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Spring 2010 • $8.95

Journal of Youth & Family Ministry

Theologies of Welcome & Hospitality Welcome & Receptivity Welcoming Bible Study Much more...

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Publication Information Published by: ELCA Youth Ministry Network

Table of Contents Welcome!


Todd Buegler

Theologies of Welcome and Hospitality


Rev. Nathan C.P. Frambach, Phd

Welcome and Receptivity


Vance Blackfox

Welcoming: A Parent’s Perspective RENEW | EDUCATE | CONNECT


Debbie Sladek

Interview With Dick Hardell


2010 Tom Hunstad Award For Excellence in Youth Ministry Recipient

Website Discussion Board Excerpts


A View From Elsewhere


George Baum

On The Way

Subscription Information: call 866-ELCANET (352-2638) or visit

Contributing Writers: George Baum, Bill Bixby Vance Blackfox, Nate Frambach, Debbie Sladek

Design and Layout: Michael Sladek Impression Media Group

Contributing Editor: Debbie Sladek

Connect Editorial Board: Chris Bruesehoff, Todd Buegler, Sue Mendenhall, Jeremy Myers, Andy Root, Debbie Sladek, Michael Sladek


Bill Bixby

Calendar of Events


Future Connect Themes: Cross-Generational (Summer ‘10) Advocacy (Fall ‘10)

Congregational (Winter ‘11) Connected (Spring ‘11)

ELCA Youth Ministry Network Board Rev. Larry Wagner: Board Chairperson Rev. Beverly Conway: Board Member Rev. Dave Ellingson: Board Chaplain Rev. Dr. Nathan Frambach: Board Member Julie Miller: Board Member Charlene Rollins: Board Member

Valerie Taylor Samuel: Board Member Linda Staats: Board Member Yvonne Steindal: Board Member Bill Bixby: ELCA Youth & Family Ministry Todd Buegler: Executive Director

The ELCA Youth Ministry Network exists to strengthen and empower adult youth ministry leaders in service to Christ as a part of God’s mission.


Network News Bites

Welcome! Dear friends, We continue working our way, one word at a time, through our 10 words that we believe define “Effective Youth and Family Ministry.” This issue, we’re taking on the word Welcoming. At first glance, it would seem that this word is easy. “Welcoming. Sounds good! Who’s going to be opposed to that?” But as we know, nothing that is worth doing well is really that easy; and the word Welcoming, we discover, carries its own set of baggage that we need to figure out together. How do we “get ourselves out of the way” of really creating a culture of welcome, and make sure that all are welcome to the table? What are we willing to give up to do that? And for that matter... who is “we?” Who are “they?” What is “the table?” Even the language we use can be problematic. And if a welcoming culture can be created, can it be done in such a way that still honors the history and heritage of our church? (At least those parts worthy of being honored!) And is the challenge around creating a culture of receptivity about race? About gender? Age? Class? Sexual identity? Roster status? Geography? Developmental or cognitive ability? Ethnic history? All of the above? It’s complicated. And it shouldn’t be. Jesus was clear in his Word and his action. Jesus welcomed. And so should we. But because we serve Christ and the church in a sinful and broken world, we are always going to live in the tensions of the questions above. Are the church doors open to all? Do all of God’s children and youth feel welcome in their congregation? How do we ensure that they do? And there are no simple answers. We know a lot about being welcoming, but the more we dig in, the more we just find questions. And knowing and understanding doesn’t always equate to making it a reality. But we do believe that God is calling us to be more than we are. More complete. More whole. More in line with God’s hopes and dreams for the church. And so in this issue we’ll continue the conversation. We’ll look at the theology and the practice of being welcoming. We’ll wonder about God’s vision for the church, and about how we might live that out.

Extravaganza 2011 has been locked down! Put January 20–24 (Intensive Care Courses January 20–21 and the main event January 21–24) at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

3rd Tuesday Conversations are national conference calls featuring special guest speakers and Network members participate free! Go to www.elcaymnet. org/3tc for more information and a list of speakers!

Going on a summer trip? We thought so. Figure out which states you’re traveling through and go to the Network membership directory (organized by regions) and print the areas you’re traveling through. If you run into any problems/issues/troubles, call a Network member’s congregation in that town to get help or support! We’re there for each other!

Really exciting Extravaganza 2011 announcements are coming up! Watch our Twitter feed! (

Welcome to the conversation!

Rev. Todd Buegler Executive Director – ELCA Youth Ministry Network Pastor­—Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Maple Grove, MN


We’re almost ready to announce the 2012 Extravaganza dates. Plan on being back in New Orleans because of the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2012.

