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Sophomores at Gustavus for SDA

Last Saturday, I got to spend the day with about 144 of our 10th graders at our Sophomore Day Away at Gustavus Adolphus College.  It’s a one-day ‘mini-retreat’ that helps to prepare them for the service of Affirmation of Baptism at the end of October.

We spend a lot of time talking specifically about what we, as people of God, of the Lutheran variety, believe.  The goal is to help them to prepare to take ownership of their faith as they grow into the gifted young women and men that God has created them to be.

One of the sessions that I do with them is an opportunity to ask questions.  Any questions.  They write their questions down on a piece of paper, fold it up and drop it in a box.  Then we try in 30 minutes, to talk about as many of these questions as we possibly can.  As you can imagine, we don’t get through the majority of them.

This year I promised them that I would try and take the questions that we didn’t answer, and would try and answer them as best I could on Lord of Life’s sr. high Facebook page.

The questions are interesting.  I thought I’d share them with you.  These are the ones that we did not get to answer while at Gustavus (the number after some of them represents the number of times the question was repeated):

  • How is Jesus real if there is no bodily proof of him?
  • Why did they kill Jesus?
  • How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
  • Who put the Bible together as a book?
  • What is heaven like? (3)
  • Who is Jesus? (2)
  • Is it bad that sometimes I struggle to even trust my closest friends?
  • How did God come to be God?  Who created him? (3)
  • How come the dinosaurs aren’t mentioned in the Bible?
  • Do you feel closer to God because you work at a church?
  • Do you believe in evolution and that it created everything?  (2)
  • Does everything happen for a reason?
  • Did God create the actual planet?
  • How does God show that he loves me?
  • Is being raped a sin?
  • Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Why would it have made a difference?
  • Is abortion a sin?
  • What is your favorite part of religion?
  • If God forgives everyone, how is there a hell?
  • Are homosexuals accepted by Lutherans?
  • If God judges us based on our individual faith, by our own choice, and by our own actions, how do we know if we’re good enough to go to heaven?
  • Does God have a God?
  • Why should I believe in god?  More specifically, what can he do for me and what proof is there?
  • If you are gay, do you go to hell?
  • Was Judith really bad?  (I think they meant Judas…)
  • Is masturbation a sin?
  • Why does God/Jesus have powers and we don’t?
  • Why does God take people we love away from us when we need them the most?
  • How did God create the earth in 7 days?
  • What came first, Adam and Eve or dinosaurs/cavemen?
  • How are there white people, Asians, Mexicans and African Americans?
  • Were Adam and Eve white?
  • If I tried to commit suicide, and want to talk about it, who could I go to?
  • Is there proof that Jesus was real?  Did he actually exist?
  • How did God become God, and Jesus become Jesus?
  • Since different religions believe different things, how do we know what is correct?
  • If everyone is a child of God, how are there other religions?
  • Why do we go to Gustavus for this?  Why this college?  (It’s cool and all, I’m just curious)
  • What exactly is the meaning of confirmation?
  • How old were you when you accepted Christ into your life?
  • I’m confused about angels.  We didn’t talk about them at C3 but I hear about them a lot.
  • Why were we made?
  • Why are we confirmed at our age?
  • How is God real if science doesn’t support it?
  • Why did God do what he did to the earth?
  • If Jesus was Jewish, why is he talked about with Lutherans and Catholics?
  • What is the requirements to get into heaven?
  • Does everyone go to heaven?
  • Why do we do this?  Are the 10 Commandments still relevant   Why didn’t we learn about the Book of Revelation?
  • Why does God do what he does?
  • If God showed himself, there would be no wars about religion.  If we are children of God, why doesn’t he spare our lives?
  • When you’re going through really hard times, how are you supposed to keep your faith in God?
  • Is it bad to say that I’m scared for death and what happens after?
  • Why does God forgive us just because Jesus died on the cross?
  • What are some tricks for forgiveness?
  • Does God only answer someone who is faithful?
  • Do we think God made the Universe, or just earth?
  • Who made the original Bible, and has it been changed over time?
  • How did they come up with the Bible?
  • Why do teens like us try to stand out and be brave, but we are afraid, or instead, why do other teems try to put down or make that teen feel awkward or left out after they try being brave?
  • Is it wrong to falter in your faith?
  • Is gay marriage frowned upon in the church?
  • How can you be a good Christian with so much greed and war and opinions that have different groups claiming that they are superior?
  • What is hell like?
  • Why is drug use frowned upon?  If it comes from plants then isn’t it put on the planet for us by God?  (PS – I never would do drugs.  I am just curious.)
  • When is confirmation?
  • How do we know what the Bible says is true?
  • Why is God so forgiving?
  • Why has God not given the cure for cancer?  Why does he let people suffer so horribly from it?  And then die…
  • How can you tell if God is always there for you?
  • Is December 21st, 2012 really going to happen? (2)
  • What is the average age people know what they believe regarding faith?
  • How do you deal with drama?
  • Why does God love us, BECAUSE we’re imperfect?  Why did he make us imperfect?
  • How will this all end up to be?  (The world and all of creation?)
  • What things do you do to stay close to God? (besides church.  I want stuff that actually works)

