Blog Posts


Vital Ideas: Generous Geneva – What’s in store for shoppers this year?


The Advent and Christmas season is a time of preparation and celebration of the Christ child, and to be honest, to shop! I know, I know – the secular world is stealing the meaning of Christmas – BUT – what if a community could connect people to real meaning through the traditional act of shopping? Read on to see what started as a Christmas garage sale ten years ago. Jill Schmidt, a restaurant owner and a United Methodist in Geneva, Nebraska, wanted to connect people who needed affordable gifts ...

Acknowledging difficult relationships in organizations

Nathan D. Stanton


Organizations are living, breathing places where relationships develop, grow, maintain, plateau and bring significance to the people’s lives that make up said organization. Those relationships also shape subsets of the organization as well, either by department, role within the organization or casual interests where folks gather to relate to one another over hobbies, passions, etc. The health of an organization is built on the symbiotic nature of these relationships and the individual’s ...

Addressing conflict biblically


I’ve often said that much of the New Testament might never have been written if there had not been conflict in the early church. When Christians turn to Scripture to address the subject of conflict, the first passage they often quote is Matthew 18. The focus is usually on verses 15-20: 15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take ...

Help for engaging conflict well


Conflict is a normal part of life, but many of us have difficulty engaging it in productive ways. Here are some time-tested resources that give guidance, not only for church conflicts, but also for working through conflict in a variety of settings.   The Arbinger Institute. (2008). The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. Berrett-Koehler. Told in story form, this book looks at the heart of human relationships and the roots of conflict. Though it does not claim to be a Christian ...

Ten good things about conflict


Conflict is not all bad. Despite our tendency to run the other direction whenever conflict is in the air, there are benefits to be realized from engaging it well. (Of course, much of many persons’ experience with conflict is painful and frightening. When it is not engaged well, conflict can be very destructive and hurtful.) Here, in no particular order, are some of the benefits of conflict: It clears the air. There is little that is more uncomfortable than conflict simmering below the surface. ...

Vital Ideas: Finance games


Ah, the monthly finance meeting; something you look forward to each time it comes around on your calendar, right? Wrong!   Most leaders in the church know we are in a time of financial fluctuation, both in our local economies and churches. These fluctuations can cause great anxiety, especially when it affects giving practices in the church. Meetings can become a real “downer” if we only focus on the realities of change with an attitude of  doom and gloom. How do we dream in a place of doom of ...

Reasons to certify


The requirement to be Safe Gatherings certified has, at times, resulted in questions being raised: “This is a small town; we all know each other and nothing like that would happen here.” “We have a hard enough time recruiting volunteers. No one will volunteer if we ask them to go through all this.” “We’re an older congregation. We don’t have any children or youth in our church.” “Don’t you trust me?” Listed below are a few reasons to be Safe Gatherings certified: Increases awareness of ...

Discovering children's gifts for ministry

Kalaba Chali


“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them…” When I served at Lovers Lane UMC in Dallas, Texas, one of the large congregations in the Dallas area, I learned one thing when it comes to big events! You always want to invite a famous person to come preach or speak at a big gathering. So, in meetings you discuss names of famous preachers, professors and authors. The idea is that you will draw a big crowd when people learn it is someone famous who is the speaker. This past summer ...

Safe Gatherings - Providing protection for the most vulnerable


Growing up in the country church as a child in the 1950’s, I felt surrounded by God’s love. Our pastor consistently preached on that theme. The people of the congregation showed me God’s love by their presence and their behavior towards me. You make the assumption that your experience is shared by everyone else. I was naïve about people not cherishing children the way God intended. It was and still is incomprehensible to me that children were and are abused in their homes. I have been saddened ...

Vital Ideas: Creating physical and spiritual space for children


Any day of the week, if you step in the new entry of First United Methodist Church in Manhattan, Kansas, don’t be surprised if you find children – lots of children! It isn’t a rare occasion when you see one of those children staring up at a beautiful old stained glass window called "the Link" that looks “brand new” in the large lobby, as they hold on to a parent or guardian’s hand. This old stained glass window had spent years in a coal bin from an earlier church that was on the site. Susie ...

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