Todd Seifert

Todd Seifert is director of communications for the Great Plains Conference. He writes this blog much like he wrote a column for 13 years as a newspaper editor: focused on what is going on in his life. He hopes to share some thought-provoking words as a member of the laity on the conference staff.


In Layman's Terms: Easter people celebrating Christmas

December 12, 2018

I’m convinced Christmas is such a festive time of year because of the atmosphere that accompanies it. The lights on houses and along city streets remind us of the light — Jesus — coming into the world. Christmas trees become a focal point in our homes. Nativity scenes remind us of the reason for ...


In Layman's Terms: Livestreaming considerations

December 05, 2018

Most of us get excited for the Christmas season. We decorate our sanctuaries with trees, wreaths and lights. Nativity scenes get dusted off and put on prominent display. And we shift our thinking toward marketing our church in hopes of bringing in the unchurched or de-churched neighbors in our ...


In Layman's Terms: Numbers and lessons from our town halls

November 21, 2018

What a ride! Eighteen town halls in 17 cities in every district of the Great Plains Conference. In all, more than 4,100 people in attendance. Twenty-six delegates. Three plans. A few laughs. Not-so-few tears. Lots of prayers. That sums up recently completed town halls journey I embarked upon with ...


In Layman's Terms: Resources for inviting people to your church

November 15, 2018

Sometimes, a call or email from a local church with a question leads me on a path to find something entirely new that prompts me to share this new information with all of you. Such an instance occurred this week when a question came in from the Gateway District in Nebraska about special Sunday ...


In Layman's Terms: Try one of these methods for reading the Bible

November 07, 2018

Reading scripture has had a profound impact on my life. It’s amazing to me that I can read the same verses multiple times and find something – even slightly – different to take away from it. I know that’s because my experiences and whatever issues at play in my life at the time lead me to seek ...


In Layman's Terms: Take from and add to our Local Church Toolbox

October 24, 2018

Kansas and Nebraska – when you place them together – create a fairly large parcel of land. In fact, if you put the two together, you have about 160,000 square miles. That’s huge! My duties as the conference communications director have allowed me to see many parts of our two states. My most recent ...


Leadership, discipleship two points of focus for Connecting Council

October 24, 2018

Discussion leaders share traits their peers identified in great leaders from the Bible and secular society during the Connecting Council’s fall meeting Oct. 19 at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka. Photo by Todd Seifert The Connecting Council discussed the importance of strong ...


In Layman's Terms: Resources for our way forward

October 10, 2018

Anyone who has attended one of the bishop’s town hall meetings knows that the three plans to be considered at the upcoming special session of General Conference can be confusing. The plans – offered by the Commission on a Way Forward and approved by the Council of Bishops – are meant to help our ...


In Layman's Terms: A free Bible study to help us all #BeKind

September 12, 2018

It sure can seem at times like the world has forgotten what it’s like to be kind. We criticize each other. We share things on social media that we would never have the guts to say to a person’s face – at least that’s true of many people. For Christians, I think the act of being kind is an essential...


In Layman's Terms: Give app a try to hold you to your spiritual disciplines

September 06, 2018

This week’s subject is part resource, part shameless self-promotion. But it’s aimed at helping you stay connected with other United Methodists across Kansas and Nebraska while helping you stay in tune with your spiritual disciplines. Earlier this year, the Great Plains Conference launched its new ...


In Layman's Terms: Is your church ready for microphone changes?

August 31, 2018

Wireless microphones have become as much a part of the worship experience as the organ and hymnals. Preachers who don’t want to be tied to a pulpit rely on these devices to allow them to move around to engage their congregation while delivering their messages. But as our communications staff has ...


In Layman's Terms: Free photos for use in your churches

August 20, 2018

You’re preparing for Sunday worship. The pastor has given you his or her scripture. You have photos to represent sermon points – maybe even a video. You’re all set to build that week’s audio-visual presentation and start promoting the upcoming worship experience on social media. But you are lacking...


