First Third Conversations

Bringing Justice into the Light

Justice into lightA blog post by Jesse Weiss 

Recently, a group of young adults that are serving as camp staff this summer got into a fairly deep conversation about salvation and the question of God’s justice. Their conversation was good, but it was grounded more in cliché answers than in theological understandings. As we further explored the issue of a just God, not only for their own understandings but also for their roles in the lives of our campers, we tried to gain a better understanding of

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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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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 #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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Weddings: Community, Faith, and Pastoral Ministry

Wedding Ceremony 9.18.10A blog post by Adam Butler

I love weddings. I’m partial to my own, but they can’t all be perfect, right? Weddings are awesome, though. You get to watch two people commit to life with one another in the midst of a group of people who love and care about those two lovebirds.

All in one spot, there are little kids running circles around grandpas and grandmas. You’ve got young couples, families, and folks who’ve been at this marriage game a while. Not to be forgotten are those

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A Night at the Movies

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

Any weekend I see a movie is a good one. Dramas, comedies, action-thrillers, musicals, historical pieces…you name it, I love a good movie. My weekdays are full and demanding, so being transported into a story for a few hours on a Friday night, with my husband and a Diet Coke, and I’m good! Sure, sometimes the story is far-fetched and I need to stretch my imagination, other times the story is

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It’s Lent…grab your camera!?

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

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Some church bodies embrace the season of Lent, others not so much. For the ones who do Lent is accompanied with particular practices, special worship experiences, and the Christian’s call for faith to intersect with their daily life. Most often practices take the form of “giving up” or fasting from certain things; worship experiences are usually sober

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The Craft Ministry Revolution

By Derek Tronsgard

A funny thing happened this fall.  My wife and I were on our way to the Minnesota Golden Gophers homecoming football game against Purdue.  We had parked our car in the street several blocks away and had to walk right through the main row of fraternity houses to get to the stadium.

As we walked down frat row it was pretty obvious that the college kids were celebrating homecoming weekend with gusto.  It was 10:30 in the morning, but there were young kids out on their

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Sabbath, push back, and grace


By Andy Sahl

"Andy, I don’t think I want to be an intern anymore."  

I really couldn’t believe my ears.  For years our few spots for high school interns (high school students that help with our middle school program) was a coveted role.  For the last two years we’ve added the number of inters and only allowed them to serve for a semester instead of the whole year.  There is honor and status in being an intern.

The young man asking to be relieved of his intern

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Holy Spacers vs. Holy Embracers

By Derek Tronsgard

 Earlier this week Mike King led a First Third Dialogue session talking about the power of space in our ministry and it got me thinking.

About a year ago a woman in my congregation cornered me on Sunday morning. 

“We need to talk,” she said.

Crap, I thought.

She went on to share her frustrations about my Confirmation kids' presence in Sunday morning worship.  The kids' behavior was just fine, she explained.  They were participating fully in the

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