First Third Conversations

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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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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Listening to the Ideas of Our Youth

ListeningA blog post by Tim Bowman

As youth ministry people, so much of our time is spent either planning or being active that it is sometimes difficult for us to listen. It is not so much that we do not want to listen, because I genuinely believe that we do, but when there are camps, retreats, VBS, and service projects to prepare for, we simply don't often have the time.

Sure, we might have a one on one meeting with one of our students or a parent, and those are times when we do actively listen; however,

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Leadership and Management in your ministry context

Aaron FullerA blog post by Aaron Fuller

Question for ya: Are you a leader or a manager?

Before you answer, take a minute to hear me out -- while we often will acknowledge that leadership and management are not the same things, if you pick a part your role in ministry, there's a good chance you'll discover some pretty significant contradictions.

Let me put in this disclaimer: leadership and management are linked to some degree. It's not like you're one or the other. But here's what I've found in my relatively

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Leadership and Time

Ecclesiastes 3 begins … “For everything there is a season and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Recently I have been reflecting on time and its relationship with leadership. And I am convinced that a key practice of leadership is helping a community identify what time it is and then discover that it means to be “in that time.”

…a time to be born and a time to die. Sometimes it’s clear with something is being born or dying. Marriages are born

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Ordinations keep Seminary in Perspective

Adam Butler and Aaron Fuller

Saturday was a special day for one seminary grad and for the church. You see Saturday the ELCA hosted another ordination, publicly calling another M.Div. graduate into Word and sacrament ministry. He will serve a particular congregation, as he also serves the whole church.

For people who don’t hang out in seminaries, this seems like an odd thing to do on a nice summer Saturday afternoon. But for folks who spend days, weeks and years immersed in seminary life, this event is a reminder

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Closing the Ministry Gap

Josh Feala

Here's another contribution from one of our CYF graduates thesis. This one, by Joshua Feala, addresses the issue of youth ministry and congregational leadership. Enjoy!

Closing The Ministry Gap actually began years ago when I was a youth in the church. I noticed there was this distance between the pastor and my fellow youth. Our interactions were limited mainly to confirmation instruction and the awkward greeting on Sunday morning. As years passed, I noticed the same pattern happening in other

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Church History Rhymes

By Derek Tronsgard

There's well-known saying by Edmund Burke that says “those who don't know history are destined to repeat it”.

How well do you know your congregation's history? 

Earlier this month my congregation started a visioning process for our youth ministry to map out the next 3-4 years, and one of the most helpful things we did was to write a complete, exhaustive history of the youth ministry in our congregation, stretching all the way back to our church's beginning in 1956.

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Youth Leader or Congregational Leader

By Andy Sahl

There are many areas of our leadership as youth and children’s ministers where we have a LOT of freedom.  In many congregations, the youth and children’s ministries are allowed to experiment and fail in a way that other ministries are not. 

Experimenting and dreaming up new ideas for our little silos can be fun.  But the world of youth and children’s ministry has changed over the years we’ve come to understand that most effective youth and children’s

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Making the Main Thing….

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

Anyone in ministry will tell you that it's all about relationships. And while there have been great correctives in recent years about the nature of those relationships (thank you, Andy Root!), the fact remains that relationships in ministry are what matter most.  So what would it mean to spend most of your ministry time in relationships?  

It doesn't mean spending your every working hour with people (whew

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