What is Good?

There are many good things happening here at Inspiration Church. I have to tell you about an outstanding idea which has become a reality after all kinds of consideration: our Kids’ Choir.

While considering how to bless our families here at Inspiration, I had initially thought about starting a Wednesday night children’s program. However, there are already many good Wednesday night programs that are well established here in our community. Given how supportive our evangelical churches are in Wahpeton/Breckenridge, there is a good amount of trust built into any programs we might share. And then there’s the difficulty of finding staff for another children’s ministry. We already have many needs to fill in our current programs and I felt that to add more to the already busy lives of those in our care would not be wise. Like many other churches, most of our leaders here at Inspiration are tapped into such a variety of roles that adding more would lead to being spread too thin; burnout comes shortly after that.

So, in the busyness of this young congregation that God has placed here in Central MN/Southeast ND, we have been seeking ways to accomplish as much as possible in ministry with minimal amount of volunteer effort needed. The goal is simply to not overwhelm my people any more than they already are. Looking around my community, much like any other community, our children have a variety of activities to choose from: dance, sports of all kinds, gymnastics, music lessons and the list goes on and on; not to mention other church activities that our families take part in at other trusted churches in our towns. So, we thought, “What if we could create something here that encouraged the talents of our children and added to the already positive things that engaged them. What if we could organize these children into a respected group of performing singers within our community?” And the obvious bonus here is that all along the way we get to teach them Christ-centered songs based on scriptural truths.

Now remember, to add more to these busy lives might create a quit-culture, so we wanted an activity that would engage our children in something unique and special in our community, something that even children outside our church family would want to be part of. Here is what I shared with my leadership, “I have a few free hours on Wednesday afternoons, I have a great connection with musicians and performing arts professionals in town. I love kids’ worship, I love children, and it doesn’t take many helpers to lead songs!” That made the decision easy, let’s tap into all of this and let the children learn some songs and bless our community, in performance, on stages around the area and then make a connection back to Inspiration Church.

We call it “Inspire Kids Choir.” We have been blessed with 25 children ages 5-12 who come together every Wednesday after school to learn songs, sing loud and let’s admit it, burn off some energy. Maybe you have something you love? Maybe your church can benefit from doing more with minimal volunteer effort? Maybe this success story is a spark for you? Go inspire your neighborhood and let Jesus be lifted high.  

Tim Collins  - Pastor at Inspiration Lutheran Brethren Church

Feeling a Little Lost?

When I was in high school, my friends and I played this game where we blindfolded a passenger and then drove them to an unfamiliar place. Once we arrived, the blindfold was removed, and that person now had to guide us back to where we started. I remember being the blindfolded person and having it removed only to see a big red barn right in from of me. I was utterly lost, and I had no clue how to get home.  

I think that every person in ministry can relate to being “lost” in some aspect of their work, at one time or another. For example, if you asked me to give feedback on how to start or strengthen a worship ministry, I would be quickly lost as to what to do. 

My greatest ministry passion is to see the next generation grow as followers of Christ and for them to take on leadership roles within the church. I know that I am not alone in this and, while I know there are many ministry leaders who feel competent in leading their churches toward effective youth ministry, I know there are also many who feel “lost” in getting organized for this special work.  

For the last twenty-five years, all my ministry roles have had a fundamental commitment to teenagers. Fifteen years ago, CLB North American Mission extended me a part time call to help build a youth ministry network, to provide resources to youth workers and to find ways to encourage youth workers.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with youth workers, providing them resources, and keeping them in the loop with opportunities within our church family. I’ve discovered that there are many who are eager to grow as youth workers. There are also many churches who don’t have a point person focused on youth ministry or they don’t have a focus on youth ministry at all. For those who might find themselves feeling a little “lost,” I hope that the rest of this post helps point you to what the CLBA is doing to encourage churches in this vital area of ministry.

Here are some of the resources that our national family of churches has made available to you and your congregation. Please take advantage of them in your work. 

As you hear about all of these opportunities, please know that I would love to hear more from you and I am available to help you navigate the world of youth ministry. If you are not receiving any of our digital communication, please contact me!   

I’d love to hear from you! 
Mark Johannesen  - CLB Youth Ministries Communications 

Mark 10:14b – “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.…” 

You Gotta Pay Attention

When playing a certain card game, my friend Harley likes to remind me that it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on—what’s “trump” and what’s not. If I make a misplay (usually causing me to fall far behind or to lose completely) he’ll cheerily look at me across the table and announce, “Bruce! You gotta pay attention!!” 

Of course, he’s right. 

Paying attention is pretty much always a good thing to do. In games and in our walk with Jesus.  

You probably know Hebrews 12 but here you go, verses 1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Through the years my wife and I have had dogs and one thing I’ve improved in is teaching a dog how to “heel.” I learned how to do this from a lady who wrote a book about how Hollywood animals are trained to perform on screen. It’s all about getting, and holding, their attention. If you are training a dog, you put them then on a leash with a collar, go for a walk and, when the dog runs off to the side or ahead of you, you turn quickly at a right angle to their desired route. If you do it correctly, it might take them right off the ground, or simply spin them a bit. Your intention isn’t to hurt them (and I never have with this maneuver) but what does happen is that dog starts paying attention and watches your every move. It works. Watch a TV show or a movie that has dogs; see if they are watching the actors or looking off to the side a bit at someone that you never see. You’ll see.  

Anyway, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus the same way a puppy needs to watch its master going out for a nice walk. We gotta pay attention! How do we do that? 

By reading and paying attention to His Word. Reading the Bible is the best way to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus wrote the book on faith. Let’s pay attention and not go running off after every distraction that might promise special knowledge, guidance, or power. Pay attention to Jesus. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him. You’ll see. 

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead


The show always ended something like this: “Who is that masked man?” “Why, don’t you know? That’s the Lone Ranger!” and the final scene would see The Lone Ranger and Tonto riding away with a hearty “Hi O, Silver, Away!!”

The thing of it is, is, that the Lone Ranger, was not alone. Oh, I know he was supposed to be the only Texas Ranger left after a devastating attack that only our hero survived…but he survived because he was rescued and brought back to health by Tonto. They became inseparable partners, fighting crime and saving people from all kinds of hardship throughout the old west. The idea that the Lone Ranger was a one-man crime fighting super-hero just doesn’t fly…with me anyway.

I have a friend who will often respond to complaints about overwork or frustrations in life with this little rejoinder, “Well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.” Meaning, of course, that others have shared in the same challenges, sufferings and frustrations as the one complaining (usually me).

What about you? Are you a “Lone Something”? Pastor? Teacher? Manager? Dad? Mom? Leader?
I’m sure we all feel that way sometimes, but it just isn’t true. How do I know that? Because Jesus says so (I tend to go with Jesus on stuff like this).

From the context of the giving of the Great Commission, Jesus calls his followers to service and then assures them that he is not sending them “out there” on their own. Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) -  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Long before that promise was made, the prophet Isaiah passed along this word of the Lord: Isaiah 59:21, “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. 'My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,' says the Lord."

So, just in case you are feeling a little left out or on your own these days, take heart in the promise of God’s presence, in Christ. Sit back and think on that for a while. If you’re a bit full of yourself and believe you can do most things on your own, without help from God or anyone else…please think again. I hate to say it, but I will anyway, you’re wrong. Let Jesus into your planning, programs, preaching…everything.

He’s already there. Promise.

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead

It is in his name!

Have you ever noticed? 
The first two letters of God’s name spell… 

Just sayin’, 

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead

We need to go

In the past couple months, my whole department has been “all hands on deck!” working through how to best approach the encouragement of the disciple-making mission of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren (CLB) among our congregations. I think the Advent Season is a perfect time to remind all of us that making disciples is one of the highest priorities of the Church. (Why else did Jesus come?) So, the encouragement I have to offer is the model, example, and guidance of Jesus himself. Let’s start with some of the last words of Jesus and finish with some of the first. 

Matthew 28:16-ff (ESV) “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go …” (I’m pretty sure you know the rest). It’s because we know the rest that I can confidently challenge all of us to get to Going. 

God did. And now I’ll go to some of the early words of Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he sent…” 

I KNOW you know the rest of that one. Do you see the pattern? God, in Christ, is all about sending, going, being sent…it’s the mission and work of Jesus Christ. Here’s more, Jesus again, “I have come to seek and to save the lost.” Seeking. Going after people. Indeed, after all creation!  

You may know that North American Mission is committing to working closely with Greg Finke (joining Jesus on His Mission), and others, to develop creative resources for witness and evangelistic outreach which we will use to bring the Gospel, the Best News, to our communities. It’s not that we are inventing something new. The message in this stuff will be as old as the hills; well, at least as old as Jesus’ directive:” ….therefore (go) and make disciples of all nations…” We get to be a part of that.  

I pray that we will all get in on this together, as Jesus guides us. The world really needs Jesus right now. 

No doubt. 

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead


“God wants His world back.” Greg Finke’s statement included in his book, “Joining Jesus: Show Me How” landed on me like a ton of bricks. Here’s the rest of the paragraph: “God wants all things made new, the ends of the earth saved, all things reconciled to himself. This is the mission of God. This is the point. Everything else is a means to that mission. Everything. The cross and empty tomb of Jesus are means to that mission. The Word and sacraments are means to that mission. Discipling is a means to that mission. Our churches and worship services and programming are means to that mission. And so are we. The mission of God is what we are made for and saved for.” (p.45) 

The Advent Season started on Sunday, November 27—Happy New Year, Church! Happy? Well, it certainly should be when we think that God so loved the world that he sent his only son…because he wants his world back. In Jesus, it’s happening—even now. Whether you celebrate the Advent Season of the Church with a focus on Bethlehem, or take a future “He’s coming back” approach to Advent this year, join this mission based on what God has done, what he is doing now, and what he will do in the future. God wants his world back and he’s done everything necessary to make that happen. 

By the way, and it probably goes without saying, but I better play it safe and say it anyway; just in case: He wants you back, too.  

I’ll have a bit more on Advent next time. 

Thanks for reading along. 

Bruce Stumbo - North American Mission - Ministry Lead