Wednesday, December 22, 2010

700 Club

Did you know?

#1 - People spend 700,000,000,000 minutes on Facebook each month.

#2 - YouTube videos were viewed 700,000,000,000 times in 2010.

Seven-hundred-billion minutes a month on Facebook and video views on YouTube.

Many churches (and church leaders) do not have a presence on either of these platforms.

Any thoughts as to why that is?

Monday, December 20, 2010

WHLC t-shirts

I'm not a big t-shirt guy...but I know that they are important for group identity and promotion.  A young person at Windsor Heights Lutheran designed our church's shirt.  Here's what she came up with.

Make custom sweatshirts at

Do you use t-shirts for your organization?  Why or why not?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Colbert on Christmas

Stephen Colbert - comedian, satirist, progressive theologian and (possible) heretic unloaded this gem last night:

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don't want to do it. 

This came at the end of his eight-minute opening rant about Christmas.  And if that wasn't enough, the world's greatest musician, Paul Simon, is his guest (at the 14:15 mark).  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Greetings

We aren't doing a snail mail Christmas card this year.  Instead, we'll donate what we would have spent to Lutheran Disaster Response and post some pictures and a brief family update online.

We hope you enjoy the slideshow...

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Holiday

"America's best public theologian" (according to @dianabutlerbass) weighed in on the Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays discussion.  This has sparked some articles from theologian bloggers...two of which I found particularly insightful.

Dr. James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)
While many American Christians complain about what the store employees wish them, they are there in the stores alongside everyone else, engaging in a practice that has no real Biblical roots, making purchases in the spirit of our contemporary materialistic age.

Rev. Brant Clements (Living Lutheran)
The cruciform letter chi, which is written “X,” has been used for centuries as an abbreviation for “Christ.” The abbreviation “Xmas” is not blasphemous. It no more takes Christ out of Christmas than does the abbreviation “C-mas.”  Xians who take offense at the abbreviation “Xmas” only show their ignorance of their own faith. Even if “Xmas” were an insult, taking offense would be a betrayal of the teacher who told us to “turn the other cheek.” So this year, I will be keeping “X” in Xmas.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No More Christmas Programs

Last year our congregation didn't do a children's Christmas program.

In September I realized that our upper-elementary grades were thin in numbers.  It was going to be difficult to do a "traditional" Christmas program with fewer kids.  Additionally, we had seen audience attendance wane at the program among non-family members.  So I thought we could try a different approach to doing something special for children and families at church in mid-December.

We called it "The Advent Celebration".
(catchy name, right?)

This event incorporated annual congregational activities such as the Caroling & Chili Supper and decorating the sanctuary.  We added crafts, games, and activities for little ones...and even a few "visitors" (Mary, the innkeeper, and a shepherd) that told us what happened - and what didn't happen - on that night in Bethlehem.

Here's what the schedule looked like:

4:00     Caroling groups visit homebound
            Decorate the sanctuary
5:30     Chili Supper
6:00     Singing songs (led by children)
            Visits from storytellers
6:30     Crafts, activities, and games for children and families
            More decorating the sanctuary

This event was met with much enthusiasm and support among those who attended.  These five themes emerged in the feedback I received:

  1. This was an intergenerational event that didn't feel forced or awkward.
  2. Children could learn about the Advent and Christmas stories without the pressure of a performance.
  3. There was no reinforcement of inaccurate aspects of the Biblical narrative that always seem to accompany Christmas programs.
  4. Families didn't have the stress of additional rehearsals, memorizing lines, costumes, etc. during an already chaotic season.
  5. The focus of the Advent Celebration is Advent; not Christmas.

I would add a sixth comment -- I appreciated not spending all of the time and money on a 30-45 minute production.  Maybe next year we can take the resources (man-hours and dollars) of a Christmas program and do something more "missional".  Perhaps the Chili Supper could be a community-wide meal for people who are going without food...or something like that.

The Advent Celebration worked for us.  I won't be so cavalier as to assume it would work for every church...but I highly recommend it if you're looking to shake things up a little.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OLYO Reflections

Nurse Log -- a decaying tree that provides nutrients for new trees

I recently had the opportunity to be part of the Oregon Synod Lutheran Youth Organization (OLYO) Assembly.  Their theme was Living Into the Future Together.  Being on a churchwide task force with the same name gave me cause to join them for the weekend.  For their part, the OLYO board set aside three 90-minute sessions for us to consider what God is calling us to do and to be in the future. 