In Layman's Terms: Don't fall for spoof of bishop's email

August 14, 2018

The folks who like to wreak havoc with email and get you to pay for things they want are getting more and more sophisticated. It wasn’t all that long ago that many of us were receiving emails from sudden royalty in Nigeria or some other country who just needed a little money to leave their homeland...


In Layman's Terms: Podcasting

August 01, 2018

While I’m a big fan of video – and still prefer that medium – there’s no denying that podcasts are quite popular. And it’s actually easy to see why. People these days are busy. You can play a podcast from a mobile phone like an audiobook while exercising or while driving to work or hitting the ...


In Layman's Terms: Gaining some Fresh Expressions

July 27, 2018

First of all, I apologize for not having written in a while. But it’s been for a good reason. As most of you are aware, the three Great Plains Conference offices in Lincoln, Wichita and Topeka have been consolidated to a new, single conference office in Topeka. Toss in the upheaval that comes with ...


Forward in Unity team prepares for annual conference presentations

May 22, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. talks about the recent Council of Bishops meetings while the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina District superintendent looks on during the May 16 Forward in Unity Process Team meeting. Photo by Todd Seifert   The Great Plains Conference’s Forward in Unity ...


Connecting Council learns more of networks, statistics, bishops’ commission

April 25, 2018

The Great Plains Conference Connecting Council learned about the progress of networks across Kansas and Nebraska, discussed concepts in the book “The Anatomy of Peace” and took part in a town hall-style dialogue associated with possible proposals from the Commission on a Way Forward during the ...


Water’s Edge opens new building, keeps same goal of making disciples

April 17, 2018

The Water's Edge Church worshiped in its new building in Omaha for the first time March 18 and consecrated the building April 8. Photo courtesy The Water's Edge   Just as Jesus reached out to men who would become His disciples along the shore of Lake Gennesaret, The Water’s Edge Church is ...


Fresh Expressions encourages creative ministry beyond the 4 walls

April 11, 2018

Several members of the Great Plains Conference traveled March 15-17 to Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., to attend the national gathering of Fresh Expressions. The event, attended by more than 500 participants from across the nation, represented a number of denominations and local ...


Conference team begins work on human sexuality-related resources

April 10, 2018

The Great Plains Conference’s Forward in Unity Process Team experienced what a town hall-style meeting would be like for future participants as they learn and discuss the Council of Bishops’ recommendations to help The United Methodist Church find a way forward.  The team, an assembly of leaders ...


UMW celebrates legacy one stitch at a time

March 16, 2018

When United Methodist Women of the Great Plains Conference decided they wanted to commemorate the 150th anniversary of UMW in 2019, they decided to put the crafting skills of women in Kansas and Nebraska to work making a quilt. Marilyn Zehring of Columbus, Nebraska, and Louise Niemann of David ...


Team assembled to help with focus on unity in Great Plains

March 07, 2018

With a special General Conference called for February 2019 to address human sexuality concerns drawing nearer, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has assembled a team of leaders from throughout the Great Plains Conference to develop a process to offer resources, tools, disseminate accurate information and to ...


Gatobu selected as next DS in Kansas City

March 01, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Cabinet have announced that the Rev. Dr. Anne Kiome Gatobu will be the next Kansas City District superintendent. Gatobu, currently serving in extension ministry with Flourishing Springs, a ministry of pastoral self-care, creativity and coaching, will assume her new ...


Nebraskans learn about key legislative issues

February 27, 2018

More than 100 people learned about legislation in Nebraska on important topics such as human trafficking, funding for schools, prison reform and immigration during the annual ecumenical legislative briefing day. Founded in 1975, the event provides a full day of workshops and presentations on issues...


Networks system taking firmer hold with change in Elkhorn Valley District

February 22, 2018

The retirement of Elkhorn Valley District Superintendent Eldon Davis has prompted the Great Plains Conference to more fully live into a network-based system introduced last year. The Rev. Eldon Davis, Elkhorn Valley District superintendent, serves communion during the annual Orders & Fellowship ...


