The 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.
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.
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.
For years, the Network has made available to Network members a database of congregations that are willing to host traveling youth groups who are on their way to a camp, mission trip, youth gathering or other experience.
We are making two significant changes in this database:
First, we are wiping that database out and starting from scratch!
There are two reasons for this:
- We are changing to a different database provider that is much more cost effective. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to “bulk export” the data into our new database provider. It uses a different programming language and it’s not transferrable.
- Even more importantly, as we’ve looked at the data we’ve collected we’ve realized that much of the information, especially with contact info, is out of date.
The best (and simplest) solution is going to be to wipe out the database and start over, so our information is as current as possible.
Second, we are making the database available to everyone.
At least for awhile, we want to make this tool available to anyone who needs it. So beginning today, it will not be limited to Network members. We think this is an important enough tool that we want everyone to have access to it.
Please go to http://www.elcaymnet.org/congregationshosting to add your congregation’s info, if you’re willing to host.
Thanks for being a part of the Network!
Executive Director, ELCA Youth Ministry Network
Rev. Scott Maxwell-Doherty, who has done amazing work over the last 12 years giving leadership to the Extravaganza Team, has chosen to step down from his position, following Extravaganza 2017 in Louisville.
In a note to the Extravaganza team leaders, Scott wrote that:
“As you all know I take great delight in several ‘extra-curricular’ church related activities. These events tap into my creativity, my delight in gathering folks from far and wide to deploy their skill sets, and the joy of being around people who I trust, heart and soul.This past year I had to come to terms with the lament, “how much O Lord?”
And the answer… it is time to lay this one down.
Is this a hard decision? OMG Yep, quite difficult…
…My departure from my role will commence following the Louisville event. The days that follow will be thoughtful and even sassy days of transition evaluating the next leadership design for The E Team, a process which will capably tended by Todd. Between now and then…there is much work to be done…so let our focus be on the efficacy and essence of the E.” Scott’s leadership has taken the E to a whole new level of depth and quality. He leads from both the “heart” and the “head.” To say we are thankful for Scott, is an incredible understatement.
Anytime there is a personnel shift, it gives an organization the opportunity to evaluate and to think differently about its leadership. Since Scott let me know about this transition, we’ve been working to develop a leadership model for the event.
- Tending to the administrative end of the E. This would include:
- The planning schedule
- Team communications
- Publicity and promotion
- The Extravaganza is a large event, and there is much work in this area. I am excited to announce that this area of Extravaganza leadership will be handled by Catherine Anderson. Catherine, for those who don’t know her, works in the Northeast Minnesota Synod Office. She has worked in the Youth Gathering, and was the primary leader who developed the Practice Discipleship Initiative. Catherine has the gifts and skills for this vital role. We are grateful for Catherine’s willingness to take this on.
The other side of the equation is what I’m calling “Participant Experience.” It’s all of the programmatic and experiential elements of the E. It includes:
- Main Stage
- Exhibit Hall
- There are other areas as well, and obviously there is a lot of cross-over between “participant experience” and “administration.” (After all, their experience really begins with publicity and registration, doesn’t it?) So there will be a lot of teamwork in these areas. I’m excited that Charlie Roberts has agreed to provide leadership to this aspect of the E. Charlie, for those who don’t know, works in the Lower Susquehanna Synod office. He also has served as a team leader for the Gathering, and has done a lot of work to equip, develop and support leadership for children, youth and family ministry in his region. Charlie has also served in Extravaganza leadership for a few years, helping to coordinate the exhibit hall area.
- The last area of E leadership revolves around the hotel negotiation and contract work. This is work that I will continue to do. Many of the other areas that I have worked in however, primarily in communications, will be handed off into the new administrative area, freeing me up to work on other projects.
The Network is about leadership. We are blessed to be gifted with great leaders for the sake of God’s mission. You are all among those people. Thank you for your ministry.
And today, I’m especially grateful for these three: Scott, Catherine and Charlie. Let’s keep them in our prayers as they step into new roles, and as the Network continues to grow and move forward.
