This Week’s Links

linksFor a number of years, I would try and share a host of links usually on Tuesdays to things that I had been reading or found thought provoking over the past few week. That regularity diminished over the past couple years as work and life as a father took their rightful precedence in my time. But yesterday it hit me, what better time might there be to bring back an old favorite installment on the blog, than in the midst of a pandemic virus?

No, but in all seriousness, given the rapid amount and speed of change we’re going through, I thought for my sake and perhaps for your’s, to offer a quick look at some possible links and resources that might be useful for a variety of topics related to church and ministry thought, leadership, neighbor love, social media and digital communication, and stewardship, could be timely. As the weeks progress, who knows, maybe this weekly installment from years past will return in a more regular format again. (If this is particularly helpful for you, please let me know, and in which case I will work to prioritize getting these out more regularly again.)

Church and Ministry Thoughts and Ideas
Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod wrote this letter that went out to the rostered ministers, parish ministry associates, and all of the disciples of the Nebraska Synod on Monday (March 16, 2020) evening. Within that letter he writes, “I’m writing to urge you to suspend your in-person gatherings for public worship and other events for the weeks ahead. Knowing that policy advisors may change the timeframes again, I would encourage you to suspend in-person worship and events at least through Easter, and be prepared to extend that suspension as needed. I am urging this as a matter not only of Law but of Gospel. What is clear in this pandemic, as in other viral contagions, is that it can be easily transmitted by those who are not ill—or who do not know they are ill. Our love of neighbor demands that we refrain from endangering her or him by ignoring public policy, medical advice and common sense…” Please read and share the whole letter, and know that as your partners in ministry on the synod staff, we’re walking with you. Please reach out.

The Nebraska Synod website has a COVID-19 Updates and Resources page which is being updated and added to daily. For a number of resources on a host of topics and questions, please check this site out often.

The ELCA has added a page to its own website on Public Health featuring resources for all sorts of things for congregations in light of this new day and the challenges of the virus. Included on this page are additional links, and a video from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.

Earlier this month ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton addressed concerns about COVID-19 here.

For those of you who might be preaching this week, I encourage you to spend some time with Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner’s thoughts here on “Coronavirus, John 9, and What the Church is Doing Here Anyway.”

If you are looking for some ideas about how to do church, worship, faith formation, etc., at home check out the good work that Pastors Breen and Patrick Sipes are doing at Tri- Saints Lutheran Parish. Particularly, check out all of their resources available here, perhaps some of these might be useful for you to use and share for your own faith community’s practices?

Faith+Lead from Luther Seminary will be hosting a Faithful Adaptation webinar series, especially relevant for churches in the midst of pandemic. The first webinar conversation will be tomorrow. Check it out.

Cross-Sector Collaboration
Here is the Center for Disease Control’s regularly updated page with advice, rules, and insights for gatherings and community events.

For those of you trying to find cool and creative things to do while quarantined, or largely working from home and being home right now, Dr. Terri Elton shared this resource first written about four years ago, which seems especially timely now, from Google letting you explore National Parks with 360 degree virtual tours. Check it out!

Leadership Thoughts and Practices
Paul Argenti in the Harvard Business Review shared important thoughts about “Communicating through the Coronavirus Crisis.” Steps to follow and consider, include: Create a team for centralized communication; communicate with employees; communicate regularly with customers; reassure shareholders (or stakeholders); and be proactive with communities. Check out this post and see if it might be helpful for you and your team in the midst of this ever changing day to day reality we’re living in.

Dr. Daniel Schroeder shared some helpful perspectives in “The Right Words: Here’s How to Communicate Sensitive, Frightening Information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to Your Staff.”

Under the lens of leadership more broadly and in thinking across-sectors, Rebecca Henderson explained the case over at HBR for “The Business Case for Saving Democracy: Why free markets need free politics.”

Neighbor Love
Eileen Campbell-Reed shared 10 helpful guidelines for pastoral care during the coronavirus outbreak.

Nathan Dove writes at Sojourners, that “The First Rule of Pastoring During an Outbreak: Tell the Truth.”

Social Media & Digital Communication
My good friends at LEAD will be hosting a webinar tomorrow, Thursday March 19, 2020, “Learn the Basics of How to Lead Digital Worship.” Given that in-public worship is likely suspended, we’re all facing a new day and call to experiment and innovate. Church and worship are not closed, but we will be doing them in a new way, at least for a little while for the sake of our neighbors. Check out the plans for the webinar, and register today to gain some wisdom and insights through it.

If you will be doing some form of digital worship, it’s important to know what licenses you might need and to confirm your congregation is covered. (Remember when you went to school how you were taught to always give proper credit and citations? Well, with copyrights, my personal rule is always give credit and share all of the copyright info. If you do that, you shouldn’t ever have to worry.) To this end, Augsburg Fortress announced late last week about a “Temporary Expanded Licensing for Streaming Worship Services.” Relatedly, OneLicense is offering gratis licenses for the time being too, to help with COVID-19 challenges. Check out these announcements, and then make sure that if you will be sharing anything digitally, you have the licenses up to date. If not, please add that to your to-do list, before your next digital worship experience.

Stewardship Thoughts and Practices
Are you preaching this week, or looking for a little devotional inspiration? If so, here are some of my thoughts and first impressions when looking at the stories in both the revised common and narrative lectionaries this week.

Are you looking for some resources for stewardship and giving amid uncertainty? If so, please check out these, including a resource here for offering digital giving for your faith community.

There is a webinar available to explore and consider some digital and mobile giving options from Vanco that was shared across this ELCA. You can check out the webinar here. Relatedly, there are a few other resources that were included. If you are interested in these, please contact me.

If you’re looking for some recent preaching on stewardship, here’s a recent sermon that I shared on John 3 at Grace Lutheran Church in Lexington, “God’s Saving Work is for Us and for All- a blessing to be shared and stewarded.”

Well, that’s probably enough links for one day. If you find this helpful, I’ll plan to share more again regularly on the blog as I am able. Thank you for being part of the conversation, and for all of the good work that you do in your leadership, ministry, vocations, and service. Peace be with you today and the rest of the week. -TS

Image Credit: The links (from Wikipedia)

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