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Posts from the ‘The Network’ Category

30
Sep

New Network Board Members Selected

The ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s Board of Directors affirmed the slate of board

DanFugate

Pastor Dan Fugate

candidates presented by the Nominating Committee at its fall meeting in Houston, September 28-30.

The recommendation of the Nominating Committee was to renew the terms of two of its current board members, Becky Cole and Rev. Regina Goodrich.  The NominatingCommittee also recommended Rev. Daniel Fugate to fill the third open position.  This position has been held by Erik Ullestad, who served two full terms and is not eligible for renewal.

ReginaGoodrich

Pastor Regina Goodrich

Dan Fugate currently serves as the Assistant to the Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the ELCA.  Dan has served in congregational and synodical ministry for over 19 years.

Rev. Regina Goodrich serves as the pastor of Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  And Becky Cole serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland, Washington.

The Network Board is responsible for creating and tending to the mission, values and goals of the Network.  They meet face-to-face three times each year.

BeckyCole

Becky Cole

The terms for these three individuals will begin at the conclusion of the Extravaganza in Houston, Texas, held from January 26-29 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

25
Sep

Because Everybody Needs a Plan

Discipling_Cohorts_Inititiative_Logo_Horizontal_COLORIf you ask anyone who has been doing ministry with children, youth and families in ELCA congregations for awhile, they will be able to tell you that there has been a significant change in the culture of our community over the last 20 years.

Children, youth and family ministers share resources, give mutual support and share ideas more than ever before.

  • Part of that is because new technology has allowed it.  Watching conversations on our Facebook group, paying attention to the traffic on MartinsList and looking at participation in things like 3rdTuesday Conversations are just an indicator.
  • It’s also at least partially due to the understanding that as congregational resources have continued to shrink, and we are all being asked to do more with less, we have to be “in this together” to do this ministry.

Today, the Network is launching our new initiative to help all of us in this work together:  The Discipling Cohorts Initiative will draw together people into cohorts, organized by synod, for a year of skill development, vocational conversation and spiritual growth.  This one-year journey that these groups of 8-10 will take together will culminate in the development and presentation of a personal development plan for the next 3-5 years, which will further individual growth in ministry.

The cohort process will begin with the groups meeting first face-to-face at Extravaganza 2018 in Houston.  While meeting there, the groups will determine their calendar for meeting monthly over the next year for conversation, guided by a trained peer coach.

If geographic restrictions make it impossible to meet face-to-face during the year, groups can meet online to facilitate the conversations.

It is our hope that those who do this vital work with children, youth and families will continue to grow in their skill, faith and commitment to their work.  It is when we stop developing that we begin to fade in our ministry.  The people we are called to work with deserve the best the church can give them.

We are now recruiting two groups:

  • People to be a part of the first set of cohorts.  We are looking for up to 8-10 people from every synod.  We are looking for people who want to grow and develop their ministry.
  • People who are interested in serving in the first batch of Discipling Cohorts coaches.  Coaches will be trained the day prior to Extravaganza 2018 in Houston.

More information on both of these roles can be found at disiplingcohorts.org.

Please prayerfully consider your involvement in this project.  We’re looking forward to the future church; the one who steps boldly into a broken world with God’s Word of hope; the one whose leaders are fully equipped and prepared to navigate a change world, and the one whose young people’s faith is deeply and richly engaged with the mission of God.

Thanks for being a part of this ministry!

Todd Buegler
Executive Director; ELCA Youth Ministry Network

 

28
Aug

Our Hearts Break for Houston

Flood
Every time an image of the flooding comes across my newsfeed, or my TV screen, my heart breaks a little bit.  The images of the interstates completely submerged…of homes deep in water…and of people awaiting rescue takes my breath away.

And like many of you, my mind turns immediately to friends who live and work along the gulf coast:  Peggy, Jessica, Michael, David, Rozella, Beth, Karen and others. And there are those people I’ve gotten to know who work at the Hyatt in Houston, where the Extravaganza will be held from January 26-29, 2018:  Elizabeth, Michelle and David. And I worry, and I pray.  I’m certain that you are praying too.

