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Posts tagged ‘Leadership’

20
Feb

2014 Salary Survey is Live!

SalarySurveyThe 2014 ELCA Youth Ministry Network Salary Survey is live!  

Click here to take the survey.

One of the tools that the Network has produced over the last 15 years is the annual salary survey.  The survey is an indicator (not the only indicator…but certainly an important one!) of the health and well-being of our congregations in their approach to children, youth and family ministry.

The survey is also an important tool for congregations and those who work with children, youth and families as they go about planning and budgeting for the future.  You can use this tool as you enter into conversations with your congregation about salaries and overall compensation.

It’s an incredibly important tool, and so we encourage all to take the survey.  The more people we have who take the survey, the better the data we have, and the more effective a tool it can be.

It should take about 10 minutes to complete the survey.  Taking this survey is a great way to be a part of our community, to support each other in ministry, and to give yourself (and others) important tools in their planning process.

When the survey is complete, we will slice and dice the data so that it can be cross-referenced by

  • Size of congregation
  • Education level
  • Region of the country
  • Gender
  • ELCA roster status
  • Other categories as well.

This is a survey for both professionals and volunteers to take.  (There are different sets of questions for each).  The survey will be open and available through the month of March.  Our hope is to have the results tabulated and published on May 1, 2014.

So please, please, please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey!

Networked in Christ,
Todd

6
Feb

Things That Matter Podcast Goes Network!

Things That Matter Photo

“Things That Matter” Recording Live at E2014

The Network is excited to launch a partnership that is going to put new resources right into the palm of your hand.  The “Things That Matter” podcast has been around for several years, and is a production of the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA, along with Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministries.

We discovered the podcast last summer and immediately, we fell in love with the idea.  The podcast is led by Pastor Adam White of Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministries and Mitch McCartney

 and Lisa Kramme, both of the Nebraska Synod staff.  It typically consists of an interview with someone, “God Sightings” from Lisa and a “Question that Matters” from Pastor Adam.

There is a great vibe in the podcast.  It’s kind of like a Ministry Morning Show.  (I usually listen to it when I’m out walking in the morning…so that’s probably where the association came from.)  The focus has been largely (but not exclusively) on resources and issues taking place in the Nebraska Synod.  But as we started talking about it, we wondered if there was space for the podcast to grow, while still maintaining its local flavor.

The Network had talked from time to time about a podcast, but frankly, the time involved in setting something like that up seemed kind of daunting, and we didn’t really have any volunteers around for whom this would be a passion.  So we hadn’t done anything with it.  But here was something that already existed, and was good!

So we started a conversation:  “What would it be like if the Network began co-sponsoring ‘Things That Matter,’”  along with the synod and the campus ministries.

The existing podcast folks would bring the expertise and the passion…the Network would bring a potentially broader audience, and access to even more stories to tell, or resources to be shared.

Everyone involved got excited about the idea, so this past weekend at the Extravaganza, we launched the new partnership.  Mitch and Lisa were present in the Exhibit Hall, recording podcasts live with guests who came out of the event…speakers, workshop leaders, Network leadership, authors, exhibitors…It seemed like every time I walked past, I saw them recording another show.

So go to www.ThingsThatMatterLand.com to get more info, or subscribe via iTunes.  You can also get there by going to the Network web site and clicking on “Things That Matter Podcast” under the “Resources” tab.  It’s an awesome show and another great way to stay in touch and to be a part of the community!

Networked in Christ
Todd

4
Feb

Appreciation

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,
Todd

10
Jan

Tools

ToolsI am kind of a digital tools and productivity nerd.

Ok, I am totally a digital tools and productivity nerd.

Because my personality type (INFP) is by nature, not one that thinks or acts in a linear way, and this is complicated by the fact that I am also an “abstract random reflective”…well, it’s a miracle that I ever complete anything.

So I find myself having to compensate for my nature with tools that help me to keep on track.  I find that I work best when I have clear systems that allow me to stay on the rails.  When I find myself not taking advantage of these tools, well…”SQUIRREL!”

