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Posts tagged ‘Resources’


Creating a Custom Extravaganza Schedule

We figured out a way of creating a “custom Extravaganza schedule” pulling Network information out of our mobile app and importing only the events that you want, directly into your smartphone calendar.  It’s really quite easy.  Here’s what you do:  (Please note that the screen shots on this are from an iPhone.  I suspect the process will look a little bit different on the Android platform.)



5 Easy Steps:

1.  Open your Network mobile app.  If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can do so for either Android or iOS platforms by going to  Once you open the app, it will take you to the main menu.  From the main menu, you’ll want to click on “Events.”










2.  Once the “Events” section is open, you can swipe from right to left to go from day to day, and up and down to look at different events at different times.  Look through the full schedule and figure out which events you might want to put into your own personal calendar.  Click on that event.  For this demonstration, I selected General Session 1 on Friday night.







3.  Once you’ve opened the “event” that you want to save, click on the button on the right side called “Add to Calendar.  Note that if you want, you can also set a “reminder” here that will pop up from the app to remind you.  But if you want to put it in your calendar, click the “Add to Calendar” button.  The app will open your calendar program and create an event within it automatically.









4.  Once the event dialog box is open, you can do any editing that you might want to do (you can set an alarm for the event if you want) and then click “Done.”  (Again, it might be a little bit different in the Android.  I’m not familiar with that platform, so I can’t say for sure.)








5.  And, your event will look something like this within your phone app!


Hopefully this might be a helpful tool for you in your event planning!

Networked in Christ,


Musicians & Artists & Speakers, oh my!


Taylor Wilson

It’s a phone call that comes in fairly often:  “We’re planning a big event for our (fill in the blank…congregation…synod…conference…etc…) and we’re looking for a speaker and a musician.  We want a (fill in the blank:  (soloist…band…loud…acoustic…etc…).  Does the Network have a listing, or a directory, or a recommendation or anything that can help us?”

Well, we wish we could help folks, but we didn’t have a list like that.  It’s a great idea, but we just didn’t have it.

But Taylor Wilson (a very good musician, youth ministry guy, worship leader and now seminary student) took it upon himself to create it.  And it’s great!

We’ve linked to it on the Network’s web site under “Resources.”  It’s called “Lutheran Event Help.”  But you can also go there directly through

So next time I’m looking for someone, that’s where I’m going to go!  Please do the same.  And Thanks Taylor, for creating this!



So What Would Google Do?

WhatWouldGoogleDoI am more and more convinced that for the church in all its expressions (congregational… synodical…denominational…) is going to grow into the next era, we are going to need to learn to think very differently.  The days of working to protect the institution, and to contain decision making, leadership and power, are pretty much gone.

So it was with high hopes that I recently read the book by Jeff Jarvis called What Would Google Do?  Google, to me, represents one of a few companies that are stretching the boundaries of life’s operating systems.  My world is different because of Google…I’d venture a guess that yours is too.  Their approach and their impact have shifted the way we gather and disseminate information, the way we communicate and the way that money will be earned or shared in the future.

The church (generally) lives and works in an old operating system.  Much of the rest of our culture is moving into a new operating system.

The church has 3 choices, it seems to me, in how to react:

  1. Deny and ignore.  And become irrelevant.
  2. Be reactive, and follow.
  3. Be proactive, and lead.

I would choose #3.  #2 would be ok, if we’re not capable of doing #3.  But I’d really much rather do #3.  #1 is not an option.

According to Jarvis, what Google has done has been to create a new platform for how information is accessed and communicated.  Information is no longer contained in the “central library” that we have to travel to to access.  And, we’ve moved even beyond now dispersed information that we can access from the comfort of our own couch (though we still can…and that’s really fun!)

Information is now crowd sourced.  The public is involved in the process of distilling and evaluating information.  There is almost a sense of common communal wisdom that gathers and shares information, developing it further in the process.  No one person has their hand on the rudder any more.  It is a community that creates content.

