First Third Conversations

Transitions...

Autumn LeavesA blog post by Terri Elton

...at the Center for First Third Ministry at Luther Seminary.

Many church leaders have experience with ministry transitions, some from years back, and others very recent. Transitions happen for various reasons, some planned and others not so much. Luther Seminary is in the midst of a season of transition. Last year we began thinking about a curriculum redesign, and we ended the year with an interim president, an interim CFO, and a much smaller staff and faculty. Like many ministry organizations, theological education is having to re-imagine its future with a different economy, and our Center is doing the same.

As we begin this new year, I'd like to share a bit about what transitions have taken place and what they mean for the Center for First Third Ministry. First, two of our Center staff, Nancy Going and Rachel Schwenke, were laid off in the staff cuts last spring. It was sad to see them go, as they brought great gifts to our team. Their presence is missed. But God is faithful and both are already sharing their gifts and vision for ministry with other ministries. For that we are grateful.

Second, the work of the Center will be reduced this year. For example, the learning events we had been creating will be put on hold or woven into other Luther Seminary continuing education events. That doesn't mean our staff and faculty will not be teaching church leaders or speaking out in the church, because in fact we will be. But it does mean our Center will not be sponsor special "first third-related" learning events. In addition, we are completing the Exemplary Youth Ministry year-long coaching cohort, but are putting future cohorts on hold.

And finally, the main efforts of our Center will be focused on the firstthird.org website and our social media efforts. (If you are on Twitter and not following @1stThird please do as we will be trying some new things.) This is exciting, and something our staff and faculty believe in and what to grow. Some of these efforts will connect us with other Luther initiatives and this opens new avenues for learning and connecting.

So, here's the plan. Each month our blogs and resources will have a theme. September's focus, for example, will be on leadership. And each week our staff/faculty will be sharing ideas and research on the topic; practitioners -- including some alumni and students -- will offer their perspective on what it means on the ground, and we will link you to resources related to the topic. It's that simple.

So jump in to the conversation. Share your thoughts. Challenge our ideas. And forward what's helpful on to your friends. It's free, and it's easy, and we want to be connected to learn and grow with you and your ministry in the year ahead.

And tomorrow begins one of our social media experiments. Each Thursday afternoon (1:30-4:20 pm CST), Pastor Nancy Lee and myself are teaching a course on Leading Children, Youth and Family Ministry. And live, during class, students will be Tweeting questions and ideas from the class. And we'd love for you to join the conversation. So, jump on with #1stThird tweets and share in the learning.

Thanks for your leadership in ministry with those in the first third of life.

Terri EltonAuthor Bio:
Terri is passionate about young people and their families, and loves the church. No really!  She's our Associate Professor and teaches with an eye toward developing leaders and leading change. She also serves as Director of the Center for First Third Ministry and hopes to help ministry leaders create environments that cultivate a faith that matters. Growing up in southern California, Terri discovered her love for the city, cultural diversity and the beach. You can usually find Terri running or biking the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul, or wherever she happens to be. When not moving, she's watching a movie with her husband or traveling with her two young adult daughters.

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