Blog Posts

'Anatomy of Peace': Disrupting our hearts in the presence of the other

Nathan D. Stanton


It has been 12 years since I was introduced to the ideas and philosophies contained in the Arbinger Institute’s books “Anatomy of Peace” and “Leadership and Self-Deception.” In that 12 years I have come to understand the core value of those books is that in our most intense moments of human relationship, or lack of relationship, it is always our work as human beings to manage ourselves, first. Obviously, I am not talking about folks who are manipulated, abused and systematically marginalized by...

In Layman's Terms: Easter people celebrating Christmas

Todd Seifert


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 the season. Carols prompt us to break out singing, regardless of whether or not we can carry a tune. And we get to see Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, Buddy the Elf, and George Bailey on our TV screens. ...

Clergy Faith and Wellness: Permission to take care of yourself

Rev. Shelly Petz


 Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. – Proverbs 12:25 (NRSV)   Consider the following statement.   This Advent I… am experiencing anxiety, stress, fear, like there is too much too do, etc. am centered in the word of God. am doing all my spiritual practices that I can, and still stressed. wait ... what? It is time for Advent? Yes, Advent is here. The time of preparation for the coming of Christ. Sometimes preparations are meaningful, powerful, or life-changing. ...

In Layman's Terms: Livestreaming considerations

Todd Seifert


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 communities to our worship services. To accomplish this goal, we hang banners, update our websites and often print out cards about our ministries to hand out to guests – all of which are good things to ...

When people leave your church


Sometimes, people choose to leave your church.   It’s an unpleasant reality that every pastor has to grapple with, and no clergyperson or congregation is immune. It doesn’t matter whether your congregation is growing, declining, or stable. It doesn’t matter whether your context is rural, urban or suburban. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter how well you preach, how well you love your congregation, or how much time and energy you pour into programming, studies, and pastoral care — no matter who you ...

Balcony People

Lay Servant Ministries


Years ago, I had a devotion that has stuck with me. I do not remember the source, but I do remember the theme. I was to recall who my “balcony people” were and write them a note of thanks.” In the devotion “balcony people” were described as those who cheer you on and help you find your potential and calling in Christ. The devotion then asked me to meditate on – am I a “balcony person?” I was able to recount the balcony people and write them a note of thanks. They were able to see in me things I...

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

Todd Seifert


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 Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. as he sought to educate people in Kansas and Nebraska on the three plans we know will be considered during the special session of General Conference in February in St. Louis. ...

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

Todd Seifert


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 giving envelopes. This person heard that United Methodist Communications no longer was providing the envelopes, and the question was, first, if this was true and, second, if so, are there other options. ...

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

Todd Seifert


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 different things as I read. I think that’s pretty powerful. And I want you to feel that power as well. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for ...

Be Bold

Lay Servant Ministries


As we have been enmeshed in the current political campaigns in states across the nation, I have felt the pressure to judge candidates by the often negative comments rather than the positive ones. Sadly, polarization and negativity are rampant in our daily lives. That fact can make us feel insignificant and powerless.     But as I consider it further, the opposite is true. In both our civic and spiritual lives, we are in control. The decisions we make are not only important, but life-changing. We...

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