connect journal: excellence

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Connect is the journal of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network


  • Winter 2009 $8.95

    Imagine ExcellenceWhat Are We Doing In These Mountains?Excellence Bible StudyMuch more...

    Journal of Youth & Family Ministry

  • 2PASSPORTCAMPS.ORG 800-769-0210

    Youth and Kids Camping with a Mission



    Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Hawaii, Kenya, Liberia

  • Publication InformationPublished by: ELCA Youth Ministry Network

    Subscription Information: call 866-ELCANET (352-2638) or visit

    Contributing Writers: George Baum, Bill Bixby Heather Hansen Scott Maxwell-Doherty, Andrew Root Michael Sladek

    Design and Layout: Michael Sladek Impression Media Group

    Contributing Editor: Debbie Sladek

    Connect Editorial Board: Rod Boriack, Chris Bruesehoff, Todd Buegler, Anna Mercedes, Andy Root, Debbie Sladek, Michael Sladek

    The ELCA Youth Ministry Network exists to strengthen and empower adult youth ministry leaders in service to Christ as a part of Gods mission.

    Rev. Larry Wagner: Board Chairperson Rev. Dave Ellingson: Board ChaplainRev. Dr. Nathan Frambach: Board MemberJulie Miller: Board MemberCharlene Rollins: Board Member

    Valerie Taylor Samuel: Board MemberLinda Staats: Board MemberYvonne Steindal: Board MemberBill Bixby: ELCA Youth & Family MinistryTodd Buegler: Executive Director

    Welcoming (Winter 10)Cross-Generational (Spring 10)

    Congregational (Fall 10)

    Welcome! 4 Todd Buegler

    Imagine Excellence 5 Scott Maxwell-Doherty

    What Are We Doing in These Mountains?: 7Outdoor Youth Ministry Trips and the Theology of the Cross Andrew Root

    Bible Study: Excellence 12 Heather Hansen

    Excellence: A Parents Perspective 14 Michael Sladek

    A View From Elsewhere 15 George Baum

    On The Way 16 Bill Bixby

    Calendar of Events 17

    Table of Contents

    ELCA Youth Ministry Network Board

    Future Connect Themes:



  • Dear friends, It has been a monumental couple of months in the world of children, youth and family ministry. A quick recap: The ELCA Churchwide Assembly passed the recommendations of the study on sexuality. The implications of this move for the church are huge. We are now living into those decisions and are experiencing the angst, the pain and the joy that come with significant change. Our friends at Youth Specialties decided to launch a brand new kind of national youthworkers convention in the winter of 2011. Then... In a move of seismic proportions in the youth ministry world, Youth Specialties, the organization, was sold by Zondervan Publishing (who only bought it a few years ago) to our good friends at YouthWorks. This significantly expands the mission and vision of the YouthWorks organization. The ELCA churchwide offices most recently experienced a massive cut in its budget, largely related to the state of the economy that resulted in the layoffs of 40 staff people, including two who have been a part of the youth ministry team. What does this mean?It means that we are living in uncertain times for ministry. There is uncertainty surrounding the economy and its effects on our congregations. There is uncertainty about the future of our church-wide and synodical structure. There is uncertainty about giving at the congregational level as more and more of our people find themselves searching for work. The trickle down effect for our minis-try with young people is obvious, and in conversations I have had recently with children, youth and family ministry professionals and volunteers, there is a growing sense of anxiety. It is with a certain sense of irony then, that the article of Connect that you hold in your hands is themed around one of our definition words: Excellence. As in Effective Youth and Family Ministry is Excellence. It doesnt feel like the world we are living in is one that is focusing on excellence right now. Sometimes it feels like were just trying to get by. But we need to be honest: Getting by isnt good enough. Our young people...their families...our leadership...they all deserve much, much more, and I believe that it is time for the church to claim this word as its own. The call to be excellent in our ministry is not a call to compete with the values of the world...with other churches...with each other... The call to do excellent ministry is a call to trust in the One whose grace is sufficient. The call to do excellent ministry is about responding to Pauls words: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV) The call to be excel-lent is the call to give our very best to this ministry, and yet to know when to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit blow. In times of uncertainty, we can hunker down and worry about what we dont have, or we can turn outward, we can trust God, we can focus on the abundance that God does provide, and we can do the most excellent job possible in this ministry. Networked in Christ,

    Rev. Todd BueglerExecutive Director ELCA Youth Ministry NetworkPastor Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Maple Grove,

    Welcome! Network News BitesThe Network welcomes its new-est Board of Directors member: Valerie Taylor Samuel. Valerie is a volunteer youth minister in Philadelphia.

