First Third Conversations

Taking Time to Rest, even if it means saying "No"

SereneA blog post by Tim Bowman

I haven't been working directly in youth ministry for very long, but there is one thing that I have learned, which is that youth ministry is hard. Seriously, it is not an easy profession to be a part of. There are so many different voices coming to you on a day to day basis: senior pastors, associate pastors, other church staff, synod staff, parents, volunteers, and of course, the youth.

We have a lot asked of us on any given day and even more in a given month or semester.

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The Common Thread of Coming Out

Tell your storyA blog post by Sarah Bane

Coming out… I cannot claim to know the courage and poise it must take to come out to someone. But, as someone to whom more than one person has come out, I have started to notice a common thread to each story: middle school. For each loved one who has come out to me, a common realization that “I am not ‘normal’” occurs in middle school, becoming a pivotal touchstone in their coming out narrative.

Middle school -- that tender, vulnerable age

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Bring it on home

HomeA blog post by Jesse Weiss

Each spring, I conduct about sixty interviews with young adults interested in serving on summer camp staff. Throughout the years, I have encountered many responses to interview questions that have brought me joy, as well as a fair amount of responses that have made me cringe.

For instance, when asking, “What does God’s grace mean to you,” I’ve gotten everything from “it means that I’ve been given a gift of undeserved love through Jesus

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The Dissonance of Fear and Hope: Reflections of a First Call Pastor

Lord LightA blog post by Adam Butler

By the time you read this post, I will be a real pastor.

I suppose that’s not completely true. I had my ordination service back in June and received a call as an Associate Pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a month earlier. However, today is my first day on the job.

And I couldn’t be more terrified.

This terror comes in all kinds of ways, varying in intensity. I’m terrified that I’m not prepared for the vocation

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10 Things I've Learned About Young Adults

WrestlingA blog post by Aaron Fuller

For the past three years, I’ve been coaching wrestling at Augsburg College, a small ELCA college in Minneapolis. This time has given me the gift of hanging out with young adult wrestlers. Because of the nature of the sport and the coach/athlete relationship, I’ve learned some important lessons about young adults and their lives, which I would like to share with you here.

1. Athletes are “typical” young adults. So if you grew up disliking athletes

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Cultivating a culture of service

ServeA blog post by Tim Bowman

Last week, I wrote about the different service project ideas that my middle school students came up with. Today, I want to use that experience to spark a new conversation. In varying situations, churches have avoided, wrestled with, rejected, and/or embraced our modern culture and contexts. We live in the modern world, and culture is a part of who we are and is something we are impacted by every day.

There is no getting around this -- we don't live in a bubble. We live

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The Practice of Making Mistakes

MistakesA blog post by Megan Clapp

About a year ago, I made a pretty big mistake. I attempted to make a huge change in our Sunday School programming, and it was a colossal failure.

I had spent a full year working with the youth and family leaders in the congregation. We produced a vision statement, and relationships among the people in the group seemed to have mended. We were on the same page and moving forward instead of treading water in the current program.

I had heard about a great program for faith

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Our God is a God of Action

God ActionA blog post by Adam Butler

Yesterday, Aaron wrote these words about idolatry and the dangers of a self constructed God: “We call this the incarnation, and that is the core of what the Gospel is all about: the reality of what it means to be human, in God’s view. And most of the time, God's action is a mystery, one that goes well beyond proof or conceptualization.”The heart of Aaron’s argument is in these words. And the key to it all is the belief that God is not only a God

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The #1 Threat to Christian Faith (and it's not Immorality)

Golden CalfA blog post by Aaron Fuller

“You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." ~Anne Lamott

My faith has been shaken up a bit recently...well, more than a bit. I've been engaging with another blog lately, the author of which is an atheist living in South Africa. He's an interesting guy, pretty straightforward, and sometimes just a downright jerk in his remarks...but aren't we all from time to time? 

Honestly, his

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Incorporating Adventure Experiences into Your Ministry

Grand CanyonA blog post by Sarah Bane

I was tired, and it was hot. The top of the canyon could have been Mount Everest for all I cared. The last week had tested my grit, and I was ready to be done. I kept asking myself why the hardest day of hiking had to come when I was so physically and emotionally spent. One of my best friends from high school, Kaitlin, had asked me to join her family on a hiking trip through the Grand Canyon. Our itinerary was to hike from the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the south rim

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