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Posts tagged ‘Policy’


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.





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.



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  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,


Leadership Matters

leadership conceptual compassNominations open today for the Board of Directors of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  Two seats on the board will become available when the next term begins.  Those terms don’t begin until February 3, 2014, a long time from now.  So why are we already opening up the nomination process for terms that don’t begin for 10.5 months?

Because good leadership matters.

The Network occupies an important place in the life of the church, and this is an important time in the life of the Network.  Good, progressive, forward-thinking leadership is needed as we live into our strategic plan.  And finding good leadership is a process that needs to happen thoughtfully…deliberately.  The board of directors serves as the organization’s governing body, providing primary direction and leadership of the organization as it achieves its mission.

Specifically, the board of directors:

  • guides the vision and strategic planning of the network,
  • implements plans for the organization’s future,
  • directs the work of the executive director,
  • dictates policies to ensure efficient operations,
  • monitors the organization’s finances,
  • assists in financial resource development (fundraising), and
  • assesses the organization’s overall performance.
  • The board’s work is further described in ELCA Youth Ministry Network Bylaws and GoverningPolicy of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network (Sections 1 and 2).

While serving on the board of directors, members are expected to:

  • be members of the Network,
  • be active in their own ELCA community,
  • care for their own spiritual life,
  • view their role on the board as their primary volunteer priority,
  • actively engage each other in discussions and decision making, and
  • attend all board meetings and the Extravaganza. Complete expectations of board members are detailed in Governing Policy of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network (Section 3).

So do you feel gifted in these areas?  Do you know someone that you think can lead well?  Do you know someone who has demonstrated good leadership within the community of the Network, or their synod, or their congregation?

Take some time.  Think.  Pray.  And then nominate.  We are excited for the future of the Network.  And we know that this future lies in the hands of the Holy Spirit who so clearly blows through this community.

Help us find good leaders.



AmEx is Spoken Here!

Ok, so I realize that this is not necessarily earth-shattering news…and in the scheme of things, it’s probably not a really big deal.  However, for years folks have asked us at Extravaganza registration time, “can I use my congregation’s AmEx card for this registration?  I’d like to score the miles.”

The answer has always been no.

AmEx has always charged a higher rate to vendors (us) to use the card and to be honest, it wasn’t worth the cost.  However, we recently switched online merchant vendors, and we can now do it more cost-effectively.

So now, the answer to the question is “Why yes, as a matter of fact we do!”

Charge away!



Institutional Control

I have been wanting to write something about the crisis/fiasco at Penn State University for a few weeks.  However, to be honest, I needed to give myself some time to get my mind wrapped around the strong emotional reaction I had when the details about the allegations began to surface.

I react very very strongly when I hear about adults who abuse young people.  I’m sure many of you do too.

I’ve tried to spend some time trying to figure out why I become so angry when I hear about cases of child abuse.  First and foremost, for those of us who work with children and youth, our hearts break for the victims.  I can’t begin to imagine the pain they will live with.  I believe that God’s heart breaks.

But I think that another source of my anger is because I am so keenly aware of what is at stake in the work that we do with the young and the vulnerable.    I feel that all of us who are called to work with the young are given a sacred trust to protect.  And I am aware that when that trust is broken, when an adult commits misconduct, the work is made that much more difficult for all of the rest of us.

And so for the pain those young men endured, I have to admit that I feel deep sadness.
And towards the perpetrator(s) of these crimes and this injustice, I have to confess that I feel great anger.

There is another aspect to my anger, however.

On so many levels, this shouldn’t have happened.  Organizationally speaking, where were the institutional controls that possibly could have prevented these things?  There was massive failure, and blame to go around.

So here’s the question that we have to ask ourselves?  What are our institutional controls?  In what ways are we as the church of Christ vulnerable, and therefore putting our young people at risk?

Why are there still congregations within the ELCA that don’t do background checks for volunteers?  Why do we still put our adult volunteers and youth in high risk position by having them share rooms  at gatherings and retreats?  Why do we take the “warm body” approach to identifying and training adult volunteers?

There is history which would indicate that the church is fertile ground for perpetrators.   Those of us who have leadership roles also have responsibility to tend to these important issues.  We have a responsibility to know the issues.  We have a responsibility to train our volunteers.  We have a responsibility to protect the young people God has called us to serve.

It is one thing to be angry.  It is another thing to take that anger and to turn it into action that will protect the well being of all of God’s children.

Take that action.  Please.

Networked in Christ,





Board in the Air

Even as I type this, members of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s Board of Directors are in the air or are traveling by car to for its

The Board at its October, 2010 meeting at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa

annual fall meeting.  We normally rotate sites for the fall meeting, and this year we’ll be meeting at the ELCA Youth Ministry Network World Headquarters (my basement) and at the congregation where I serve.

The Board meets for several reasons:

  • To practice what we preach:  We talk, we network, we pray and we support each other.
  • To learn together:  Often we have a topic/conversation/book study that we do, so that we can stay on top of our game and can learn together.  We want to be smarter about those with whom we work.
  • To do the vision and mission work of the Network:  This is the group that dreams.
  • To monitor our status:  The Board is responsible for our finances, our fundraising, the the big picture planning.  The staff does the detail work.
  • To set policy:  As we move forward, the Board creates the policy that creates the boundaries for how our organization will move forward.
There are 7 people on our Board:
  • Charlene Rollins
  • Larry Wagner
  • Valerie Samuel Taylor
  • Yvonne Steindahl
  • Mike Ward
  • Julie Miller
  • Linda Staats
In addition, there are two members who have voice but no vote:
  • Sue Rothmeyer; ELCA staff
  • Todd Buegler; Executive Director
Please keep this group in your prayers as they travel.  Please pray for a good meeting.  Please pray for a clear vision as we move forward.  Check back soon…I’ll have reports on the actions and work of the Board.