This Week’s Links

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Internet1Tuesday means that it is time to share some of what I have found interesting and thought-provoking over the past week.  This week’s topics include:  Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship; and Miscellaneous. I entrust these to you now and hope you enjoy them.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you haven’t heard, an interesting story broke about the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Papyrus.” What do you think or wonder about in light of this?

The Reluctant Xtian asked, “What makes things holy?” It’s a good pause and reflection as Holy Week begins.

Friend Chris Okey is highlighted in this story by Rev. Paul Amlin about the Value of the ELCA Youth Network and being connected as part of the larger church. Give this a read.

Friend Hannah Heinzekehr wrote, “What we might unintentionally say when we gather.” It’s an important read in which Hannah shares some good and constructive suggestions. These include: let’s find ways to celebrate difference; practically, when planning conferences, your planning committee must represent the people that you hope to see there; nobody wants to feel like a token; its not fair to invite speakers into spaces that will be unsafe for them; don’t use universal language to describe something particular; and nothing will change until privileged folks start saying no to being part of oppressive gatherings. These are great suggestions which I think are valuable to most faith communities, and not just one denomination or another in particular. Given recent conversation here on the blog, I greatly appreciate the point that “nobody wants to feel like a token.”

Katie Stever wrote, “‘Un-vogue’ to be sad: Depression and the Church.” This is an important read not only out of church and ministry interests, but also out of neighbor love concerns, and features ideas and significance about the notion of koinonia. The post includes insights and thoughts based on conversation and lecture by Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman who was in the Twin Cities of Minnesota last week.

Elizabeth Drescher wrote a great essay, “The Internet is Not Killing Religion, Religion is Killing Religion.” I particularly appreciate the sub-title, “Instead of asking why people aren’t religiously affiliated anymore, we might ask why they ever were.” This is a good and thought-provoking read.

How is this for a good question posed by achurchforstarvingartists, “What about an Associate Pastor for Neighborhood Ministries?” Give this a read and some thought. It would definitely be a sort of adaptive change for many congregations, but perhaps it would be an important missional step for being the church today in our current time and contexts.

Do Experienced Pastors Need Coaches?” achurchforstarvingartists asked this good and important question and shared some nice thoughts on the need for coaching, mentoring, collaboration and/or partnership.

RJ Grunewald shared, “Religion of Thinking.”  Take a look and see what you think.

Shane Raynor wrote, “Schism: Good or Bad, Don’t Believe the Hype.” It’s a good post about the potential road ahead for the United Methodist Church. Give this a read.

Friend and professor Dr. Deanna A. Thompson wrote, “Embraced by the Virtual Body of Christ.” This is a wonderful and authentic read, that I highly encourage you to give some time to!

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Carlo M. Cuesta asked, “Who Brands Your Nonprofit? Who Tells its story and how?” This is a good read both for non-profits, faith communities and congregations (among others). Consider this point (among many) from the post, “In order to tell our own story, we need to listen to and embrace the stories of those we wish to reach. A story is a gift, not a donor-acquisition strategy. Stories bind us together by allowing us to glimpse the other.” What do you think?

Christian Ramsey wrote that, “Disruptive Innovations take a wide lens.” As he notes, “We’ve come to understand that a wider lens of people is needed to birth the next generation of innovations.” Needless to say, its a good read worth time and thought.

Lawrence Lessig recently presented a TED talk titled, “The Unstoppable walk to political reform.” Check it out!

Paul Taylor wrote, “The Next America.” It’s a great interactive read filled with active visuals depicting many of the generational shifts currently happening in America. If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out. It helps explain many of the things you may have been noticing but have yet to put words to in order to describe what you have been seeing.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Robin Dahling shared, “6 Reasons why ‘Sorry’ must be stricken from any vocabulary.” The reasons include: 1) Because we aren’t; 2) Permits Procrastination; 3) It’s a Doorway for Excuses; 4) Removes Accountability; 5) Teaches Passivity (reaction, not pro-action); and 6) Creates an Expectation of Forgiveness (whether it is deserved or not). What do you think? Agree? Disagree? I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Jin Lee shared, “The Difference Between an ‘A Team’ and an ‘All Star Team.’” Check it out and see what you think.

Dan Schawbel shared, “3 Foundational Qualities of all great leaders.” It includes insights from a conversation with Orrin Woodward.