Theologies of Welcome & Hospitality by Rev. Nathan C.P. Frambach, PhD

Perhaps you have heard by now that the ELCA Youth Ministry Network has entered into a new season of visioning. A few years ago a team of Network owners, on behalf of the Network, engaged in a visioning process and the rest, as they say, is history. That visioning team and process served (and continue to serve) the Network well, having produced a set of executable products (aka goals and strategies)—some of which have been implemented and others of which are still in process.

ity. NB: This is often—not always, but often—much more the case with adults than it is with young people. Many, many young people could care less about talking about diversity, for it is simply a reality that they live each day. In short, diversity has to do with difference: differences of gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, political persuasion, sexual orientation, age, culture and much more that is simply a part of the fabric of God’s creation, adding beauty and energy to our lives. Sadly, difference often is parlayed into an “us and them” mentality—those who are not like us are threatening and challenge “our way of life.” To sharpen the point even more, communities of power and privilege often fear diversity precisely because they fear a loss of their privileged position and status.

In the spring of 2008 the Network board of directors called and commissioned a new team of Network owners and leaders (on which I serve, along with Veronica Britto, Dr. Sumie Song, Vance Blackfox, Janet Cederberg, AIM, and Aaron Tidwell) to continue the practice of visioning that began five years ago. This current visioning process has a singular focus, the aim of which is not an executable product but rather a process that will lead to significant culture change. The change in culture to which this process aspires intends to help the ELCA Youth Ministry Network become more intentionally diverse and inclusive of “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).

The theological and ecclesiological correlates toward Christian communities becoming more diverse and inclusive are welcome and hospitality. However, I want to suggest (rather strongly) that welcome and hospitality, though related, are not synonymous. To be open to receive another and actively, or better yet proactively, welcome difference is a calling from God in Christ. Hospitality as a (Christian) practice is a gift of the Spirit. Christian theologians who understand welcome as calling and are committed to practicing God’s hospitality are responsible for developing critical approaches to theology that make sense to those persons and communities who are marginalized.

In Christian communities (read

congregations, institutions and net-

This language from the seventh chapter of Revelation has become paradigmatic for the current visioning team and its work. Though it is language that is used multiple times in the book of Revelation (cf. 5:9, 11:9, 13:7, and 14:6), the particular constellation of words—“every nation . . . all tribes, languages and peoples”— appears to be a specific thematic in Revelation. The divine vision toward which this language points is God’s new world, a world in which a great multitude “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” comes together “before the throne and before the Lamb.” Furthermore, the great multitude needs to be understood in light of biblical texts that are in keeping with the call of and promise to Abraham and Sarah. This multitude is countless, just as God promised Abraham and Sarah that their children would be as countless as the sand on the sea shore or the stars in the heavens. This divine vision embedded in Revelation, in conjunction with the entire scope of the Network’s visioning process thus far, has stimulated my theological imagination about matters of diversity and inclusion, the contours of which I wish to trace in the remainder of this essay.

You would have to be either seriously kidding yourself or asleep to deny the fact that there are very real differences between human beings, along the lines delineated at the beginning of the above paragraph. However, it is not the differences, per se, that threaten and divide us. It is, at best, our resistance, and at worst, our refusal to acknowledge and embrace those differences.

works), to welcome is to receive another on behalf of God, in the name

There is little doubt that talking about issues of diversity and inclusivity is a difficult task for many church communities. There are many reasons to which this could be attributed, not the least of which is the seeming lack of motivation for many in positions of power and privilege to engage the conversation. In light of this, some would wonder whether it even matters to engage the conversation, or whether genuine dialogue is possible when so many understand church unity as uniformity and community as homogene-

of Christ, with a generous Spirit.

In Christian communities (read congregations, institutions and networks), to welcome is to receive another on behalf of God, in the name of Christ, with a generous Spirit. Any notion of welcoming must be resonate with and rooted in an understanding of God. In


Jesus Christ God utterly identifies with a creation and its peoples that, albeit frail, fragile and fractured to the core and desperately in need of healing, are loved deeply by God. In the cross and resurrection of Christ we see most clearly and decisively the extent to which God reaches out with a suffering love to join, even embrace the suffering of the world and its peoples and promise forgiveness, salvation and new life. The Reformers spoke of the gospel message in terms of promise, not certainty; the trustworthiness of God’s promise rather than the security of a guarantee—save the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 1:3–14, particularly vss. 13–14). God’s promise of “forgiveness, life and salvation” (to use classic Reformation language), made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is not guaranteed in the populist and empirical, which is to say realized sense of the word. Rather, our faith clings in trust to the promise of God’s Reign as eschatological reality.

Hospitality that is practiced in the name of Christ is committed to mutuality. In other words, Christ-like hospitality is committed to mutuality with those on the margins, those considered “outsiders,” so as to discern and determine exactly what kind of hospitality is needed. Gospel hospitality is more interested in the needs of the guests than the preferences of the host. In her spiritual geography Dakota, Kathleen Norris contends: “True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.” In this way hospitality becomes the manner in which we relate with each and every person who comprise the whole of God’s creation. As such, Christian hospitality is characterized by dialogue with those who have been excluded or marginalized. It is not sufficient to invite others to a “place at the table,” to use a popular phrase. This brings with it the connotation that someone (other than God) owns the table and others should be grateful to be invited and included. We begin with a posture of humility, listening and asking questions about the experience(s) of the other so that everyone involved can create space and set the table together.