That is an amazing listing of questions.  To be honest, it’s a little bit overwhelming.  But I am so glad that our young people feel comfortable asking these questions, and that their church is a safe place to do that.

So I am going to (slowly) work my way though the questions.  Lord of Life has an active senior high ministry, and an active senior high Facebook page.  There, one question at a time, I’m going to work my way through the list and try to get to as many as I can.  Because when young people ask questions, it is essential that we honor those questions.  For some, there might not be clear answers.  And for some, the answers might not be what people want to hear.  But it’s critical that we address the questions.  Parents and friends are welcome to go to the Facebook page, and “like it” in order to see the questions, the answers, and to chime in with thoughts as well.

Questions are how we grow in our faith.  God gave us freedom to ask questions and to make choices.  Our questions challenge us to ask and to grow.  We give God thanks for the ability and the places to ask our questions.

Peace,
Pastor Todd

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Confirmation (C3), Sr High

 

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Time Away…

Our family went on vacation during the 3rd week in August.  We piled up the family truckster (I call it “The Enterprise,” but Lori refuses to acknowledge that) and headed up to the north shore.  We stayed for a few days at a resort right on the shore of Lake Superior.  The north shore is one of my favorite places.

We hiked…we geocached…we climbed out on the rocks on the shoreline…we ate…and we did all of the normal vacation things.

I have to admit that vacations during August are difficult for me.  With all of the fall program “launch” kind of stuff going on, it is difficult for me to disengage from my work life.  This year, I felt a little bit like a spring, wound kind of tight, that was slowly releasing over the 5 days that we were away from home.  After a couple of days, I felt like the cloud of day-to-day stress was finally parting.

Why is that the case?  Why does it take time?  I don’t know.  But I do know that the essential ingredient for that to happen is time together.  It takes time spent with loved ones to disengage. It takes time spent doing things both planned and spontaneous. It takes time laughing. It just takes time.

Kalahari Water Park

So we have an opportunity for you to spend time with family.

From November 9-11 (with an option for families to come on November 8 if they choose) we will again host the Kalahari Family Retreat.  It is awesome.  Families get themselves to Kalahari Resort at Wisconsin Dells.  This place is incredible.  It’s a hotel…it’s a (really big) water park…It’s an indoor amusement park…It’s restaurants…We’ve typically had between 200 and 250 people from Lord of Life come and be a part of the family retreat.  It’s a great weekend.  People ask me “really, what’s the primary kid age group that this retreat is for.”  My answer (and I’m very sincere in this) is “yes.”  Families with kids of all ages can participate.

I’ve been a part of this retreat for 3 or 4 years now and everyone who has gone has loved the place.

3 separate times, we will gather together as a community for games, activities, conversation, friend-making, etc

Kalahari Indoor Amusement Park

.  One of those times will include a meal together.  And while people are hanging out in the water park, we’ll have a central spot to hang out so that we can be checking in with each other.

But what is the biggest thing about this family retreat?  Time.  Time together.  Time, a little of which is structured, but most of which is not.  Time just for family to be family.

