Entries by chris

Book Challenge

What’s a little book challenge among friends? Last January, my good friend Pastor David Hansen made a personal decision to increase his reading. As an avid reader, I felt the urge to out-read him. I couldn’t help myself. What impressed me about David’s goal is that he set a lag metric to read 24 books. […]

A Year From Now…

We used to think, if we don’t want things to change, then stay the course. Today we know that kind of thinking will actually cause us to lose ground…even faster than if we tried something and messed up. If you want a more vibrant, value-centered, goal-focused congregation this time next year, NOW is the time […]

We have BIG NEWS!!!

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director LEAD is becoming a stand-alone nonprofit organization. This shift comes with deep gratitude to the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA for birthing LEAD. Building on their investment and vision, LEAD has created a leadership network for the whole church. WE LOVE THIS KIND OF EXPERIMENT! What does […]

Mental Illness Among Faith Leaders

by Rozella Haydée White, LEAD Consultant #mentalillnessmonday According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness. In 2012, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a social message on the Body of Christ and Mental Illness, developed to “raise awareness of the challenges […]

Reflecting on Our Relationships: LEAD’s 2019 Advent Resources

May we love God, our neighbors, and ourselves with all the creativity of our minds, the strength of our hearts, the power of our bodies, and the resilience of the Spirit. Amen Welcome to LEAD’s 2019 Advent Resources – Reflecting on Our Relationships in Light of God’s Love Each year during Advent and Lent, LEAD provides FREE […]


by Rozella Haydée White, LEAD Consultant #mentalillnessmonday This past Saturday, St. James Lutheran church hosted a training for faith leaders addressing mental health in their communities. This was the first training of many to come and it was sponsored in conjunction with the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. One of […]

Sweet Holy Week…Every Day

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director While sitting on my lap a few years ago, my granddaughter was playing with the small cross I wear around my neck. As she turned the cross around in her hands, she shared her theological wisdom, saying loud enough for everyone to hear: “JE-SUS DI-ED on a cross. He […]

Top 10 of 2018

Before we begin the countdown, we want to highlight a very special series of reflections by Lynn Willis about her experiences at the 2018 Parliament of World’s Religions. Beautiful and powerful, they are well worth a read. And now, without further ado, we are excited to share our most-read blogposts of 2018. Take a moment […]

Hospitality Is Bigger Than You Think!

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director As I was sitting in the back of worship at my home congregation recently, it hit me like a ton of bricks – there are little things that make a BIG difference and they are happening at my church! Here is what I saw: Half the people in worship […]

Christmas Blessing 2018

May we live this Christmas Day on purpose as our gift to God. May every breath, every word, every moment, honor the miracle we celebrate today: God as human God in every human God with us Emmanuel by Lynn Willis, Spiritual Guide – LEAD

Tis the season…of job reviews, feedback and reactions

  by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director Receiving feedback is a skill essential for adaptive leadership. Before you cringe with disgust, pain or boredom, consider this: Accepting feedback at work is important, but in families, it’s vital. – Bruce Feiler, New York Times columnist and author  The book Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone […]

Stories from the Parliament.
Physical Meets Worship

Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles. This is my body. Upon hearing these words, while flowing through a series of standing yoga postures, it all became crystal clear. It was […]

Stories from the Parliament.
Climate Change.

Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles. The ice in the heart of man has grown as the ice in the north has melted. Uncle Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Eskimo-Kalaatit Elder, the Arctic. […]

Leading Change

by Pastor David Hansen, LEAD Director of Communication and Innovation LEAD is committed to congregations and leaders who are ready for the future God is calling the church into – and for the transformation that will lead us there. There is no denying it – we live in an era of change. Change in our […]

Stories from the Parliament.
Bible Stories and Domestic Violence.

Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles. “Words have power,” says Jan Peppler, who holds a Doctorate in Sacred Myth, “we must translate accurately.” 95% of church women have never heard […]

Stories from the Parliament.
The Child Bride.

Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles. Susan B. Anthony said, “the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything in the world.” Armene Modi is from India. She is […]

Parliament of the World’s Religions.
First Impressions.

Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles. 125 years in the making 10,000 people in attendance 220 faiths represented 1st city in the world for diversity (Toronto) 3 major topics – Indigenous […]

The Power of Story

by Kristen Krueger, PhD – LEAD Consultant When you support LEAD on Giving Tuesday and in your end-of-year giving, you help create and sustain the work of intentionally growing young leaders who are the very best of what our church has to offer. I am a historian who specializes in the history of girlhood. I’ve […]

Gravity vs Grounded

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director Join Peggy for a phone call meet-up on Tuesday, November 13 from 8-9 AM CST (details below). Let’s talk. Are you acting in response to the pull of gravity or the pull to be grounded? The gravitational pull that is keeping us stuck is not as strong as you […]

Giving that grows Community

Join us in changing the church! We need each other to make it happen. LEAD is growing leaders like you in churches like yours who are called as disciples into God’s mission…and a new vision is emerging. The vision is twofold: build a community of creative and courageous leaders all around the world who are […]

Reflecting on Perspective

by Peggy Hahn, Executive Director of LEAD Every year in their childhood, my children built (or rebuilt) their tree house. At first we worked with them, but as the years went by their confidence in the process and their passion to create something wonderful on their own made us step back to make space for […]

Renewing Leadership

by Pastor David Hansen, Director of Communication & Innovation – LEAD In January, much of the US was hit by winter storms. Even here in Houston, schools and businesses were closed as ice made it unsafe for us to travel on roads. And all of a sudden, I had three extra days off. Let’s face […]

$10 for 10, because we love God and God’s church

LEAD exists for you – we are in it together. Friends, we have a heartfelt request for each of you to invest $10 in LEAD this month to help us grow and expand the resources and services we offer leaders and faith communities in 2018. Leaders are launching community gardens, initiating new faith practices, partnering […]

Top 10 of 2017

Wondering what caught people’s attention in 2017? Here’s a list of LEAD’s most-read blogposts from 2017. Revisit your favorites or catch up on those you may have missed. There are 250+ blogposts available on the website, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for in this list (or if you get excited and want […]

Advent 2017 Reflection

by Vonda Drees, creator of the 2017 Advent art and Director of Grunewald Guild This post was originally published in Vonda’s blog. It all began with a question: What if during Advent, we began with four lit candles and each week lit one less, quieting/stilling our way toward the center Christ candle? How could a […]

Book Pantry

By Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director It’s only been a few weeks since the flood waters wiped out the neighborhood including Faith Lutheran Church in Dickinson, Texas. While the church building is not yet open for worship, Pastor Deb Grant and her congregation aren’t waiting to respond to the needs in their community.* They have […]

Rules that Matter Most – to YOU!

By Peggy Hahn Everything cannot be of equal value – or nothing would have meaning, right? So, what rules matter most in your life? Make a Top 10 list of the Rules that Matter Most to You. The rules will change from time to time and that’s okay. But making this list helps bring into […]

Deepening Faith

By Pastor Mindy Roll – Campus Pastor for Treehouse, the Lutheran Campus Ministry (ELCA) at Texas A&M and the Blinn Colleges —For all those longing for a deeper faith, or just feeling “stuck,” or even just wanting to build deeper friendships – check out this new 8-week small group study. As our synod began a process of […]

Holding a Gathering – Post Natural Disaster

Gathering – Post Hurricane Harvey or other Natural Disaster The impact of a natural disaster varies from person to person in a group, family or congregation. There are many variables that can paralyze leaders and keep them from facilitating a shared conversation about communal pain – just when the community needs it most. Courageous leaders […]

HOPE for Children after a Storm

by Kristen Krueger, PhD On the first night of the storm, my family of four (and one dog) huddled inside the laundry room for yet another tornado warning. Flood alerts came across my phone and pictures of disaster filled my Facebook feed. I looked at my six year old daughter who was sleeping at my […]

The Best Advice My Dad Has Given Me (so far)

By Peggy Hahn, Executive Director – LEAD These seven words cause my heart to bleed: “There is a hurricane in the gulf.” People’s lives have been forever altered by the monster named Harvey through hurricane winds, tornadoes, and flooding. No doubt about it. Keeping the faith during a hurricane or flooding, and especially during the […]

Storm Update

As you know, many of our LEAD Team have their homes and offices in the Houston area. We are heartbroken watching the images of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation around our city. In addition, many of us on staff are dealing with the care of our own families and property, and other communities of which we […]

