reflected, “How does the church make the world better?

Tom Murphy shared news from the Humanosphere about how the “Pope makes climate change a priority for the church.”

Brian Dodd shared a number of good posts over the past couple of weeks. Among them, he shared what he sees are “The Top 30 Blogs Christians Need to Read in 2015,” as well as “The Top 30 Christian Leaders You Need to Follow on Twitter in 2015 Part 1.”

Brian also shared a timely post for ministry leaders thanking fellow leaders and volunteers for their work and ministry, especially around the busyness of Advent and Christmas in “4 Ways to Thank Church Volunteers.” The ways he notes include: don’t use church stationary; go up the organizational ladder; use your phone; and get specific. What suggestions might you add?

Pastor and blogger Nurya Love Parish shared, invited and asked, “Give Me 5 Minutes, I’ll Give You a Better Blog. Fair?” This is such a great idea, and I think I will copy it on my blog in the next week or so. Until then, please do check out Nurya’s blog. I love following it, and I invite you (like I did) to take her short survey as a way to continue the conversation into the new year of 2015.

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston shared some thoughts and ideas about “Negotiating Church Salaries & Benefits (when budgets are tight).”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Rick Nauert shared news of a study finding that “Employer Acceptance of Religious Beliefs Can Aid Worker Performance.” What do you think?

Anne Loehr writes that “To Retain Female Talent in the U.S. Workplace, Create a Purpose-Driven Organization.” This is an important point, and I hope its true not just for females but all people actually.

Nonprofit with Balls shared “Ten resolutions for the nonprofit sector for 2015.” What do you think of these resolutions? What might you add to the list?

B51SBHJIMAA7Speaking of nonprofits, Maren Hogan shared “Advice for Nonprofits: How to Retain Employees.” Some of the great advice includes get a recruitment budget and show employees the big picture.

I came across this forth coming book from Jeffrey Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development. It looks like a must read to me as someone who likes to think about sustainable and developmental economics, non-profits and NGOs.

Paul Jun wrote, “Never Stop Learning: How Self-Education Creates a Bullet-Proof Career.” As part of this, Paul shared four ways in particular: start with heroes from the past; take advantage of free educational resources; explore unrelated subjects; and make learning a habit.

Here’s a good thought for start-ups and organizations of all kinds, “Start with values, not your idea.”

Thin Difference shared a couple intriguing guest posts over the past couple of weeks. These include one by Michael Chibuzor, “How to Create an Innovative Business System,” and by Mark Kirkpatrick, “A Guide to Productive, Healthy Habits.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Over the past couple weeks, leadership blogger Dan Rockwell shared a whole host of fantastic posts. I encourage you to check them out, especially: “The Journey is the Answer“; “5 Choices to Extraordinary Results“; “The Four Letter Word that Makes the Difference“; “5 Ways to Spot Leaders with Character“; “10 Ways to Build Success in 2015“; “3 Ways to Make the Most of the Past in the Future“; “5 Ways to Turn Into the Next Storm“; “13 Questions that Eliminate Clutter and Create Clarity” and “10 Ways to Pursue Excellence without Negativity.” Dan also shared a nice Christmas themed post in “The Atheist and ‘Oh Holy Night.'”

Tanveer Naseer shared his “Top 10 Leadership Insights for 2014,” as well as a guest post by James O’Toole explaining “How Successful Leaders Use Culture to Influence Behavior.”

Dan Forbes writes that “You Are Either Growing or Rotting.”

Also on the Lead with Giants blog, Susan Thorn wrote about “Leadership and Human Connectedness.”

The College Football National Championship between #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon will be played Monday January 12th at 8:30pm ET on ESPN.
The College Football National Championship between     #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon will be played Monday January 12th at 8:30pm ET on ESPN.

As we are just a few days away from the College Football National Championship Game, Brian Dodd shared a imely post listing “21 Practices of Leaders Like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer Who Perform at the Highest Level.”