Our family is going, and we’re looking forward to spending time together with each other, and time with other families.

Please join us!  There are so many great things about this retreat.  But primarily it brings the gift of time together.  And because we know that when our families gather in the name of Jesus, Jesus comes.

For more information, or to register online, please go to www.lordoflife.org/familyretreat.

Peace,
Pastor Todd

 

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Checking In on Checking In

The Check In System in Action

Ok, I admit that when it comes to gadgets, computers and stuff like that, I can be just a little bit of a techno-nerd.  But I promise you, that’s not the only reason that I’m excited about our new automated check in system at Lord of Life.

Now, when you bring your young people to church, there will be a whole new way for you to check in.  At 5 different stations around the building, we’ll have happy, friendly computerized kiosks that are ready for your kids to ‘check in’ to church school.

It’s simple:  You simply enter the first 3 letters of your last name, (if you have more than one child checking in, you can click on all of their names and check them in together), you click on the class that you’re checking in for, and then you click the “check in” button.  Then the printer next to the kiosk will spit out the appropriate number of name tags for you.  The whole process should take 10-12 seconds.

For children in our nursery, you will receive 3 nametags.  Put one on the back of your child, one on a diaper bag, and the parents keep one.  To retrieve your child at the end of the hour, you will need to “match nametags” with them.  No child will be returned to an adult without the matching nametag (or gov’t issued ID, in case you lose your nametag.)

For children ages 3 through 4th grade, the kiosk will give you 2 nametags.  Please stick one on the front of your child and hang on to the 2nd one to pick up your kids.

5th and 6th graders will also receive 2 nametags.  We will be asking parents to check them out of class as well.  (Note: This is a change from earler plans…)

And for our C3 (confirmation) kids on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons/nights, we’ll ask you to check in as well.  You’ll receive 1 nametag to wear, just so we know who you are.

You can click here to watch a video and see a demonstration of the system:

Why are we doing this?

Better security:  We take the well-being of your kids really seriously.  We know that when they enter into church school it’s a sacred trust.  This system will help us to keep track of our young people, and will help us to make sure that they are being picked up by those who are supposed to pick them up.

Better metrics:  It’s important that we keep track of attendance and participation in church school.  It helps us to know what and where we can do better.  And good, accurate information is our friend.  This system will give us more helpful statistics and data.

Better in general:  Sometimes when things are done manually, mistakes can happen.  We strive for excellence in what we do and this system will allow us to be better in our program management.

Thanks for your help and your patience as we “live into” this new system.  We know that as we begin to use it, there will be bumps in the road.  But we’ll work hard to get them figured out as quickly as possible.  And we know that things might run a little slower in the first week or two as the programs begin and people are learning to use the system.  Please be patient.If you need assistance, find a staff member (wearing a red lanyard) or one of our hospitality leaders (wearing a red hospitality shirt).  We’re all glad to help!

We’re doing this because we care about the young people and the families that are a part of our community.  And we believe that this will make us even better at what we do.

Blessings!  See you this weekend!
Pastor Todd

 

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The Pitter Patter of Really Big Feet

When does summer begin?  The actual date of summer solstice, when it “officially” begins isn’t until June 20.

Club 56ers at Feed My Starving Children

For a lot of people, the summer season begins on Memorial Day.  For others, we make the emotional leap into summer after the last day of school.

At Lord of Life?  Summer began yesterday.

Yesterday, 70 Club 56ers (including some new 4th graders making the leap into our 5/6th grade ministry) had their first “Summer Adventure Day.”  They met at church, went to Feed My Starving Children to serve packaging meals to be shipped around the world.  After their service event, they went to Grand Slam for mini-golf, laser tag and other fun stuff.

Today, over 215 jr highers, plus a ton of high school leaders, college staff and Lord of Life staff loaded up buses and launched all over the Twin Cities to serve at a bunch of different service sites, before heading out somewhere fun for afternoon activities.

Tomorrow, over 40 jr highers will launch on the Thursday session of Summer Stretch, and on Sunday, a group of 15 jr highers will load one of our black buses with its trailer and will take off for Rockford, Illinois for a week long mission trip experience.