So I’ve always loved shopping around for new ways of trying to keep organized and on track.  I love walking around office supply stores (nerd alert!).  I love shopping the app store under the categories of “organization” and “productivity.”  I love trying new methods and systems to see if they help me to be more organized.  I also love hearing what other folks do.

So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite digital tools and systems, in hopes that you’ll reply and share yours.  First, I need to give you my “operating system.”  For my personal life, as well as my Network work, I use a MacBook Pro.  I also use an iPhone and an iPad.  At my desk at my congregation, it is a Dell laptop.  So I have to live and work in both the PC and Apple worlds, and need systems that will allow these two worlds to talk with each other.

Here’s what I use:

Calendar – I use the standard calendar app that comes with the Mac and syncs with both the iPad and the iPhone.  It’s very serviceable, though I’m not a fan of the “look” of the app (the month view in particular) since the new operating systems launched.  I would be very open to looking at a new option, as long as it will sync between all my devices.  Any suggestions?

NozbeNozbe It’s not the prettiest “to-do” app, but it’s got a lot of muscle under the hood, and it is regularly being updated and maintained.  You can assign tasks to different contexts (i.e. ‘errands’ or ‘office’) and can create your own contexts (i.e. ‘caribou.’)  You can also assign times to the task, for how long you estimate something will take.  Which means you could say to yourself “I’m at Caribou and have 5 minutes before I need to leave…any tasks that I can do that fit those criteria?”  It has multiple views (calendar is my favorite and it has robust notification options, and you can attach documents or notes.  It’s also relatively easy to use.  The interface could use a redesign, but it’s not bad.

 

EvernoteEvernote – I love Evernote.  I just wished I remembered to use it more.  It can do a ton of stuff, and it syncs between all of my devices.  I can use it for notes, for planning…I just haven’t turned it into my default “g0-to” note taking platform yet.  I’d like to develop that as more of a habit.

DropboxDropbox – I love Dropbox.  It is a non-negotiable for me.  I use it for backing up all my data files, and for sharing those files between my different devices.  I can start a sermon on my PC in the office, and finish it on my Mac at the coffee shop.  I also use it to share large files with others that are too large to e-mail.  My wife and I have our family photos in a shared folder.  I pay for the enhanced service with more storage.  It’s totally worth it to me.


basecamp-logo1

Basecamp This is a great collaborative project management, cloud-based piece of software.  It highlights threaded message boards, with e-mail notifications, file storage, a collaborative text writing tool and “to-do” functions that you can assign and which automatically reminds people of before they are done.  Some of the same functions are available for free from Google, but they aren’t integrated nearly as well, and the interface is much harder to work with.  Basecamp’s philosophy is that less clutter is more.  I love working in Basecamp.  It’s especially great for Network stuff…when we’re working with teams who are dispersed all over the country, it’s really an indispensable tool.

HootSuiteHootSuite – HootSuite is another one that I think I underutilize.  It is a social media dashboard and interface.  You can schedule tweets and Facebook posts to go at different times, and you can work collaboratively.  It’s what we use to schedule the Network’s social media.  It’s fairly intuitive.  I’d really love to learn more about the other stuff it can do.

Google Voice – And it’s free?  You can get a phone number and some cool tools that automate how calls are handled.  (i.e. multiple voicemail responses that can be assigned to different callers.)  A personal and a professional voicemail?  But it also sends you texts with transcripts of your voicemails.

Kindle – I’m guessing you read a lot.  I do.  It’s one of the primary ways we stay connected to the world around us.  So I’ve moved probably 80% of my reading to the Kindle platform.  I find that I read more, because I always have e-books with me.  Reading more is good.

Office Apps – I grew up on Microsoft Office, but it’s big and cumbersome.  Using Microsoft Office is kind of like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer.  The Mac world is relatively new to me, but I’m learning to really like Numbers, Pages and the other Apple products.  They are much more nimble.  I just wish the rest of the world used them.  I have to have Microsoft Office because that’s what I need for sending files back and forth.

That’s basically it.  There are probably other pieces too, but these I use almost daily in some way, shape or form.