Steve Keating shared a few great posts over the past couple of weeks. These include: “You’re Gonna Need a New Excuse,” “A Leader in Name Only,” and in an appropriate post over Christmas and the holidays, Steve shared, “FORGIVE This Holiday Season.”

Gary Sheard asked in the American Management Association’s “Playbook,” “Are You an Awful Manager?” What do you think?

Here’s an interesting post I came across last week written this past summer, “6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day.”

Friend Carrie Gubsch pointed me to this great post by Jeannie Walters, “Destructive Leadership Practices: Is Your CEO in Denial?” Give this a read and see how you are doing as a leader, as well as how your team and organization are doing. What do you think?

Vivian Giang shared “How 7 Successful Entrepreneurs Find Focus.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference shared a great post with implications for leadership and legacy in “Live and Lead So Others Will Not Miss You.”

Thin Difference also shared a guest post by Frank Sonnenberg, “17 Action Steps to Take During Tough Times.”


Gillian B. White asked and reflected, “Compared to Previous Generations, How Bad are Millennials’ Finances?” I’m curious what you think about this, especially when considering the subheading, “Research suggests that though they have lower net worth, in some ways today’s young adults may not be much worse off than their predecessors.”

In another post about millennials and money, Young Adult Money shared, “3 Retirement Planning Priorities for Millennials.” The priorities include: get started with automatic contributions; increase the amount contributed over time; and make time for retirement planning.

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Megan Ritter entitled, “Close the Communication Gap: Tips for Millennial Job Seekers.” The great tips included this are: find a mentor; avoid unnecessary distractions; recognize your faults and fix them; real expressions are crucial; and LinkedIn is valuable and essential.

Teresa Novellino shared a wonderful article about “Twitter chat queen Chelsea Krost on Millennial marketing for 2015.” If you don’t already follow Chelsea, I highly encourage you to follow her on Twitter.

Speaking of Chelsea Krost, she shared a post by Danielle DelMonte entitled, “Putting the Breaks on New Year’s Resolutions.”

Kim Lachance Shandrow wrote and shared, “Attention Millennials: How to Excel at the Dying Art of Phone Conversations.”

Ted Coine reflected and blogged on “The Authenticity Paradox,” by Herminia Ibarra which is the focus topic of the January issue of the Harvard Business Review,  “The Problem with Authenticity.”

Tim Colvin writes and explains, “Why Millennials Are Generation Responsibility.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared a beautiful Christmas reflection titled simply, yet profoundly, “Lowly.”

When going "home" for the holidays hurts? Well.. not quite, but when you spend time with part of your family, you might have to see scary dolls that are supposed to resemble people in your family.
When going “home” for the holidays hurts? Well.. not quite, but when you spend time with part of your family, you might have to see scary dolls that are supposed to resemble people in your family.

Liz Riggs wrote, “When Going Home for the Holidays Hurts.” I came across this post shortly after posting the links right before Christmas Eve, so it’s a bit late for this year. However, stow this post away for next year, as there are good thoughts and reminders here for you (if you “go home,” or for those you love and care about who “go home” for the holidays).

Friend and pastor Stephanie Vos wrote a wonderful and thought provoking post with Christmas and the Incarnation in mind entitled, “God Slips Into Skin.” I encourage you to read this because it’s a perspective that I hadn’t quite as deeply considered before.

During the 12 Days of Christmas, Jarrod McKenna wrote that “Every Christmas Carol (is) A Protest Song.” If you didn’t read this, please do. It’s profound! Here’s a sample, “Let us open our eyes to the empires and our ears to the angels’ protest songs. Let us fall on our knees in worship, then roll up our sleeves in discipleship.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared a few great posts over the past couple of weeks. First, I had to check out his honest confession in “‘I Hate Christmas’ – A Pastor’s Confession,” which I bet he is not alone in feeling among a number of clergy and ministry leaders. Even with that confession in mind, Aaron also shared his Christmas Eve sermon titled, “Peace.” He then added some more thoughts in his sermon for the Second Sunday of Christmas, “My beef with 8 pound, 6 ounce, baby Jesus.” Check out all of these posts and see what you think.

