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Posts from the ‘Connecting’ Category


Trying Something New This Summer?

Ascension, Washington Crossing, is experimenting with worship-in-the-round this summer. What new things are you trying this season? Let us know in the comments.

One nice advantage of movable chairs instead of pews, Ascension has discovered, is the flexibility and creativity they provide. For the summer months, Ascension has redesigned its sanctuary layout to put worshippers in a circle around a central altar.

Read more »


Listening to The “Nones”

New England Synod Bishop Jim Hazelwood has spent time listening to the “spiritual but not religious” people who profess no religious affiliation. Otherwise known as the “nones,” these people are often outside the circles of many church leaders. So Hazelwood brought a panel of “nones” to the Synod Assembly this year. From his listening, Hazelwood says these (often) younger people are asking different questions than Lutheran theology usually tries to answer. He writes:

I’m hearing a desire for:

1) Safe, non-judgemental places for people to explore the deeper questions of life, faith, God.

2) The great suspicion of rules, yet the hunger for relationships raises the possibility that people are seeking an authentic community.

3) I also sense a desire for people to clarify their purpose in life. What gives life meaning? How is God connected to that question?

How does your church address these questions? What might you do to engage people of no religious affiliation more deeply?

Watch some of the bishop’s “interview” with the “nones.”

Image Matt Stiles/NPR. Source: Gallup


What Can Congregations Due When Disaster Strikes?

What can congregations due when disaster strikes?

Pastor Steve Keiser of Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia and Julia Menzo of Lutheran Disaster Response in Eastern PA (sponsored by Lutheran Congregational Services- A service of Liberty Lutheran) share their stories in a new video.

What has your congregation done? Tell us your story in the comments.

Watch the video



Being Church in Emerging Culture

The postmodern time is one in which people are skeptical of authority and see themselves as having a global identity, Pastor Jay Gamelin told the 2013 Synod Assembly. We now also live in ambiguous times where there is a tension between reason and mystery, he said.

“Some of the most faithful people I know are physicists, said Gamelin, “because they get what it means to live in theory rather than truth.”

He said what begins to show up and come together in postmodernism is the character of Christ. We don’t just talk about the words Jesus said, book look at how he lived his life. We are actually watching Jesus. Read more »


“What Needs To Die In Your Church?”

In his second Assembly presentation, Jay Gamelin talked about his time in campus ministry at Ohio State University. When he arrived he could tell the Lutheran Campus Center had an identity crisis just by its many names on the sign. He decided to create a “gray space” in which he and the students could explore their struggles. The first year they studied the story of Jacob and for eight weeks put themselves into the story and wrestled with God. They explored what it would mean to not only wrestle with God, but leave limping like Jacob.

“The community eventually changed its name to Jacob’s Porch — because we wrestle with God and… because it’s a liminal space that faces outward,” said Gamelin. Read more »


“I Love You. Love, God”

The Bible is a lot like the love messages parents receive from their children, Pastor Keith Anderson of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church says in a new YouTube video. “The Bible can be a messy, complicated, confusing book, but at the heart of the Bible is this message: ‘I love you. Love, God.” Short, direct video messages of inspiration can be easily shared via social media, and are easy for “wired” congregation members to share in their social circles. Read more »


What if the kids don’t want our church?

In the Huffington Post, Derek Penwell writes that many young adults don’t want the “treasures” that their parents/grandparents have been accumulating for them. The trend applies to the church as well, he says. He writes that “churches with massive overhead invested in things like church buildings, denominational infrastructures, functional church organizational models…are awakening to the fact that the generations that are supposed to be taking the institutional baton are showing very little interest in grabbing for it.” Read more »


Navigating cultural change

Feeling disoriented by changes in church and culture? You’re not alone, as Bishop Burkat told a recent gathering of congregation council leaders. A “Great Emergence” is both opening new opportunities for Christianity and challenging the institutions formed in the last 500 years, she said. It’s part of a pattern of moving from orientation through disorientation to reorientation that the church has experienced every half-millennium. The shifts are real, and present opportunities for congregations and not reason to panic, said Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop. Read more


Video Promotion

Upper Dublin Lutheran Church and St. Janes, Limerick, promoted their Christmas services using Internet videos. Upper Dublin posted a short music video on Facebook and YouTube inviting people to their Christmas Eve worship services. Limerick created a promotional video clip promoting their “It’s a Wonderful Christmas” sermon series leading up to Christmas.  Read more »


Beer and Hymns

“There is something very cool about singing Beautiful Savior, Amazing Grace, and A Mighty Fortress in a pub,” Pastor Keith Anderson of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church writes in his blog about the experience of UDLC’s first “Beer and Hymns” evening. “Sure, its partly the novelty of it, but it also worshipful, spiritual, intimate, fun, great outreach, and an affirmation of God’s presence in our daily lives – in all the places we gather, including pubs.” Read more »

Lasagna by Sunnybrain

“Dinner and B.S.”

Young adults aren’t always motivated to attend Sunday worship, and Gloria Dei, Huntingdon Valley, and Trinity, Fort Washington have found young adults ask for more when offered the chance to gather for a meal and conversation about life and faith. The two congregations, linked through the call of the Rev. Jim Goodyear as youth minister at Gloria Dei and pastor of Trinity, began inviting young people aged 18-30 to “Dinner and B.S.,” an informal meal and conversation Goodyear hosts.

“It’s designed to let young adults without children to get together and talk about life,” Goodyear says. As dinner morphs into “B.S.”, Goodyear says, “I listen for what’s going on in their lives, and bring a faith perspective to it.”  Sometimes “B.S.” becomes bible study, and “sometimes it’s just about the B.S. of life,” he says. Read more »

Welcome by Renaissancechambara on Flickr

A Strategic Approach to Welcoming

St. James Limerick implemented a much more detailed welcome strategy this fall using Nelson Searcy’s Fusion suggestions.  When you’re a guest at St. James you’ll find 1) parkers and greeters, 2) a welcome center, 3) a communication card in every bulletin to get information, 4) a free gift as you leave, 5) an email on Monday afternoon, 6) a personal letter with another gift on Thursday and 7) you’ll be added to the church database.


Bible Study via Skype

What is the “new thing” that you have p erceived God doing?

Leading congregation to greater emphasis on Bible literacy; using Skype to start online bible study; have met 3 times so far – a keeper.

How are you cooperating with God in this activity?  How can other Christians and congregations help?

Biggest help is to create safe environment and encouragement where people feel they can try new things without being embarrassed or criticized.  I feel long-time members can inadvertently crush spirit of newcomers. Read more »


“God’s Giving Bin”

What is the “new thing” that you have perceived God doing?

God is calling us to engage our children more in worship.

How are you cooperating with God in this activity?  

We introduced God’s giving bin. A bin we have the kids roll through the aisle prior to the children’s sermon collecting donations from our members. Read more »


Welcoming Developmentally Challenged People

What is the “new thing” that you have perceived God doing?

Welcome of people with mental illness, developmental issues, etc.

How are you cooperating with God in this activity?  How can other Christians and congregations help?

Reluctantly, sometimes including  welcoming people who are mentally ill, especially, brings a lot of challenges; welcoming folks with developmental issues means doing things differently. Read more »