So I’m curious what you use to keep yourself on track?  Of if you have any feedback on my choices above.  Please reply and share your thoughts.  The nerd in me would like to know.

Networked in Christ,
Todd

11
Dec

No One Will Pick Up the Phone

Modern office cubicles divided with folding screensIf you were to pick up the phone and call the ELCA churchwide offices in Chicago, and said that you had questions about children’s ministry, or Sunday School, or something similar, there would be no one to take your call.  It’s true.  Say it’s a question about a resource…or perhaps about background checks for volunteer teachers, or maybe continuing education opportunities; there’s no one there who could help you.  Or, go to the ELCA web site.  There are no pages there that reference children’s ministry.

Don’t get me wrong, you’d probably get transferred to someone, and they’d be nice and would try to help.  (They’re all really nice people there) But there would be no one there who could answer your questions, or even tell you where to look.

Those positions were eliminated years ago.

Now I don’t want to get into evaluating those moves.  I don’t know why those decisions were made, and the folks who made them have moved on.  It could be that in the world of the church, at that time, the decision made total sense.  It’s not up to me to judge.  But I’ve noticed something interesting:

A few years ago, after a massive restructuring of the ELCA offices, and a reorganization, there were no children, youth or young adult positions left.  (The Youth Gathering remained staffed…but that’s self-funding.)  After some time and reflection, new positions were created in youth ministry and young adult ministry.  And I think the direction these new positions took makes all kinds of sense.  No longer “Directors” with heavy programmatic responsibilities, these new position descriptions include being aware of and knowing the landscape; networking; communicating; convening; linking congregations to resources and leadership development for both youth and adults.

Paul Amlin works in the youth ministry role, and Rozella White in the young adult role.  They are both gifted and phenomenal leaders.  We’re blessed to have them in these important roles.

But nothing has been done with regard to children’s ministry.  There is no one in our denominational offices that relates to those who do ministry with anyone from birth to grade 6.

To be clear, I don’t think that having this position in Chicago would solve our problems.  It would not.  Our problems with shrinking participation in faith formation for children (see my last blog entry) are congregational problems that will require congregational solutions.  But what kind of statement does it make when our denomination doesn’t spend any resources on the first third, of the first third of life?  I think that’s troubling.

Ministry is a continuum.  We all know that…it’s been one of the operating principles of the Network since its formation (and the church in general for a lot longer than that.)  So to expect that we can begin resourcing for ministry with young people when they hit age 12 or 13 without any attention prior to that isn’t realistic or healthy.

I also think it sends an unhealthy message to congregations.  We know the developmental importance of engaging children and their parents in faith formation at an early, early age.  There is so much ‘bang for the buck.’

I believe this needs to change.  I believe churchwide resources should be spent in this vital area (Not at the expense of the other two, but in addition to them).  A position structured similarly to the youth and young adult positions will allow for someone at the denominational level to ask the questions…to do the research…to network…to share resources…to invite practitioners to the table to think about solutions…to train…to think big picture with their colleagues…and… to answer the phone.

It would be both a gift, and a statement, to the church.

Networked in Christ,
Todd

2
Dec

Why is No One Talking About This?

Slide1A few months ago, I came across a powerpoint slide that Beth Lewis, CEO of Augsburg Fortress Publishers had used as a presentation to a group of pastors at a conference in Florida.  (Thanks to Beth Lewis for the slide!)

When I saw the numbers, in all honesty, it took my breath away.

The slide presented a twenty year trend line for the number of children enrolled in Sunday School in ELCA congregations between 1990 and 2010.  The slide also showed the differential during the same time period in enrollment in Vacation Bible School.

The data came from the Office of Research and Evaluation in the ELCA churchwide offices in Chicago, and was culled from annual reports of ELCA congregations.

Here’s the data in a nutshell:  During this twenty year period, the number of children enrolled in our Sunday School ministries decreased from 1,007,774 to 400,375.  That is roughly 61%.

61% fewer young people were enrolled in Sunday School in ELCA congregations in 2010 than were in 1990.