Also with Christmas in mind, Rev. Dr. Will Willimon shared reflection in “Incarnation: The Truth About God.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared some great posts over the past couple of weeks too. First, Frank shared his sermon for Christmas Eve, “Stories, not numbers, on this Christmas Eve.” Frank also shared his sermon for the First Sunday of Christmas, “Not a little more. All,” as well as his sermon for the Second Sunday of Christmas, “Herod’s death meet Jesus’ new life.”

Right before Christmas Rachel Held Evans shared this post with the fourth Sunday of Advent in mind, “Advent 4: Bringing God’s Dreams to Life.”

Speaking of Advent, friend, PhD Student, and newly ordained pastor Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared, “Belated Advent Posting… Still Waiting.” She also wrote and shared, “Now. It’s Go Time.” Blessings on your ordination Mandy!

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston shared some “Signs of Hope for 2015.”

Friend, blogger and intern pastor Chris Michaelis continued his daily Advent devotionals right into the 12 Days of Christmas (and now Epiphany). I encourage you to check out all of his posts in the on-going series, especially: his post on Christmas Eve, “O Emmanuel;” on Christmas Day, “The Nativity of Our Lord;” and “New Year’s Day and the Holy Name of Jesus.”

With Christmas and Epiphany in mind, Dr. Norma Cook Everist asked, “What if the Wise Men Had Not Brought Gifts?” She also shared some neighbor love and social justice reflections in asking, “Integration or Apartheid for Us and Our Children?

Speaking of social justice, friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared, “Bet You Can’t Read This and Still Believe There’s ‘Justice for All.'” Ron also reflected in “Eschew the South.”

Candice Czubernat wrote asking, “Did my sexual abuse make me gay?” This is a powerful read. In her conclusion, Candice writes, “When I think about what I went through, I no longer wonder if there’s a connection between the pain I experienced and the fact that I happen to be attracted to women more then men. I also don’t feel the heaviness, or burden I used to carry around that was connected to my abuse. When I think about it I feel strong, grounded and at peace. I am not broken but I am beautiful.”

Friend Andy Jolivette shared a very honest reflection in “What i think I know (about God).” Check this out, and the videos included as well.

This week in the United States the 114th Congress was sworn in. With this in mind, Pew Research shared, “Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 114th Congress.” What do you make of this faith composition (if anything)?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended,” with a twist, focused especially on “books and movies, bread and wine, and more!”

Over the past couple weeks I stumbled across a number of great social media insights that were shared over the past few months. Back in October, Derek Moryson shared “5 Questions to Help You Create Customer-Centric Landing Pages.” Back in November, Kevan Lee shared, “The 10 Latest & Greatest Social Media Strategies to Boost Your Results and Save You Time.” In August, Danny Brown shared, “3 Types of Editorial Calendar to Manage Your Business Blog.” Also, in June, Social Fresh shared “16 Social Media Tools the Experts Swear By.”

Thanks to to good folks at WordPress, I am able to share with you my blog’s “2014 in Review.” Check out the report to see how this blog grew over the past year, and please see if you have ideas or questions for the blog to explore now in 2015.


Vonda's beautiful work.
Vonda’s beautiful work.

Friend, artist and now blogger Vonda Drees shared this beautiful piece inspired by Richard Rohr, “perfect giving and perfect receiving.”

In the spirit of the year end and year beginning, I shared some thoughts about “Year-End Giving- Some Reflections about Faith and Finances” on the COMPASS blog, and excerpted on my own blog.

Within the topic of stewardship and finances, Young Adult Money shared about “Why You Might Want to Open Your ‘Junk’ Mail.”

Friend and “Classy Frugalist,” Grace Duddy Pomroy shared some “Frugal New Year’s Resolutions,” with an invitation for you to share yours, and have her reflect on it during January. Check out this post and take Grace’s poll.

In a related post, COMPASS is sharing a series of reflections about Financial New Year’s Resolutions this month. Check out the first post in the series, and be sure to come and see the upcoming posts in the weeks ahead.