The first session, Living, gave us a chance to talk about church in the 21st century and the ways that young people can join in the conversation.  We explored the metaphor of church as an eco-system of interdependent organisms.  Young people shared candid responses to the question, “Why are you a part of the church?”  There was a time of dwelling in the Word from Acts 2 and some conversation about the aspects of life among the believers in the early Christian church.

Our next session focused on the Future.  Young people were asked to consider how they might use their spiritual gifts to breathe new life into the church.  The assembly broke up into student-led small groups and used our “evangelical, missional imagination” to wrestle with these three questions:
·       What elements are essential for a 21st century church?
·       What elements are helpful, but not essential?
·       What elements are neither essential nor helpful?
Each group made three lists and posted them around the room for all to see.  There was spirited conversation as the young people shared their dreams for what Christ’s church looks like in the days ahead.

The third and final session, Together, was so exuberant that our discussions spilled late into the evening.  We used a re:form (sparkhouse) video “Why Are There So Many Different Christian Churches?” to set the tone.  The group lamented the ways in which the body of Christ has become fractured and severed.  From there we thought of ways to embrace our differences to enhance our witness to the world.  We realized that being together in Christ doesn’t mean losing our identity, but instead calls us to embrace each other’s uniqueness and giftedness.  Small groups worked to draw a blueprint of what a church building might look like, considering the essential and helpful elements from the previous activity.  

Attempting to summarize the depth and breadth of what happened at the OLYO Assembly is difficult.  A few themes did emerge as we talked, listened, prayed, sang, and danced together:
1.     Young people care so deeply about the future of the church that they want to be part of shaping its present.
2.     The church of tomorrow needs to look more like the church of 2,000 years ago.
3.     Youth place a high value on the messiness of relationships and living in community together.
4.     Though church buildings can be helpful, they aren’t required in order for God’s people to be the church.

The weekend I spent with the OLYO group will go a long way in shaping my own understanding of what God is calling the church to be and do in the future.  I pray it will inform and inspire groups across our church eco-system (especially the LIFT task force) as we navigate these uncertain waters together.

* * * 

Here are a couple of pictures I took during my time in Oregon...

the traditional goofy group picture of the OLYO crew

breathtaking Multnomah Falls

sun setting behind the Pacific Ocean


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Faith, Family, and Fame

Here's a great read about what's going on at the Crystal Cathedral, including this section about Robert Schuller's grandson:

Bobby Schuller is an innovator like his grandfather, but the way he delivers his message of Christianity is drastically different. The stereotypical church, he said, is about a perfect building filled with perfect people, music and a perfect preacher.

"In other words, it's not like life," he said.

He ponders his vision in his office — located in his garage. A bookshelf lines one wall, and a large jug of home-brewed beer (inspired by Harry Potter's butter beer) sits in the corner. Parked on the street, there's his gold Toyota Camry, which has clocked more than 200,000 miles.

He wants his church to be about community — and something "messy people with messy lives" can relate to.

Volunteers set up for the service each Sunday and take down the chairs and tables that afternoon. When the work is done, they all go out for pizza. More than 90% of church funds go toward social justice issues such as homelessness and domestic violence.

"Our goal is to make big Christians, not big churches," he said.

I echo Bobby's perspectives, and wonder (once again) if church renewal is truly possible...or if there is a natural life-and-death cycle that needs to be tended to more faithfully.  Thoughts?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Worship Grumbling

I've often thought about making a list of pet peeves I have about working in a church.  Shortly thereafter, I realize that the publication of such a list will (likely) result in unemployment.  So instead of unleashing a 700-page "church gripes manifesto" I'll share one of my biggest complaints:

Age-specific or Gender-specific Worship.

When did the act of Christian worship become a "program" that needs to be compartmentalized?  What components of a youth worship service are only germane to young people?  Which aspects of a women's worship service are considered unfit for men?

My armchair sociological analysis is that these kinds of worship gatherings were helpful in a time when certain groups of people (women, youth, etc.) were unable to fully participate in worship.  The only way these folks could elbow their way onto the worship scene was to have a service for "their people"...and to do it really well.

By and large, those days are behind us.  The ELCA has been ordaining women for 40+ years.  Young people serve as liturgists, preachers, musicians, lectors, communion assistants, ushers -- everything their adult lay counterparts can do.  Why do we continue to hang onto these antiquated practices?

From my perspective, every time we place parameters on church events (age, gender, race, etc.) we remind everyone around us of our differences.  If we are truly one in the Body of Christ, why do we spend our time and effort declaring the ways in which we are separated?