The tools that Google has created: Google search, Google Maps, Google Reader, Gmail, YouTube, Google Voice, etc are  all free to use and to further develop.  What other companies would view as “product,” Google sees as an integral part of the platform.  For Google, the platform is not the product, the process is.  And they make their money by exposing people to the process and allowing either subscriptions or ads to monetize it.

The future, according to Jarvis, is not going to be about products, but about the process…and the process will live (as Google does) in a perpetual state of “beta.”

What does this tell us about the church?  Especially the church of choice #3?  I’m not sure yet…I’m still processing that.  I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Some of my initial thoughts include:

  • distribution of power, control and leadership instead of the centralization of it.
  • crowdsourcing of resources.
  • the denomination as platform instead of as organization.
  • Curation of information creates that platform…the method and mode may change and adapt, but the platforem remains stable.  See the Extravaganza ’13 talks by John Roberto for more on how the church can do this.

The book is a worthy read.  It’s not perfect, and Jarvis admits to his hypocrisy (i.e. the future of publishing is not in books…but I’m publishing a book).  The first half of the book is really interesting.  The last 150 or so pages, are going through segments of society, applying Google principles to “what might be.”  He never gets to the religious world in doing that.

But anything that helps us think more about option #3 is, I think, worthwhile, and What Would Google Do? does that.



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!



What’s Up With Our App?

Some of you may have noticed that the Network’s mobile app is having some issues. (I know this because you’ve e-mailed me)  It’s pretty disappointing because of the time and energy that went into developing the app, and the important role it has played in our communications strategy.  So what’s the problem?

The short answer is: when your app tries to connect to the servers at our host company, the servers aren’t responding.  That’s because they’re turned off.

Here’s the longer answer:  The company we are purchasing our app service from is in the midst of a significant internal conflict and lawsuit involving the former CEO and the owner.  If you’d like more information on the details, you can read the release from the company (and even copies of the legal filings) by going to

Since the owner of the company could not guarantee the safety and security of the apps, and the data stored within the server, the decision was made to shut the servers down until the situation gets resolved.  We don’t know exactly how long that wil take.  There is a legal process in place right now and there is a hearing on May 25th.

We’ll hope that this gets resolved quickly and that the app is reactivated.  We’ll let you know as soon as that happens.  Thanks for your patience!




Consider This Your ‘Ask’

Tiger Leading a Workshop

Tiger Leading a Workshop

I think there is sometimes some confusion about workshops at the Extravaganza.  Occasionally I hear stories about folks who think “I would really love to do a workshop at the Extravaganza…but no one has ever asked me to.”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  Pretty much no one gets asked.

Sure, some of the educators and trainers get asked to fill specific niches in which they have expertise.  But something like 80% of the workshop leaders are folks who have gifts, skills or experiences and who submit a workshop proposal.

So what can you do?  What has worked for you?  What have you been trained in that you can share?  Where are your areas of expertise?  The rest of the Network can benefit from you.

In the Network, we are working on creating a “wiki-like” culture, where people share willingly and freely of their expertise and gifts.  One of the things that distinguishes the Network from other events is that we learn from each other.  Ideas are formed…ministries are created, re-created and sometimes resurrected.  And through the shared vision, spirits are lifted.

So can you share?  Do you have something to give to the community?  We have a platform for you.  It’s the E.

Please consider sharing what you’ve got.  Consider this your “ask.”

Get more information on leading a workshop at E2014.




TrendOver time, I’ve noticed that ministry with those in the first third of life seems to be kind of “trend driven.”  There are new ministry concepts…thoughts and ideas that tend to bubble up.  They become a big deal…they become mainstream…they fade…they are replaced…

When I first started doing this work, congregational youth ministry was all about relational ministry (the Young Life type).  I totally drank the kool-aid and was convinced that this was “the thing.”  A few years later, we were told that we need to be doing to get kids into small groups.  It was there, that faith would grow.  Then, small groups refocused around how to create meaningful  confirmation experiences (actually, large group/small group models.)

