This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have seen and found interesting over the past week. To help make sense of all these links, I have grouped them in the following 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

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For a little background on the day, check out this post on “St. Patrick,” by Bishop Michael Rinehart.

If you are preparing a sermon or for worship this upcoming weekend and your congregation follows the revised common lectionary, you will appreciate these thoughts and reflections on Lent 5B from Bishop Michael Rinehart. Likewise, you should also check out, “A Vision Check-Up” featuring reflections on and for the last Sunday of Lent from friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis.

Joseph Yoo shared some good and important reflections in “Too Much on the Menu: When Churches Lack a Clear Mission.”

Last week came news of this urgent prayer request of people of faith who had been kidnapped in Syria.

I stumbled on this story from last summer about “A Growing Movement to Spread Faith, Love – And Clean Laundry.” What do you think about this idea?

Over the past week I came across a few reflections especially about children and church. Elizabeth Rawlings reflected and asked, “How do I get (my) kids to go to church?!” There’s a lot of great and important food for thought in this.  Christina Embree responded and reflected to something many a ministry leader has heard, “My kid doesn’t ‘get’ anything out of Church.” Christina also wrote and shared, “Do Not Hinder: Welcoming Kids to Worship.” Friend, pastor and blogger Aaron Fuller wrote and shared, “No Choice is Giving Them a Choice: Parents, Youth & Church.”

Nate Pyle wrote that “The Church Isn’t the Destination.”

Rev. Dr. David Lose wrote and shared about a question many a theologian and ministry leader confronts, “Is the Church Really in Decline? (PT. 1).”

For a random and more imaginative post within this section, check out this story, “A Couple Buys this Old, Abandoned Church. What they do Inside? I Screamed!

Brian Dodd shared “7 Practices of Highly Effective Church Volunteers.” The practices he notes include: provide stability and security; make church interesting; build relationships that extend beyond Sunday mornings; care about people; model the Christian life; expose others to church leadership and are extravagantly generous. Brian also shared, “7 Things Your Church or Organization Must Know if You Lose a Great Leader.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared thoughts about congregations, ministry, lay leadership and adult faith formation in “Building Trust.”

Rachel Held Evans wrote and reflected, “Strong Enough to Be Self-Critical: In America and the church.” This post and theme was also shared via CNN.

Jonathan Merritt shared a “Q&A” with Rachel Held Evans on “the ills of American Christianity, and leaving evangelicalism.”

The LEAD group gathered together having fun like we did the whole weekend at the E!
Part of the LEAD group gathered together.

I have to admit, I am a little biased in wanting you to check out this link. LEAD shared and responded in “What are LEAD Coaching deliverables and why is it the best use of continuing ed dollars?” As one of the LEAD coaches, I really do believe this, so I hope you check this out and give it some thought.

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared their transcript of their weekly conversation last week, “Peeking Into and Predicting the Future of Digital Ministry.”

Nurya Parish shared “5 Quick Announcements.” There are great tidbits in here. See what’s new with pastor and blogger Nurya Love Parish!

Rob Carson writes about how, “Friends, fellow activists gather at memorial service for Tacoma priest Bill Bichsel.”

Jan Edmiston asked, “Is it Faithful to be Corporate?

I stumbled on this post from a good friend and favorite professor of mine, Rev. Dr. Terence Fretheim, a “Commentary on Numbers 21:4-9.”

Over the weekend news broke that Pope Francis declared an upcoming year of jubilee, as he announced a “Holy Year, The Jubilee of Mercy.”

Alyssa Lodewick wrote and shared, “Ordained in Community: A Tale of Exile and Coming Home.”

In news that matters to those of you (like myself) in candidacy or rostered as non-ordained ministry leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), news broke (not unexpectedly) that the “ELCA Conference of Bishops recommends unifying lay rosters, considers other business.”

John Meunier reflected and asked, “The Virtues of Topical Preaching?


My wife Allison wrote about the importance of life-long learning in “Cat’s out of the bag: why lifelong learning.” This great post has implications for ministry, the church, but also I believe all sectors. Within this, she pays special attention to the ELCA, in noting the baptismal promises. She also highlights the observations that learning grows empathy, learning changes you and that you are learning together with others.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Amanda Trosten-Bloom shared thoughts about Appreciative Inquiry in reflecting about “The Power of Paradigms.”