For Miroslav Volf, God’s decisive activity through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ reflects a radical notion of welcome. “ . . . God’s reception of hostile humanity into divine communion is a model for how human beings should relate to the other” (Volf, Exclusion & Embrace, Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1996, p. 100). Sadly, human beings and human communities tend to more easily emphasize the hostility vis-à-vis an exclusive “us and them” mentality rather than the reception. What God demonstrates through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the desire and the will to embrace and receive in spite of hostility. God in Christ chose and continually chooses to move outside of the boundary lines we draw in order to reach out and draw in every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. God’s vision of unity in diversity, of true and genuine community, is unsettling, even jarring to us precisely because of its inclusive breadth.

It is critical that we both talk and act in a manner that proclaims and embodies God’s welcome so that it can be clearly heard and believed by persons and communities of great complexity and diversity. A youth ministry Network that is in all ways more diverse and inclusive will reflect more fully the human textures of the world in which we live and, more importantly, God’s vision for the churches and the entire creation.

Nathan C.P. Frambach serves as Associate Professor of Youth, Culture & Mission at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA.

Having extended a welcome to all “outsiders”—including you and me—God calls all of us to practice hospitality by standing with others, joining them in their struggles and suffering. Christ followers today, both individually and collectively, are called to reach out and embrace difference, welcoming and receiving others in a manner that reflects the way in which God in Christ welcomed and received us. I believe that hospitality is the primary practice by which Christians and Christian communities embody and enact this divine welcome. Jesus Christ is the center of our life together in Christian community. For Christian communities hospitality must be defined in relation to the story of the One in whose name we gather. It is our identity in Christ, the one who crosses boundaries to reach out and welcome the outsider and stranger, that motivates our ministry of hospitality. Henri Nouwen has described hospitality as receiving the stranger on his (or her) terms, and asserts that it can be offered only by those who “have found the center of their lives in their own hearts.”



Welcome and Receptivity by Vance Blackfox

Is not a puzzle incomplete if all the pieces of a puzzle are not in place? Is not a pie incomplete if some of the listed and necessary ingredients are missing? Is not a finely tuned race car incomplete if it is missing a spark plug or two? Are not our lives incomplete if we have no faith? Are not our lives incomplete if we have no hope? Are not our lives incomplete if we have no love? What other things might make us feel incomplete if they were to go missing from our lives?

of our congregations support mission-minded and social justice ministries, ministries both in the United States and around the globe. We might all value and appreciate the strong theological training of our congregational and church leadership. And of course, we value our relationship with Christ through the means of grace, extended to us for our sake, each time we come together as a congregation around the Word and sacraments. This list of values is quite limited and greatly over-generalized, yet these are truly some of our shared valuables in the church, for which we should give thanks and praise.

There are so many things in this world that we value, that we hold dear, that we claim make us feel whole. Imagine, if you will, a time in your life when even one of these things that are so valuable to us was missing from your life. You were unable to have the things that you valued, that you felt are important to your health, your faith and your spirit.

As we lift up those things that we value and appreciate about our Lutheran heritage, however, we also must—absolutely must— examine what things might be missing from our list of values. What is it that we, as individuals, congregations and churches, are not valuing, which then cause a lot of incompleteness?

When the things that we value go missing from our lives, or when our expectations are not, at the very least, being met, we can often begin to feel incomplete or even offended. These things are valuable to us because they bring us comfort. Maybe they enhance our leisure time, or maybe these things that we value make our work, our jobs, easier to do or worth doing. And in many cases, what we value can truly bring us a sense of balance, centeredness and fulfillment.

For some time now, we have been living with some incompleteness as a church. It was in the late 1980’s that the leadership of our church challenged all expressions to work toward being a more inclusive church regarding race and ethnicity. It was a challenge for our church to become ten percent people of color and people whose primary language was other than English. Today we fall short of that original goal by at least seven percent, and this will be the case even by the end of the next decade. This is a major piece of our history, this goal and these numbers, that we need to learn from and to understand. This is a reminder of what we need to value more: to be more welcoming and receptive as individuals, congregations and organizations. It is not only about numbers, it is about whether or not we are fully committed to valuing those who are not like ourselves as well as the gifts that they and their people and cultures offer to our church and to the Lutheran heritage that will be received by generations of Christians and Lutherans, for years to come.