Perhaps I’m overreacting.  But my gut instinct is that this is a pretty big deal.  No…it’s a really big deal.  We’ve heard talk about the shrinking church for years, but reading these numbers creates (at least within me) a new level of reality and immediacy.

Perhaps this just mirrors the membership trend in the ELCA?  Looking at ELCA data from the same source, membership over roughly the same time period decreased from 5.2 million to around 4.2 million.  Substantial…but roughly a 20% decrease.  Worship attendance over that period decreased by roughly 53%, much closer (but still less than)  the church school numbers.

Interestingly, the numbers of young people enrolled in Vacation Bible School have remained more stable than the numbers in Sunday School, decreasing “only” somewhere between 35% and 40%.  I’m not sure what that means, but it’s interesting that those numbers have not declined nearly as quickly as Sunday School or worship attendance.

But if these trends continue…we’re on a course towards ecclesiastical irrelevance (at best) and extinction (at worst).  Sure, we roll our eyes when we hear people say that children and youth are the church of tomorrow, knowing that they are the church today.  But we’ve got to be honest:  they also are the church of tomorrow.  And trends like this make it clear that our church is at risk.  I fear that the slogan of the future might be “God’s Work – No Hands.”

What most alarms me?  There is no broader conversation about this.  The conversation is taking place in isolated pockets…at seminaries…in local networks…at the Extravaganza…but why isn’t this a part of a larger churchwide conversation?  Why is there not a sense of urgency about these numbers?  The ELCA responds well to crisis.  When a tornado or hurricane strikes, the ELCA is present with the promise that we will accompany those victims for the long haul.

A 61% decline in young people participating in one of our foundational faith formation ministries is a crisis.  I’m not advocating that we continue on the same path we have been on.  Clearly our problem has been “business as usual”.  And the solution is more than just adopting a different model…or a new program.  I believe that the problem lies within our church’s very understanding of faith formation; it lies in our very DNA.

I don’t have a quick solution.  I’m not sure one exists.  But whatever the future looks like, wherever God is calling this church, we need to take on this crisis with the same level of urgency and commitment that we do when a storm hits.  And don’t get me wrong.  I do believe there is a solution.  I believe God is calling us to something new, something powerful and dynamic.  And I believe God has given us the gifts to figure this out.

I am hopeful that these conversations will move from the periphery to the center of our church. We are committed to push for,  and to create space for these conversations.

Please join us.

Networked in Christ,
Todd

4
Nov

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!

Blessings!
Todd

12
Sep

Regional Facilitator Selection Is On!

ELCAYMNet Mission Statement copyEvery year, 3 of the ELCA regions are up to select (or reappoint) their Regional Facilitator.  This year, Regions 1, 4 and 5 are due up to select their RF.  We have modified the selection process for RF’s this year as well.  Our new process isn’t powered by election, but by a matching of skill sets and gifts of the individual and the needs of the Regional Facilitator role.

A Regional Facilitator is a person who is passionate about the work of the Lord with people in the first third of life. In addition to their work with young people, they serve the ELCA Youth Ministry Network as a liaison between the Executive Director, the Network Board and its member/owners. They are also needed to answer questions about the Network, help to connect with folks in ministry in their area and to provide a listening ear. A full description of expectations can be found on our web site. This is a minimum of a three year commitment.

If the current Regional Facilitator is either not eligible or not interested in re-appointment, the new selection process will begin as outlined below:

  • Current RFs will assemble a Selection Team which includes representation from each synod of that region: i.e. Regional Team members, Synod Coaches, other strong and invested youth ministry workers, etc.
  • Online nominations open in September.
  • The Regional Selection Team will meet and review nominations and seek additional candidates as necessary, facilitated by the outgoing RF.
  • By December 1, the Regional Selection Team will make a recommendation for the position of RF so that the selected individual can make arrangements to fully participate in the Extravaganza.

If the currently serving RF is willing and eligible for a second term, the process is the same, except that the process will be facilitated by Amy Wagner, our Regional Facilitator Coach.

This year, in Region 1, Lisa Gray has chosen not to seek reappointment.  This is also true in Region 5, where Molly Haggerty Brewster has served.   In Region 4, Ian Hartfield is willing to serve another term.  We are grateful for the time and energy all 3 of these RF’s have given in the past 3 years.  They have done great ministry.