Then, everyone jumped onto the mission trip bandwagon.  A couple of years later, good ministry was all about leadership development.  That then morphed into peer ministry.  We were then told that “if you’re not doing family ministry, you’re not doing ministry” (even though no one could define family ministry.)  This was not to be confused with the trend towards “faith in the home.”  Most recently, the “big thing” seems to be all about the integration between theology and ministry with young people.

Now first, let me be clear.  I don’t want to diminish or belittle any of these things.  Each is good.  Each is important.  Each is legitimate.  And each has champions who have done good work to develop them.  And my congregation has or is participating in pretty much all of them.  But sometimes it feels like I’ve just chased these things around from one to the next, trying to do “good stuff.”

This can be a problem.  And I believe that the problem lies not with these concepts, but rather the way we have gone about them.  We have become experts at chasing the tail that is wagging the dog.  We in the church have done these things, assuming that if we do them “well,” then we are doing good ministry, that we are being effective.

However, effectiveness is not about programs, trends or fads.  These ministry areas are not ends.  They are lenses through which we look at something much greater.

Ministry is about the cross and Christ crucified and resurrected.  It’s actually simple.  It is about yoking ourselves to Christ’s journey, and accompanying others on their journey.  It is about pointing to the cross and naming Jesus in the business and mess of people’s lives.  It is about speaking a word of hope to those who might feel hopeless.  Ministry is about Jesus.  Jesus is the end.  He is the subject of our sentences.

Thinking about ministry theologically is crucial.  Peer Ministry is a powerful ministry tool.  Faith in the Home is a vital and dynamic ministry strategy.  Leadership development is crucial and mission trips are powerful.   These ministry forms are all vital and can be a part of good ministry insofar as they reveal Jesus in the midst of our community and our relationships.  They create space for God to do mission.  But they are not an end.  They are not a result.

Jesus is the thread that ties this all together.  And if we lose focus on him,  if we begin chasing trends, and if we evaluate our effectiveness on how well we do these “things,” I fear we’ve just been chasing fads.

Peace in Christ,

(Note: Much of this line of thinking was inspired by a conversation with Dr. Jeremy Myers at Augsburg College.  Thanks Jeremy for the good conversation!)


We Have a Plan…

architectLast week, the Network’s Board of Directors had a final, online discussion, and voted to approve the new strategic plan for the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  This vote comes after a year of development that included prayer and conversation, writing, editing, re-writing, more editing, release of drafts, feedback, rewriting, writing, and so on and so on…

We received great feedback at the Extravaganza in Anaheim from regional meetings and other groups that were meeting during the event.  All of this feedback has been looked at and considered.  Much of it influenced the editing of the plan.

We are very excited about the direction this plan is going to take the Network as it grows and develops over the next 3-5 years.  You can take a look at the completed plan here.

As I said, we received great feedback.  Most of the questions and critique of the plan can be put into just a few categories.  I thought it might be helpful to respond to a few of these as best as I’m able:

