Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Swimming into the Deep End

Parenting, Pastoring, and Common Discernment

As I write, I am just returning to pastoral ministry after parental leave. As I bonded with my newborn daughter—my second child—I spent time reflecting on how my vocation as a parent is reshaping my ideals and practices for ministry. Since I was ordained in my late 20s and didn’t become a parent until almost… Read More

The Ministry of Stories

Creating Space to Notice and Know

During the four hot, humid months between my junior and senior years of college, I waited tables at Beethoven’s Inn, a hole-in-the-wall deli that served sandwiches named after classical music composers. The realm of the “Handel, Bach, and Scarlatti” was a land of firsts for me. There, I ate gazpacho for the first time. I… Read More

Talking About Racism

While driving my seven-year-old to a doctor’s appointment for what was likely an ear infection, I noticed that the car was unusually quiet. Rain pattered on the windshield, and the wipers provided their usual rhythmic swishing sound. But my oldest kid is a talker—her waking hours are filled with questions, comments, knock-knock jokes, and observations—and… Read More

Women in Ministry

Is Social Media the Great Equalizer?

I write this on the last day of Women’s History Month. Over on my Twitter account, I spent the month highlighting—via the hashtag #BlackChurchHERStory—African American women religious leaders alive today who have been trailblazers in ministry and in the academy. These pioneers range from the likes of Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk, who in 1974 became… Read More

Disunion of the State

Church, Community & New Power in Flint

Much has been written and said about the Flint Water Crisis. If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s a brief summary: In 2011, following the collapse of the auto industry, the city of Flint, a predominantly working-class black community, went broke. Because of the dire financial impact the city was experiencing, Michigan governor Rick… Read More

Re-Imagining Communion

Radical Listening and Making the Body Whole

I remember the words so clearly: “I know what it’s like to have my body broken, I know what it’s like to have my blood spilt. I won’t celebrate anyone else’s broken body or spilt blood, and I don’t want anyone doing that on my behalf.” Sitting in the pew next to me, my friend… Read More

“Feeling Into” an Empathetic Ecclesiology

I didn’t have the opportunity to attend The BTS Center’s Convocation last month, but I was pleased to know that Troy Bronsink would be sharing insights about how to apply design thinking in 21st-century ministries. Where I live, write, and teach in the Silicon Valley, “design thinking” is on everyone’s lips—even if they don’t quite know… Read More

A Community of Makers

The Changing Face of Clergy Collegiality

I must confess that I have been a less-than-dutiful clergy colleague. In Lutheran polity, congregations are organized in small geographic clusters called conferences, and their clergy gather for monthly meetings for mutual support and, oftentimes, text studies. Good times, right? Although it has been over three years since I took my new call, I still… Read More

Loving in Public

Why I Won't Stop Talking About Racial Justice

On December 29, 2015, my 14th wedding anniversary, I spent most of the day researching and thinking about the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy gunned down by the police in Cleveland, Ohio. His murder had happened a little over a year earlier. Yet my shock, outrage, and grief over his death linger… Read More

Life As Art

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to introduce you to the work of Troy Bronsink, who will serve as the keynote speaker and moderator at The BTS Center’s annual January convocation. This year, the theme of Convocation 2016 is “Life as Art: Design Thinking and Mindfulness for Integrating Life and Ministry.” In the following piece, Troy offers a preview… Read More

A Christmas Story for a Political Season

It’s December, and we have entered the season of narrative. Around the globe, adorable children in Sunday School classrooms are presenting nativity pageants in hundreds of different languages. They don headgear cut from bedsheets and cardboard-and-aluminum angels’ wings. Nervous but excited, they anxiously watch for their pageant directors’ cues . . . and then, when… Read More