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 alwaysgood 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.
- You click on “bleeding” and it tells you what to do, including a helpful video, right on your phone.
- Someone gets a burn? There are well laid-out instructions including a helpful video.
- Concerned about heat stroke? The app tells you what to do, including a (you guessed it) video. At the bottom of each scenario are links to other related and helpful information. Under heat stroke you can link to
- What’s the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?
- What are heat cramps?
- How do you treat heat cramps?
- How can I immerse someone in cold water if I’m not near a tub or pool?
Every one of us who work with young people and who take them on road trips should be certified in both CPR (including infant CPR if you work with the very young) and advanced first aid. That is just common sense. But sometimes, in the midst of a chaotic moment when someone is sick or injured, and we’re in the midst of managing a group, our minds can go blank. Having this information literally in the palm of our hand can be a great resource for us, and can help mitigate injury and even save lives.
The app can even give you quizzes to help keep you up to date and fresh on your skills.
A best practice? You should have this app on your phone. I’d even recommend having all of your volunteer leaders download the app to their phone. Go to where you download your apps and look for “Red Cross First Aid.”
It’s a great resource.
Most 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!
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.