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Posts tagged ‘Connect Journal’


Connect Journal Seeking Writer on Mental Health

Connect_2016_Spring_Human_Sexuality.inddThe 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. (

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.


The Value of the Network (in a crisis)

Guest Blog:  Rev. Paul Amlin, who serves as the Program Director for Youth Ministries in the churchwide offices of the ELCA, wanted to share this story of service and gratitude with the Network. 

I had a recent experience that demonstrated the value of the Network, and I feel the need to share it in a public way because of what it says about this group of peers and belonging to something larger than ourselves. I’d also like to publicly thank a Network member who dropped everything to help me handle a crisis. Two weekends ago I was blessed to host the Youth Core Leadership Team in Chicago at the churchwide offices. This is a fantastic group. Seriously. But that’s not the story here.

The story began with a flight home, an inexperienced flyer, a snowstorm and Chris Okey who serves at Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield, MN. After a great weekend of learning, I sent the participants on their way to O’Hare with the other adult sponsors who were flying home. The young lady got on her flight and jetted off to Minneapolis only to find out that her flight to Fargo had been canceled and that there would be no other flights out until the following day and even then, not until late that evening. She called me with the kind of concern you might imagine and I was able to work with her, the airline and the phone line for stranded travelers needing hotel rooms and we found her a room.


Chris Okey

Because she was pretty upset, I decided to post something on the Network Facebook page to see if anyone was close by who might help out in case it was necessary. In a matter of moments, Chris Okey responded to me via a private message AND I had another offer in the comments section of the post with a phone number from Ian McConnell.

Chris gave me his phone number and let me know that he could be at the airport in five minutes if needed. What a gift and what a relief! I called the young lady back and she asked if it would be okay for Chris to come and pick her up to take her to the hotel. Chris loaded the family up and went off to the airport, then texted me to let me know that all was well and that she had been safely delivered. The young lady called me after she got into her room, in tears, and thankful that someone would be as kind as Chris and help someone that he didn’t know (and so quickly!).

That would be a nice ending, right? The next morning I got the call I asked for from the young lady to let me know that she was alright and that she had a plan for the day and her return to the airport. I was surprised to find out that she had been invited to the Mall of America to shop and have lunch with Chris and his family. “Seriously?” I thought to myself, “this is way beyond the call of duty” and “wow!” I got a phone call as she boarded the plane and she couldn’t stop talking about how great Chris was, even as I thought to myself how right she was. Later I received a text along with a really funny photo of her crashed on the floor of her home with her parents in the background to let me know she’d made it. The next day her mom called to sing the praises of the mystery person she’d never met in Minneapolis, and to say thank you for the care and concern the ELCA had for her child.

This is a beautiful example, to me, of the value of being connected with each other. I’d like to think that if there were a crisis close to me, I’d respond in the same way as Ian and Chris. We are all connected, after all, in our faith and in our ministries. Each of us works together for the good of the other and because we take seriously what it means to be community, we are able to see God at work in, with and through each other. So, publicly and with a big smile I say thank you Chris Okey and thank you ELCA Youth Ministry Network for being my community.

Paul Amlin

Paul Amlin

And thank you for sharing this story Paul!


Why Join?


Honoring and blessing those in their first year of ministry at Extravaganza 2014

Amanda Schanze asks a great question on the Network Facebook page.  She asks:

Ok, people. I have enjoyed the information shared on this group, and the few things I have seen from the website. What is the advantage of actually joining “The Network.” What other benefits do I get with a membership that I don’t get for free?

Thanks for asking that, Amanda.  I think it’s important that we keep talking about this, and helping people understand the “what and why” of this whole thing.

Certainly there are lots of things that the Network gives away “for free.”  And many make use of some of the Network’s resources without ever joining.  We’ve got the Facebook group, the e-news, the Practice Discipleship Initiative resources, the placement listings; the Things That Matter podcast (co-sponsored), the Network App,, and various blogs and other resources.

But I think there are (at least) 3 really good reasons why people should join the Network.  Other folks may have other reasons, and I’d invite you to post them in the comments of this blog entry.  But here are my 3, in order from least important to most important

1.  Members of the Network get stuff.  Yes, there are resources that are limited to Network members, and accessing them is a benefit of membership in the organization.  These include:

So yes, there are benefits to membership that are quantifiable, and we hope that they alone would be worth the cost of membership.  However, there are two other reasons that I think are even more important:

2.  Belonging is what makes all of this possible.  Example:  I belong to Minnesota Public Radio.  Our family has joined, and I support it financially.  I support it because I believe in it and its mission; because there are things that I believe public radio provides that commercial radio can or will not, and I want to make sure that it continues into the future.  I could just listen, and not support it, but I want to be a part of making sure it continues to thrive.

We know that there are thousands of people who make use of the resources of the Network.  And about 750 (currently) are members.  These members (plus our partner organizations who share in financial support for the Network) make it possible for our free resources to be available for the whole church (including those who choose not to join).  And so I am a member of the Network at the “sponsoring” level, because I believe in what we’re trying to do.