As ministers who work most closely with youth in our congregations, we know intimately the gifts that the youth in our community bring to the life of the church. We work diligently and passionately to ensure youth are present and valued, and prayerfully valuable to the other members of our congregations. On more than one occasion I have heard and said that when youth are not present in the life of a congregation, that congregation’s life expectancy is shortened a great deal. Youth are valuable. So then, let us now reflect, a little more, on what our congregations value, keeping in mind that even though many share some of the same values not every congregation is the same. Some of the things, however, that our congregations might value in common is a strong and balanced budget with committed and generous parishioners—as an employee of a congregation I appreciate this one a lot. Others might value the type of worship that is planned for them each Sunday; worship that reflects the traditions of the Lutheran church’s European traditions and history, while others may value a more contemporary style of worship that might or might not involve a little clapping. Still many others value a good potluck, the quintessential community-builder of our Lutheran church tradition. We like to eat and we like to eat together. Most

The question we must first ask when learning how to be a welcoming and receptive person, congregation or organization is, “who is not at the table?” The second question that must be asked is, “why?” The answer to the first question is quite obvious: we live in a multicultural society, filled with a variety of peoples and ethnicities, people who have disabilities and people whose sexual orientation and gender identity differ from our own, and all of whom are not always at the table with us in our church. The second question is a fairly easy question to answer as well, however, at the same time it is a difficult question to answer simply because it must be answered.


God has called us to be welcoming and receptive, which was so beautifully modeled for us by Christ. It is not a new concept and one that we must practice more. If we do, we will begin very different from what we presently value as individuals, congregations and the church. Learning how to effectively welcome and receive others may be an uncomfortable journey and will require a shift in how and with whom we do ministry. Let us be clear, it is not necessarily imperative that we replace all that we currently value. It does, however, require that we recognize that the church is incomplete, that the church does not fully reflect the “creation-dom” of God. What an opportunity God has blessed us with in this time and in this age, to welcome and receive this newness of creation, rebirth of commission and the many gifts of those valuable people who are waiting to help us set the table. May we welcome a church that is balanced, centered and fulfilled, a true reflection of God’s creation.

Vance Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is from Oaks, Oklahoma, and an associate member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church. Vance is a student at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and serves as Coordinator of Youth & Family Ministry at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church. He has served the ELCA in a variety of volunteer and professional positions in youth, young adult, and multicultural ministries for 21 years.

Creating A Culture Of Receptivity Creating a church that fully reflects the “creation-dom” of God may seem an impossible task. Yet, taking steps and working toward that end is not impossible. Here is a list of things that you and your congregation and youth group can do to begin this work of creating a culture of receptivity.

1. Do your research. Find out the demographics of your neighborhood, wider community and the country and then create a presentation and educate your congregation. Many congregational members may believe that there is little, if any, racial and/or ethnic diversity in their part of the Creation. They might be surprised to know that this is probably not the case. A conversation about diversity based on facts encourages people to think about diversity.

2. Have your youth and other congregation members study the ELCA’s Social Statement Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture. The knowledge gained from this study is not helpful to the life of your congregation, but the knowledge will also serve each and youth and congregational member well out in the world.

3. Be intentional about adding more multicultural experiences to your servant trips and youth group activities. Visit cultural presentations and museums in your community or region that specifically address diversity and offer opportunities for learning more about the diverse people that make up our world.


Welcoming: A Parent’s Perspective by Debbie Sladek

One of the things our son most looked forward to when he reached middle school was joining our church’s youth group. The years ahead—chock full of retreats, lock-ins, confirmation, and scavenger hunts—promised great fun and a whole new flock of friends to hang out with. We’d known several of the other youth, the pastor and the youth director since David had been in preschool and we were confident that youth group was going to be an amazing experience for David. For the most part we were right. Every Wednesday and Sunday evening David couldn’t wait to get out the door and head to church, and he spent much of the rest of his time texting and instant messaging friends about that week’s plans and finding out who was coming. Over time, especially after ninth grade Confirmation, many of the youth stopped attending youth group weekly, and a few never graced the door of church again. While my husband and I expected a bit of this, it took David completely by surprise, and after awhile, he became very discouraged. Last September David was excited at the prospect of being a senior and wanted to help make youth group welcoming to everyone and to get as many kids to come back as possible. And then the unthinkable happened: our congregation’s youth program ground to a screeching halt. Within a few short months we lost our youth director, most non-Confirmation related events were canceled, and many more youth “disappeared.” David was bereft.

I knew that there would probably come a point in his life where David would struggle with doubts about his faith, but I assumed it would be during his college years. I was completely taken by surprise that he would feel unwelcome amongst the very people that nurtured him through confirmation. We—the adults of the church—still need to keep the welcome mat out even in times when we don’t feel much like doing so. We spend years at home and in places like Sunday school teaching children about forgiveness, grace and the importance of relationships, but when things get rough—and maybe even become a nightmare— do we demonstrate that we also believe in what we’ve been teaching and preaching? Or do we essentially walk our youth to the door of the church, assure them we’ll be in touch just as soon as things calm down and wish them the best?

Debbie Sladek is the Communications Manager at Children’s Institute for Learning Differences on Mercer Island, WA., a freelance writer and editor, and a volunteer master gardener. Her favorite thing in the world is spending time with her husband and teen-aged son at their home in Sammamish, WA.

