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Follow this Prayer Journey through one of Rich Melheim’s prayers from the Head to Heart Confirmation Curriculum by Faith Inkubators.

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Prayer Journey Video

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This Prayer Journey is best experienced by closing your eyes and focusing on the prayers and scriptures, but there are visual elements to keep your eyes entertained if you’d rather keep them open.

Net Smart

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The Book Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold is one that has a lot of good information for anyone at any point of entry into the internet. It could be for older generations who remember the times before the world wide web or for those “kids” who have never been without a computer in the home.

Some of the things that I found to be helpful and interesting were the chapters on “Attention and Crap Detection.” These seemed to be things that are readily accessible to me and what I already do online. One thing I liked to learn about was how to pay attention to attention. It is true that I often hear about the studies and people who have determined that multitasking is bad for our brains and that the internet is robbing us off our attention spans. I have even found this to be true since having a baby…I can not remember as much and my brain tends to wander a lot more than it ever did before. The idea of paying attention to attention makes sense. Why? Take for example this blog I am writing. It can take me 15 minutes or an hour to accomplish depending on where my attention is at. Sometimes, as many of you have experienced you log onto the computer and three hours later you realize that you have gotten nothing done. Rheingold recommends two things: noticing when your mind is wandering and when you are focused and writing a list that you keep close to your computer of what you need to do online. The second one I am going to try using because I have found that as I proceed in my work and making social networking a priority, I need to have a to do list so that I can keep track of what i am doing.

The second thing was the “Crap Detection.” This chapter has some very good things to find reputable sources. I remember learning about what a reputable source was in middle school but even from then to know it has changed. It is not just enough to look for things on a web site but you have to triangulate it between three to four other things and double check. I believe this has added to the aspect that there is a profound culture shift that says we are used to this aspect we take everything we read with a grain of salt because most of the time you can find contradicting information. If we can not fully experience what we are looking at we do not trust it.

The last thing I found interesting was the section on Collaboration. Though this was a small section, I went to YouTube and found a TED talk of Rheingold speaking about collaboration. This was fascinating to me because it does seem like we are going to an open source way of doing things, not out of Altruism but because people can gain something from collaborating with others and having an open source policy. It will be interesting to see what this does to the economy.

I wonder what collaboration looks like within the church. I think we are slowly moving in that direction, for example in Omaha, NE there is the Tri-Faith Initiative that is putting the three faiths of the Abrahamic tradition on the same campus. they have found that there is something to this open collaboration between one another. It will be interesting to see how that changes and grows.

Did You Know

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The following is a video from youtube that most of us have probably watched at some point or another but it raises major questions that I feel the church needs to be addressing.

Throughout the YouTube, video it shows information tidbits that are fascinating. One of which that I found interesting was that people now will have 13 -14 jobs before they are the age of 40. This raises the question of continuity with our parishioners and with the leaders of the church. Here are the few questions I have. One is if we are currently training pastors in the traditional way that has been done but they will have many upon many jobs before they are 38, is there any guarantee that they won’t continue that pattern to a certain degree as they continue in their life journey? Another question is what about our parishioners? There is still a thought out there that people come back to church when they decide to have kids, yet with all of this change people on average seem to be taking longer to decide to have kids in our culture and there has been at least in my experience a push for those people who do not want kids to not have them. Not to mention that they have everything changing with all of these jobs. Shouldn’t the church should start to discuss ourselves as a place of stability for some and how we have to help people to see the movement of the Holy Spirit and the ability of the church to meet people where they are as God calls us to do? I truly wonder if we are training leaders in the church in seminaries that will not be in the ministry for long because of the trends in jobs and how many we now on average have. I would be interested to hear others thoughts and what the video said to them.

Click to Save

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What is an online profile? I have learned a number of things after having read Click 2 Save The digital Ministry Bible by Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson. One is that I am a novice in all of the areas of social networking. Two, the reason I am a novice in all of the areas is because I have not been really intentional about using these medias. Last I believe that after reading this book that you can be too involved in technology and not involved enough.