The Network’s goal is 1000 members by the end of 2015.  When we reach that goal, our ability to support children, youth and family ministry across the church is going to grow exponentially.  And, can you imagine what it will be like, what kind of opportunities for renewal, education and connections will exist when we reach 1,500…or 2,000 members?  I get really excited thinking about it.

3.  If you’re a doctor, you belong to the American Medical Association.  It is their professional organization.  If you are a lawyer, you belong to the Bar Association.  It is their professional organization.  The ELCA Youth Ministry Network is the professional organization for those who work with children, youth and families in ELCA congregations.  And it is for those who are paid, and for those who are volunteer.  The Network has standards and guidelines that we adhere to; it represents us to the rest of the church and it provides resources for us to be the best we can be as we tend the faith journeys of the young and their families.

And there is no doubt that the work of the Network is moving the church.  Through its existence, the Network helps to shape a culture of those committed to faith formation, and that culture is changing the way that faith formation is viewed in congregations, synods and the churchwide organization.  Don’t you want to be a part of that?

I’ll put it simply:  If you do this work, you should belong to the Network.  We wish there didn’t have to be a cost to it.  But the resources we provide have a cost.  We do our best to keep that cost low.  And in all honesty, if someone contacts me and says “I’d love to be a member, but we cannot afford it” we can offer a scholarship.  We do this because we are a stronger, richer organization with you than without you.

So I’d reverse the question:  Knowing all this, why wouldn’t you join?


PS – And Amanda…because you asked…if you join, I’ll even throw in a t-shirt.  😉


Want to Be A Writer?

Connect Journal Spring 2012 CoverThe Connect Journal is the publication of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  Published 3 (or sometimes 4 if the budget is in an especially good mood) times a year, the journal attempts to put fresh thinking about children, youth and family ministry into people’s hands.  ely 

While there folks who we ask to write articles for each issue, we do solicit articles to be submitted from the Network membership.  We recognize that there is a ton of expertise out there of which we are completely unaware.

So please consider this your invitation to submit an article.  More information can be found on the journal’s writer’s guidelines.

The Connect Journal is a theme driven publication.  Our upcoming themes (and their deadlines) are:

Issue: Theme: Deadline:
Fall, 2013 “Science” September 1, 2013
Winter, 2014 “The Church in the Public Sphere” January 1, 2014
Spring, 2014 “How Do We Teach Stewardship?” April 1, 2014
Fall, 2014 “The Link: Youth Ministry and College” September 1, 2014
Winter, 2015 “The Funny Issue” January 1, 2015
Spring, 2015 “Human Sexuality” April 1, 2014

If you’re interested in writing, you can take a look at our writer’s guidelines.

We know that you’ve got wisdom to share.  We’d love to hear from you, and we’d love to see what you’ve got.  We may use it in the journal…or we may put it in an online edition…who knows!

Thanks for considering this!



Who We Are

Survey1In the last couple of weeks of November, we did a demographic survey of our Network members.  We e-mailed our members, inviting them to take the online survey sometime over a period of two weeks.  We had a good response to the invitation.  Our response rate was 52%.

There are two reasons we did the study:

  • We are getting ready to launch a new Network strategic plan in the next couple of months (more on this later, I promise!)  and the data from this survey will help us as we work on the plan.
  • One of our hopes is to develop new organizational partnerships.  This information will help us “tell the story” of the Network to these potential partners.

We learned quite a bit.  Here’s a brief run-down.

We are a more mature organization than I expected.  Our age breakdown is:

19-24 6%
25-30 20%
31-40 24%
41-50 17%
50-65 31%
65+ 2%

Interestingly, if you lump these age groups into three categories, 19-30 (26%), 31-50 (41%) and 51+ (33%) the age breakdowns are fairly even, if skewed slightly older.  This tells me two things:  1)  We are an older, and more experienced group than I expected, and 2) The smallest of these 3 categories is our youngest group.  This is clearly a place then where we need to increase our outreach and communication efforts.


Female 63%
Male 37%

Ministry Role:
“I Serve As A:”

Volunterer 10%
Professional – Part Time 22%
Professional – Full Time 68%

Education Level:

High School Graduate 12%
College Graduate 42%
Seminary – MA 11%
Seminary – Mdiv 10%
Master’s Degree (other than seminary) 22%
Ph.D 3%

ELCA Roster Status:

Non-Rostered 68%
Pastor 21%
AIM 11%
Diaconal Minister .5%
Deaconess 0

Ethnicity & Multi-Culturalism:

Caucasion 94%
African American/Black 3%
Multi Ethnic/Multi Racial 1%
Latino/a 1%
Arab and Middle Eastern .5%
Asian/Pacific Islander .5%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0%

Ministry Setting:

Congregation 79%
Synod Staff 9%
Educational Institution 5%
Non-Congregational Youth Min 3%
Resource Provider 2%
ELCA Offices 1%
Outdoor Ministry 1%

Areas of Responsibility:

