First Third Conversations

Celebrity and Spiritual Formation?

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

Crowds have been a part of Youth Ministry culture since Youth Ministry began. The Christian Endeavor Movement found itself with 50,000 attending its 1895 meeting.  Denominations started their own fellowships in response, and many still hold large events that are a fixture in the youth ministry calendars of their churches.  With large events come celebrities, people who excite the crowd. Large churches

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Consuming Church

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

Last week, Terri Elton and I were at a conference about the future of the church.  It was great conversation, but my brain is still stuck on some of the realities that were laid out about the state of the current church.  One of the ideas that really caught my ear and my heart came from a ministry leader named Mike Breen, who asserts that the three reasons the institutional church is dying in America

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Home

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

This morning the idea of home was swirling in my head. This past week I was on the road traveling, so sleeping in my own bed, hanging with my family and even cleaning my house was a gift. Home, a shelter and place for family. Last night my college daughter returned from a week traveling abroad and our family got to join her for dinner. There in the restaurant sharing stories, a feeling of home. A friend’s

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Ministry to Young Adults

By Neil Christianson

David Kinnaman, author of the book unChristian, tells us that we are operating out of an old model that isn’t effective for young adults today. In his new book You Lost Me, he says that close to 60% of young people who went to church in high school drop out after high school. Why? Barna Research gives us six reasons. You can check out the details online HERE, but the six reasons are:

1. The church is overprotective. They have an isolation mentality “us verses

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The Future of the Church

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

 Terri Elton and I are attending a conference right now at Group Publishing about the future of the Church. The speakers are giving us lots of insight into what the great decline in church attendance and membership looks like across the spectrum of Christianity and across our country. There were scholars who have said for years, that American Christianity will never go the way of Europe. These scholars

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Listening to Old Ideas and the Wisdom of Elders

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

I don’t know about you, but music often speaks to my soul. Music has a way of drawing me deeper into my own human experience, while also moving me out of myself connecting me to the world and the greater human community. Theologian, colleague and friend, Christian Scharen, understands what I’m talking about, this connection between music and the human experience. In the current issue of Immerse

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Youth Ministry and the Rise of the "Nones"

By Derek Tronsgard

Earlier this month the Christian blogosphere exploded when news came from the Pew Research foundation stating that the fastest growing religion in America is, in fact, “no religion”.  This self-identifying group of the “nones” are young (18-29), uninterested in joining a church (even after kids!), and evenly distributed between men & women, economic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and even -  to some extent -  ethnic backgrounds.

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Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church

In light of Nancy's blog post Looking for the "Nones" and the recent Pew study that showed one in five adults have no religious affiliation, you might be wondering why people are leaving the church. 

A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. 

Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young

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Looking for the "NONES"

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

Did you see this news in today's USA Today?   I saw a tweet this morning that named the meat of the report: "The fastest growing religion in America is no religion."  

"In the 1960s, two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group -- both evangelical and mainline -- has slid deeper in the statistical waters, down to 48%, from 53% in 2007."

Where did they go? Nowhere,

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Tool: Identifying Your Church’s Culture

Nancy's blog The Race discusses the culture of busyness and how the church interacts with that race.

Terri's blog The Shift discusses how major shifts have taken place in culture which are reframing what people think and believe, as well as how they relate and imagine life. These new realities need to be integrated into ministry. 

So how do you investigate your church's culture as it interacts with the wider culture?

Viewing Your Church as an Outsider

Begin by analyzing your church’s

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