This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. To help organize these links I have grouped them under the following topic categories: 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

In preparing for the second weekend of Lent, Bishop Mike Rinehart shares some thoughts and reflections in “Lent 2B.” Rev Dr. David Lose also shares some helpful thoughts for congregations using the revised common lectionary in “Lent 2B: The Theory of Everything.”

Bishop Mike Rinehart also shared a “Letter to Our Brothers and Sisters in the Coptic Orthodox Church.”

Church Social Media (#chsocm) shared their transcript from their chat last week focused on “Learning from Google and applying to #chsocm.”

The Revd Canon Robert Hendrickson shared about “A New Tabernacle: A Home for Homeless and the Host.”

Last week the United States observed President’s Day. With that in mind, the Huffington Post shared some “Surprising Religious Facts about U.S. Presidents You Probably Didn’t Know.”

Tyler Saldana shared some interesting ideas and observations about “What the Church Can Learn from Saturday Night Live.” Among these observations include: their willingness to fail; their boldness; their farm system; their influence and their legacy.

Thom Rainer shared what he sees are “12 Reasons Why Church Leaders Don’t Delegate.” Reasons offered include: we base our worth on results; we don’t really believe the Body of Christ imagery; we have never seen good delegation modeled; we suffer from ‘idolatry of the self”; we don’t have time and energy to train others; we like control; we have had bad experience with delegation; we have no system in place to help believers determine their giftedness; our churches don’t always see the need; we fear others will do better; we do not see the vast needs of the world; and we don’t pray enough for laborers. What has been your experience with delegation in the church (or a lack thereof)?

Brian Dodd shared a list of “10 Qualities Separating Great Volunteer Church Leaders from Bad Volunteer Leaders.”

Carol Howard Merritt shares about Ruben Duran, the program director for new congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in “Shut up and learn.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Aaron Fuller shared some important reflections about church, ministry and vocation in “The Bi-Vocational Pastor- ‘I am NOT a part-time pastor.'”

Do you know what states in the United States has the highest and lowest attendance rates in worship weekly? If you are curious check out this post from Peggy Fletcher Stack.

Carol Kuruvilla writes that Pastor Rob Bell said that “A Church that doesn’t support gay marriage is ‘irrelevant.'”

A cross covered in pictures of the "living saints" who are part of a particular faith community's body and congregation.
My prediction is that it will become more and more important to help people see their stories in relation to God’s on-going story. Not only is this important though, I think it will help the church grow in depth and help people see themselves as stewards in new and exciting ways- with passions, gifts and vocations.

Carey Nieuwhof shared “10 Predictions about the Future Church and Shifting Attendance Patterns.” The predictions include: the potential to gain is still greater than the potential to lose; churches that love their model more than the mission will die; the gathered church is here to stay; consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge; Sundays will become more about what we give than what we get; attendance will no longer drive engagement, engagement will drive attendance; simplified ministries will compliment people’s lives, not compete with people’s lives; online church will supplement the journey, but not become the journey; online church will become more of a front door than a back door; and gatherings will be smaller and larger at the same time. What do you think?

Friend and seminary student Ariel Williams shared some great Lenten Devotional resources. Check these out!

Todd Buegler shared a guest post by Paul Amlin, “Youth Ministry Links- Crowd Sourced and Curated.”

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston shared a few great posts over the past week. One in particular has seemingly gone viral among some circles, “When Churches Want a Pastor Who Can ‘Bring in Young Families’…” It’s safe to say that this post hit a nerve, and I’m with Jan on this!

Jan also shared that “Not All Churches Are Broken (But Some Are).” Jan pondered, “Is Transparency Good for the Church?” She also offered some reflection about “Kids and Babies.”

Pastor, writer and blogger Clint Schnekloth asked and reflected about “How do Lutherans read the Bible?

My friends Katie & Will have been traveling and serving abroad this year. They are both seminary trained, and waiting to be assigned and hopefully called and ordained as pastors. Regarding that process, and the challenges that come with it as being a system (and like all systems, imperfect), they wrote, “Re-unassigned to be pastors in the ELCA.”

Christina Embree shared some wonderful thoughts about “The Power of Story in Faith Formation.” Christina also reflected about “Creating Your Family’s Unique Identity” and “When Words Aren’t Enough: Two Strategies for Communication.”

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some wonderful thoughts about Ash Wednesday in “Ashes to Ashes,” and “The Greatest Temptation (Mark 1:9-15).”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In terms of cross-sector implications, I found a number of great resources and articles about and related to learning and life long learning. First, Cari Crumly over at Seminarium shared about “Designing a Student-Centered Learning Environment.”

Allison, Terri and I together at the Extravaganza
Allison, Terri and I together

Friend, professor and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared reflections and insights related to teaching and learning design in “Thursday mornings.”

My wife Allison shared some great thoughts about “Adults and lifelong learning: expectations.”

Also, I came across this post from October about “Learning to Be Who We Are,” as well as this article by Gianpiero Petriglieri from November explaining that “Learning is the Most Celebrated Neglected Activity in the Workplace.”