What had been a welcoming and safe place, became a landscape of hurt and confusion. Congregations in turmoil and transition are tough places for adults, but for teens and children they’re even more painful and bewildering. At our church, the youth watched in horror as their parents, prayer partners, pastors and youth leaders fought and argued, slowly eating away at the trust and relationships that had been established over years of ministry. David started using the word “hypocrisy” when referring to the adults at church, and by January decided that he didn’t want to be in church any longer. I think what made the biggest difference for David was that most of the adults at church seemed so preoccupied with their own struggles that he felt that they stopped thinking about the youth. Kids, especially during their teen years, are pretty sharp at detecting when adults say one thing and do something else. Developmentally, teens are still fairly idealistic and just beginning to learn that things aren’t always black and white. It’s tough seeing your parents, teachers, coaches or youth leaders struggle with life and discouraging to realize that adults don’t always have the answers.


Interview With Dick Hardel The 2010 Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Youth and Family Ministry was awarded to Rev. Dr. Dick Hardel. Dick and his wife, Carolyn, now living in Montana, have spent their lives working to strengthen faith in the lives of all around them. As a parish pastor, Assistant to the Bishop of the Nebraska Synod and then as the Director of The Youth and Family Institute, Dick has had a tremendous impact on the lives of youth and youth leaders across the church. After the presentation of the “Tommy” Award at this year’s Extravaganza, the Connect sat down with Dick to talk with him about what he’s learned in his life and his career. The full interview is available as a streaming video on our website by going to Here are some excerpts:

CJ: Dick, can you tell us a little about what influenced you to enter into ministry, and who was really influential in your own faith formation? DH: Well, I was always trying to be like my father, who was a blue-collar factory worker and could build anything, and I realized I just didn’t have those gifts. So when I was thirteen years old, I thought I couldn’t be like my dad, but maybe I could be like somebody my dad really liked... who my Dad really liked was our pastor... I told my dad “Dad, I’m going to be like Dr. Johnson” (our pastor). I really loved him... I’d had him since fourth grade. When I told him I was going to be a pastor like Dr. Johnson, he said “huh ...good idea. I don’t know what else you could do!” It kind of hurt me at the time, but as I look back, it is so true... it is so true! So since I was thirteen, I felt like God was calling me to be a pastor. And my mother was probably my main faith mentor...

CJ: You have really become a mentor to many, many people as well, Dick. What do you hope that people have learned from you? DH: ... I would that people that I have mentored would understand how important it is to look at the next level of leaders in the church, and affirm them, love them, make sure they get the training they need, to unfold the gifts that they have so they can reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ... CJ: Your ministry has taken on many different forms: parish pastor, you’ve been on synod staff, you’ve led the Youth and Family Institute, you’ve been a clown... is there a common thread, or a theme, or a set of values that has run through these? DH: I think there is... Herb Brokering, one of my faith mentors, who recently died, Herb had a unique way of seeing things... some people thought he was off the wall. But Herb had a unique way of seeing God through the cross of Jesus Christ. That influenced my teaching clown ministry. That’s a way of helping people see in the ordinary parts of their life, the extraordinary grace of God... We reframe life so that people can see a God who’s already been there. In every aspect of my life. I actually have a card with a cross punched out, so that when I read scripture, I’m literally reading it through the cross. Theologically, that’s just crucial... we even read the Old Testament through the cross of Christ. And I literally do that to remind myself that that’s how I look at everyone, how I look at life, and how I read scripture and listen to God. CJ: Over your career in ministry, how have you seen things change? DH: With technology, we have more ways to create pictures... we can use technology, and video clips, Millennials and Gen Y’ers... they need to see the context out of their own lives. That technology is just incredible... Another major change is the role of youth ministry is becoming vital and people are thinking theologically about youth ministry. Youth and family ministry isn’t about youth. It’s about families; it’s about Jesus; it’s about discipleship, and we’re beginning to see that. And we’re beginning to see home and congregation as partners... and we’ve gone from the pied piper concept of a person in youth ministry, the concept that a youth worker needs to be young, to it needing to be someone with a depth of faith... CJ: What advice would you want to give to people coming behind you in this? DH: First, you have to model the faith. Kids know if this isn’t who you are... if you have a passion for Jesus, and you love them, they know... and you have to model it in your own family... that’s the primary place you are called. That means you have to set good


boundaries. The other thing is that you have to live well in Christ. I’m deeply concerned that we have a church culture that is illness based rather than wellness based. In the name of Jesus, which I think we misuse, if we work 90 hours a week, that’s not living well. But we have a culture that rewards us for abusing ourselves. So I’m deeply concerned that people set clear boundaries, that they live well in Christ. Sometimes that means saying “no.” Think, is there someone else that can do this?... CJ: Tell us about receiving the Tom Hunstad Award. DH: It was is still emotional to me. When I got called, I was just shocked. Not that I haven’t thought that I’ve done a good job in ministry. I came out of the Missouri Synod ...I come from a different background. I just never thought of it. “They’ll just take regular ELCA people.” The other thing is my deep respect for the Hunstads. We sat around the table and we were all thinking about this Network. What I loved about Tom, and David the same way, the loved the Lord, they loved the church, and they loved young people. I’d do these youth gatherings with them, and they’d lead