Disasters like floods, tornados and hurricanes are always awful experiences.  But when you attach names to them, names of colleagues, friends and loved ones, the anxiety just continues to go up.

I’ve received messages from people wondering about the status of Extravaganza 2018 in Houston.  And I’ve seen posts on Facebook with people wondering how these floods will affect the ELCA Youth Gathering next summer.  The answer is: “of course the floods will have an effect.”  It’s too early to know or understand that effect yet.

We will remain in contact with the Hyatt.  I’m confident that they will be working to restore their property quickly.  As Houston begins its clean up after the storms, the E-Team will be talking about how the events in Houston might affect the program in January.

And while I cannot speak for the Gathering, I’m certain that they too are already thinking, praying and wondering about how these events will give shape to how our young people will walk alongside the residents of Houston next summer.

In the meantime, please continue to pray.

  • Pray for the people.
  • Pray for their homes.
  • Pray for the congregations there.
  • Pray for safety.
  • Pray for patience.
  • Pray for the physical and emotional security of our friends in Houston.

And give.  And encourage our congregations to give.  As congregational leaders, we are in positions of influence within our communities.  Please influence your people to give.  Giving to Hurricane Harvey Relief through Lutheran Disaster Response is a great way to give.  100% of funds donated go straight to relief efforts.

And I’d encourage you to follow along with what is happening.  Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod has been great about posting updates on social media.  I encourage you to follow his blog.

To be church together means that we hold each other in times of joy and in times of pain.  This is one of those times when we are called to surround a city with prayer, compassion and love.

Let’s be church together.
Peace,
Todd

 

24
Aug

“Discipling Cohorts” Initiative Launches!

Cohorts1The ELCA Youth Ministry Network is excited to launch the Discipling Cohorts initiative, with the goal of training 500-600 children, youth, and family ministry leaders committed to growing and deepening in ministry leadership, personal faith, and vocational confidence. The initiative was created in response to the Network’s strategic goal for every member to create and live into a personal development plan.

The initiative will launch at Extravaganza 2018 (January 26-29 in Houston, Texas), where synods will form a cohort of 8-10 people for an initial session led by a trained peer coach. Cohorts will then convene monthly in local settings for the coming year, working together through a guided process for reflection on ministry leadership, skill development, vocational discernment, and spiritual formation.

The year will culminate with each participant writing and presenting a three-year personal development plan. Some ideas for plans may include:

  • Naming the professional growth areas you want to work on, such as event planning, budgeting, conflict management, etc…
  • Considering your short- and long-term vocational call
  • Developing a plan to deepen your spiritual life and practices

This plan will be shared in a concluding peer gathering at Extravaganza 2019 (January 25-28 in Jacksonville, Florida).  Accountability for participants and their plans will come from the cohort group, the synod peer coach, and a web-based system that will track progress.

While this project is different from the Practice Discipleship Initiative, which was completed 18 months ago, it will make use of and build on that project’s infrastructure.

Participation is open to Network members, including paid staff and volunteers, newcomers and veterans, and leaders from churches of all sizes and contexts. Attention will be paid to ensure cohort groups are comprised of a wide and diverse variety of congregations.

If you are interested in participating in this important project, you can sign up to receive more information by going to the Discipling Cohorts web page.

The project, led by the ELCA Youth Ministry Network, is being generously supported by the ELCA Domestic Mission Unit.

15
Aug

Seeking Network Board Members

Board

The current Board (L-R: Kinda, Tom, Sue, Regina, Jeremy, Becky, Erik, Todd and Paul)

Dear friends,

The ELCA Youth Ministry Network is seeking nominations of people who are qualified and willing to serve on the Network’s Board of Directors.

The Network’s Board is responsible for the setting the vision and goals for the Network, and works with the Executive Director to live in to that vision.  The Board meets face-to-face three times during the year, once in the fall, again just prior to the Extravaganza and then again in the Spring.

To carry out its work, the board of directors seeks members who are visionary, possess solid communication skills, are willing to support the mission of the network, employ critical and creative thinking, display personal humility, and model a servant’s heart.