Jen Bradbury shared a good post with implications for ministry, learning and student leadership, in “Student Leadership Team Basics: Why?

The Humanosphere shared a couple important posts with implications across sectors and the world. First, Tom Paulson shared about a podcast with Heidi Larson on “The global picture of the ‘vaccine confidence gap.'” Second, Tom Murphy writes that researchers have said that “Climate change may increase spread of infectious diseases.”

Nonprofit with Balls reflects about “Why we should rethink Accountability as an organizational and societal value.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Lolly Daskal shared some great thoughts about how to “Find Your Voice and Lead Everywhere You Go.” Within this, Lolly includes a “few pointers” to help find your leadership voice, including: don’t allow the voices of others to overpower you; earn the respect you deserve; speak up when it’s right; tact and diplomacy have power; be proud, but be polite; back it up; and be concise.

Lolly also shared “7 Ways You Can Function in a Dysfunctional Workplace.”

Farez Rahman shared about “Parking downhill: the 3-minute technique to help jump start your work day.”

James Altucher shared “10 Things I Learned from Richard Branson.”

Dan Rockwell shared a host of great posts over the past week. These posts include: “Meetings and the 5 Sources of Organizational Energy,” “10 Negative Results of Believing People are Incapable,” “How to Receive Criticism without Becoming Cynical,” “12 Problems with Strong Personalities,” and a list of “12 Dos and Don’t for Butting Heads Successfully.”

Tanveer Naseer wrote about “Why Emotions Matter in Today’s Leadership.”

Brian Dodd shared “7 Reasons Why Leaders Don’t Like Meetings.”

Steve Keating shared a couple posts that caught my eye. First, he explained about “The Trouble with Trust.” Steve also shared, “My Personal Mission Statement,” might this provide helpful ideas for you and in thinking about yourself and articulating who you are.

Dan Forbes shared some thoughts about “The Habits of Leaders.”

Jon Mertz over at Thin Difference provided thoughts about “How to Refresh Your Leadership Practices.” Within this Jon shares “5 ways to refresh your leadership mind and practices,” including: give yourself space; give others space; understand historical context; understand new context; and open your heart. As Jon asks, allow me to repeat this great question, “How do you keep refreshed as a leader?”


Jon Mertz at Thin Difference also reflected and shared about “Millennials: Wanting more from Leadership and Business.” Within this Jon highlights 3 dangers of wanting more: letting impatience lead to bad decisions; losing focus on purpose and community; and knowing it all.

Shawn Murphy over at Switch and Shift shared about the “Future of Work with Bill Jensen.”

Elizabeth Saunders wrote a post for Switch and Shift, “Give Yourself Permission to Succeed.”

Tom Fuerst reflected about a question that I know many people are tired of, “Why aren’t Millennials attending your church?” Even so, it is a question to keep in mind which hopefully leads to other questions and discernment about values, identity, mission and purpose.

The Millennial Journal is sharing a series of reflections during Lent around the theme of “A Time to Learn How to Love Again.”

Ken Fang, one of my favorite bloggers who writes about sports broadcasting wrote and wondered, “Millennials are dumping their TV’s, how will the sports networks respond?

Neighbor Love

As we have never entered the season of Lent, I have seen quite a few posts with that in mind. Among them, include this post from Kurt Willems, “Lent: Because sometimes rich Christians need to starve a little.

Friends Carrie Gubsch and pastor Jodi Houge shared this reflection by Sara Miles about “Why Ash Wednesday?

Friend and pastor Craig Schweitzer shared his sermon for Ash Wednesday, “Stewards of God’s Love.”

The remnant of an ash cross upon my brow after two Ash Wednesday worship services during the day and evening.
The remnant of an ash cross upon my brow after Ash Wednesday worship

Also with Ash Wednesday in mind, friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared, “On dust and bodily living.” Frank also wrote and reflected on “What is the church?

Rachel Held Evans shared “40 Ideas for Lent 2015.” Check out these ideas and see if you want to give any of them a try or incorporate them (or ponder about them) in your daily life, Lenten disciplines and/or ministry.

As I journey through Lent, I have decided that I am going to participate in the “Lent Photo A Day” project. As part of this, I will try and have daily posts with at least one picture and a small reflection on the blog. So far through Lent I have shared some brief Lenten and life reflections about: Dust, Proclaim, Sign, Seed and Forgiveness.

The Millennial Journal shared “Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent: What You Should Give Up this year.” According to this post, “if we’re going to fast on anything this Lent, Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast on indifference towards others.” What do you think about this idea?

In a humorously titled, but very timely post, LEAD writes that “There’s too much lint in our Lent.” LEAD also shared this post by a former LEAD intern, “The Immigrants Creed: Credo de los Immigrates.”

Catherine Woodiwiss shared, “Pastor Ousted Over LGBT Inclusion: ‘There’s So Much Grace.'”