Emmert leaving Cabinet to serve at Omaha St. Andrew's UMC

February 16, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Cabinet of the Great Plains Conference announced Friday, Feb. 16, that the Rev. Dr. Bruce Emmert will be reappointed from his role as Kansas City District superintendent to serve as lead pastor at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church in Omaha, effective July 1. St. ...


In Layman's Terms: Discussion with a moderator for the Commission on a Way Forward

October 27, 2017

I used to think there was no more thankless job in all of The United Methodist Church than that of district superintendent. Now, I think it must be serving as a member of the Commission on a Way Forward. God bless those 32 people, especially the three bishops serving as moderators, who agreed to ...


Ask questions as we explore “Wonder, Love and Praise”

July 31, 2017

IN LAYMAN'S TERMS I present to you today a series of questions. Let’s start off with this: What does it mean to “be the church”? Some people have what they think is an easy answer. Others find an answer to be elusive. We likely agree that we want the church to be relevant in the 21st century. But ...


In Layman's Terms: A fence-sitter's struggle

April 26, 2017

I don’t have a solution. Those are ominous words. When I was the editor of a daily newspaper, one of the rules in our shop was that we didn’t go to our publisher – the top supervisor – to talk about a problem without at least some idea for a solution. Yet, I find myself pondering one of our ...


In Layman's Terms: Passion Week has some baseball season parallels

April 04, 2017

Perhaps no time of year provides more of a sense of hope than the time around Easter. For starters, we as Christians are reminded of the importance of sharing with others the hope for eternity through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. And then, there’s the hope that starts with the ...


In Layman's Terms: Using projection to make Easter guests feel welcome (part 2)

March 13, 2017

Last week, I shared some thoughts about how I like to set up slides for projection for song lyrics in worship services. I like to set them up not just for aesthetics but also for cadence so guests who don’t know our traditional songs have the best opportunity possible to know where the pauses are ...


In Layman's Terms: Using projection to make Easter guests feel welcome (part 1)

March 08, 2017

With Easter coming up next month, it’s important to use this time of Lent to prepare for one of our biggest visitor days of the church’s year. Many churches will focus on greeters, making sure there is a handout of some kind with information about the church and invitations to special events ...


In Layman's Terms: Amid turmoil, a prayer for leadership, peace and love

January 31, 2017

Well, it’s certainly been an interesting couple of weeks since President Donald Trump was sworn into office, huh? Some people have celebrated the series of executive orders that have flowed from the Oval Office. Others have lamented the rules those orders have put in place. It is kind of ...


In Layman's Terms: Pastors put technology to work during ice storm

January 16, 2017

The ice storm that hit the two states of the Great Plains Conference probably couldn't have come at a more inconvenient time — OK, any time other than Christmas Eve, maybe — to disrupt the life of the church. The One Event youth rally in Salina, Kansas, may have been the most impacted, with more ...


In Layman's Terms: Key to handling a fast-changing world is trust in God

January 04, 2017

We just turned the calendar from 2016 to 2017. Some people look at new years with some trepidation. Others turn the page with a view of optimism. And, of course, many of us start the year with “resolutions.” Get healthy Get organized Live life to the fullest Learn new hobbies Spend less/save more ...


In Layman's Terms: Mary and Joseph taught lesson of obedience

December 27, 2016

Obedience: It’s not a word we say often. I think in part that’s because the meaning of it scares us – at least a little. It means we have to be submissive. We have to give up some of ourselves to be obedient. We don’t necessarily do what we want to do. In fact, sometimes obedience requires us to do...


In Layman's Terms: This Christmas, regift Jesus!

December 13, 2016

The lights are up. The tree has been decorated. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has already appeared on television. It must be time for Christmas! With Christmas comes the joy that accompanies presents. Somehow, the tree always looks better when there are packages underneath it. As I look at our...


In Layman's Terms: Nothing fake about the good news of Jesus

December 06, 2016

The sad reality of fake news hit a new low Dec. 4 when a 28-year-old father of two bought into a story he saw on social media about a Washington, D.C., area pizza place harboring children as sex slaves. The man drove six hours to confront the pizzeria owner, firing several shots from an assault ...


In Layman's Terms: Unlike a nutcracker, Jesus as a gift won't disappoint

November 28, 2016

I was either 10 or 11 years old when we received a rather large box, wrapped up as a Christmas gift, in the mail. And it had my name on the “To” line. When I returned home from school and saw it under the tree, I could barely hold back my excitement. I think it was my grandparents, but I don’t ...


In Layman's Terms: This Thanksgiving, remember we're blessed to be a blessing to others

November 15, 2016

Several years ago, when I was still a newspaper editor and columnist, I wrote what I thought was a “throwaway” piece about the holiday of Thanksgiving needing a better PR person. Instead of just writing what I thought was a filler column because I ran out of time prior to the holiday, I found out ...


In Layman's Terms: After election, remember to put Kingdom over country

November 09, 2016

The reactions to the 2016 presidential election have been almost as amazing as the result. Businessman Donald Trump defied almost all odds to win the presidency. Pundits are analyzing county-by-county results to see how Hillary Clinton failed to defeat a man who won in a most unconventional way – by...


In Layman's Terms: Nebraskans can choose justice over vengeance in election

October 31, 2016

Nebraska voters will have the opportunity Nov. 8 to make a critical decision about the state’s criminal justice system: Do we choose justice or settle for vengeance? The answer will determine whether Nebraska voters retain Legislative Bill 268, an example of bipartisan legislation passed by the ...


In Layman's Terms: Journey forward into the fog

October 24, 2016

I’m fascinated by weather. And as an amateur photographer, I enjoy trying to capture the unique images provided by God’s grand creation. As I wrote about last week, on a recent Saturday I ventured out with my camera in hopes of finding some interesting photos amid the fog that had taken hold in ...


In Layman's Terms: Driving our ministry past where the pavement ends

October 18, 2016

I like to take photos. I think it’s because I know I have a long way to go before I would be considered a good photographer, at least in the professional sense. That desire to be considered among the gifted image-capturers I have had the privilege of knowing makes me strive to do my best when I’m ...


In Layman's Terms: Use political slip-up to help us shine light on women's issues

October 11, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I spent the 90 minutes of Sunday night’s second presidential debate feeling more and more weighted down by the enormity off the task we all have ahead of us. Whoever wins Nov. 8, we will have a president that a large part of the population simply doesn’t trust. Uniting ...


In Layman's Terms: Vin Scully was the prophet of baseball; can we be today's prophets for Christ?

October 04, 2016

One of the final connections to my childhood signed off the air Sunday when the San Francisco Giants finished a 7-1 defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers since the team played in Brooklyn way back in 1950, called his final game. At the age of 88, Scully decided it ...


In Layman's Terms: At least Darth Vader was genuine

September 27, 2016

I hope you tuned in to the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’m not advocating for either candidate, but instead simply hope people who intend to vote in November tuned in to see the candidates answer questions. I watched the entire debate and ...


In Layman’s Terms: Story of Lazarus provides wealth of thought about God’s call to us all

September 20, 2016

There’s nothing like the death of a family member to make a person reflect on his or her own mortality – and their need for Christ in his or her life. This past week, one of my uncles passed away after a bought with Alzheimer’s disease. I used to spend quite a bit of time with him when I was a kid ...


In Layman's Terms: "Star Trek" offers this nerd a glimpse of a Christ-like future

September 08, 2016

The folks out there in Kansas and Nebraska who have met me already know that I’m pretty much a big nerd. I came to terms with that fact a long time ago. One piece of evidence is that I’m totally unashamed to say that I’m a huge “Star Trek” fan. I love almost all things science fiction, but there’s ...


In Layman's Terms: Amid leadership change, our mission to make disciples for Christ remains the same

August 30, 2016

A rather major change is set to take place Sept. 1 in the Great Plains Conference. Thursday is usually not a day of the work week known for new ventures, but this Thursday, something that hasn’t happened in 12 years, at least in Kansas, is scheduled to take place: A new bishop will be the episcopal ...