When two of my favorite professors, advisers and friends Dr. Terri Elton and Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner, both share something, I pay attention. This past week they both shared this reflection by Kate Blanchard, “Everything but Teaching.

In a post with thoughts and implications for learning and academia, Laura McKenna writes about, “The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors.”

Julian Stodd shared about “Chasing the Shadow of the Social Age.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this post by Scott Schwertly about “The Secret to Activating Your Audience’s Brain.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess also shared this wonderful post from Noah Rayman featuring “5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn from Pope Francis.” The lessons include: Set an example; don’t just hire your friends; take advice seriously; but also be willing to ignore advice; and be accessible. Definitely check this post out!

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Rowan Gibson, “How to Discover Your Organization’s Next Big Growth Opportunities.”

Will you be filling out a bracket or two or three, like President Obama for March Madness this year?
Will you be filling out a bracket or two or three, like President Obama for March Madness this year?

This week the NCAA basketball tournament officially begins, commonly known as “March Madness.” With that in mind, Asher Raphael shared, “3 Leadership Lessons from March Madness.” The leadership lessons noted are: competition is a good thing; never underestimate the underdog and trust your team.

Sheryl Sandberg explained “Why Men Should Lean In, Too.”

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts over the past week. These posts included: “4 Simple Projects that Transform Culture Today,” in which he notes ask teammates, call gratitude meetings, drive-by gratitude and appreciate character; “Seven Steps to New Leadership“; “Ten Tips for Great Results through Serving“; and “How to Energize Yourself and Others.”

Joel Gascoigne asked and reflected, “To Plan or Build? Balancing the Two in a Startup.”

Don Moore wrote that “Smart Leaders are OK with Seeming Uncertain.” I would definitely agree. Would you? There’s good food for thought about honesty, integrity and authentic and courageous leadership in this.

Steve Keating shared a couple of good leadership reflections this past week. These included reflections about “The Limiting Nature of Goals,” and  the question, “Does Deceit Show Poor Judgment?

Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton
Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton. Who are some of your mentors? Do you intentionally think about mentoring others? If not, I encourage you to do so. Mentoring is a wonderful thing!

Rhett Power shared, “3 Reasons Your Company Needs a Mentoring Program.” The reasons he highlights includes: that it shows the company cares; a more engaged workforce; and high job satisfaction.

Dan Forbes shared “10 Questions For Evaluating Your Company’s Culture.” These are great questions and include ones like: What behaviors are rewarded and/or punished? What are the sacred cows? And, how is risk and uncertainty perceived?

Dan also shared a guest post by Cheryl Bachelder, where she writes that “You Were Made For a Purpose.” Check this out!

Paul Sohn noted “3 Things Leaders Should do to Handle Failure Better.” Those things he notes includes: be honest from the beginning; practice humility; and maintain a healthy self-perception. Paul also shared, “Ten Things Every Leader Should Always Teach.”


Thin Difference shared a guest post by Eric Joseph Rubio who wrote and shared, “Compassion: The Opportunity for the Millennial Generation.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference also wrote about “The Uncomfortable Truths about Generational Culture.” Definitely check out this post which is full of great thoughts for Millennials and people of other generations, as well as great reflection on leadership.

Hannah Becker, the Motivated Millennial, shared the spotlight with one of the other regular contributors to Thin Difference, Molly Page in this “Millennial Spotlight: Molly Page.”

Sara Roberts and Michael Papay wrote, “Stop Treating Millennial Employees Like Enigmas.” Some immediate ideas that they note which would have an impact include: treat us like our heads count, not like a head count; set up collaborative environments; talk frequently with us; and explain why.

As we are in the heart of tax season, here’s a good post from Jim Wang featuring, “6 Things Millennials Need to Know About Their Taxes.” The things Jim notes include: skip pen & paper, file electronically; tax software is cheaper, sometimes free; you may be able to deduct moving expenses even if you don’t itemize; you may be entitled to education credits and deductions; double check your work and ask for help if you have a tax question.

Stefanie shared some good thoughts in “Millennial Entrepreneurship: The Dream vs. The Reality.”