LaRae Quy wrote, “Ways to Move Through Uncertainty & Start Living the Life You Want.”

In an example of an absence of leadership, consider the challenges associated with Mass Transit, and specifically light rail in the south western areas of the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Whack a Mole
Whack a Mole

Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins wrote, “What Gets in the Way of Listening.” Tips that they have found to improve in this area include: ignore your critic; expand how you see your role; put aside your fear and anticipation; and be open to having your mind changed. Check this out, its a good read!

Hanna Rosin wrote, “You’re Not as Busy as you say you are.” Do you agree? There is certainly something to be said about the state of people being so busy though. It is seemingly an epidemic in many work settings.

Cranston Holden wrote about “Whack a Mole Leadership.” Do you feel that this inevitably happens to you at times in your leadership roles?

Dan Rockwell wrote about “How to Connect Forgiveness and Accountability.” This is a a great reflection that poses the good question, “How can leaders integrate forgiveness into their leadership?” It would be interesting I think especially to put this post in conversation with Robin Dahling’s thoughts about the word sorry (from above).

Robert Sher shared, “The Worst Thing Any Leader Can Do to High Performers.”

Neighbor Love

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber shared a “Sermon on Empty Tombs and the Suddenness of Dawn.” This is beautiful and you really need to read this! Towards the end Nadia offers a very good reminder and hope that as we journey through Holy Week that we “be surprised.” What do you think of that idea?

Seminary friend and soon to be pastor, Emmy Kegler shared her Palm Sunday sermon, which she titled, “A little dark-haired girl who hated Palm Sunday: a sermon on Matthew 21:1-11.” There is so much great stuff in here which you should check out.  One passage that really stands out is where Emmy writes, “There is a frustration in this:  that when we cry God, fix this, change this, spare me from this, sometimes what we find is not deliverance but companionship.  We do not get a God who protects us perfectly from pain but a Son who walks beside us, in every person we are.  We get a God who became a servant, who washes our feet, who feeds us with his body, who welcomes us home every time we wander.” Check it out. 

A sad and terrible story came this weekend from Overland Park, Kansas where a former KKK leader killed three people at the town’s Jewish Community Center. Anti-Semitism and hatred still exist, reiterating the need for us to share love, good news, work for justice for all and support for all of our neighbors.

Antonia Blumberg shared, “U2′s Bono Opens Up About Jesus, God, and Praying with his kids.”

Pastor Isaac Villegas shared the first of a two part series, “Misrecognizing Strangers.” It’s an important read, a timely reflection, and something to read and think deeply about. Please do so.

Rod asked, “so you want People of Color to attend Christian conferences?” This is something to read, ponder and and critically reflect on. He concludes this post powerfully by writing that, “Missional Christians must work to intentionally co-create just spaces for people on the margins because that is where Jesus and His mission lied, with the least of these, the downtrodden, the despised ones.  This means actually listening to women and People of Color, valuing their input and their labor, sharing in the burdens of marginalized persons, and rejecting Thrones of Privilege(s).” 

The Reluctant Xtian shared, “Christian Ideas of ‘Controversial’ are Screwed Up…” It’s hard to argue with that premise. Give this a read and see what you think.

TK shared some important reflection on perception and body image. Since so many people struggle at times with the way they look, I really believe that this is a neighbor love concern.

Jesse Carey shared “6 Times Stephen Colbert got serious about faith.” This is a great read and timely as it was announced this past week that the Catholic Colbert will be replacing the Lutheran David Letterman when he retires from hosting the Late Show next year in 2015.

Olives of Gethsemane
Olives of Gethsemane

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his Palm Sunday sermon, entitled, “God Shall Overcome.” This is so great, and the connections that Aaron draws are important. Give it a read and see what you think.

Former Major League baseball player and current baseball analyst for ESPN, Doug Glanville, shares a story about how this winter he was racially profiled in his own driveway. It’s awful that this happens still, and it serves as an important reminder to speak up for our neighbors and each other in love, truth, peace, justice and hope.

Fittingly for Holy Week, Rev. James Martin shares some perspective on “What Gethsemane teaches us about suffering.”

If you would like a read that will pull at your emotional heart strings with what I think is a very positive outcome, read this story by Rebecca Aske titled, “Three Days with my Newborn Son.”

Social Media & Blogging

Consider this more of an FYI. If you haven’t heard about “The Heartbleed” you should probably check this list out and consider changing some of your many online passwords.

