Let's Make a Deal?

Do you ever get so busy that you neglect important things for the sake of just getting through what’s on your desk or plate? That’s the way it has been for me and my relationship to this Blog emphasized on our CLB Forge website. I’ve let the Blog part of this just stop…not even simmer…it has just not been active for quite a while. And it’s my fault. 

Now, to be fair, not one person has written, called, texted, or Zoomed me with a complaint that the Blog isn’t up to date; but why would they? I know everyone else is busy too, so they might confess to neglecting their CLB Blog reading while I’ve been neglecting to post anything. Well, that got circular real fast.  

I’m now hoping some, at least, will notice that I’m going to be working harder to keep this post relevant and active. There are so many good things to write about, and if those things can be helpful to you, well then, that would be excellent and worthwhile. 

So, as part of my newly reformatted job description here at the ol’ North American Mission Office, I’ve taken on oversight of the NAM portions of the website and the Blog. I’m happy to do so.  

Watch for what I hope to be weekly postings right here. 

First up? I really encourage you to listen to the Podcast post #170 put together by Pastors Mike Natale, Dan Stenberg, and Ryan Nilsen. You’ll find the link to the Podcast list in the header of the Forge home page (clbforge.org). The subject of #170 is rest and the guys do a great job opening up a very important subject which challenges just about everyone in modern society and, maybe particularly, pastors and other leaders who carry around all kinds of guilt because they think they can’t rest because (fill in the blank)

They mention and endorse a book titled “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”. If you are reading this and got this far and are the first person to let me know I made this offer, I’ll send you a free copy of the book on the condition you read it and let me know what you think.  


Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Associate

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.…”