Friend, intern pastor and blogger Chris Michaelis shared a few great sermons and reflections over the past week. These included “Wardrobe Malfunction,” a sermon on Transfiguration Sunday; “Stardust“; and “Gift Giving.”

Jose David Rodriquez shared and reflected on “Immigration: Coming to terms with our faith tradition and current affairs.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Jamie Brandt Brieske shared her sermon for this past week based on Mark 1:9-15.

Cranston Holden took up and wondered about the problematic (if not altogether destructive) idea that “God doesn’t put on us more than we can handle????”

Friend, pastor and blogger Aaron Fuller shared his now regular “Monday Morning Preacher” post, this week sharing about “Stumbling Blocks.”

"holy dust" by Vonda Drees
“holy dust” by Vonda Drees

John Pavlovitz shared “The Building with the Biggest Doors (A Parable of Sorts),” as well as important and honest neighbor love and social justice themed reflection in “Blood for Blood (Would Jesus be OK with Christians violently wiping out ISIS?)” As John illustrates it can be really hard to love our neighbors, let alone one’s “enemy.”

Friend, blogger and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included a question, “Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?” They also included: “exhale … let go,” “holy dust,” and “marked with the cross of Christ.”

I saw a couple posts related to different faiths coexisting and supporting each other. These included this story about Norwegian Muslims forming a human shield around an Oslo synagogue, as well as a reminder from President Obama about tolerance and “Religious Acceptance” being important in combating and curbing extremism.

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared about “Ash Wednesday Ashes,” and “Treasure.”

Regarding the on-going discussion (I hesitate to call it a debate, because the science is fairly one-sided on this obviously), came news that “Melinda Gates Just Basically Told Anti-Vaxxers to Check Their Privilege.” There’s an important point in this I think.

Jeff Guo asked an important social justice and neighbor love question, “If Minneapolis is so great, why is it so bad for African Americans?

Social Media & Blogging

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

If you are on Twitter, you might find these “75 Powerful Ways to Get More Twitter Followers,” from Garin Kilpatrick interesting.

Allison Fass shared, “7 Simple Social Media Moves that Work.” The moves include: listen, then talk; respond; tell, don’t sell; just be you; advertise (better); give stuff away and be grateful.

Big Think shared an important reminder about content and social media reminding that “Content Can’t Just be Good. It Must be Shareable.”

I came upon this post from September by Rachel Grate which made me smile as a blogger, “Science Shows Something Surprising about People Who Love to Write.” What do you think?


Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy Pomroy shared a continuing post in her series about home buying in “Renting vs. Buying Pros and Cons (Part One).”

COMPASS adviser Dori Zerbe Cornelsen asked and reflected about “Why take up a Sunday morning offering?” Dori also shared reflections about buying a new bed and the conversations and decisions with her family about that in “A Big Purchase- One couple and how they made their decision.”

Young Adult Money shared some great posts this past week including: “How to Break into Personal Finance Freelance Writing” and “Why There’s No Shame in Living at Home as a Millennial.”

Friends Margaret Ellsworth and Drew Baker provided a guest post on the COMPASS blog sharing thoughts from an inter-faith couple who loves video games, about giving and finances in “Leveling Up in Financial Conversations.”

Michelle shared “8 Ways to Get Motivated and Reach Your Goals,” as well as contemplation about “Should we keep our house or sell it?

Friends Trip and pastor Rebecca Sullivan also shared wonderful thoughts about in a guest post on the COMPASS blog about how they have conversations as a couple about money and finances in “Money Doesn’t Talk, That’s Our Job.”

Stefanie shared about the benefits and importance of having “Diversity of Income, Diversity of Happiness: Why Having a back up plan isn’t resigning yourself to failure.”


Speaking of Valentine's- Happy Valentine's Day (albeit belated) from Allison and I!
Allison’s excited to go back to school.

My wife Allison shared news over the past week that she is going “Back to school.” Within this Allison writes, “The church is called to big things. I want to be a part of shaping that response, and I want to help others see (pastors or not) that they’re capable and worthy of shaping that response, too.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes wrote and shared, “The End of an Era,” and “Are You Crazy?

Friends Katie and Will shared some updates about their continued journey and travels, and discerning about the safety of their journey in “Boko Haram in Cameroon.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared some great vocational reflections in her “Sunday Snippits: Good, Bad & Awesome.”


Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a wonderful documentary that she found about Minnesota’s sacred music. If you like sacred music, and appreciate the artistry and ministry of musicians like Marty Haugen, Michael Joncas, David Haas, and others, definitely check out this documentary.

Friend, blogger and pastor Erik Gronberg shared about “Ritual outside the walls.”


Friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared, “2015 Non-Roster Pitchers and Catchers.” Any stories like these are exciting this time of year, because it means that Spring Training is now underway. Baseball is back!


That concludes this week’s links. I hope you have enjoyed them! If you have articles you would like included in the links, please let me know. Also, if there are particular questions or topics you would like me to think about and wrestle with on the blog, please let me know that too. Until next time, thank you for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links, and “holy dust.”

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