First Third Conversations

Gratitude

By Dr. Terri Martinson Elton, Director of the Center for First Third Ministry at Luther Seminary

Yesterday was a cold brisk morning and I spent the day biking around Minneapolis and St. Paul. Why? Because I wanted to join thousands of family, friends and neighbors cheer on runners of the Twin Cities marathon. For 26.2 miles, runners young and old, with various approaches and attire, ran; some ran in groups, others ventured alone. And we, the spectators, did whatever we could to offer energy, encouragement

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Tool: Identifying Your Church’s Culture

Nancy's blog The Race discusses the culture of busyness and how the church interacts with that race.

Terri's blog The Shift discusses how major shifts have taken place in culture which are reframing what people think and believe, as well as how they relate and imagine life. These new realities need to be integrated into ministry. 

So how do you investigate your church's culture as it interacts with the wider culture?

Viewing Your Church as an Outsider

Begin by analyzing your church’s

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The Race

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of the CYF Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary  

I just spent the weekend at a big conference of Children's ministers, and I heard the same conversation over and over. "Our parents keep their children so busy."  "We don't know even really know the parents or children in our churches."  And I heard lots of conversation about figuring out new ways to get their attention.  

Much of the American church (big or small) is deep into a race

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The Shift

By Dr. Terri Martinson Elton, Director of the Center for First Third Ministry at Luther Seminary

Have you experienced it? There’s a shift underway.

There is a conversation growing in our midst. The conversation began wondering if (what we know as) Sunday School and confirmation ministries were working. This part of the conversation had many dimensions; some focused on curricular and programmatic choices, others centered on learning and teaching styles, and a few offered imaginative ideas for

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No Parents/No Ministry

By Neil Christianson

Remember the last baptism you saw? It is a beautiful miracle to see! Through the water and the word, God claims one as his own and we see the transformation right before our eyes. God promises to work in the life of that individual and bring them to eternal life. What a promise! But that’s not all. There is a sacred promise made by the parents that I want you to think about.

In the service, the pastor says, “In Christian love you have presented this child for

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Developing a Youth-Friendly and Youth-Involving Congregation

Dr. Nancy Going writes about The Faith of Adolescents and how young people must be integrated and central to the life of the congregation.

But how do you DO that?

Assessment

How would you rate your efforts in developing a youth-friendly and youth-involving congregation, building intergenerational connections between youth and the congregation?

Reflection  

  • Reflect on the results of your assessment with the church staff and youth ministry
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The Faith of Adolescents

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of the CYF Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary  

You can't be in youth ministry very long, and not have both experienced and been the beneficiary of this phenomenon: The faith of adolescents. When you see expression that raw, passionate, "deeply connected to Jesus" kind of faith that comes from an amazing collision of the Holy Spirit and the unique playing field that is the phase of life called adolescence, it is nothing short of a gift. Obviously for

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Integration and Imagination

By Dr. Terri Martinson Elton, Director of the Center for First Third Ministry at Luther Seminary

What will future leadership in the church entail? That’s the question our faculty are asking as we think about redesigning theological education. With my colleagues this weekend, we had the chance to name moments where students were living into the kind of leadership we think the church needs in the future. It was a fun conversation and engaged us on several levels. As teachers seeking to prepare

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Where have all the mentors gone?

By Derek Tronsgard

Luke Skywalker had Yoda.  Harry Potter had Dumbledore.  Batman had Alfred and Morgan Freeman.

Mentors are important.  And I'm sure all of us can name teachers, coaches, pastors, music directors, and other adults who made a significant impact in our own lives.  Study after study has shown the importance of positive adult mentors in the lives of teens.  As the adolescent brain continues to develop, a mentor relationship has a significant and irreplaceable

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Resource: Strategies for Family Faith Formation

For the good of families and the whole Christian community, congregations can provide opportunities to equip homes as centers of faith formation at every stage of life. Congregations and youth ministries can make family faith formation a focus of everything they do as a church community, using an array of approaches and strategies to nurture faith at every stage of the family life cycle and in all the diverse forms and structures of the contemporary family. They can educate and

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