  • “This plan is all about numbers.  It feels cold.  It doesn’t feel mission driven.” Please note that the piece we distributed last fall on the web site, and in paper at the Extravaganza is only the “strategic plan” portion of a much larger vision, which we have already worked on and adopted.  So it makes total sense to me that when you just look at the “plan” portion it would not look missional.  I think we didn’t make that clear when we distributed it.  When this plan is seen nested inside the larger mission and vision, then I think it makes total sense, and it becomes more clear how it all ties together.  No, the piece that we have been collecting feedback on, and approved last week is our new strategic plan.  It is the “how” of how we’ll fuflill our mission and vision.  And to be honest, for the last couple of years, we really haven’t had enough of a detailed plan.  The approved document shows how the plan is nested within the Network’s mission and vision. 
  • 1000 is it?  That seems low for a big goal!  That was my initial reaction too.  But then we remembered, while the goal is only 250-350 more than our current level of membership, it is also a goal that we have never hit.  For the last few years we’ve kind of “plateaued” and “hovered” at our current level.  To push through to a new level is going to take some additional effort and energy.  Here’s hoping we hit it quickly!  Then we can set a new goal!
  • “There aren’t details.  How are you going to do this?”  Well first, let me be clear.  “There is no “you” and “us.”  To put this plan into reality is going to take all of us. The Network’s members are its owners.  The members’ investment is their energy, passion and time, along with their membership dues.  To build this Network into what we believe God is calling it to be will require all of us to be a part of the process.  Second…you’re right.  We’re lacking some of the details right now.  This plan is the broad strokes of the areas in which we want to grow.  Now we’ll drill down into each of the seven priorities and work the details.  Now is where the work begins!  This will be the agenda of the board when we meet at the end of April.  More info on the details will be forthcoming!
  • “The details of the various discounts and incentives for membership are a little confusing.”   This was really helpful feedback.   We’ve simplified and clarified in the final draft.  Thank you!
  • “In our congregations, we are being asked to do more and more with less and less.  Can the Network expand to support those of us who are also working in children’s ministry, or young adult ministry?”  Yes, we can.  In the last couple of years, at the behest of our members, we have been doing more to support those who also work in children’s ministry.  We will continue to explore other ways we can support folks in ministry as responsibilities continue to expand.  We’ve added Extravaganza workshops in children’s ministry, and have a growing library of children’s ministry resources in MartinsList.  Of course, this depends on our members submitting workshop topics and online resources.  Please do!
  • Some of the language around “professional,” “volunteer,” “lay” and “rostered” needs to be cleaned up and made consistent.  Great feedback!  We tried to do that.  Please read through it and see if there were areas we missed.  Thank you!
  • The plan talks about diversity, but then only really digs into ethnic and geographic.  What about other kinds of diversity?  That’s a fantastic question, and one that we spent a lot of time talking about.  There are lots of kinds of diversity that we need to pay attention to.  While we worked up a long list, we didn’t want to list them all in the plan for fear of leaving one out.  However, both ethnic and geographic diversity are ones that rose to the top as we talked about felt needs within the Network.  Ethnic and cultural diversity has been one of our goals for a long time and while we’ve made some incremental progress, we need to continue to grow in this area.  Geographically, there are whole parts of the country, entire synods, that are unaware of the Network and the resources it provides.  These tend to be the regions that we think might benefit the most.  So we listed these to lift them up as areas that we want to include special focus upon in the next couple of years.  But the other forms of diversity are important and will not be ignored as well.
  • Can volunteers have a different (lower) membership rate?  I wish that we could.  As it is, we run on a budget where our membership rates don’t even completely cover our costs.  We fundraise for the difference.  And the reality is, it doesn’t cost the Network less to be the Network for a volunteer than it does for a professional.  We did introduce on March 1, as a part of our plan, both 3 year (discounted) memberships, and congregational team (bulk discount) memberships.  Hopefully those options provide ways to continue to make membership accessible.

Those are some of the questions we heard more consistently through the process.  Really, really helpful questions.  Thank you very much!  If you continue to have questions, please contact me.

I want to thank the members of our board, in particular, Rev. Mike Ward of Lutheridge+Lutherock Ministries in North Carolina, who walked the board through the strategic planning process.  He did a fantastic job.

Networked in Christ,


Being Made New

New-Direction-580x435There is change happening in the church.  Maybe it’s a new awareness…perhaps it’s a new reformation…I’m not sure what to call it.  But something is different.  There are new conversations taking place.  There are new questions being asked.  When I enter into conversations with those who do ministry alongside young people and their families, the first question I hear is no longer “what should I do at youth group on Sunday?”  or “How do I do fundraising?”

