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Posts tagged ‘Board’


Leadership Competencies: A New Take


A few years ago, the Network introduced our first set of “Standards and Guidelines” for professionals who work in children, youth and family ministry.  The idea was that there should be some kind of standards for how we grow and develop in our ministry, and for how we practice our ministry on a day-to-day basis.

Developing a document like this is a challenge, because everyone’s experiences are different, and our thoughts and opinions are always based on our experience.  But finally, after a year’s work, in 2011 the Network Board approved our first set of “Standards and Guidelines.”  We posted them, and made them widely available.

About 18 months ago, the Board took on the task of reviewing this document to see if it needed to be updated.  Our basic concern was that while the first version was good, and well-intended, the document was long…and it was detailed…and it was intimidating…and even though it was intended for those who did this work professionally, volunteers would look at it and say “what have I gotten myself into?”

So work began on rewriting the document with the intent of simplifying it.

That work is complete.

The document has been retitled.  It is now called Leadership Competencies.  Our sense was that “Standards and Guidelines” felt more like limitations and barriers than something that we want to work towards.  Leadership Competencies moves it to a positive angle, and focuses on what God is calling us to become in ministry rather than what we shouldn’t be in ministry.

The new document is shorter than the old, trimmed by more than half.  But the basic concepts and the things we value are all still there.

We want these Leadership Competencies to become part of our vocabularies.  I’d love it if someday, when asked by an interview committee, a person could say, “Yes, I am a member of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network,” and the committee would know what that means…they would know that these values, these competencies, are already a part of this person’s ministry; that by being a member of the Network, this person is committed to growing in their skills, their vocation and their own faith.

I invite you to take a look a the new document, and post or send any feedback.  It is a document that will continue to grow and adapt as the world around us changes.



New Network Board Members Selected

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


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.


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.


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.


Seeking Network Board Members


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.


The Loss of a Friend

Pastor Beverly

Pastor Beverly

It is with a great deal of sadness that we heard late last night about the death of longtime Network member and a former member of our Board of Directors, Rev. Beverly Conway.  Pastor Beverly served at Redeemer Lutheran Church in South Holland, Illinois.

She graduated from Loyola University, and then from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.  She has served as a member of the youth ministry team of the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA.

Pastor Beverly served for six years on the Board of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  During that time, she was a tireless advocate within the Network for ways that the Network could support those in under-served communities.  Beverly had a prophetic voice and was willing to speak truth, even when it was uncomfortable for someone to hear.  She did this with grace and love.

Pastor Beverly had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.  She enjoyed traveling and she reveled in good conversation with friends.  I will remember the twinkle in her eye when she smiled.

Her faith was her passion, and she loved being a pastor of the church.

We mourn her loss, but we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises of God in her life.

When we hear of funeral arrangements, we will make those known.

Please keep Pastor Beverly’s family members and her congregation in your prayers.



Introducing New Leadership!

The Network is excited to introduce new members of our leadership!  There are two new people who will be joining the Network’s Board of Directors.


Rev. Regina Goodrich

Rev. Regina Goodrich is the pastor at Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  A graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and Waynoe State University, she has been involved in children, youth and family ministry for over 30 years.

Becky Cole is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland, Washington.  Becky has earned both a B.A. and an M.B.A degree, and is in the process of seeking certification from Trinity Lutheran College in Children, Youth and Family Ministry Studies.

Becky Cole

Becky Cole

In addition, Erik Ullestad, of West Des Moines, Iowa, has been reappointed to a second term serving on the Network’s Board of Directors.

There are also 3 new Regional Facilitators who will begin their terms at the conclusion of the Extravaganza in Detroit.

Abby Triebel of Poughkeepsie, New York, will begin representing Region 7.  She serves at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Ashley Strelau, or Moorhead, Minnesota, will begin representing Region 3.  Ashley serves as the Associate Director of Youth Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Region 9 also will be selecting a new Regional Facilitator.  They have not yet been identified, but should be in place prior to the Extravaganza.

We welcome these new leaders in our Network!  Thank you for your service!


Nominations for Network Board of Directors Open


The current Network Board

The Network is governed by a seven member Board of Directors.  (plus two non-voting members.)  The Board is responsible for setting the direction and vision of the Network, which is then carried out by a small, part-time staff and a huge, dedicated and dynamic group of almost 150 volunteer leaders.

The mission of the Network?  To strengthen and empower children, youth and family ministry leaders in service to Christ.

This year, there are 3 seats on the board that are open for nomination.

Nominations are made either by the individual themselves (self-nominated) or by someone else (3rd party nomination).  Both forms of nomination are equally valued.

The Nominating committee, made up of two board members, two regional facilitators and one at large member, receives input from the board on what its needs are to continue its work, and then it focuses on culling through the nominations and to find the best fit of gifts and need.  The Nominating committee presents its slate of names to the board at its fall meeting, and the board either accepts or rejects the slate.