At Extravaganza 2017, we’ll have the opportunity to screen a brand new documentary called “No Joke.” It’s a film about 3 religious leaders from Peoria, Illinois, a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim Imam and a Christian pastor, who have all become close friends. And it’s about how their understanding of each other’s faiths, and their approach to interfaith conversation has been shifted by their friendship.
It’s a powerful opportunity for us to rethink how we approach interfaith dialog…an area that the church has traditionally stepped into carefully.
The film will be screened in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel on Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm of the E, as one of several different options offered during that time. One of the film’s producers will be with us, and we are hopeful that one, two or all three of the religious leaders from Peoria will be with us as well, to participate in a Q&A following the screening.
More information on the event at the E, including a film trailer and links to the film’s web site can be found at www.elcaymnet.org/NoJoke
The Network Board of Directors is the team tasked with creating the vision for, and stewarding the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. The board is made up of seven individuals, who each serve a 3 year term. The term can be renewed one time.
This year, there are two board positions are up for appointment. Those positions are currently being served by Tom Schwolert and Sue Megrund. Both Sue and Tom have indicated a willingness to serve again.
The Network operates a ‘gift based’ board. In other words, the board, as it looks at its strategic plan and vision, determines what gifts are best needed on the board to serve the mission. We then seek nominees who have those gifts.
Given the Network Board’s current work on a new strategic plan, they determined that gifts that are important for new board members would be an ability to do “vision work” and to think strategically, and experience in Network leadership.
Once someone is nominated (nominations by oneself are weighted equally with those nominated by another person) the nominating committee examines all of the nominations, and works to determine who has the gifts that best meet the needs of the Network. Those finalists then have their references checked, and then in an online meeting, the committee makes a recommendation to the board, who either accepts or rejects the slate of nominees.
All nominees then receive a notification, and the new board members are made public, probably in mid-November.
We are hopeful for gifted candidates. If you are interested in serving on the board, or know someone who would serve well, please direct them to our Board Nomination Form.
The Practice Discipleship (PD) Initiative has been one of the most powerful and influential faith formation ministries to take hold in the ELCA in the last 30 years. This is not exaggeration, nor is it hyperbole. It’s just real.
Literally tens of thousands of people have participated in training and education for leadership in congregational faith formation since the program began as a part of the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering.
The original intent, as envisioned by Catherine Anderson, was to prepare adult leaders to bring young people to the Youth Gathering by training them in basic youth ministry and faith formation skills. The the bar on preparation and training was to go up, groups would have a better Gathering experience, and at the end of the day, leaders would serve in their congregations more effectively. New curriculum was developed, coaches in just about every synod were trained and hundreds of in-person and on-line training events took place.
Through all this work, the PD Initiative helped to foster a culture of faith formation throughout the church.
The ELCA Churchwide Organization saw the value of the PD Initiative, and funded the program generously for 3 years. The PD leadership team actually stretched that grant to cover the program for 4 years, and now we find ourselves in the position of discernment.
There are several different elements that put us in the position of discernment:
- The funding from the Churchwide has run out
- Tammy Jones West, who has done a fantastic job directing the initiative, is stepping back to assume a team leadership role with the ELCA Youth Gathering. (We’re so grateful to Tammy for her leadership that there are barely words to adequately say ‘thank you.’ More on that another day.)
- The Board of Directors of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network is in the process of creating a new strategic plan, which will be “unveiled” at the Extravaganza this year. It will guide our growth and development over the next 3-5 years. While we’re not in a position to release details, I can say that we believe that this has the potential to directly reach and strengthen the ministry of every member of the Network.
So then, what’s the PD plan?
We believe Practice Discipleship is going to be a crucial element in the life of the ELCA into the future. And we feel like God is giving us an opportunity to think and dream about new ways to effectively strengthen your ministry, and we want to get that right. We don’t want to just find funding and continue what we’ ve been doing when we think there might be a whole new “thing” that PD can grow into.
