First Third Conversations

A Time to Connect

friendsA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Friends by Rodrigo Suarez on Flickr

Each year as I turn the calendar from November to December my mind creates a list of people I’d love to connect with during the holidays. Some of the connections are givens, like time with my brother and sister-in-law from California. Other connections are not guaranteed, like meeting with my college roommate. The “not guaranteed” connections require intentional effort to happen, and somehow the holiday

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Lean on Me

TrustA blog post by Tom Schwolert

Image Credit: Trust in the Lord by listentothemountains on Flickr

There’s an old camp song that goes, “Whose side are you leanin’ on? Leanin’ on the Lord’s side. I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean, leanin’ on the Lord’s side.” I really hated it because it was so cheesy, as many camp songs are. Maybe that’s why we don’t forget them. If there has ever been a “song plant,” I’ve had this one planted

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Why Worship during Advent

Advent WreathA blog post by Timothy Siburg

Image Credit: Advent Wreath by Chris Wolff on Flickr

The Centrality of Worship

Worship is central to the church’s practice and understanding of who it is. We worship to praise and give thanks to God. In worship we join together as the body of Christ in song and the Word. We remember God’s promises and receive God’s promise of forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is important to worship in Advent as it is throughout the year. Advent, though, is a particular

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Lost in the Holidays Part II

ChocolatesA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Chocolates by Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

Bittersweet -- there is no better word for the days of Advent, Christmas, and New Years than that. Sweet sums up the excitement of being with family and friends, of living in a season of giving, of having an intentional season focus on serving, and, of course, the yummy treats which delight our taste buds. Sweet describes the gift tradition is and the opportunity for passing things on from one generation to another.

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Lost in the Holidays

A blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Christmas 2007 by Christina Rutz on Flickr

Some say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” while others dread the season. Christmas, the heart of this season, is centered on Christ, and yet amidst the holidays Christ often gets pushed aside. Truth be told, it’s a hard time of the year to be a church leader…and it’s a hard time to keep the focus in our personal lives as well. So how is it we don’t get “lost

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Doing Theology in Youth Ministry Part II

A blog post by Dr. Roland Martinson

Image Credit: Amazing Grace by Len Matthews on Flickr

Practical Theology -- Four Tasks

These youth ministry leader reflections and actions could look much like Richard Osmer’s definition and description of practical theology in The Teaching Ministry of the Congregation.

Osmer asserts that Christian ministry is best done when leaders attend to four tasks.

  1. The descriptive-empirical task which asks: What is going on? It focuses on the actual
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Doing Theology in Youth Ministry Part I

A blog post by Dr. Roland Martinson

Image Credit: Amazing Grace by Len Matthews on Flickr

Age-level youth ministry has historically focused on tactics, i.e., methods and programs. Youth ministers often do “theology lite” if at all. Youth ministry conferences, workshops, and websites are long on inspiration and “how to’s” and short on theological and strategic exploration that eventuates in faithful and effective mission and ministry by, with, and for young people.

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Raising Stewards

A blog post by Carole Joyce

What is on your top ten list of things to cover in confirmation? Go ahead and make that list: God’s grace, baptismal identity, relationships, discipleship, Bible, prayer…

November’s theme for the First Third reflection is stewardship, so be honest; did stewardship make your list?

Last week Jonathon Davis concluded his blog post: “Don't talk to me about stewardship as if it is this thing that I do. Talk to me about how I am a steward. How it is

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Stewarding the Other "T"

A blog post by Tim Coltvet

Image Credit: iPad and iPhone by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Time, talents, treasures, and...Technology?

How my fifth grade son has become so adept at typing may not surprise you. Playing Minecraft and a host of other online games has him punching the keyboard like a rag-time piano player. Building fictitious worlds and kingdoms, communicating with other gamers, fingers flying on the keyboard…quite frankly, I am impressed!

That being said, I do have moments of pause

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Stewardship and Young Adults

A blog post by Grace Duddy

Image Credit: Making a Difference?? by Madhan R on Flickr

A little over a year ago, my colleague, Chick Lane, and I became fascinated with the topic of “stewardship with adults under 40”. As an “adult under 40” myself, I had noticed that “stewardship” was not something that my friends were talking about. I had also noticed that young adults were generally not the target demographic of stewardship campaigns in congregations nor were they

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