This year, the board has identified three areas of need as it looks at its current board make up:

  • Diversity of the board in terms of ethnicity
  • Diversity of the board in terms of geography
  • A need for someone with expertise in the area of children’s ministry

Of course, all nominations will be gladly received and considered.  The broader the pool the committee has, the better a decision will be made.

The Network’s hope is that perhaps you, or someone you know might be a good fit for the board.  It is a great group of leaders that makes a difference in the life of the church.  If you’re interested in serving, or know someone you believe would be a good fit, please visit the nominations page on the web site for more information.

If you have any questions, please send me an email.





Cancer Theology

cancertheologyI didn’t want to read this book.  Really, I didn’t.

I know both Jake and Erik.  Not nearly as well as I would like to, but well enough that I knew I’d buy a copy of this book as soon as I’d heard about it, just because I wanted to support them.

But read it?

I hate cancer.  Really, I do.  I’ve seen the effects up close and personal.  My Mother is a breast cancer survivor and sometimes, I’d go sit with her during her infusion therapy sessions.  I have close friends who have lived with cancer.  I have close friends who have died from cancer.  I have done funerals for cancer victims in my congregation.

So I bought the book, but would have been content to let it sit on my shelf.  To open it would be to voluntarily re-engage a world that brings back painful thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Why would I possibly want to do that.  And besides, cancer scares the crap out of me.

But I also felt conflicted.  Yes, I can learn more…yes, there are some interesting writers in this set of essayists…yes, I’m a grown up and I shouldn’t let base fears and emotions drive my actions.

So I picked a time and place to read it where if it got to be too much, I could just look away, and my setting would restore my soul:  on the beach in Jamaica.  Not bad.  And so I read.  And I never had to look away.

This collection of essays is full of wisdom.  And there were no cliche answers…nothing designed to just make cancer seem “all right.”  There was brutal honesty and powerful reflection.  Not all of the essays spoke to me, and I’m sure that some of the ones that did wouldn’t speak to others.  Our journeys and contexts are unique enough that the beauty of the book is that it will speak to the diversity of our experiences in some way, shape or form.

But what I loved most is that in these pages, even though I have not experienced cancer myself, I found stories of brokenness to which I could relate.  Because really, we’re all broken.  And while for some, the brokenness may be called cancer, for others it will have a different name.

And in the midst of the essays I still found hope and promise.  Even in the stories that did not end well.  There was evidence of the work of God in those stories.

I’m glad I read this book.  I think you should too.  It will help you remember from where you came and to whom you belong.  And it will remind you of the promise of the resurrection, lived out in the the lives of God’s people, and of your life.  And in reading these stories, the stories of those you know and love who have experienced cancer will resonate.  And you will learn how to better connect with those who experience this disease.

I still hate cancer, with all of my heart.  And while it still scares me when I hear the word…this book reminds me how to not be afraid.

Networked in Christ

Cancer Theology is edited by Erik Ullestad and Jake Bouma.  Erik serves at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church in West Des Moines, Iowa and Jake Bouma is at Faith Lutheran Church in Clive, Iowa.  They are both members of the Network.  Erik is currently serving as the chairperson of the Network’s Board of Directors.



E2014AThere aren’t enough ways that I can say “thank you.”  I wish there were, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.  I’m still in St. Louis, here for one of the post-E meetings that typically takes place at the end of the event.  I have to admit that I’m having just a little bit of trouble focusing, because my mind is still completely wrapped around the Extravaganza we just experienced.

This was a great event!  I know that we’ll go through evaluations soon, and that there will be good, constructive criticism that comes from those evaluations.  And, we’ll learn from them.  But my gut tells me that it was a good event.

How does this all of this happen?  There are a whole bunch of people who make it possible.

The E-Team is 26 of the strongest servant leaders I have experienced in the church.  They worked in unbelievably creative ways to pull together an event with more than enough space for the Holy Spirit to do its work.  And they are led by Scott Maxwell-Doherty, one of the church’s strongest and most creative leaders.  These people need to be thanked.

But there are more:  The Network’s Board of Directors, the Regional Facilitators, and so on and so on.  The Network is full of leaders.

But here’s the deal:  These gifted, blessed children of God are not the reason the Extravaganza was great.  They’re a part of the reason, but they are not the whole.  I often say that the Extravaganza isn’t an event, it’s a community.  We gather as friends to share in our common mission.  An Extravaganza is a “wiki-like” experience, created by community.  And for that to happen, it takes exactly 653 people.  Because that’s how many people were “in the house” for the Extravaganza.

653 of you put together this Extravaganza.  They gave their time and energy.  They shared their knowledge and wisdom.  They contributed to the conversation.  They gave, and they received.