The term of a board member lasts three years and could be renewed for one additional term.  This year, there are three board “seats” that are up for election.  Both Rev. Regina Goodrich and Becky Cole, who each hold one of those seats, are eligible for a second term if willing and selected.  Erik Ullestad has served two full terms and is not eligible for renewal.

Nominations for the Board this year are due September 15, 2017.  This year, the term for new board members will begin at the conclusion of Extravaganza 2018 in Houston.

More detailed information on the Board nomination process can be found here.  Both self-nominations and nominations of others are welcomed and encouraged.

The nomination form for the Board of Directors can be found here.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Tom Schwolert, Board Chairperson, or Todd Buegler, Executive Director.

26
Jul

That One Time When Your Kid Met Your Friends

SamAndLisa

Sam and Lisa

Six days ago, our 14 year old son, Samuel, climbed aboard a 12-passenger van with other members of the youth group from our congregation, Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Minnesota and the group began its journey to Detroit, Michigan.  The groups is spending the week working with Living Waters Ministries, one of the ELCA‘s amazing outdoor ministries.

Trinity had partnered with Living Waters in Chicago a couple of years ago and had a great experience.  This year, I didn’t expect a text that I received.

The day after our group arrived, my phone beeped and a photo appeared in my inbox.  It was a photo of Sam, sent to me by Lisa Jeffreys.  Lisa works in the Southeast Michigan Synod.  We’d worked together, and become friends, working on the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit.  I had no idea that Lisa was working with the Living Waters program this summer.

I saw the text, and I smiled.

And a couple of days later, Lisa sent me another photo, this time it was Sam, standing arm in arm with a good friend and mentor, Pastor Kelly Chatman, from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, who was also in Detroit with Living Waters this week. 

I found myself  moved emotionally, by seeing these photos.  I mean of course, it’s always

Kelly and Sam

Kelly and Sam

good to see the smiling face of your son.  But beyond that, I loved the fact that Sam was there with his friends from Trinity…with our adult volunteer leaders…and now with my friends from ministry; from the Network.

It is powerful because when Sam ran into Lisa…into Kelly…when Sam was present with the youth group, and its amazing adult leaders, he is experiencing the promises that God made to him in the waters of his baptism.  This week, Sam is experiencing what it is to live among God’s faithful people.

When Sam met Lisa…when Sam met Kelly, he was experiencing the family of God.  My friends became his friends.  The son whom I love met the friends whom I love.

Thank you Lisa, for being a friend.  Even though we only chat occasionally, and I really only get to see you at the Extravaganza, I am so glad that Sam gets to experience you this week.  Thank you Kelly, as much as you’ve been a fantastic powerful influence on my life, I’m so glad that Sam has had the opportunity to spend some time with you as well.

I’m reminded this week of what it is to be church.  We are all interconnected.  We all share a mission.  We are all, whether we’ve met or not, connected in a relationship that is centered in Christ.  I’m reminded of what it is to be Network.

I’m reminded what it is to be the people of God.

Thank you for being who God called you to be.  Thank you for being people who I want my kids to get to know, and spend time with.

And thanks be to God, for creating the church, this place where we are all connected, in the name of Christ.

God’s peace,
Todd

22
Jun

Network Strategic Plan + Practice Discipleship Structure = Something Brand New

StrategicPlanning
The ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s strategic plan has taken a huge step forward. Approved in February, it has the ambitious goal that “every Network member will create and live into a plan that deepens their skills and identity in ministry.”
This goal means that every member of the Network will engage in developing a personalized plan for vocational, skill and ministry development, and the Network will provide the resources for the creation and tracking of those plans.
The Network will use a familiar platform in executing its strategic plan.  “The infrastructure that was created for the Practice Discipleship Initiative is perfect to use in this new initiative,” said Todd Buegler, Network executive director.  “Our plan is to once again recruit a coach for every synod, who will be trained at the Extravaganza this year in Houston.  But rather than returning to their synods to lead training workshops, the coaches will return to their synods to lead a cohort group of 8-12 individuals who will work together over the course of a year to think through the elements of their plans and then will write them together.”
These cohort groups will meet for the first time at Extravaganza 2018 in Houston, Texas.
While the new strategic initiative will use the structure created for the Practice Discipleship Initiative, it will have a new name and identity to reflect the new direction and goals of the plan.
The Network has received a generous, renewable grant of $70,000 from the ELCA’s Domestic Mission Unit to fund this effort.
The team that will plan and lead this new leadership initiative will be led by Barbara Harner, a youth minister in the Washington DC area who helps to coordinate children, youth and family ministries in the Metro DC Synod.
Recruitment of synodical coaches and the development of the cohort and plan curriculums will begin in July.  More information will follow soon.
4
Apr

Give Good Data Now = Get Good Data Later

NegotiationMost ELCA congregations work on their budgets in the fall.  Program budgets…salaries…benefits…all get worked out in the fall.  So we’ve got a “great deal” for you.  Invest a little bit of time right now…probably no more than 5-15 minutes, and you’ll be better equipped for these important conversations in the fall.

Your friends and colleagues in ministry need your help!

The Network does an annual salary survey that provides data on salaries, insurance, pension, vacation time, reimbursement and more.  There’s even a section for volunteers to report how they are reimbursed for their expense and time.

And we take the data and we slice and dice it so you can compare by

  • Geographic region
  • Education level
  • Size of congregation
  • Years of experience
  • ELCA roster status
  • Gender and other categories

The salary survey is an incredibly helpful tool…it is consistently the most downloaded resource from the Network web site.  Every fall, congregations and Network members use this information to help them in their budget and salary conversations.

Right now, we are collecting the data.  We’ll be collecting it through April 20, 2017.  And quite simply, the more people who fill it out, the more helpful the data will be.  We hope to publish the data in mid May.

So please take a few minutes and help out your sisters and brothers in ministry!  Share your data.  And next fall, you’ll be better equipped.  Facts are your friends!

Take the survey now!

 

2
Mar

Salary Survey 2017 Launched!

salarysurveyThe Network’s Salary Survey is now open and we are receiving survey forms!

The salary survey has, since 2001, been a great tool for individuals and congregations as they work together to ensure fair and appropriate salary compensation.

Once complete, the salary survey will slice and dice the data by geographic region, years of experience, size of congregation, education level, average worship attendance and more.  In addition, data about benefits, including insurance, pension, vacation and reimbursement will also be available.

The survey will take 5-10 minutes to complete, and that small investment in time will bring a tremendous amount of very helpful data when the project is complete.

The salary survey will be open until midnight (central time) on April 10, 2017.  The results of the survey should be available in May.

You can take the survey here.

 

21
Feb

The Hope I Have for the Church

Special guest blog by: Rev. Paul Amlin

Today is Paul Amlin’s last day in his role as Program Director for Youth Ministry in our ELCA Churchwide Offices.  Over the last four years, Paul has worked tirelessly to support adults working with youth, and leadership development for young people.  Paul begins a new call March 1 as the pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Dubuque, Iowa.  We’re grateful for Paul’s work and his support.  And we’re grateful that he’s sharing these final thoughts with us as he leaves his position.  You can continue to follow Paul’s ministry on Twitter:  @lordoflifedbq and http://www.facebook.com/lordoflifedbq.

________________________________

PaulAmlin

Paul Amlin

I’ve spent the last four years traveling across this church. As I prepare to take my leave from service at the churchwide expression of the ELCA, I want to take a moment to share with you why I have hope for the church (and why I think you should too!). This won’t be one of those “9 reasons” or “10 ways” kind of blog posts, rather, just some observations and takeaways after spending a LOT of quality time with folks from the Carolinas to California, from Oregon to Florida and a lot in between. So here we go…

I’ll start with a moment I shared with Lyle Griner in Detroit as we watched the ballroom from the doors during the Extravaganza. The room was literally pulsing as music blasted and a thousand+ ministry friends jumped and danced and high fived each other. Lyle and I couldn’t help but smile and I don’t remember if it was Lyle or me who said, “I wish people who think the church is dying could be here now!” Detroit was the high point for attendance at the E, the high point for membership in the Network, and a major high point for the board of directors as we realized the goals set forth in a strategic plan years before.

Speaking of Detroit… The ELCA Youth Gathering was a major high point for me. I had the unique opportunity to split time between the convention center team I served and traveling around working the ELCA Youth Twitter and Facebook accounts. I have been blessed to be a part of four Gathering planning teams and I have attended every Gathering since 1997 (River of Hope, woot-woot). Detroit felt different. The young people I engaged were fired up to be there, that’s normal for this event after all, but they were also engaged in the theme, in service, in wanting to make a difference, in caring about how their church was present in Detroit and what that might look like back at home. I am more and more convinced that the Gathering has become the “Lutheran Big Tent” revival the church needs every three years to inspire and empower young leaders to rise up and model radical faith in Jesus Christ that inspires loving our neighbors wherever we are planted.

I have been blessed to sit with planners for events like Invitation to Service, Leadership Lab, AFFIRM, The Disciple Project and Camp Hope Training, multiple synod youth events and to spend time being present on behalf of the ELCA to learn about and share the amazing work that is happening across this church. The young people I meet at these events are there because they love Jesus and the church, and because they want to make a difference. The leaders who give selflessly and tirelessly of themselves to make these events happen are there because they, too, believe in the transformative power of Jesus’ love and that we are stronger and more effective together than we are apart.

I have been blessed to work with some of the best people the church has to offer. A few of those people have shared my same passion for equipping and empowering young leaders through the Youth Core Leadership Team. Lisa, Chris, Darcy, Rachel, Erik, and now a new Eric have spent time and energy to equip high school youth through this program of leadership development and faith formation. I’m proud of our work and of the young people whom have passed through our lives in the past four years. I look forward to hearing the stories of their lives as instruments of hope and love in Jesus Christ through our church and as they lean into God’s calling for them as leaders in the world through vocation and service. 

Speaking of amazing events… The ELCA Youth Leadership Summit will happen for the fourth time this November in Houston, Texas. I have been blown away by the young leaders and their adult travel companions from the majority of the synods of our church. These people show up in love with Jesus, excited by how the Spirit will move in and through them as they learn what it means to be a part of the ELCA and be a church that speaks and acts out in love for the world and our neighbor. I have told this story several times, but I will always be moved by a story from our inaugural event in Detroit. Tia Upchurch-Freelove had finished speaking about ELCA Advocacy and we asked youth to share what they were thinking. A young lady stood up and said, “I never knew our church did this, I didn’t know what it was called, but this is what I want to do with my life.” (See, I just got goosebumps again!).

I am also proud of all the people who work so hard in congregations, synods and here at churchwide to live into what it means to be the church for the world. I wish that you could have just a glimpse of what I’ve seen! Too often we are all detached from each other, not understanding how incredibly important we all are to each other. Together we feed the hungry, give clean water to the thirsty, give hope to the hopeless, give care and respite to those who suffer, teach and evangelize around the globe, welcome the stranger and humbly serve the other without telling each other how God has worked through us to be Good News. Perhaps we can get better at this? I encourage you to bring your youth groups for a tour of the Lutheran Center in Chicago, take your synod staff to lunch, make a phone call to tell someone you are praying for them, write a note of encouragement for the hard days in ministry we all have. You would be amazed at how powerful these things can be! I keep a file folder filled with cards and notes.

Our church is still becoming what it needs to be. Remember that. We are once and always reforming, being made new as the slogan says, and being the hands of God at work in our world, together. Together. Together. None of us is alone and none of us is stronger in the absence of the other. I have hope for this church because I have met enough of you to know that Jesus is not dead, but very much alive in God’s people. I have hope for this church because I know enough young leaders who love Jesus and this church that I am sure God is at work in all of this. I have hope because I cannot do anything else, thanks be to God! Now it’s time for all of us to name and claim how God is at work and on the loose around us bringing Good News to the world. 

So there you have it. Thanks for reading along. Thanks for your ministry and for your passion for the Good News we share. Remember that you are God’s beloved child and nothing can separate you from God’s love.

peace,
Paul