We asked the question “what are your areas of ministry responsibility?” and asked people to “check all that apply.  The percentage listed is the percentage of the total respondents (321) that replied that this was one of their responsibilities.  What we heard back was:

Youth Ministry 80%
Family Ministry 58%
Children’s Ministry 52%
Young Adult Ministry 45%
Worship Leadership 29%
Adult Education 27%

Network Resources Used in the Last Three Years:

The Extravaganza 67%
E-News 65%
Connect Journal 47%
Salary Survey 45%
3rdTuesday Conversations 41%
MartinsList 36%
Practice Discipleship Project 35%
Video Archive of Speakers 32%
Placement Page 32%
Membership Discounts 17%
List of Cong willing to host groups 12% 8%

There is a lot of information to process and analyze.  What does it teach us?  Well, we’re not sure yet.  But we’re taking a look at it.  Our sense of who we are will help to shape what we think God is calling the Network to be.  The draft of our strategic plan will be released for public comment in the next week or two.

In the meantime, if you have comments or thoughts, we’d love to hear them.  Please comment here in this blog.

Advent Blessings!


Lookin’ for a Little Help

The Network is looking for someone who is willing to take on the role as a liaison to advertisers for the Connect Journal.  This volunteer

The Connect Journal

role is very important.  Our approach to how we handle “business” mirrors our philosophy on ministry:  We are relational.  We believe in developing relationships with our friends have have resources to share.  Fostering and tending those relationships, as well as identifying new organizations who might want to advertise in the Journal is really important.

The person in this role will be a part of the Connect Journal leadership team.  How much time will it take?  Well, the team “meets” online monthly for a quick meeting.  Beyond that, it’s initiating contact with organizations that have advertised in the past, as well as making contact with possible new advertisers.  It’s hard to say exactly how much time it would take, but I don’t think it would go beyond 5 hours in a month.

And, I think it’s got the potential to be kind of fun!

If you are interested, or have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.



Thinking about Connect

The Connect Journal is put out by the Network puts out 3-4 times per year (depending on where we’re at budget-wise.)  in late spring and early summer we did a survey of our Network membership about how they use the Connect Journal.  We’ve been processing this data, and it’s been really kind of fun.

When we started doing Connect about 5 years ago, we surveyed the membership about whether they would prefer a “paper” version, or an “online” version.  Back then, the results were pretty significantly in favor of doing a “paper” journal.  It was probably a 70-30 split in favor of paper.

We suspected that with the continued ‘digitalization’ of our culture, the results would be a little different now, and we weren’t disappointed.  Here’s what we found out, and how we’re interpreting it:

Our first question was “How important is it that the Connect Journal be printed and mailed to you?”  The rating was on a 1-5 scale (1 represented “Not at all important” and 5 represented “Extremely Important.” Lutherans love the middle-ground, and you didn’t disappoint.  The average score was 2.3.

Our second question was “Would the Connect Journal being exclusively online be:  A) More helpful as a resource; B) Less helpful as a resource; C) Wouldn’t change how I use Connect Journal; D) It doesn’t matter, I don’t read it anyway, and; E) No response.

It was interesting that 30% said it would be more helpful being exclusively online. 21% thought it would be less helpful.  And 42.5% thought it wouldn’t really make a difference to them.  Only 2 responses said that it doesn’t’ matter, they don’t read it anyway.

We wondered about the implications for Network membership.  Only 4.6% of respondents said that going to an online version would make them less likely to renew.  We felt pretty good about that.

The comments were also interesting.  There was lots of really good feedback on the Journal that was positive.  People like that we have something that looks at issues around children, youth and family ministry through a specifically Lutheran world-view. People feel like there is a nice blend between the “think pieces” and the “practical pieces.”  There is a sense that the depth has been growing as the journal has matured.

Some people felt like having a “paper” journal gave the journal itself (and by default, the Network) more credibility.  The phrase was used “It gives the Network more ‘gravitas.'”

Some people thought it was too long, others too short.  Some said that their answer would change if it was available for the iPad. Some people really liked the Network being more ‘green,’ and being better environmental stewards.

There was some good constructive criticism too.  The design/format feels a little dated…we’ll be working on that in the next year.  Some people wanted more stories about ‘what’s working on the ground.’

So what are we going to do?  Well, nothing right away.  We suspect that as culture continues to change, in the very near future, online journals will become even more the norm than they are now.

So we made commitments to do three things:

  1. Continue providing the Connect Journal in two formats: paper and digital.
  2. Upgrade the current online version of the Connect Journal.  This past week we changed service providers and have upgraded the online journal substantially (and for the same cost!)   We’re pretty excited about it.
  3. We will revisit this question in another couple of years.  We are in the business of networking people and sharing ideas.  And we don’t believe that there is such a thing as a final-decision when you work in these areas.  The world is one in constant change.
We are committed to making Connect as useful a tool as possible as you seek to renew, learn and network with each other.  Please continue to give us feedback.  We love to know what you think; this is your journal!  And thank you to all of you who filled out this survey!  We really appreciate your time.