If you like to blog like me, you may have an interest in interviewing someone as part of your blog. Check this out by Darren Rowse, it might be a good resource on the subject.

Friend Hannah Heinzekehr shared some “Femonite Bites” yesterday. There’s great stuff in here as always, a quick sampling of things she has loved online recently.

In a similar vein, friend J.W. Wartick shared some of his “Really Recommended Posts” from the past week. Good stuff too, particularly if you like theology.

TK wrote, “Social Media’s Illusion of Socialization.” Give this a read, and see if there is resonance here for you with your own usage of social media. Then ponder her conclusion, “Maybe the real difference is that social media has made it easier to spend time involved with old friends, which takes away from time we should be spending getting to know our new neighbors.” What do you think?

Stewardship

Kinna Nordstrom wrote a good reflection for the First Third blog entitled, “Enabling Poor Stewardship for CYF Bodies.” This is a good read, especially about congregations and stewarding one’s health and body.

If you are a sports fan, then you really need to check out this post! Eric Eager wrote, “Viewing Dollars as Players on a Team.” This is a good read about finances and financial needs and the ability to afford (and budget) for them. The use of a baseball team as an image or metaphor is particularly helpful I think.

Dr. Mary Hess shared a beautiful post with tons of gorgeous pictures from one of her students, Jonette Blakney, about “Care Practices for Leadership Concerning Creation in Faith Communities.” This is a great and beautiful reflection on stewardship practices, but also in a wider sense offers thoughts about vocation, neighbor love, and ministry among other areas.

In case you missed it from yesterday, here are some thoughts about stewardship leadership and how to avoid some of the common potholes of stewardship.

Vocation

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller offered a follow-up to a post on his sense of multiple vocations from last week. Check it out! There are great thoughts in here both on vocation but also on what ministry looks like and can look like.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some good vocational thoughts about what she learns from funerals. I love her conclusion in which she writes: “But somehow each funeral embodies the hope of a particular child of God, ordinary and extraordinary at the same time, and they are not the same.  Sometimes they are small things that matter:  a particular story shared, a Scripture verse in German, or a baptismal font full of carnations.” Give this a read!

Diane also shared another good post, “Prayer and Poetry.” Good stuff as always.

My sister Tamara in the middle of my brother Thomas and I.
My sister Tamara in the middle of my brother Thomas and I.

Many of you may not know that my sister Tamara has been serving this past year in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC). Check out a little bit about her story here, and see if you might want to support future LVC volunteers.

Megan Leibold and I.
Megan Leibold and I.

College friend Kate Retherford shared an interview with hometown friend and “sister” Megan Leibold. There is a lot of great stuff in here about what Megan is up to, and I think it features Megan sharing some of her insights and understandings about her own vocation(s).

College friend Jodie Rottle was interviewed recently. If you want to read some good thoughts on her own vocation and passion for making music, give this a read.

Seminary friend Julia Nelson shared some “Tuesday Tea Time.” It’s a great and short read and offers some good perspective about a moment in daily life and some of the things that we might take for granted or judge (perhaps too soon or incorrectly).

Worship

As we have entered into Holy Week now, Rev. Dr. David Lose fittingly shares this post, “Holy Week as Dramatic Climax.”

Rachel Held Evans shared a quick overview and links to a resource put together by the Liturgists. Check it out.

Miscellaneous

Based on the usual content included in the miscellaneous section of this weekly post, you may have discovered I like to read some travel stories. Here is such a one about Sea-Tac International Airport (Seattle-Tacoma). Apparently it ranks among the top 10 of the World’s Best airports in particular categories. What do you think? I do think that it has greatly improved over the past couple of years with all of the renovation, light-rail service, and the provision of new artwork and regular musical performances.

Perhaps you are looking for a movie to see in theaters soon. If you are thinking about possibly seeing a “Bible Based Movie” check out this post from LEAD.

——————————————-

That will do it for this week’s offering of the links. As always, if there are particular topics or articles that you would like for me to try and include, please let me know. If there are particular questions or topics that you would like for me to wrestle with on the blog, please let me know that too. Also, if you have an interest in perhaps sharing some thoughts as an upcoming post about mentoring, I would love to hear from you.  Until then, I trust and hope that you have a meaningful and blessed Holy Week journey this week! Thanks for reading! -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Whack a Mole; and Olives of Gethsemane.

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