music, and they’d say “well, we aren’t that good.” But it wasn’t about being good was about loving the young people. And they loved those young people, and the young people responded... so to get an award with that name... it’s just an honor... to know them... to work with them... to grow with them... it just blows my mind. CJ: Do you know what you want to be remembered for? What you want your legacy to be? DH: I think it’s really simple. I’d like them to say, “You know, we had a lot of fun together, he helped me see Jesus. That’s what it was all about. I really don’t care if they ever know my name ...but their relationship with Jesus and what God does with them, that will mean everything ... There is much more to this interview! Watch it in its entirety by going to and click on “streaming video.”




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ED DUCATION DEGREE you uth events WOMEN’S EVENTS plays the Bluuebird Caafe Celia Whitler is a communicator. She is a singer, songwriter, author and speaker. Her desire is to encourage and inspire through story and song. Most recently Celia has recorded and released a collection of 12 lullabies, packaged and priced for local churches to purchase and give away for visitors, for births, baptisms, adoptions, etc. Visit – She has included her hymns album in this priced as a resource offer.


To learn more about Celia or to contact her about appearances or resources, visit 13

Website Discussion Board Excerpts There are great conversations taking place in the Network Web site discussion boards. Below is an excerpt of a conversation about single-gender small groups. To read more, or to participate, please go to our Web site at and under the “Resources” tab, please click on “Discussion Forums.”

We’re wondering if your small groups or classes for junior high ministry, for confirmation or for senior high ministries are divided by gender, or if they are coed. Any thoughts about the advantages or disadvantages? Any experiences with this? How would one or the other affect our understanding of “church?”

We use single gender groups for our Confirmation Program. We utilize the Faith Inkubators model of large group to small groups. The small groups sit together and even work together in the large group and then shift to their small groups. Over the last twenty years in ministry I have found this separa-

With all things there are exceptions and we try to provide a variety of entry points and opportunities to fit the needs. But I think the most important message is that there is a natural order and while putting people all in one large group may be convenient for us as leaders and teachers, this may not

tion to be incredibly helpful in how youth learn and process information. Because of less developed verbal skills, we spend a great deal of time in mixed gender groups helping boys and girls understand what is being said. We have also seen boys and girls approach the materials differently, because of the developmental and gender differences between males and females.

be what is most effective for our youth and families.

We have found that there are fewer behavioral problems and students retain information better because there is not the gender distraction.

I have tried using single gender groups with our senior high youth and they highly dislike it. The youth feel as if they are being treated like little kids who can’t handle the opposite sex interaction.

We also try to have male group leaders with males and female group leaders with females. It is especially important in our congregation that young men see active, faithful men based on new research about faith development in young men. We do provide social/fellowship opportunities for boys and girls on a regular basis to provide places for the genders to interact.


In some cases, such as a discussion on sexuality, it is a must. They wouldn’t admit it, but the youth are much more comfortable and open to honest discussion in a single-gender group. Korra

At the senior high level, we provide both opportunities but also have giftbased ministry that youth self-select into. It is interesting how the gender roles play out and how some groups are males-only and others are female only. For example, our senior high tech team is all males except one brave and talented female. Our baking ministry is currently all females while our band is a mixed gender group (however, right now the vocalists are female and the instrumentalists are male).


A View From Elsewhere Welcoming by George Baum

So, my little parish here in Ohio is what the experts call “family sized.” I’ll spare you all the details of what that means except to say that it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Less like a company, and more like a family. The goal of every family sized parish is to grow into what is called pastoral sized. The goal of every pastoral sized parish is to grow into program sized. The goal of every program sized parish is to grow into corporate sized. And the goal of every corporate sized parish is to move into the Astrodome. This concludes George’s church-growth seminar. I hope you can apply the tools you’ve learned today to help your church grow. But back to my parish... So in the family sized parish, the “need” to grow is paramount. It’s on everyone’s mind, all the time, for obvious reasons. More people mean more resources (unless the people you’re attracting have limited resources). More people mean more help with stuff (unless the people you already have in the congregation insist that they’re the only ones who know how to do anything right). More people mean you could have a choir (if anyone could sing), and a youth group (if anyone had kids), and all sorts of new ideas and energy (if people aren’t too burned out from the economic challenges they face). As you can see, new members can mean all sorts of great things for the parish. So it is crucial that we get out there and get some new members.