We are going to take the upcoming year as a “hiatus” year…an opportunity to pray, think and talk. Our goal is to pull together some funding to hold a couple of meetings to talk about how PD and the Network’s new strategic plan can effectively interconnect with each other.
There will not be a coach’s training event at the Extravaganza this year, as we’re not totally sure yet what they would be being trained in. However, we are planning on a training event at the 2018 E in Houston. We do want to thank our current coaches for their great work and keep them connected. So we will be offering them a discount for the 2017 E in Louisville. (We also may invite those who are there into a meeting to help us think and plan for the PD future while we’re in Louisville. As much as we’d love to fly them all in for the E, that funding doesn’t exist right now. So we’ll just have to settle for inviting those who are able to be there.)
Details on the coach’s discount to the E will be coming in a separate e-mail.
I think it’s good that we occasionally stop what we’re doing, to talk, think and prays. Too much in the life of the church we find ourselves in the position of trying to change the car tires while the car is in motion. We feel strongly that God is calling us to “pause,” and to work through our options, and to discover what God is calling this thing called “Practice Discipleship” to become.
We’ll release updates here as we know them.
Thanks for your support, your prayers and your partnership!
The Editorial Team for the Connect Journal is looking for your assistance. The Winter 2017 issue will focus on mental health issues in children, youth, families, and those in the church who serve them.
We know that many of you have experience working with young people and families who face mental health issues.Some of you, or members of your families, have been diagnosed with mental illness.
The team is looking for someone to write a Bible study session that connects mental health and faith.
The Bible study end users would be young people at the high school (or older middle school) age groups.
If you’re interested in writing this Bible study session for publication in Connect, please contact our managing editor, Erin Gibbons. (Erin@Wellspringeditorial.com)
When you contact her, include a sample of your writing.
You would be compensated for writing this Bible study and would retain all rights to the content.
Thanks for considering writing this important piece.
This year, the Network set a $4000 goal in fundraising from our network members and friends. This does not include organizational or partnership gifts. We’re talking about $4000 in donations from individuals whose ministry has been touched by the Network and who want to support its work.
With 28 days to go until the end of our fiscal year, we are only $295 short of our goal! That’s great news!
The funds we raise is used in two ways:
- It goes to support the general ministry and work of the Network. Basically, that’s everything it takes to power the organization.
- It goes to help support Extravaganza scholarships, making the event accessible even for those who cannot afford to be there on their own..
$295! That’s all!
Would you consider making a gift and helping us to meet our goal? You will be a part of the community that keeps the Network on its feet, focusing on renewal, education and connection to all who want and need to grow in their vocation.
Thanks for your willingness to give!
The Network received this information from our friends and partners at Wheat Ridge:
Wheat Ridge Ministries Seeking Submissions for the Richard E. Herman Emerging Leader Award
Do you know someone making a difference in lives and communities affected by poverty? Someone who, motivated by Christ, is responding to the needs of a community and confronting the systems that perpetuate the underlying problems?
Wheat Ridge Ministries is looking for these inspired Christian leaders
to apply for the Richard E. Herman Emerging Leader Award.
The award will recognize the commitment and service of one leader who is changing the systems that perpetuate poverty, whether through their professional work or as a volunteer. This focus is driven by an understanding that Jesus’ life, ministry and teachings involved deep engagement with and love for those on the margins of society.
In recognition of the honoree’s service, he or she will receive:
- $4,000 Cash Award
- Invitation to The Summit, an annual conference hosted by Sojourners (registration, travel, and lodging covered by Wheat Ridge Ministries)
- Invitation to our annual Emerging Leader Convening, a gathering of inspired emerging leaders to network, learn and reflect (hosted and paid for by Wheat Ridge Ministries)
Emerging Leader must be…
- 18-35 years old
- Engaged in professional work or volunteerism that is changing the systems that perpetuate poverty
If you fit this description, apply today via the Wheat Ridge website, www.wheatridge.org/emergingleader. If you know someone who qualifies, nominate them on our website and we’ll invite them to apply. The application deadline is May 20, 2016.