Brave Space*

*The Brave Space language comes from Micky ScottBey Jones. Click here to view her video presentation “Confronting Opponents with Love—Tools and Tactics.” Micky will be presenting a FREE Brave Space webinar on June 30th. Click here for more information and to register.  by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director The Goal: To frame a space where all […]

A Space to Create

  by Peggy Hahn New thinking doesn’t just happen. It takes space and time, an intersection with other innovative thinkers, and a generative process. The LEAD Studio was piloted this week for the first time. Here’s what people are saying: A sweet idea for working on problems together. The dialogue-the-process model worked – I loved […]

Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh God – Creator, Savior, Helper We thank you for red soil, and black soil, and sandy soil and loamy soil GOOD EARTH for rice, and corn, and wheat and cassava GOOD BREAD for apples, and dates, and grapes and lychee GOOD FRUIT for salmon, and catfish, and walnuts and soy GOOD MEAT For red, […]

Relationships – When a Good Idea Pops Up All Over

By Lynn Willis, Spiritual Director This is a tale about 3 books. The first book is a National Geographic publication called Blue Zones: The Science of Living Longer. The Blue Zones are the places in the world with high concentrations of people who live past 100 and who also have grown old without health problems. While […]

We’re All In This Together

Click the photo for a special message from this year’s Disciple Project participants! Save the Date to join us for the nextDisciple Project Revolutionary: Radicals, Rebels, Rogues, RejectsJune 19-23, 2017 Music used with permission from Gold Village Entertainment

Hope in Change

Hope in Change Churches are not known for their embrace of change.  Very often, change within a congregation is a source of conflict and challenge. But for some ministries, “change” is at the heart of who they are. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the language of “redevelopment” or “restart” is used to talk […]

Push Pause

Have you ever had the urge to pause for a brief moment to get organized (consolidate all your to-do lists into one maybe?) before moving forward again? Sometimes just looking at things in new ways helps you get unstuck. That’s what we’re doing for you this week. We’ve gone back through the year so far […]

Hope in Pilgrimage

Have you ever been on a trip that changed your faith or the way you look at the world? If you could go any place in the world, where would you go? Why? This month’s 10 Minute Toolbox, Hope in Pilgrimage, invites you to reflect on these questions individually or with your council, small group, […]

Easter Blessing

May God bless us with Hope as angry crowds gather in our streets. May God bless us with Hope as we gather with family and break bread. May God bless us with Hope as sorrow and suffering threaten to swallow us. May God be with us to the end and grant us Hope. “Love one […]

A Christmas Blessing

This year, Lord, come close and capture our attention, create in us a vivid image of the crazy idea that God is born to the poorest of poor. Create in us the desire to pass our blessings forward. Remind us that tonight you actually do come to us. LEAD is grateful to all the congregations […]

What Are You Afraid Of?

By Brad Otto  Jesus says, “Fear not.” In this 5½ minute video, Brad Otto, senior pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church, talks about fear and making change. “Fear is vision without hope.” Pastor Brad serves as Senior Pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church. He is also the founder and President of Acts of Wisdom, a faith based […]

The Sacred Valley

THE SACRED VALLEY This is our watch and leadership makes all the difference. You and I are called to lead the Christian movement forward in our own small way—even as we search to find the path ourselves. In this book, you will discover four primary behaviors that effectively shift our mindset as leaders and prepare […]

Great Leaders Are _______________

Great leaders are always listening. Great leaders are always learning. Great leaders are compassionate. Great leaders model and participate in the work. As LEAD prepares to launch coaching for leaders, we’re asking a few questions about leadership and leaders on our blog, on our Facebook page and on our Twitter. Above are a few of […]

Best Practices in Faith Formation

We travel through life, learning things along the way but unless we are trained educators, we are not really taught how to teach. For most of us, the only experience we have to draw on is our own. Research continues to show us that people learn in many different ways. If we don’t learn how […]

Urgent Call to Prayer

LEAD is encouraging all people of faith to respond in prayer to the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors and their families. These children should not be misrepresented as adult migrants looking for work, they are the result of desperate parents, corrupt traffickers, and hope.  As people of faith, our traditions have taught us that out […]