The questions that I hearing now are more along the lines of:

  • “I’m wondering where God is calling us to go?”
  • “We’re trying to figure out what’s working?”
  • “How do we understand God’s mission in this place?”
  • “What is faith formation?”

While these may not seem like they should be new questions, in the world of faith-formation with the young, they kind of are.  The primary concern used to be with technique…strategy…programs.  The assumption was that faith language was not foreign to young people.  My sense is that the landscape has shifted and that folks are now taking a 10,000 foot view, and are wondering much more fundamental questions.  This because the world in which we live is changing, and the landscape the church occupies is so radically different than it was even 10 years ago.  The old assumptions clearly don’t apply anymore.

These are the issues the Extravaganza tackled this year (Form: Faith Formation in a Missional Age).  These are the issues that the Practice Discipleship Initiative are tackling.  These are the issues that are being talked about on the Network’s Facebook group, in the webinars and other resources from Vibrant Faith Ministries and our other partners.  This is what the SYMBOL Network (Synod staff people who work in children’s or youth ministry) is talking about.  Outdoor ministries is looking for new directions.  Our seminaries are stepping directly into the path of these conversations and are offering much research and wisdom.  And our churchwide organization is figuring out how to re-invent itself, that it might serve well in this new, missional age.

Are any one of these things either the “cause” or the “cure” for figuring this out?  No.

But my sense is that really for the first time in a long time, all of these different organizations are beginning to “paddle in the same direction” in terms of figuring this stuff out.

Some people look at the indicators of these changes in our culture and speak of the end of the church.  I don’t think so.  I have a much more hopeful view.  I don’t believe God is done with the church yet.  Though it doesn’t come naturally to the institutional church, I believe that we will change.  I believe we will adapt to a shifting world.  And I think the key for these changes lies right in our own sandbox.  It is, I think, the world of faith formation with the young that is going to lead the change.  The culture we inhabit together realizes that the old must pass away.  We cannot be afraid to continue asking the questions and seeking God’s call for our ministry.  As faith formation reinvents itself, I believe the rest of the church will follow.  Really I do.

I believe that someday we’re all going to be able to say “we were there when…” and describe how God’s Holy Spirit moved within the world and within the church.

I am hopeful and excited for the future.  And I am grateful to God for what God is up to, and for this community in which questions can be asked, and new directions discovered.  Thanks to you, for being a part of it!

Networked in Christ,


Introducing: The Network App!

iphone5_large_NewWe’re really excited about this!

Today, the Network introduces our new mobile app!  For both the Android and Apple (iOS) platforms, this app is awesome!

Features include!

  • A “live” events calendar
  • Direct feed of the Network blog
  • A directory of Network leadership
  • A media library
  • Network News
  • A “prayer wall.”  Post prayer requests, and respond!
  • Direct links to contact us
  • Feeds from our Facebook and Twitter feeds
  • Streaming media of past Extravaganza keynote speakers…3rdTuesday Conversation webinars and Practice Discipleship webinars
  • An online Bible (adding more version to it soon!)
  • A function to send the Network new ideas
  • Quick easy ways to make donations to the Network, or to other ministries we support
  • A GPS powered “Local Network Finder” (coming in March)
  • A Programs function, with more content from our programs (coming in March)

This is going to be great!  Carry the Network with you wherever you go!

What is the key to effectiveness in a national network?  Communication.  This opens up whole new ways for us to connect with each other.   We’re very excited abou the possibilities.  Lots of hours have gone into this project, and we are grateful to the team who put it together:  Michael Sladek, Andy Arnold and Rachel Claseman.  And we’re grateful to our Network partner, iGivings, for working with us on it to put it all together!

Please note that when you log in, you will be asked if you want to register.  We strongly recommend registering.  It will allow you to participate in some of the stuff that you otherwise would not be able to participate in.

Visit the Network App home page for more detailed information!