Chelsea Krost wrote and shared about “Millennials Shaking Up the Future of the Workplace.”

Neighbor Love

Friend, blogger and pastor Jamie Brandt Brieske shared her sermon for the past weekend based on John 3:14-21. Jamie also shared a related post with a video from Brene Brown in “Empathy as God’s Love.”

"with all our strength" by Vonda Drees
“with all our strength” by Vonda Drees

Tim McCully, the Vice President of International Programs at Lutheran World Relief, shared some important social justice, creation care and neighbor love reflections and insights in “Shocks of Climate Change.”

Friend, blogger and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of great and beautiful posts over the past week. These included: transformation, re-member, pain’s enduring gift, with all our strength and in the fullness of time.

Thinking about money, campaign finances, and politics, Sam Levine writes that “Pope Francis get the problem with money in politics exactly right.” What do you think?

Friend, blogger and intern pastor Chris Michaelis shared his sermon for this past weekend, “Always a Bridesmaid…” which was grounded in Matthew 25:1-13.

Mark Lockard shared thoughts and reflections about the 50th anniversary observance in Selma, Alabama in “Sermon at Selma.”

Also in thinking about Selma, friend and musician Stephanie Johnson shared “Remembering Selma.”

Bill Prickett wrote and shared, “An Open Plea to God’s Shepherds: Please Don’t Harm These Lambs.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth reflected about “The Greatest of These.” Within this, Diane writes, “It’s that hope that he told us about, the hope for a place where the least will be lifted up, where sparrows will be noticed, where bread will be multiplied, where all of us will be recognized for who we are, where we will be saved by grace. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, I can’t help thinking this evening, for in the end we are saved … not by grace, and not by good works, but by hope. The greatest of these.” Check out this whole post.

Here’s a true act of neighbor love from the past week. Check out this story about how “Danes Form Human Chain Outside Targeted Copenhagen Synagogue in Show of Unity.”

Friend and professor, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis reflected about John 3:16, asking, “What Else is There to Say? (John 3:14-21).

Rebekah Simon-Peter wrote very much a fitting piece for the “Neighbor Love” section in “Give Up Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself.” What do you think?

Friend, blogger and pastor Frank Johnson shared his sermon for the past weekend, “All About the Benjamins (and the Creflo Dollars),” based on Matthew 25:14-30.

Britain’s Former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks shared some great thoughts and reflection on “The Spirit of Community.”

Rev. Dr. David Lose shared, “Stephen Colbert’s Favorite Bible Verse.”

A cross that is lifted on a banner that is lifted up.
Part of my Lent Photo A Day journey- A picture of a cross that is lifted on a banner that is lifted up.

Friend, Ph.D. student, blogger and pastor Amanda Brobst Renaud wrote and shared, “Grace not Works//Free not Cheap.” As always, I love this! Mandy concludes, “But ‘grace not works’ tells a story. It’s a tragedy, a love story, a comedy, a story in which the prodigals come home to parents with open arms. It’s a story that is too good to be true, that refuses to be collapsed into a pithy saying because what it says to and about us is a narrative that has been spun over millennia, told by countless people, for which people have laid down their lives to preserve. This is the story that saves us from ourselves and our self-obsession. This is the story of a God who loved creation so much that God sent the son into the world so that it would not perish but have life. This life, this way, is the way of freedom. This freedom, however, is not only a freedom from, but a freedom for.You have been made free for the sake of the world. You have been made free for the sake of your neighbors. You have been made free so that you can live into God’s promise of a life so abundant no amount of pithy slogans or bumperstickers can contain it. You have been made free that the world might be set free. Welcome to the upside-down kingdom, where the line between ‘outsider’ and ‘insider’ blurs in the love through which Christ draws us to himself and through which we are drawn to our neighbors as Christ’s reflection in the world.” Amen. Go and read the whole thing, you will be glad you did.

I continued my journey through the Lent Photo A Day over the past week. In that journey I shared photos and brief reflections about: being Faithful; Water; Abide; Renew; Beauty; Healing; Inheritance; Guide; Lifted and Wander.

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this post from Curtis Gilbert, that a “Report confirms Mpls. arrests higher numbers of blacks.”