Today is Our Now

by Cindi Scruggs The 11th Disciple Project was held at Texas Lutheran University (TLU) in Seguin, Texas, June 23-27, 2014.  The word cloud pictured above was developed from the attendees’ wish list of what they want to change in the world.  It is a beautiful visual look at our week.  If you were able to […]

4 Thoughts for Leaders

1. Leaders in congregations and congregations themselves can be understood as: Growing (innovating, deepening faith, high learning) Out of Breath (cautious, tired, over-functioning, low learning) Stalled (already know enough, not learning) New (passionate, want to make a difference, low experience and skills, volunteering in other nonprofits) Where do you see yourself?  Where do you see your congregation?  For rostered leaders who are […]

Intern Encounters

by Kristen Krueger LEAD is excited to welcome three new leaders to our team! Our summer interns will spend the next twelve weeks serving across our synod. We believe that internships serve as an immersion experience that help grow faithful leaders as they are mentored by pastors, youth ministers, and other lay staff members. Our LEAD internships offer […]

Why do you believe?

Great leaders inspire others to take action, not because of what they do, but because they give people something to believe in.  So leader, I am asking you a personal question, “Why do you believe?”  Not what doctrine do you hold or what denominational values do you claim, but deep in your heart of hearts, […]

Taking the Third Side

Do you sometime feel like you have two different congregations under one roof?  The “heritage” crowd who have been long-time members, faithfully supporting the church over the years, and the “emerging” crowd of new people who may or may not join the church, yet are hungry for the Gospel and to put their faith in […]

Growth is a Choice

I am leading a week-long track at The Disciple Project, one of nine options at the only week-long, cross-generational leadership school in the ELCA, and I wish you would come! I know it is hard to take a week away from our busy lives but this is definitely worth it.  Over the years people have told […]

Intentional Listening

The triple spiral labyrinth is exactly the right image to symbolize what happens when a congregation tunes in to their community through an intentional process.   The experience of listening to God in scripture, in the congregation and in the community, is a way God calls a congregation into a meaningful relationship with people in the […]

Purposeful Direction

My GPS is my best friend.  My confidence is always higher when I’m clear on where I am going.  Every GPS starts with first entering a destination.  Purposeful direction for a congregation is a lot like having a GPS, and using it! I have learned that growing congregations have already figured this out.  They have […]

Unwritten Rules

The resurrection of Jesus frees us for a life of Christian pilgrimage.  Now, if we could only allow ourselves to really live as liberated people.  How many of the rules we live with as iron-clad are, in fact, self-inflicted and optional?  Think about this: Jesus mandated his followers to “Love God with all our heart, […]

Bible Based Movies?

We have been swamped with newly-released Bible-based movies over the past few months.  Hollywood does its homework so don’t miss the implications-people are interested in the Bible.  Most are not in a regular faith community each week so where will they go to figure it out?  The nearest movie theater of course!  Why not? Have you […]

Operation Respect: Running faithful, effective meetings

What if every meeting was considered to be THE tool for “setting a conversational pathway toward alignment and vision?” Before you roll your eyes at what seems like an unattainable goal, you should know that meetings don’t have to be boring, or worse, a waste of time.   They don’t have to be power struggles or […]

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber: Speaks the truth in love

People are showing up all over the country to hear Pastor Nadia speak. Her book is wildly popular. Her message is compelling and clear. Her approach is refreshing and a little off-color. The gift she is giving is HOPE to a church that is tired of feeling bad about the changes going on in our […]

Introducing SELAH: A Gap Year Experience

This fall LEAD and Lutherhill Ministries will partner to launch a gap year program for young adults. The Hebrew word for “pause” or “take a breath” gives inspiration to this 9-month immersion experience for young people. Selah invites young people to take time out of their lives to explore servant leadership, deep faith practices, and live in an authentic community with […]

Part 2: Are you Learning to Lead or Leading to Learn?

Ronald Heifetz, in his book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, says the biggest error leaders make is applying technical means to solve adaptive challenges. When we do this, we are unlikely to bring about the changes that we desire. Let’s take another look at our questions from last week (click here to read full article): “How […]

Part 1: Are you Learning to Lead or Leading to Learn?

How you answer this question can help you clarify whether you are currently more focused on technical or adaptive challenges. Technical changes mean doing what you are currently doing better. It means improving your skills so you are the best you can be at whatever it is you are doing. Technical changes are not necessarily […]

Is THAT church too?

