Blog Posts

In Layman's Terms: App can help set foundation for bold faith goals

Todd Seifert


I’m not really into new year’s resolutions, but I am a pretty big advocate for setting goals. I’ve always looked at goals as providing some prioritization to my life, but I heard this concept put into a different perspective recently while listening to Pastor Rick Warren’s “Daily Hope” podcast on my way to work. In one of his sermons aimed at helping the Saddleback Church congregation set goals for the new year, he urged his audience to set faith goals. He argued that we spend a lot of time ...

Clergy Faith and Wellness: Health for body and soul

Rev. Shelly Petz


Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 3 John 1:2 (NRSV) Friends, I do indeed pray for you. Ministry is an incredible calling, and responsibility. Many of you have just led others through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and now are living in the season after Epiphany. We have before us the realities of what it means that God has come to live with us and among us. Some people make resolutions at the beginning...

Yes, Virginia, We Need Lay Servants

Lay Servant Ministries


This week we have completed the 3rd Sunday in Advent, and light a candle recognizing the Joy of the season. As I contemplated joy, I recalled the story of little Virginia O’Hanlon and the response she received from the editor of The Sun regarding her question, “Is there a Santa Claus?” (If you aren’t familiar with the story, google it.) I realized that many of the assertions the editor (Francis Church) used in his response could have as much impact if we substituted the name Jesus each time Sant...

'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. ...

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