The building is noisy…the sound of kids laughing, of running around, and of good ministry happening.

Summer is definitely here at Lord of Life!

Pastor Todd.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Welcoming Julie Hagen!

Julie Hagen

I am excited to be able to introduce Julie Hagen to you.  Julie will be joining our staff on Monday, June 25 as the Associate Director of CYF – Lower Elementary (Grades 1-4).  Julie has served the last 6 years at Advent Lutheran Church in New York City.  Prior to that, she served at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota and received her master’s degree (M.A) in Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Julie is originally from Moorhead, Minnesota, and still has family living there.  While she has loved her time living and working in New York City, Julie has been looking for an opportunity to move home and be closer to family.

She brings a great deal of energy, experience and expertise to her new role at Lord of Life.  We are really excited to have her be a part of our team.

Please join me in welcoming Julie to Lord of Life!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What’s Coming Next Part 5: Grades 5 & 6

With our new building comes great, new opportunities!

Club56 Service Project

Beginning next fall, our 5th and 6th graders will gather for church school on Saturdays and Sundays in the Youth Room.  It’s going to be a great space for them to use.  No more crowding!

We are switching to a new curriculum.  We are going to be using re:form, a curriculum from Sparkhouse, a division of Augsburg Fortress Publishers.  The curriculum has good substance, and our kids will relate well to the videos and materials they use as the delivery system.

Our 5th and 6th grade Church School program really is morphing into a pre-confirmation program.  Our hope is that when our kids enter confirmation (C3) that they are prepared and equipped to tackle the important faith questions.

Our Upper Elementary Ministry is under the steady guidance of Amanda Clancy (you can call her Clancy).  Amanda has great energy, is creative, fun and relates really well to our kids.

We’re excited for these moves, which will strengthen this important ministry.  Please contact me if you have any questions!

Peace,
Pastor Todd

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Upper Elementary

 

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What’s Coming Next Part 4: Grades 1-4

We in Lord of Life’s Children, Youth and Family Ministries are really excited about what’s going to happen next

1st-4th Graders at Camp Last Summer

year for our young people in grades 1-4.  We have been working for the past 6 months on a plan to give a pretty thorough renovation to our ministry with kids in this age group.  Let me give you a quick overview of what’s on the way:

  • Leadership:   Biz has completed her call at Lord of Life serving as the director of this age group.  Biz was a tremendous gift to our congregation and this ministry, and she is going to be deeply missed.  We are excited for her new opportunities in Chicago and wish her the best as she transitions there in the next couple of weeks.We aren’t going to attempt to “replace” Biz.  We know that this is not possible.  Instead, we are going to look for a new primary leader for this ministry who brings their own distinct gifts to our congregation.  The work we’ve done so far will be a great foundation for them to take our plans to the next step.  Our goal is to have a new person on board in June.
  • Format:  We are letting go of the “Rotation Model” church school that has served us well for the last 12 years and are moving to a “large group leader” model.  Our kids in grades 1-4 will all meet together in the new Samaritan Hall.  The way we envision it right now, the back half of the room will be filled with round tables with a “small group” at each table.  After checking in there with their group leader, the kids will come to the front of the room, sit on the floor, and will engage the theme for the day with music, multi-media and a teaching from an adult ministry leader, a pastor or other staff member.  After 15-20 minutes, they will return to their table groups to process what they have learned with their small group leader and participate in fun learning activities.
  • Curriculum:  We will also be retiring our “home grown” rotation curriculum. Lynn Leisen did a great job developing this material and keeping it updated.  But it is really designed for the rotation model and isn’t transferrable to our new model.  So we will be making use of the Augsburg Fortress Spark Curriculum which is exciting and fun, and is very user-friendly for the group leaders.

Our other programs for this age group, like After School Program and other special events will continue as they have.

We are very excited about the future and the possibilities that lie before us.  The Holy Spirit has been working in our midst to bring these dreams to fruition.  We believe that these new program opportunities will provide even more ways for our young people and their families to have their faith formed.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

God’s blessings!
Pastor Todd

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized