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Posts from the ‘The Network’ Category

1
Feb

Prayer = Good…Over-Notifications? Maybe Not So Much

Mobile_Apps-3-562x309@2x-op-1The Network is a community that prays for each other.  And I suspect we can all agree that we’re in favor of prayer.

And using the “Prayer Request” feature in the Network app is a great way for us to keep in touch and to pray for each other.  After Extravaganza 2018 in Houston, there was a big jump in usage for this feature of the app.

But I’ve also received a bunch of questions about how to limit the email notifications that we receive when someone posts a prayer request…and when someone responds to a prayer request.

Yes, there is a solution!

Here it is, step by step:

IMG_B312954C5A56-1First, Open the Network app.  (If you don’t have it yet…you should get it!  You can get information on the app at http://www.elcaymnet.org/app and/or search for it in your Apple or Android app store.)

 

Second, from the main menu, click on “My Profile.”  That will take you to the page that has your personal information stored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Third, at the top of your profile screen (above the space for your profile photo) click on the “Edit my Profile” button.  If the edit option doesn’t show up, try quitting the app and re-loading it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fourth, when your profile editor opens up, scroll to the bottom of the screen and you can select if you’e like to receive notifications within the app (push notifications) or by e-mail or text message…or any combination of those you would like to use.

That’s it!  It’s that simple.

So yes, let’s commit to praying for each other.  And, let’s commit to getting the notifications about those prayer requests in whatever way works best for each of us!

Peace,
Todd.

 

 

 

 

14
Dec

Network Revises Standards and Guidelines

Escellence
The ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s Board of Directors has completed a one-year process to revise and update its “Standards and Guidelines for Professionals” document.

The original version of our Standards and Guidelines was created and released in 2011,  It helped to give shape to the professional development of those who are called to serve with children, youth and families in ELCA congregations.  It also gave shape to many of the programs and ministries that the Network has continued or launched since then.

Tom Schwolert, who serves as the chairperson of the Board of Directors, said that: “Our goal in redeveloping the Standards and Guidelines was to simplify it a bit.  We wanted to make it shorter and more approachable.  I think this new version has done that.”

Renewal, education and connection have always been a part of the Network’s DNA.  Our hope is that when a congregation calls someone to serve in faith formation, if that person is a member of the Network, the congregation will understand that person’s commitment to growing in their calling.

Schwolert went on to say that: “Our hope is that this helps to give direction to personal, spiritual and professional development.  The Network’s programs, and those of our partners, can provide the resources for our members to grow in these ways.”

The Network’s Standards and Guidelines can be found at elcaymnet.org/standards.

 

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!