Social Media & Blogging

Jeff Goins wrote and shared, “How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks that Work.”

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

Jeannie Walters shared “5 Blogging Tips to Fuel Up Your Content Machine.” The tips include: listen to what readers ask about; search outside of the box; follow relevant publications; encourage suggestions and don’t lose track of comments.

Justin King shared “14 astonishing stats from around the digital world.”


How do you engage children in stewardship? Do you? Well, if you are part of a faith community, I believe it is definitely a must. Here are some great thoughts from Dan Pezet on “Teaching Children to Tithe.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a good mental health break for you in “Living in Gratitude.”

Young Adult Money shared a couple wonderful and very helpful posts over the past week. These included from TC, “How to take Full Advantage of Employer Tuition Reimbursement,” and from Erin, “4 Ways to Free Yourself from Jealousy.” Thinking about the relationship between money and jealous is an important thing to keep in mind in stewardship. Erin’s four ways to free yourself from jealousy are good and include: be grateful for what you have; realize everyone experiences ups and downs; be aware of comparing apples and oranges and get motivated and take action.

Friend, blogger and “Classy Frugalist” Grace Duddy Pomroy asks and reflects about “What Should You Do With Your Tax Refund?” (Assuming you receive one.) Great question!

Michelle shared some thoughts about “How to Find Freelance Jobs When You Have No Experience.” Definitely check this out if you are looking for some more work or projects.

I stumbled on this great treasure trove of “Quotes on Stewardship” this past week from the United Methodist Foundation for the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences.

Friend, reporter and writer Carrie B. Reyes shared a “2015 economic forecast update.”

Erin, the “Broke Millennial,” shared some important thoughts on “Why We Need to TALK about Money.”

Stefanie shared and asked, “Beginner Financial Planning: Where Do I Start?


Friend, blogger and ministry leader Julia Nelson shared three vocationally rich posts in her weekly installments of “Tuesday Tea Time,” “Friday Favorites,” and “Sunday Snippits.”

TK shared a life update in “What Happened to Chapter TK?

My wife and I on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University in the Fall of 2012 (where we met, graduated from, later got engaged...etc.)
My wife and I on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University  (where we met, graduated from, later got engaged…etc.)

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared a beautiful post, but sad family news in “I Miss My Mom.” Ron, please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers this week.

Alli Polin wrote, shared and asked, “Soul Sparks Change Everything- What’s Yours?

In very exciting news from my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), PLU is holding its “Inaugural Day of Vocation on April 8th.” I’m excited to hear more about this!

Also in news from PLU comes the first episode of the new podcast, “The PLU Pod,” as “Professors Amy Young & Maria Chavez Talk TEDx Tacoma and More.”


Friend, blogger and pastor Diane Roth wrote and shared, “Scene at the table: A disruption on Maundy Thursday.”


Poulsbo, WA- a historical Norwegian American community
Poulsbo, WA- a historical Norwegian American community, and my hometown.

This Culture Trip has released its list of “The 10 Most Beautiful Towns in Washington.” I’m proud to say that one the 10 listed is my hometown of Poulsbo. Check out the list and plan your visits to these great places.

Have you ever seen the Tulips bloom in Skagit County, Washington? If not, check out this post.

In another Pacific Northwest related post, and a post for all the jazz and music lovers like myself, check out out this story, “Faithful make pilgrimage to DeMiero Jazz Fest for golden vocals.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared this post by Mayor Chris Coleman, providing “An Inside Look at World-Class Innovation: 2015 Ford Site Study Tour.”

This is a funny post for all of you college sports fans and/or fans of the TV show, “The Office.” Here are Austin’s ideas for “If the Big Ten Were Characters from the Office.” Shout out to friend and pastor Emily Wiles for sharing this with me first.

Friend, blogger and math teacher Tim Chalberg shared another Mariners update in “The Trouble with Spring Training Battles.”

Speaking of the Mariners, Ken Fang notes that they “Had a Big Cable TV Windfall Last Year.” Let’s hope that translates into a deep playoff run this year! Let’s go Mariners!


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always if there are particular questions or thoughts that you would like me to explore on the blog, please let me know. Also, if there are things you would like me to include in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; March Madness with President Obama; “with all our strength“; and Poulsbo.

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