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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Study guides
2/1/2015
February 2015:

It's all about that grace

Ever look around on a Sunday and wonder what brought everybody to your church—and what keeps them coming back? As the cover article tells, everybody has a story, and although there are similarities, no two are the same. Why people first came and why they keep coming back reveals some of the biggest strengths of our ELCA.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: What's your story?
Exercise 2: ELCA's welcome mat
Exercise 3: Saved by grace
Exercise 4: Collect stories
Exercise 5: Our church welcome
Exercise 6: 'Invitation evangelism'

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2/1/2015
February 2015:

Finding faith tracks

It’s one of the pressing faith issues of our time: How do we pass on the traditions of our faith to a new generation that is culturally so different from their parents and grandparents? As with most challenges, it requires diligence, intentionality, patience and creativity.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Your faith
Exercise 2: Key issues
Exercise 3: Whose job is it?
Exercise 4: Faith knowledge
Exercise 5: Faith formation
Exercise 6: Faith practices
Exercise 7: Goals
Exercise 8: Bible stories

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1/1/2015
January 2015:

Lutheran mythmaking

It’s not surprising that a few misconceptions and larger-than-life legends would persist around the person and work of Martin Luther, who stands tall as one of the most important figures in Christian history. But getting to the truth means more than just fact-checking and “setting the record straight.” It means discovering anew the genius of Luther’s insights and his lasting influence in the world.

Your download includes four pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: 'My myth'
Exercise 2: Myth and truth
Exercise 3: Fact and fiction
Exercise 4: Myth-making
Exercise 5: Our myths
Exercise 6: 'Bar song' bunk
Exercise 7: The 95 Theses
Exercise 8: Instruction for all
Exercise 9: Plant a tree

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1/1/2015
January 2015:

Take your EQ temperature

Cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships in a congregation full of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives is probably a congregational leader’s biggest job—and one of the most challenging as well. Some folks just naturally seem to have good people skills, whereas the rest of us need to work on them. Emotional intelligence (EI) serves as a model to help us learn to deal with our neighbors more effectively.

Your download includes four pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Three skills
Exercise 2: Emotional manager
Exercise 3: Emotion vs. behavior
Exercise 4: Biblical EI
Exercise 5: EI in your experience
Exercise 6: EI in your congregation
Exercise 7: Church conflict
Exercise 8: IQ vs. EI
Exercise 9: Developing EI
Exercise 10: Jesus, EI teacher
Exercise 11: Jesus, EI master

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12/1/2014
December 2014:

Wait, it's Advent

North Americans hate to wait for anything—as evidenced in the avalanche of advance orders for the iPhone 6, blockbuster midnight releases of Hollywood movies and the popularity of takeout dinners. So for our culture, Advent provides an especially countercultural corrective and a reason—and method—of experiencing a different flow of time and way of life.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Winter rhythmns
Exercise 2: Day by day
Exercise 3: Slow-lane living
Exercise 4: Advent adventures
Exercise 5: 12 days of Christmas
Exercise 6: Not Christmas
Exercise 7: Lectio divina
Exercise 8: St. Nick vs. Santa

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12/1/2014
December 2014:

Truth in advertising

As an undercurrent in all the media we watch, hear or see all around us, advertising asserts an enormous cultural influence in our lives. It shapes how we view ourselves, our neighbors, our money and our relationship to the world. As Christians called to allow God’s words to be the primary influence in our lives, how can we cope?

Your download includes four pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Television ad log
Exercise 2: Ad messages
Exercise 3: Push my buttons
Exercise 4: Values clash
Exercise 5: La dolce vita
Exercise 6: Motivation
Exercise 7: Programmed unhappiness
Exercise 8: 'I shall not want'
Exercise 9: Human 'buy-ings'
Exercise 10: Advertising tally

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11/1/2014
November 2014:

Get set for clergy retirement wave

Our church is changing, and the leadership of the church is changing with it. In the next decade thousands of our pastors will retire. It may present short-term difficulties in finding people to take their places, and our church may suffer from the loss of so many experienced clerics. But their retirements may open the door for younger clergy with new ideas to lead our church.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Pastoral experience
Exercise 2: Retirement loss
Exercise 3: Retirement gain
Exercise 4: New leaders
Exercise 5: Elijah's retirement
Exercise 6: David's selection
Exercise 7: Judas' replacement
Exercise 8: Pastoral history

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11/1/2014
November 2014:

Staying alive

Lutheran seminaries are increasingly opening their classes and programs to other Christians, not only as a strategy for stability but also to grow into the future along with our culture. Increasingly, denominational identity is playing a less important role in our religious landscape, and partnership and collaboration is a way that our denominations are finding strength and connections. The seminaries are learning, as are other religious organizations, that they are stronger with partners.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Student decline
Exercise 2: Streamlined programs
Exercise 3: Seminary education
Exercise 4: Denominationalism
Exercise 5: Expanding base
Exercise 6: Ecumenical partners

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10/1/2014
October 2014:

Older adults: The church's challenge

“We need more young families” is the refrain often heard at congregations where older adults comprise the majority of worshipers. Although it’s a worthy goal to seek greater balance in the age of the membership, it’s a mistake to overlook either the needs of older members or the gifts, skills and opportunities they offer the congregation.

Your download includes three pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Young emphasis
Exercise 2: Burden or blessing
Exercise 3: Spiritual continuum
Exercise 4: The 'new' old
Exercise 5: Service of elders
Exercise 6: Service to elders
Exercise 7: Intergenerational
Exercise 8: Ages in the rolls
Exercise 9: Ages in the pews

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10/1/2014
October 2014:

As children flee, Lutheran families, churches speak out

What’s a Christian nation to do when children by the tens of thousands are making a dangerous journey from their homeland across the border to flee violence and death in their home country? Should we treat them as criminal trespassers or victims in need of help? What would Jesus have us do?

Your download includes four pages of exercises and discussion questions, plus a copy of the article from The Lutheran.

Exercise 1: Bold words
Exercise 2: Border-Children collage
Exercise 3: Jesus, child refugee
Exercise 4: What kind of crisis?
Exercise 5: Courageous kids
Exercise 6: The least of these
Exercise 7: Illegals or refugees?
For further study and action
Answer: Bold words

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