Using technology for ministry is an area that I have been resistant to embrace and before you think that I am being unrealistic to the aspects of technology in our culture, I want to say I have been involved with social media since my freshman year of college and have had a cell phone since I was 14 (though most kids have it before this now 🙂 I am used to the technology but I didn’t want to use it because there are many ways in which what you put on the screen is in the universe FOREVER. I may not even choose to have a picture of myself on the internet anymore. My sister could take a picture put it up on the internet and there is nothing I can do about it. It makes me second guess what I do everyday. Celebrities are an indication that nothing is out of the public eye if someone doesn’t want it to be. Despite all this, technology is something that can be used for good and not evil. The fact is there are so many ways now to connect with people and we/I have an obligation to connect at least on some level with all of it.

Being intentional about social media is difficult. One because they can suck your time because you can easily spend two hours seeing what everyone is up to and not getting what you need to done. So to do this you need to be able to determine and regulate the time that you spend on things. This is a practice and it takes time.

Lastly there is such a thing as too much technology just as there can be not enough. It seems to me there are a number of sites out there that give people a platform to rant on and on about things, which just puts more and more negative aspects out in to the world. I have too many ways to communicate with the youth and parents in my congregation. So many that I finally had to limit it and say this is the way I am going to communicate with you. If this doesn’t work here are the places you can find the information. Yet there is also the opposite of this. We need to be using technology and figuring out new and exciting ways to use it in the world today.

This brings me to the aspect of this book. It is a good read and a great way to determine where you are in the sphere of social media. The greatest lesson I learned from both this book and Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold is that you have to be cognizant of what is going on. You really do need to determinehow much time you are going to spend online and what you are going to pay attention to.

Authenticity

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Last weekend I had the privilege of going to the Nebraska Synod Assembly. It was a great experience and I was able to learn a lot from Diane Butler Bass and Nadia Bolz-Weber. During this same time I was finishing the book Click 2 Save. Throughout the week the word that continued to go through my head was Authentic/Authenticity. So what does it mean to be Authentic? This brought up questions regarding technology and how many people feel if they just use technology then they will have more people come or younger people come. This is not necessarily the case and I think that is something that needs to be explored. Throughout the weekend the speakers spoke to cultural shifts and what young adults are really looking for. I found as a 27 year old that what they where stating was really resonating with me.

Nadia stated that when 1/3 of the space of a normal church is designated for one person to stand (the preacher) you lose most of the young adults that walk into your congregation because you have separated them out and made it somewhat of a show, whether it is traditional or contemporary dosn’t really matter. I have found in my own experience that I prefer to be a worship assistant in services partly because I want to learn about word and sacrament but also because I feel more apart of what is going on. I am experiencing the worship in a different way and a more interactive way than just sitting in a pew.

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the pastor at House for all Sinners and Saints. This church has been recognized as a young emerging mission in Denver Colorado. The interesting thing I found with this church was that there service doesnt have screens, or a praise band or the pastor doing all parts of the service. They are able to walk into the service on a Sunday morning and say that they want to read the gospel they can. Or if they want to do the prayers they can. They do not mail anything out, it is all done through the internet and yet that is not necessarily a part of their worship. This resonates with me but I also that it is not possible in many contexts.

What I do think we need to take away from this is for our technology, worship services and programming, naming and saying aloud why we do things is important. It is not just enough for the pastor to notice why something is done but it is also important for it to be shared with the community. Take for example: If you decided as a church that you want to keep the newsletter going out by mail and the reason for that is because the older generation wont get it any other way and they are the only ones who read it, this is a reason to keep it in paper format. But you not only have to name that but share it with the whole community. Another example: if the reason you have flowers on the alter is because there is a woman by the name of Mildred who has been a volunteer for 50 years wants them on the altar that is great! Just state that that is the reason they are on the altar. Being intentional is important and makes it so that the authenticity comes out. I have found that if I understand why they do the things they are doing whether it is because the pastor likes it that way or because one person would be to upset to change it, I feel better and more involved with what is going on.