The desperation for new members is palpable in our people’s eyes. During the sharing of the peace (which looks more like the end of a baseball game than it does sharing anything peaceful), these hapless visitors are glommed onto, chatted up, and handshook until I can see them adopting a far-away look in their eyes. I can imagine what’s going through their minds: “Thank God I drove, because there is no way I am staying for coffee hour!” In short, being overly welcoming is not welcoming. Refusing to give the visitor some space is not hospitable. In my parish, the well-meaning folks are just as apt to drive someone away as they are to gain a new member. And that’s a hard truth to try to explain to them. My congregants see themselves as creating a welcoming environment. And to the already initiated, they do. But for a person who walks in off the street, I think we would serve them better by giving them some time and space. Let them see how we love one another, and they might want to be loved in that same way. If we meet them at the door with so much attention that it scares me just to witness it, the chances are good that they’ll be heading for the nondenominational church next door, where they can sit in the dark and observe the service from the safety of a padded theater seat.

And there’s the rub, because when you’re a small congregation, worshipping in the fellowship hall of the local dying Disciples of Christ church, nobody knows you’re there. Nobody knows you even exist. How could they possibly know to stop in and help you grow?

George Baum plays in the band Lost And Found ( and also serves as Priest in Charge at St. Patrick Episcopal Church, Brunswick, OH

Well, the answer to that question could take up a whole issue of this journal along with several others. And since my congregation has no money, there’s no chance of getting the vestry to approve some kind of multi-journal study of our challenges. There’s really no practical way to reach out and let the community know we are here. So the parishioners take it upon themselves to invite their friends. People much like themselves, with limited resources, and struggling amid the economic downturn. And these friends do show up. They walk in the door with their hosts and as soon as they cross the threshold, they are attacked! In a friendly way, of course, but attacked nonetheless.


On The Way by Bill Bixby

The Network’s definition that lifts up welcoming as a core value of youth and household ministry, talks about Jesus, a lot. I like that. Of course, some folks think that Lutherans don’t do that nearly enough. I hope that this definition surprises them!

A powerful Christian witness of the second century, Tertullian, spoke about the public image of believers in North Africa this way: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our lovingkindness. ‘Only look,’ our enemies say, ‘look how they love one another.’” By welcoming one another, as Christ welcomes us (Romans 15:7).

I also hope that our conversation about the “Jesus-patterned” welcome surprises and challenges us! The Jesus-patterned welcome is, well, it’s serious. The Network definition captures this because it points to the radical nature of Jesus’ welcome.

Oh, that the same will be said of us, and of our ministry places with young people!

Jesus welcomed others across longstanding social and religious barriers. Jesus welcomed others in a public way, in a communitytransforming way. Jesus welcomed others in a way that called forth a new Israel, and a new creation. That’s a revolutionary welcome— and Jesus paid a steep price for extending that welcome.

On the Way, and in the waters, with you,

Bill Bixby, who has been an ELCA pastor for twenty-two years and a blessed-by-youth minister for even longer, lives and serves in Chicago, IL as Director for Youth Ministry. From 2000 to 2007, Bill served (and sometimes taught at) two ELCA seminaries in a lively project of theological and vocational discovery with teens.

Quite a few young people of our churches already get this, instinctively, and live it out, practically. (Lots of adults do, too.) Our calling, deeply rooted in baptism—the ultimate act of death-overcoming, life-imparting welcome—is to shape communities of such daring hospitality that folks can’t help but notice, and join in.

DID YOU KNOW? We value your membership in the Network. And so do lots of other folks. As a Network member you have access to some tremendous discounts from the following organizations who want to support you and your ministry:

Discounts from resource & service providers:*

• • • • • • • •

Network Members also receive:

Center for Youth Ministries at Wartburg Seminary Impression Media Group Lutheran Life Coaching TXTSignal Trinity Lutheran College’s Children, Youth and Family Ministry Center The Youth and Family Institute Youth Leadership Center for Youth and Family Ministries Youth Specialties

* For more information on discounts, visit 16

• • • • • • •

A registration discount for the Network’s annual Extravaganza! Discounted tuition for the Network’s Online Training Initiative (beginning in the fall of 2009) Online access to a National Youth Ministry Network Directory A subscription to “Connect”, our quarterly journal for youth and family ministry The Annual Salary Survey results A free Hertz #1 Gold Club Membership Access to video of keynote speakers from past Extravaganzas

Calendar of Events Start Date

End Date



Contact Person

Web Site

Targeted to:

May 13, 2010 8:30 AM

May 13, 2010 11:00 AM

Ascension Day Breakfast - MAS & SPAS Networking Event

Augburg College

Jo Mueller

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

May 13, 2010 9:00 AM

May 15, 2010 4:00 PM

LEAD: Youth Ministry Intensive

Youth Leadership St. Paul, MN

Jeanne Osgood

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

May 13, 2010 9:00 AM

May 15, 2010 4:00 PM

MANAGE: Youth Ministry Intensive

Youth Leadership St. Paul, MN

Jeanne Osgood

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

May 18, 2010 1:00 PM

May 18, 2010 1:30 PM

3TC with Guest Dr. Terri Elton

National Conference Call

Dannica Montplaisier

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Jun 13, 2010 6:00 PM

Jul 3, 2010 10:00 AM

Serving Christ in the World

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Kristin Johnson

Sr High Youth

Jun 18, 2010 5:00 PM

Jun 20, 2010 11:00 AM

Father Son Retreat

Highlands Presbyterian Camp

Brit Windel

Jr High Youth, Sr High Youth, Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals, Parents