I wish I could thank you all individually.  Because it is all of you who made this happen.  Thank you for being in St. Louis.  Thank you for sharing who you are with the rest of us.  we are all stronger in our ministry because of it.  So I’d like to make 653 thank you’s.  One for each of you.  Because you made this event work.  So please, please, please accept my thanks.

With gratitude, and networked in Christ,


New Network Board Members Appointed

Sue Megrund and Tom Schwolert have been appointed to fill vacancies on the Board of Directors of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  Their three year terms will begin at the conclusion of the Network’s Extravaganza, January 30-February 3, 2014.

Sue Megrund

Sue Megrund

Sue Megrund is the co-founder of Interserve Ministries, an organization based in Minneapolis that works with congregations in children, youth and ministry staff transition, and provides trained interim staff to walk them through the process.  Sue has 24 years of congregational experience and completed her M.A. from  Luther Seminary as well as NALIP Interim Ministry Training.  She has completed the training for and implemented Healthy Congregations and Bridge Builders processes.

Tom Schwolert is a 26 year veteran of congregational ministry in Minnesota and most recently in Texas.  He recently left his position at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound, Texas.  Tom has his M.A. in children, youth and family ministry from Luther Seminary, and has helped to provide leadership within his synod.  In addition, Tom has done speaking, consulting and training, primarily around youth leadership and peer ministry.  He co-wrote a curriculum on “Full-Circle Relationships.

Board members serve three year terms, renewable once.   Tom and Sue will be filling seats being vacated by Yvonne Steindal, who has served two full terms, and Rev. Mike Ward, who has served one term.  Mike was recently elected to the ELCA Church Council and elected not to continue his work on the Network’s Board, though he will be working with the Network to further develop organizational partnerships.  I will give more information about Mike in this role in an upcoming blog posting.

Tom Schwolert

Tom Schwolert

The process for selecting board members begins in February every year as the board identifies the kind of gifts that are needed at a leadership level to help move grow the Network.  A nominating committee made up of 2 board members, 2 regional facilitators and 1 at large member is appointed, and they begin their work in March, when nominations are opened up.  Nominations are accepted until July 1, and are open to all.  The board meets 2-3 times in online meetings from July until the middle of September, narrowing the candidates down to the number of vacancies.  That slate of candidates is voted on by the board at it’s meeting in the middle of October.

We are excited for the gifts that Sue and Tom bring to the board, and look forward to their service!



Leadership Happens

Leadership ConceptSomeone recently made a comment to me about the leadership structure of the Network that piqued my curiosity.  Someone wondered how leadership was developed within the Network, and if the Network’s leadership structure was ‘insular.’  It’s a great question, and one that we need to regularly be taking a look at.  So I decided to do some analysis and find out.

5 or 6 years ago, the Network’s board restructured itself and the way leadership happens within the Network, moving to a “Policy Based Governance” system, and creating teams that work different areas of the Network’s organizational life.  This move, in my opinion, breathed new life into the whole of the organization.

I think of leadership within the Network happening in two different concentric “circles.”

The first circle would include the Board, the Regional Facilitators, the E-Team, the Connect Journal Team, the 3TC Team, the Membership Team, the Communications Team and the Practice Discipleship Leadership Team and the “staff.”

There were a total of 54 people involved in these groups.  These 54 people are in what I’d call a key leadership role within the Network.  Please note that some of these folks  may have held different roles in that time.  (i.e. one person who has been in leadership for 7 years, but 4 of those were on the E-Team and 3 as an RF.  I didn’t differentiate these roles in this analysis.  I just counted the total number of years in service within the Network.

The total number of years of all those in leadership when added together:  205
The average number of years in a leadership role for individuals:  3.79

Leadership Graphic

Of the 54 people I analyzed:

Those who have served 0-3 years:  33
Those who have served 4-10 years:  17
Those who have served 10+ years:  4

So 61% of those in leadership in the Network came into their leadership role just within the last 3 years.

The second circle of leadership is made up of the 65 members of the Regional Teams that are coordinated by the Regional Facilitators.  Basically, each of the 9 RF’s have a team made up of one person from each synod from their region.

I didn’t do an analysis of this group because I didn’t have data about all of their longevity.  Suffice it to say that as I looked at the list, many of the names were of people that I didn’t know.  While that’s not exactly scientific, I do think it speaks to the steady flow of new folks entering leadership within the Network.  In fact, one of my great joys is that there are so many people involved who I don’t have a direct connection with, and then hopefully, developing a connection with them.

So what does this mean?  Hopefully it means that leadership is continuing to be developed…that new people are feeling welcome entering the Network and finding a place to grow and give leadership.  Hopefully it means that we have a fairly ‘open system.’  Hopefully it means that we are living in the tension of harnessing experienced leadership and growing new leaders.

If you’re interested in connecting with leadership, please consider this your open invitation.  You can go to our volunteer page to see where we currently have needs.  Or, you can contact me and I’ll try and get you connected.