It is more authentic when the community you are in understands why things are done. The fact is it doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you are not naming it and saying it aloud then you are not being open about what and why it is going on.

Questions to learn

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Below is a video lecture given by Douglas Thomas taken from YouTube.

A New Culture of Learning

Since I had all of those questions from my last post I thought that I would look up other sources in regards to this teaching and learning thing. The above is what I found and it got me thinking. As Thomas goes through his lecture, he is talking about learning and what that currently looks like in our culture, for our teachers and students. Though I couldn’t help but hear it as a part of the church.

Take confirmation for an example. Most churches do a program that sorta follows the following outline. They have a leader (normally the pastor) who gives a lecture or sermon then they divide up into small groups where they talk about the content for the evening. And this is good, there are kids that buy into it and relationships grow between group leader and student. Yet to some degree it is still a top down approach. And even if you have small groups going and the kids are invested, some are faced with people saying “well when I was growing up…I had to memorize the whole catechism, I had a test in front of the whole council…” These are some of the challenges we are facing in the education in our church.

The church has followed the school system almost to a T, going by the same schedule and so on. Yet I would argue that this is a major problem for our education for two reasons.

One: If we follow what the school is doing then we are not cultivating passion and imagination in the youth that are coming through our doors. They see this as another place they have to be and it has no interest to them what so ever.
Two: We also fall in to the context vs. content problem that Douglas Thomas speaks about. We as the church are a context (one source of the gospel). I think because of these two issues we have to start looking at how we are “teaching” in the church. If we are facing a different culture and dynamic where kids are able to see all sides of an issue through online sources, we need to go back to being the church in times of constant change. It will no longer be okay to say we don’t like change because the youth that are growing up are living in a constant flux of change. That is where they thrive because it challenges them and helps them to learn all that they want to know about.

What might it look like if we were igniting the passions and imagination with the story of the gospel? What if we were letting them ask the questions and learn together and we gave up on our “expertise” of the way things should be? I think it could be quite interesting. What do you think?

Engaging Technology

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There are a great number of things that are present when I think about Engaging Technology. One is that technology can be loud, obnoxious and intrusive. It can be confusing and stifling but it also can be amazing, new and growing. It gives us new ways in which to look at things. It gives us avenues to see Grace and God in new and different ways. One of the best ways in which I truly enjoy technology is the aspect of being able to see and experience things over and over again. This is something that I think is absolutely amazing and has always been a part of technology as it has evolved. Take for example videos of events; you do not have to be at the event to hear and experience a speaker. This morning I was listening to Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking at The ELCA Youth Gathering. While I didn’t get to go to the gathering, it is great to be able to hear the message.

After this last week of reading Engaging Technology in Theological Education: All that we cant leave behind by Mary E. Hess, I got to thinking about what it means to engage technology. As a Distributed Learning student at Luther Seminary, I am often thinking and dealing with the challenges of not being in a classroom and doing most of my education in an online format. This raises many questions for myself and others. Some of those questions include: Am I creating the relationships that I am going to need with my peers for the future as a pastor? Am I experiencing the aspect of becoming the other and being taken out of a context I understand to experience new contexts and learning from them? Am I building relationships with my professors through the digital technology with which I am learning? I really do not have an answer to these questions but the following are a few thoughts I have.

One is that I have learned a different way to be embodied. It is a different way to connect and socialize with people who are not in my near area. One way that I am excited to participate in this is through social media. Even things like Google Hangout where I am able to do a bible study with my fellow cohort students on the weekly passages in the liturgy. We have created a way to do a text study and catch up where we do not have to be in the same room let alone the same state.

A second is that I do not know where the technology will take us. I do not know how and the best way to use it in the class room or in theological education. I do know that there are many avenues with which it could be explored that are not because we are afraid of doing things differently. I was affraid of even of blogging. Sharing our ideas can be the best way in which to express and learn from one another.