Jun 21, 2010 12:00 PM

Jun 25, 2010 9:30 AM

Leadership Pathways

Lenoir-Rhyne University Hickory, NC

Tammy Jones West

Sr High Youth

Jun 27, 2010 2:00 PM

Jul 1, 2010 2:30 PM

The Disciple Project

Texas Lutheran University Seguin, TX

Peggy Hahn

Sr High Youth, Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals, Parents

Jul 10, 2010 1:00 PM

Jul 24, 2010 10:00 AM

TEY Summer Theological Academy

Susquehanna University Selinsgrove, PA

Chandler Carriker

Sr High Youth

Jul 31, 2010 1:00 PM

Aug 7, 2010 10:00 AM

TEY Crossroads Event

Gettysburg Seminary Gettysburg, PA

Chandler Carriker

Sr High Youth

Oct 13, 2010 5:00 PM

Oct 15, 2010 12:00 PM

Network Board Meeting

Wartburg Seminary

Todd Buegler

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Oct 15, 2010 11:00 AM

Oct 17, 2010 11:00 AM

SEPA Synod Junior High Youth Gathering

Refreshing Mountain Camp Stevens, PA

Molly Beck Dean

Jr High Youth

Oct 21, 2010 4:00 PM

Oct 23, 2010 12:00 PM

Western North Dakota Synod LYO Gathering

Grand International Inn Minot, ND

Beth Anderson

Sr High Youth

Nov 19, 2010 4:00 PM

Nov 21, 2010 12:00 PM

SW MN Synod Junior High Youth Gathering

Holiday Inn Willmar, MN

Sarah Hausken

Jr High Youth

Dec 1, 2010 4:00 PM

Dec 4, 2010 11:00 AM

Ecumenical Youthworker’s Summit

Disneyworld Resort Orlando, FL

Rev. Bill Bixby

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Jan 20, 2011 12:00 PM

Jan 21, 2011 4:00 PM

Extravaganza 2011 Intensive Care Courses

Hyatt - Kansas City, MO

Todd Buegler

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Jan 21, 2011 7:00 PM

Jan 24, 2011 12:00 PM

Extravaganza 2011

Hyatt - Kansas City, MO

Todd Buegler

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Feb 8, 2012 12:00 PM

Feb 9, 2012 4:00 PM

Extravaganza 2012 Intensive Care Courses

Sheraton - New Orleans, LA

Todd Buegler

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

Feb 9, 2012 7:00 PM

Feb 12, 2012 12:00 PM

Extravaganza 2012

Sheraton - New Orleans, LA

Todd Buegler

Adult Volunteers, Adult Professionals

July 18, 2012 3:00 PM

July 12, 2012 12:00 PM

ELCA Youth Gathering

New Orleans, LA

Gathering Staff

Sr. High Youth

Submit your event information and find the latest event info at



istry n i M


Ecumenical Youth Worker Summit Faith Lens On-Line Bible Studies ( Youth Gathering/Leadership Events


lt Ministry u d A

ELCA Vocation and Education 8765 W. Higgins Rd. Chicago, IL 60631 18




Lutheran Student Movement Imagine Yourself ( @ELCAYoungAdults Twitter

Journeys for Youth and Young Adults ( International Counselor Program Outdoor Ministry Curriculum


You n

Outdoo r Min

You t

ELCA Youth & Young Adult Ministries

August 2010 Campus Ministry/Student/Communicators Conference Over 180 sites at Public & Private Non-ELCA Colleges and Universities

oasis something serving as a


relief, or

pleasant change from what is


annoying, or


Extravaganza 2011 is the ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s gathering of adults who tend the faith journeys of the young.

• It’s about renewal: You will be fed at God’s table and will drink deeply of God’s grace. • It’s about education: You will have your skills and your understanding of ministry with children, youth and families strengthened. Our teachers are simply the best there are. • It’s about connection: You will spend time with peers who understand the joys and struggles of your ministry. Come prepared to share your ideas, and to receive the ideas of others.

Join us at the Hyatt Crown Center in Kansas City, MO from January 20-24, 2011 • Intensive Care Courses: January 20-21 • Main Event: January 21-24 Cost: • Early registration from July 1 - October 31: $220 (reduced from last year!) • Standard registration from Nov 1 - Dec 31: $240 • Late registration after January 1: $275 Come and experience the Oasis that is Jesus.

19 Registration opens July 1, 2010 at


ELCA Youth Ministry Network 11821 98th Pl. N., Maple Grove, Mn 55369


Connect Journal: Welcoming  

Connect is the journal from the ELCA Youth Ministry Network

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