In the spirit of the New Year, Young Adult Money shared “7 Ways to Improve your Finances in the New Year.” The ways offered include: evaluate your debt; automate retirement account contributions; contribute to a health saving account (HSA); get life insurance; church a credit card for rewards; commit to analyzing your spending; and find a way to increase your income.

Michelle shared some thoughts about “Unhealthy Habits That May Be Making You Poor.”

In thinking about faith communities and giving, Brian Dodd wrote “Trust- The Real Reason Many People Do Not Give To Your Church.”


Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared and reflected in “Solitude.” Give this a read and learn about the “Star Words,” which she shared in worship recently. I think this passage is especially vocationally rich, as Diane writes, “I knew what many of the words were, and I was kind of hoping for ‘inspiration’ (which was at the top of the star pile at one time) or ‘time’ or even ‘writing’ (something which would be on my list, if I was constructing a life).  But, instead I got ‘solitude,’ which I know, deep in my heart, is a gift, and which I both desire and fear, at the same time.  I know I need solitude, but I am not always sure what I will find when I am alone with myself.  Or maybe I suspect that I do know, and that is the problem.  Will solitude be inspiring for me, or will it be a big, empty space?  What will God say to me, if I give God room to say it?”

RJ Grunewald reflected in “The Post-Christmas Call.” I greatly appreciate the timeliness of this post, especially as RJ concludes, “When the holidays end and the New Year begins, there is often the sense of entering back into the real world. As you enter the normal places that you were in before Christmas, may you enter those same places doing the same jobs but with a a reminder that we do our work in light of everything we’ve seen and heard.”

I alluded to this earlier under the Stewardship section, but friend and artist Vonda Drees is now sharing her thoughts and images via a blog regularly. Check out her blog and be sure to follow it! I promise you will be inspired.

In moving from one year to the next, Parker Palmer shared “Five Questions for Crossing the Threshold.” The five questions to consider are: How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness? What is my next challenge in daring to be human? How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature? Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next? And, what is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me? Spend some time wrestling with these great questions.

Over the past couple of weeks friend and blogger Julia Nelson has continued sharing all of her vocationally rich posts. She has shared “Tuesday Tea Time,” not just once, but twice. She also doubled up on “Friday Favorites” with this post as well. She also shared two editions of “Sunday Snippits” too.

Friend and pastor Erik Gronberg shared, “One Big Thing.” I love this reflection, and am inspired to share some goals like Erik did. What might be your BHAG this year?

Friends Katie and Will continued to share about their adventures in South Africa in “Snowman with a Sunburn” reflecting a bit about Christmas and sharing Christmas greetings as well as some New Year’s thoughts in “#thisisafrica,” and “Part 3: Reflections.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared some vocational reflections that I think most people can relate with at least some times in “Exhausted.”


In one of the best posts I have seen on worship in quite a while, Victoria reflected importantly about “The Myth of Traditional Lutheran Worship.” Definitely give this a read if you haven’t yet, especially if you are interested in worship and/or the Lutheran Church.


Upon landing back in the Pacific Northwest on an Alaska Airlines flight, seeing this plane with a "Team Russell" on it, made me smile. Way to go Alaska Airlines, and Go Hawks!
Upon landing back in the Pacific Northwest on an Alaska Airlines flight, seeing this plane with a “Team Russell” on it, made me smile. Way to go Alaska Airlines, and Go Hawks!

I’m happy to share news that my favorite and hometown airline, Alaska Airlines, was recognized recently as Jaunted’s “2014 Airline of the Year.” Congratulations Alaska Airlines!

Friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared an interesting post about baseball and this year’s “Historic Hall of Fame Class.


That will conclude this extra long edition of the links from Christmas and New Year’s. The links will return to normal next Tuesday. Until then, please let me know if there are particular questions or ideas you would like me to think about on the blog. Also, are there particular articles or topics you would like me to include in the links? Thanks for reading and blessings on the rest of your week and upcoming weekend! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; The Age of Sustainable Development; The National Championship; and Perfect Gift and Perfect Receiving.

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