First Third Conversations

The Few… The Proud… The Servants

By Neil Christians

Okay folks. This is an actual conversation that I had with someone in our congregation. This individual is on staff and a great adult volunteer who really understands and cares about our students.

“Neil, I am so tired of only a few kids serving in our church. Why don’t they do service projects?”

“Umm…. They do service projects. Service projects are the majority of our monthly events. We’re always doing something for the community and

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Improve Mission Trips: Less Service, More Learning

By Adam J. Copeland

I recently returned from a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico with students from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. The trip took place over our spring break, and in Ensenada we worked with Lantern Hill, a small US-based non-profit with whom the college has partnered for several years. When I returned to campus, I met with a professor friend who spent his spring break accompanying students on a border ministry study experience during which they learned from several mission organizations

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Building More than a House

By Jordan Elton

Growing up as the daughter of employees of the church, faith has always been incorporated into my life. I believed this was the norm and just went with the flow of it. As a part of my childhood, my parents (one of them being a missions director) instilled the act of service and taught my sister and I the importance of setting aside your own needs to serve others. I didn’t realize what a gift this was until recently, when 19 students, including myself, loaded the bus at 5 am

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On the return home…

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

Last week we introduced our spring 2013 FirstThird Dialogue theme, Reclaiming the Servant’s Heart, with the first of three webinars. The webinar’s theme was “Making Mission More Than a Trip.” This week we will get various perspectives on mission trips themselves as we prepare for this week’s topic, “Servant Learning.” Let me start the week by offering my own perspective

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Church History Rhymes

By Derek Tronsgard

There's well-known saying by Edmund Burke that says “those who don't know history are destined to repeat it”.

How well do you know your congregation's history? 

Earlier this month my congregation started a visioning process for our youth ministry to map out the next 3-4 years, and one of the most helpful things we did was to write a complete, exhaustive history of the youth ministry in our congregation, stretching all the way back to our church's beginning in 1956.

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Save the Date for the next First Third Dialogue!

This March, First Third is bringing the Dialogue to you in a whole new format. Wherever you are, with your team or on your own, we want to help you cultivate faith in the first third of life. 

Reclaiming the Servant's Heart for Mission in CYF Ministry

  • First Third Dialogue in 3 interactive webinars! Join in the Dialogue through live streaming, ask questions and enter the dialogue. Sessions will also be archived for later viewing. 
  • Dates: March 8th, 15th, 22nd
  • Time: 10:00-11:30 am Central
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Tourists or Missionaries?

By Andrew Root

Tourists or Missionaries? Theological Questions You Need to Answer Before Your Group’s Next Mission Trip

March/April 2013 | YouthWorker Journal

Check out Andy speaking at the First Third Dialogue Webinar on The Mission Trip as Global Tourism this March!
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The role of the mission trip?!

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

Between 20-33% of young people in the United States have participated on a short-term religious or mission trip. That’s around 5.5 million 13- to 17-year olds. Yet I continue to hear youth workers ask, “Why do mission trips?”

Mission trips and service learning have become a stable in ministry, not only with youth, but within congregations as a whole. (For example, about 10 years ago the

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Youth Leader or Congregational Leader

By Andy Sahl

There are many areas of our leadership as youth and children’s ministers where we have a LOT of freedom.  In many congregations, the youth and children’s ministries are allowed to experiment and fail in a way that other ministries are not. 

Experimenting and dreaming up new ideas for our little silos can be fun.  But the world of youth and children’s ministry has changed over the years we’ve come to understand that most effective youth and children’s

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Making the Main Thing….

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

Anyone in ministry will tell you that it's all about relationships. And while there have been great correctives in recent years about the nature of those relationships (thank you, Andy Root!), the fact remains that relationships in ministry are what matter most.  So what would it mean to spend most of your ministry time in relationships?  

It doesn't mean spending your every working hour with people (whew

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