Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I had to read a book for graduate school that I would love to encourage you all to take a gander at. It's Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The new psychology of success. Basically, it's about the two mindsets that describe how we deal with or define failure and success: fixed and growth. Understanding the two mindsets will help you understand yourself and just as importantly, those in your leadership circles, and even your congregation. The most important thing to know is that mindsets can change!

  • take things personally that aren't personal
  • label themselves negatively based on outcomes
  • need their egos polished regularly
  • don't like to take risks
  • feel they are judged
  • choose the short-term solution to boost stock and look like a hero, etc. 
  • see failure as a setback
  • work on getting better at things
  • are concerned with learning and growing
  • know they can change
  • look for people to help them
  • choose the long-term solution for organizational improvement, etc. 
Do you or does your congregation have a 
fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

Monday, September 21, 2015


Every once in a while I try to create some online tools for confirmation using existing programs and this time I'd like to introduce you all to Quizlet. It's a great tool for learning vocabulary and I added one for WORSHIP TERMS because I think that instead of assuming students think knowing about worship terms is boring and so not teaching them, we should do the opposite and assume they like to feel smart and be smart about their faith and what they believe.

So, here's what you can do with Quizlet. Once you get to my list: LW 101; Worship Terms, you can see the different options.
  • STUDY: Flashcards, Learn, Speller, Test  
  • PLAY:  Scatter, Space Race

Of course, nobody really thinks flashcards are fun, but they are a fantastic learning tool. Students can use them to learn the term or the definition and there's an audio function that works pretty well for pronunciation.

The best way to use this section is to show the definition and have the student type in the term, but it can be done the other way around too.

This is actually pretty great. The definition is given and the Quizlet lady speaks the term and the student has to spell it.

The test is excellent! You can decide what type of questions to which students should respond:  written, matching, multiple choice, or true/false.

This is a matching game. Both terms and definitions are on the screen and need to be put together.

In this game the definitions scroll by and the student needs to type in the term to earn the points.

How can you use this with a confirmation class? 
Any one of these tools can be used independently or as a full class. First, I recommend giving them a week to learn and play. After that week, take time out of class and...
  • The games are timed. Put students in groups and invest in a wireless mouse. Allow each group to compete in a chosen activity.  
  • Print one side of the cards and show the other side on the screen. The object is to have students put the terms in the correct order that you show the definitions. (Try not to go back too many times.)
  • Test them using the online quiz. Show it on a screen and have them take it independently.
  • Have a class tournament throughout the week. Sign up yourself and create your own or use my card set. The program keeps track of high scores.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

ACTIVITY: Paper Plane Ice Breaker

It's the beginning of the year and people will be beginning new groups. I don't know if this ice breaker is out there yet, but if not, I just came up with it. Everybody can make a paper plane so start with giving everyone a sheet of white (or the same color) paper. Remind them not to put their name on it, because we've all been taught so well to do that, that we do it without thinking. After that you can go one of two ways.

1. Simple Ice Breaker

  • Write 5-10 "getting to know you" questions and have everyone put their answers on the paper  without showing anybody their answers.
  • Fold the paper into an airplane.
  • Put everyone in a circle or around the edge of the room and have them fly their airplane into the middle of the room.
  • Everyone picks an airplane (not theirs) and reads the answers aloud.
  • The person reading gets the first chance and then the group tries to guess the identity of the author.
  • OPTION 1:  Have people stand on a line and throw the planes. The one that goes the furthest gets to go first.
  • OPTION 2:  Have people write a question that everyone has to answer on the airplane . 

2. Go Deeper
Instead of "getting to know you" questions, use this method to have students ask or answer questions anonymously during a Bible study to enhance discussion.

  • Prepare questions ahead of time and have students answer them anonymously. 
  • Have students agree or disagree with a topic, including support... discuss. 
  • Have students ask questions about faith, life, or the world that will be used for discussion of a topic. 

Remember that the key to growth really is through discussion. It's the socratic method and it works every time!

RALLY SUNDAY: Commissioning the Whole Congregation

I mentioned Rally Sunday being the perfect day to commission the whole congregation and a DCE friend asked me what I imagined that would look like. What do you commission them for? We commission leaders in the church and teachers but we rarely commission the whole congregation as if now that there are other people doing those jobs that it's all covered. They can relax. Hmmm... not so quick there, Sparky. We commission people because we want to empower them to serve and affirm their commitment. Why would we not want the entire congregation to know they are also commissioned into service whether it's a formal leadership and/or education position or not?

What would that look like? There are commissioning services available online, in hymnals, and in the Lutheran Service Book but personally, I would do something simple. First I would commission the board members or formal leaders, then the teachers, and finally the congregation. Start with an appropriate Bible verse for leaders/teachers and a few statements about what they are being called to do with "I will with the help of God" replies, and a brief prayer of thankfulness and encouragement. Many commissioning services are not this simple but I don't believe in making an entire worship service about focusing on one group of people. We worship God, not our volunteers.

The congregation is being commissioned for any and/or all of the following:
  • participating in the community that is the congregation. 
  • living in the light of Christ in their neighborhoods.
  • encouraging and participating in Christian education for themselves and their families.
  • living as an example to people living in a non-Christian society.
  • making disciples as they go about their everyday lives.

After this there is the prayer for all commissioned to live and share the truth of the Gospel, asking God to strengthen and preserve them, etc. Seriously, every pastor is better at writing these things than I am but that's how I see it in my mind... simple, straightforward, encouraging, and empowering.

Why not remind everyone that we are all an extension of our Lord and the church this Rally Sunday?