Have you ever considered that the everyday things you do in your life are likely to be as much a part of your faith pilgrimage as going to worship on Sunday mornings?  We can learn as much about God from a trip to the doctor, or from a conversation with a child as we can […]

Soon we will set out

by Amy Gulliksen “Soon we will set out. Not to escape our lives but to catch up with them… We will travel in the well-worn footsteps of centuries of pilgrims, to find food for our journey as companions of Christ.” Our journey for justice has already begun. It began long ago with gifts of manna, […]

Can we talk?

… about being marked with the cross of Christ?  Don’t stop reading this just because the idea leaves you cold.  It’s hard, even a little uncomfortable, for most of us to talk about our faith in Jesus, probably because we don’t want to be associated with Bible-thumpers, we don’t really have a working language to […]

Faith Growth-Spurt

“Although we don’t have a good explanation for it, children seem to grow fastest in the summer and slowest in the fall,” says Joseph Gigante, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. This is more than physical growth. The summer is a time for faith growth-spurts too. In spite of the […]

How do leaders defeat despair and overwhelming stress?

Every leader knows that lump-in-the-throat, knot-in-the-stomach feeling of anxiety that are indicators of our stress level spinning out of control. Successful leaders find that the more influence they have, the higher the personal cost. It can seem like everyone wants something from them. Even an act of kindness from others can seem like veiled attempt […]

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Thanks be to God for my Blood-Family

Our family is messy, and to say the least, very interesting.  (Check out this article from the NY Times – it’s not just my family!) “The Changing American Family”  Family dynamics have huge implications for Christian leaders as they welcome people today.  For us, “family” can include at least four different perspectives, if I really […]


A one day formation event for leaders of all ages who will influence others brought to you by LEAD MARCH 22, 2014 9:00am – 2:30pm For: Students, Adults, Pastors, Church Leaders and anyone who wants to ponder this question: “SO WHAT does it mean to be marked with the cross of Christ forever?” This is […]

Advent Resources: Trading Up on Traditions

Is Advent a big deal, a not-so-big deal or dead in the water? Or another way of saying this is, “How does the birth of Jesus Christ shape our holiday season?”  We think this is an important part of growing as a Christian leader – so we have a gift for you! This year, during […]

A Vision from the Wine Country Worth Thinking About

My husband and I took our youngest son, Matt (a grad student in San Francisco), with us on a visit to the wine country in California, and after our first encounter I was hooked!  Not so much on the wine (yes, it was good wine) but on the obvious intentionality that goes into cultivating a […]

Live Messengers- can you help?

Getting the word out has always been a big deal.  Did you know that the ancient Incan’s had these guys (known as Chasquis) who would run (literally run!) messages from Ecuador to Peru to Bolivia and even as far south as to Chile?  Wow! Lucky for us we can run to the computer, make a […]

Being a Healthy Leader

“As people of faith, we’re called to steward all our gifts, including our bodies, relationships, money, and more. That means living well and caring for ourselves fully in mind, body, and spirit.” ~ PORTICO Being a healthy leader requires us to be aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. There is an ebb and flow […]

Cultural Immersions – A Priority for Christian Leaders

The diversity in our world, and the opportunity for mission, speaks for itself – all Christian leaders need to invest time in cultural immersions.   This is not just a bold statement, it is the truth. Just ask the youth who worked together this summer for the first time on a 3-week Camp Hope project in […]

Validation: Fully-human

If you visit our home and stay long enough, you may notice a quote in our guest bathroom that reads: “Everybody’s normal until you get to know them!” This tiny little gift we give our guests usually makes people smile as they acknowledge the truth – we are all insecure and need to be reminded […]

Moore, Oklahoma and the Llama syndrome

9/11/2017 Update following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: While this article was originally written in response to the 2013 tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma, the stories and information speak to us all as we respond to these latest disasters. Our hearts are breaking because we know only too well the heartache of natural disaster.  We can feel […]

How to Make Better Choices in Life and in your Ministry

Based on all the listening I have done with leaders in our church, if I were to recommend one book to read right now, it would be Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick. Why?  Read directly from the Heathbrothers.com website: Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted […]