Resources congregations and their leaders

  • The Changing Face of Pastoral Visitations

    Six years ago a friend and I wrote a document titled “The Changing Context in Ministry” for mutual ministry seminars we were facilitating. One of the changes we noted was the way the world communicates. I grew up with a corded phone that was placed on a stationary table in a central room. When you talked your movement was restricted as you were literally tied to the phone by the cord. When I was a teenager my parents assigned evening talking times to my two sisters and me so we could talk with our friends after dinner. We each got a half hour. By the time I had teenage daughters, the phone seldom rang for them and they rarely used it for making calls. They...

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  • The benediction

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted due to my pre-op prep for knee surgery and post-op recovery. Here’s a link to a reflection titled, The benediction, that  I wrote for The Lutheran on an insight I received one day thanks to a stranger.  

  • Discerning Leadership in the 21st Century

    What characteristics are necessary for effective congregational leadership in the 21st century? If you asked that question in the 20th century you might get responses like: has a firm, take charge attitude or has the ability to get people to follow your vision for the church. Or maybe, has the ability to keep everyone satisfied. I remember sitting through a couple of interviews over the years where these very traits were lifted up as ones I should have as a pastor. I didn’t think so then and I still don’t. I find focusing on these traits puts the emphasis on the leader and what he or she is and embodies. That’s not where our focus should be in the church. The number one focus of...

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  • Making Mutual Ministry Work

    On Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 9:30 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., I will be facilitating a seminar on the model of mutual ministry presented in Pastor and People: Making Mutual Ministry Work. It will be held at New Hanover Lutheran Church in Gilbertsville, PA. Here’s a link to registration information If you have questions or would like a brochure feel free to email me at

  • There’s No Going Back to the 1950s

    In Networked: The New Social Operating System, Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, and Barry Wellman, sociology professor and director of NetLab at the University of Toronto,[i] talk about how the internet is changing us and our relationships. They say that people no longer seek membership in groups as they did in the past. Rainie and Wellman coin the term “networked individuals” to describe how we now prefer to connect digitally to a variety of social networks and search engines to acquire information. The new trend towards networked individualism has tremendous ramifications for congregations, because in the early to mid-20th century, congregations were one of the most recognized and highly accepted social groups to which people belonged.  This...

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  • Keeping it Legal: Copyright Laws and the Church

    The issue of congregations and copyrights is one that my synod will be addressing in a congregational communicators network gathering in May. Dealing with copyrights is so much more complex for congregations in our highly connected 21st century.  It occurred to me to share with you an article I wrote for an issue of The Lutheran magazine last year. It’s titled Keeping it Legal.    

  • Moving from Leadership 1.0 to 2.0

    I had an article published in  the combined issues 3 & 4 of Congregations, the magazine of the Alban Institute.  Rather than me talking about it, I’ll let you read it. Moving from Leadership 1.0 to 2.0 by Susan M. Lang Enjoy and let me know what you think!

  • God’s Surprises

    For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (v. 18) NRSV Last December, I attended a small group retreat during which we looked at the work of Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. Her research showed that human beings are hard-wired for relationships and connectivity. Shame, which is present in all of us, is basically the fear of being disconnected. It affects us when we send ourselves messages that we’re not worthy of being connected or that somehow our being connected to another is conditional. What can help us when we’re dwelling in shame is to get in touch with our vulnerability and the uncertainty of our...

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  • Experiencing the Body of Christ

    “The body of Christ, given for you.” Such simple words. Yet, such deep and profound words which connect us with God and each other, both spiritually and physically, through all time and space. I move down the line, distributing the wafer to each person who has come forward to receive Holy Communion. I repeat those words as I press the wafer into open and extended hands. Eyes meet mine as we celebrate this holy moment. We are the Body of Christ gathered and united at Christ’s table. I recently served as a pastoral presence in a congregation which had suffered the rapid decline and death of their pastor’s spouse. For five weeks, I was asked to preside at Holy Communion so the pastor could tend...

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  • The Act of “Letting Go”

    One of my Facebook friends started a group called: The Month of 100 Things 2014. The stated goal is for each group member to purge their household of 100 unnecessary items and clutter by the end of the month. I already began the journey of downsizing this summer, but I joined the group for support and encouragement so I would continue down this path. So far, I’ve cleaned my office and identified old books that I no longer use. I’ll donate some to our church library, a local thrift shop, and I plan to sell a couple of them online. I’ve gone through old craft supplies that we used when my daughters were younger. A container of stampers, stamp pads, and other assorted items will...

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