First Third Conversations

Christian Camping in Light of Emerging Adult Research

cross sunset-A blog post by Jake Sorenson

Christian outdoor ministry is an incredibly understudied field. As scholarly attention increases in the fields of youth ministry and emerging adult ministry, camp is conspicuously absent from nearly every study. Evidence for camp’s effectiveness is left largely to anecdotal accounts that seem convincing to those of us who have had wonderful camp experiences but leave others in doubt. Camp is often viewed as mere fun and games, an experience that at best is theologically

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Emerging Adult Faith Formation and the Camp Experience

CabinA blog post by Jake Sorenson

In diverse studies on emerging adult religiosity, three essential factors consistently rise to the top as important for lasting faith formation: relationships, internalization of faith, and incorporation of faith into daily living. These factors align remarkably with the “essential trinity” of camping: community living, away from home, and in an outdoor, recreational environment. This alignment demonstrates why Christian summer camps are vibrant expressions

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Discovering More About Young Adults - Resources Installment #2

faithA blog post by Terri Elton

As we begin to imagine accompanying younger adults in their journey, what are some things to keep in mind?

1. Younger adults are tinkerers. According to Robert Withnow:

“The single work that best describes young adults’ approach to religion and spiritual life -- indeed life -- is tinkering. A tinkerer puts together a like from whatever skills, ideas, and resources that are readily at hand. In a culture like ours, where higher education and professional training

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Young Adult Resources, Installment #1

QuestionA blog post by Terri Elton

Over the next several weeks, we will share with you some resources that might help you understand some aspects of what’s going on in the lives of people in their 20s and 30s. This first installment address these three questions: Who are they? Why is this so important? What is their main “task”?

Who are they?

Demographics are helpful to a point. They do at least two things -- for those who know nothing about a population, they offer some insights, and

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Young Adult Intro

Young AdultsA blog post by Terri Elton

My daughter is almost 21. She can vote and serve in the army, but in the eyes of society she will not be an official adult until her birthday appears on the calendar. Yet her birthday and the ability to drink in a bar are only two markers of her transition into adulthood.

We, her parents, already know she has left adolescence and entered into something new. As the primary decision-maker of her life, we are invited in new and different ways -- to celebrate, discern, and

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Leadership Resources

A blog post by Terri Elton

Here is another installation of leadership resources. This time we go to the “non-ministry” world and see what insights they can give us on leadership. Watch, read, reflect, and enjoy.

Harvard Business Review

Anything with Harvard in its name in it probably means high quality, and this certainly is true with regard to the Harvard Business School. The Harvard Business Review highlights key ideas and research in the area of leadership. Most of their work does

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Leading toward the Unexpected

Holy SpiritA blog post by Eric D. Barreto 

Perhaps the one constant in the Bible is surprise. When we least expect it, God shows up with a gift of grace. When we least expect it, someone receives the call to lead a people. When we least expect it, God changes our world.

This theme of surprise is particularly true when it comes to leadership. The unexpected, the seemingly unqualified, the irretrievably flawed often become the heroines and heroes of faith precisely because they follow God’s lead.

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Open Hands, Open Hearts

open handsA blog post by Terri Elton

Yesterday, I was a guest preacher in a congregation that I had never been to before. I entered as I do many congregations -- a friendly stranger -- but left with more than I had anticipated. I left with a deep sense of connection to God and insight into what it means to be the body of Christ.

On all accounts, this congregation was welcoming. Several people came to me and introduced themselves as I entered. Many talked with me afterwards, sharing a bit about their lives

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Blogs, blogs, blogs! Part II

typingA blog post by Terri Elton

As a continuation of yesterday's post, here are some additional blogs to check out from our ministry leaders who offer their voices of leading from the frontlines of congregations. Enjoy! 

Adam Copeland is a Presbyterian pastor who currently serves on the religion faculty at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. But don’t let either of those things confine your view of Adam. Adam offers a refreshing voice as he shares his thoughtful and critical perspective about

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Blogs, Blogs, Blogs!

typingA blog post by Terri Elton

Today’s virtual world is filled with more blogs than we have time to read. But blogs are a great resource for leaders in the church. Many people are aware of the blogs from “ministry stars,” and I encourage you to follow those church leaders because they offer a wide picture of the church.

But most of us are not a “ministry star” and will never be one. So often times reading their insights has a dual effect -- both helping us frame ministry

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