Reset in New Jersey


For the past 3 days, over thirty church leaders from Lutheran and Episcopalian congregations reimagining confirmation. We explored our driving questions as ministry leaders, we wondered about the driving questions of God’s people in the past, and we named the brokenness and joys of our world…all before we started talking about confirmation. Then we engaged research, especially the portraits of multiple approaches to confirmation with various purposes and talked with youth themselves. We prayed together, celebrated the Lord’s supper, gathered for conversation over food and drink, and became one expression of Christian community.

Today, we return home. On one level, not much will change. Many will lead confirmation ministry tonight in their home congregations. Many are preparing sermons for Sunday. And then there are the committee meetings, administrative details, and pastoral care needs to attend to. On one level it will look the same.

But on a deeper level, we leave knowing the church is changing and believe God is in the midst of it. We are renewed for another week, month, season of ministry. Scattering across the Northeast this afternoon, we know there are kindred spirits wrestling with similar ideas, praying for the real needs of the world and our churches, and open to God’s promises breaking in. And on that level, we are not the same. Hope lurks like spring on our doorstep. It longs to find a home in us. And we long for it, just as we are uncertain that the winter winds are done with us.

Today, I invite all of us to pray for our youth, our world, and our churches as we navigate this change of season.

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Let the Summit Begin!


We are the church and today we are living into our calling!

Today I join 40 people, from 40 networks, to discuss, imagine, and pray for faith formation within the ELCA. Our goal for the next two days is to connect, align, and collaborate existing initiatives in the ELCA around faith formation ministry working with children, youth, young adults, and their families in order to cultivate a culture of faith formation within our church, congregations, and ministries.

We have been having formal and informal conversation about this for years. We have prayed for coordination, leadership, and support around such work. And today…we take these conversations a step further. Please pray for us in these next two day…and the months and years ahead.

Follow the conversation online – #formingfaithelca

And then … LIFE

Here I sit, on the other side of Easter. No more Lent, no more focusing on despair, no more walking to the cross. So now what?

The theme for our Easter sermon on Sunday was life, like living…actual heart-beating in our chest living. Before worship I went on an early morning walk and noticed life – spring sprouting, worms on the sidewalk, grass turning green. It’s hard to miss it, yet we do, rather I do, all the time.

So what would living, like really living look like in your world these days? If death had no hold on you, what would change in your life?

I’m not sure I know what that looks like for me yet, but I do know I’d risk more, I’d spend more time working together with others for the common good, and I’d listen to other people’s stories (because most people have very interesting stories).

Each of these ideas surfaced as I surfed Facebook and these videos caught my attention. Maybe, on this side of Easter, they might get your attention too.


Is it time?


Many of us leadership know the value of stepping back from the immediacy of leading (be it in our homes, workplaces, or volunteer work) to see the bigger picture of what is going on. The new year, and/or new seasons, often nudge us into such reflection.

What you may or may not know is that this reflection type of reflection has a name. According to Ronald Heifetz it is called “Getting on the Balcony” and he names how critically important this practice is for leaders.

Today one of our Luther Seminary students shared this blog with me, a reflection on this engaging this practice. It’s worth a read…and worth the time to practice this type of reflection yourself.

Leadership Insights Blog by Wesley Dorsett

And the results are in!

So it wasn’t a big poll (37 people), but it was interesting.

Last week I posted a poll asking about your plans for 2016. And here’s what you said…

38% are planning to learn something new

32%  are planning a special vacation

16% are are starting a new habit

(the rest of you fell into the other category)

That’s pretty cool, and thanks to all who participated.

Look for more to come in 2016.



Parenting College Students

Parenting college students is not easy, but come to think of it, neither was parenting a 2 year old. And while I KNEW I was a novice parent and was apt to pick-up a parenting book or ask for advise when my kids were 2, perhaps it might be good to admit my need for guidance now as my “kids” are emerging into adulthood. What is my role in their maturing? When do I intervene and when do I “stay out of it”?

Last night I ran across this article while my daughter and her boyfriend were hanging in the kitchen with me. As I read parts of it aloud, I reiterated (to them and to me) my role. My role is to help you move into adulthood, to move toward self-sufficiency and to help you discover (and grow) your own gifts of self-reliance.

Karen Able says it this way:

When children aren’t given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don’t learn to problem solve very well. They don’t learn to be confident in their own abilities, and it can affect their self-esteem. The other problem with never having to struggle is that you never experience failure and can develop an overwhelming fear of failure and of disappointing others. Both the low self-confidence and the fear of failure can lead to depression or anxiety.

The research data points to the mental health issues college students are facing. Some of this is not new, or so it seems to me. The transition into college is hard and many students do feel lonely and sad. But the over involvement of parents and the lack of experience with failure are factors that are different for many college students.

Here are some things to check out. For a good book see:  How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims, out now from Henry Holt and Co.

Or read this article:

To the soon to be commenced…


Timothy Siburg

What a bunch of seminary Graduates to be looks like when all robed up. What a bunch of seminary Graduates to be looks like when all robed up.

An idea struck me earlier this week- perhaps it would be fun to share a post for graduates, or soon to be graduates. Since I have a special connection with many in the graduating class from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota this year, my thoughts are going to be directed to them. But perhaps these would be appropriate to other graduates? If there is interest, or this proves to be a fun exercise, I may do some more of these in the future. But for now, enjoy this message.

To the Luther Seminary, Class of 2014:  Grace and peace be with you!

This chapter of seminary training, imagining, dreaming, learning, and being challenged is coming to a close. But in reality its just the beginning of a new chapter in your lives and in…

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Dec. 5 – Unexpected Generosity

The weeks before and after Christmas are filled with gift giving…and sometimes “finding the right” gift makes gift giving a real chore. But there are times when the moment presents itself and I get to give a gift that is meaningful AND perfect of the person and the moment. Often those gifts are not the most expensive or the ones that are displayed in our living rooms. Yet they might be the ones we remember.

In this season of giving, what if we looked for opportunities to extended unexpected generosity? Maybe it’s letting a mother with a small child go ahead of us in the checkout line. Maybe it’s baking an extra dozen cookies for a co-worker. Or maybe it’s doing a little extra around the house.

Giving material gifts is a great tradition, but I’m trying to remember that giving is about much more than giving gifts. What if the holidays were filled with little, unexpected generosity?  And what if we were part of creating a “generosity movement”?

See this video and let your imagination loose.