So you might be interested in serving as an RF.  Or, you might know someone who you think would be a good fit.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Does the role of RF fit within your skill set and the time you have available to commit?
  • Can you fulfill the role as RF for three years?
  • Can I devote time for: making connections with youth ministry people throughout your region, connecting with a leader in each of the synods in the region, exploring how else you can grow the Network, making monthly RF conference calls a priority, attending the Extravaganza (from our pre-meeting through our wrap up meeting), and regular check ins with the RF coach?
  • For RFs seeking re-appointment: consider how you can build on what you have accomplished throughout your previous term.

The Regional Facilitators meet face-to-face twice a year, at the Extravaganza and at a spring meeting in Chicago.  They also meet online an additional 5-6 times per year.

If you have questions about this process or about serving as a RF, please contact Amy Wagner, Regional Coach. a.wagner@sheridanlutheran.org.

Blessings!
Todd

6
Sep

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.

Blessings!
Todd

12
Aug

Why We Should Care About What’s Going On in Pittsburgh This Week

always being made new“Hi, my name is Todd, and I’m a church nerd.” 

“Hi Todd.”

I admit it – full disclosure – I would be paying attention to what’s going on at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly anyway. I would be. These kinds of things fascinate me. How organizations function together and how decisions are made is at least as interesting to me as the actual decisions that are made.

I hear from a lot of folks that they really don’t follow things like the Churchwide Assembly (CWA), which begins today in Pittsburgh. They feel disconnected from the larger church, or they feel like the agenda at the assemblies doesn’t relate to their daily life. I know a few who are still feeling the aftereffects from the 2009 assembly and their hope is just that the CWA just doesn’t do anything that is going to wind up in the headlines.

I understand all those feelings. They are legitimate. But there are some really good reasons for those of us who care about faith formation in the life of the church to pay attention to what will be happening in Pittsburgh this week. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • The world is run by those who go to meetings. It’s just true.  Deal with it.
  • The decisions that are made by the Churchwide Assembly can have huge ramifications for our congregations. (Those who disagree must have been out on vacation for the entire year after the 2009 event.) Sometimes the decisions made at the Assembly trickle down to congregations.  Sometimes they flood. Either way, I think it’s good to know what’s coming.
  • The Assembly is where priorities for our church are made manifest in programs and in budget. An example:  once upon a time, just prior to the merger that formed the ELCA, there were between 15 and 17 churchwide staff working in youth ministry in the three predecessor churches. Twenty-five years later, that number is three plus a contract staff person. And two of those positions and the contract staff are funded not by the churchwide organization itself, but by the ELCA Youth Gathering. The budget for the ELCA is approved by the CWA. What kind of message do we think this sort of budget shift over 25 years sends to the whole of the denomination? What does it say about the value the ELCA places on ministry with the young?And ask those who are committed to Christian Education about the priorities of the church, or outdoor ministries, both areas where there are no staff left in the churchwide offices.The Churchwide Assembly is where these decisions are approved.
  • The Churchwide Assembly is where our leadership is elected. Our Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson, is up for re-election. Whether or not you believe that Bishop Hanson should or should not serve another term, what will be interesting to me is the conversation about the future vision of our church. What will our future direction be? For a denomination that has been (numerically) in decline and feels like it has been in “hunkering down” mode, how do we begin to look outward in mission? Those are the conversations I’m interested in. Those are the conversations that will happen in Pittsburgh this week as priorities and leadership is set.

So yes, I’m a church nerd. And while I don’t expect you to join me in my nerd-hood, I do believe that important decisions and conversations will happen this week that will affect our ministry, yes at the congregational level.

The assembly is using the Twitter hashtag #elcacwa.  You can also track the event via the web site at www.elca.org/cwa.  Also, I’d recommend following both Paul Amlin, the program director for youth ministries tweets.  He can be found at @elcayouth.  And the ELCA has its own feed at @elca.

I invite you to join me in paying attention.

In Christ,
Todd