    Congratulations to Rev. Larry Wagner! Larry was reappointed to the Network Board for a sec-ond term. He has served as the chairperson of the Board for the last year.

    There are 3 Regional Facilitator positions open for election at this years Extravaganza in Char-lotte. Regions 2, 6 & 8 are all open. You can make a nomination at

    Yes, there will be a Twitter feed from Extravaganza 2010 in Charlotte! Watch for the hashtag: #EXT10.

    Did you hear that Zondervan publishing sold Youth Specialties to YouthWorks? Nope. Were not kidding.

    The Network has a new national calendar function on its web site. Go to to see whats happening in your area!

    The Standards and Guidelines for professionals has been ap-proved and released! Look for more info at


  • Imagine Excellenceby Scott Maxwell-Doherty

    Imagine if Jesus were a Youth and Family Minister who worked down the street from you at the local God Loves Us non-denominational worship center.

    Outreach feeding 5000 a week.

    Staff started with 12 and has grown exponentially.

    Preaching Ministry cant get enough of it, often takes on church systems in need of overhaul.

    Healing Ministry seems as if all you need to do is get near him and transformation occurs.

    Caring Ministry - listens to people all day long and looks into their hearts providing next step possibilities.

    Bible Studies - doesnt even need to open the book, as if he wrote the book.

    Activities include walk on water games, reattach severed body parts without superglue, practical living aids using parable like stories.

    Recently written up in the religious living section of the newspa-per. Here is what others say about him; feeds the homeless like they were part of his own family. Sisters of the Immaculate Kitchen, Mary and Martha. called me by name and I never met the guy before. A son of Zebedee. has turned the neighborhood around, like raising the dead. L.A. Zarus most un-traditional preacher I have ever seen. Mr. Fair A. See

    I dont know about you, but I am certain I would not want to work down the street from this character. How would you ever stand a chance of accomplishing anything in YOUR youth ministry? Talk about staring your inadequacies in the faceOH MY GOSH!

    Against this kind of excellence I would not stand a chance!

    The truth of the matter is that this kind of Jesus doesnt work down the street from you; in direct competition; he works in the church you serve; in the midst of your daily ministry; he works in and through you!

    The truth of the matter is that Jesus presence in your ministry draws you into excellence (Arte, Homeric Greek for virtue, excel-lence, goodness) not perfection, but excellence. Perfection is highly over-rated, excellence is often underserved.

    Storyit was Youth Sunday. The Youth Program was in charge of ev-ery aspect of the worship, all the way down to printing the bulletin and organizing the donut order in the narthex. Safe to say not one thing was going to happen unless the Youth Committee orchestrated it. Weeks went into the plan. It came time to edit the bulletin. One of the indentations from the margin was off. So it was edited. An-other found a students name misspelled. Another edit. The chorus to one of the songs was out of place needing another edit. At that point one of the senior students declared in a tone learned from her parents Jeez, its good enough for church work.

    No doubt you have heard the phrase good enough for church work. It usually comes when we have run out of time or energy in preparing for the Lent Soup Supper or the Easter Sunrise Worship and Breakfast. We hear this phrase as a sort of settling phrase. We settle for what we can pull off rather than settling for excellence.

    If you were to stop right nowI mean STOP, SIT DOWN, AND THINK AND THENdetermine from this moment on that you would only do excellent work, what would have to change? How would your schedule be altered? Where would you be spending more of your valuable time? What skill sets would you need to polish in order for you to do a better job in those areas? Are there things you want to do better at but beca


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