With all rants, it's highly possible that the ranter is missing the point...a possibility I fully concede.  What do you think?  Are age/gender specific worship services helpful...important...necessary?  I'd love a little dialogue on this topic, because I think it points to something embedded much deeper in church culture.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Me Thinking

My friend, Dwight, got me thinking today with a couple of articles and some fascinating questions.  Here's our email exchange...


I find myself thinking about you for two reasons this afternoon.

In conjunction with my latest post on, I find myself wondering how you speak to youth about vocation/ministry in daily life? What do they know of it? How can we connect youth with MIDL?

Second, I'm haunted by the Christianity Today article, "The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church." Especially by the line that indicates that we've "inoculated" young adults with a weak (the author says 'superficial') form of Christianity that prevents the real thing from coming to life. Just wondering if you saw it...

- - - - - 


Thanks for your note.  I appreciated your comments on the Center for Renewal blog.  Regarding the use of vocational language among young people, this is something I try to tend to on a consistent basis.  I spent most of my teen years believing that the only way to serve God was through ordained ministry.  Clearly, that is not the case.  The best way to address this with young people is through guest speakers.  Find adults that believe that they are doing God's work as they live out their vocations in the public/private sector.  When young people hear their stories, they begin to see that "ministry" most often happens outside the friendly confines of church.

The Christianity Today article seems to piggyback on the research surrounding "moralistic therapeutic deism" and its implications for the future of the church.  GenX, Baby Boomer, and Greatest Generations have grown many American churches on a wimpy foundation of teaching people how to be "moral, successful, and nice".  This version of Christianity is a major turn-off to Millennials who see religion and spirituality with more nuance and complexity.

My dad pointed me to David Kinnaman's book "Unchristian" earlier this week (which was referenced in the Christianity Today article).  I haven't had a chance to read all of it yet, but Kinnaman points to six broad themes about the church perceived by those outside the church:

1.  Hypocritical
2.  Too Focused on Getting Converts
3.  Anti-homosexual
4.  Sheltered (old -fashioned, boring, out of touch with reality)
5.  Too Political (conservative politics)
6.  Judgmental 

Here's the rub...

Lutherans actually are in a great position to do something about this (if we can just get out of our own way).  

Here's what Saint Nadia thinks:

I fervently believe that we, as Lutherans, are uniquely poised to be church in an urban and postmodern context. Our rich liturgical heritage brings with it the gifts of ancient ritual and mystery. This speaks to those who seek that which cannot be explained, who wish to touch the sacred in a-rational and embodied ways. Our theology is full of ambiguity—which is actually comforting to many post-moderns. We do not spoon-feed theological certainty but live most comfortably in the discomforting tension of being both sinner and saint, living in the now and the not-yet of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Our theology of the cross—the proclamation of a self-emptying God who would rather die than be in the sin-accounting business—is rich and dark and nourishing to those who suspect, based on their own lived experience, that it’s not all about happy-clappy victory parties. Then the proclamation of the lush grace of God, which simply is, washes over us in the proclamation that we are the Beloved of God.

I tend to agree with her analysis.

Thanks for getting me thinking...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kudos, Bishop

On October 12 I wrote a post titled Seeds of Irony in which I (poorly, according to some) observed that the ELCA Churchwide Organization announced the reduction of sixty-five staff postions on "GLBT Coming Out Day."  Though the ELCA social statement on human sexuality doesn't "affirm" (my original word choice) the practice of homosexual sex, it has opened the door for congregations to call gay people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous relationships to serve as their pastor.  In light of this change in ministry policies, I offered this analysis:

I think lots of people - many of them unchurched - believe that Christian churches are full of judgmental hypocrites that refuse to acknowledge their own sin while amplifying particular sins of others.  The ELCA has taken a different posture, embracing the “simultaneously sinner and saint” dialectic and committing to live together faithfully in the midst of our differences.   I think that this posture has a chance to help bring about reconciliation and healing for people - regardless of sexual orientation - to hear the gospel in a new way.
What are we doing to capture the imagination and inspiration of people who think the ELCA’s acceptance of gay pastors is a really good thing?  

Some people on both "sides" didn't like my use of the word acceptance.  Nevertheless, the sentiment remains: after 15 months of absorbing crossfire for changes made in August 2009, I think it's time for many of our churches to think creatively about how to articulate this interpretation of Scripture to those that need to hear it. 

With that in mind, I was pleased to see that our presiding bishop joined the It Gets Better project with this video:

As I tweeted on October 20, I believe that "it is neither provocative nor political to be anti-bullying."  I'm grateful that Bishop Hanson has joined the chorus of people who denounce bullying in any form, especially to the GLBT population.

I also echo the sentiment of my Methodist friend, JP, who also had this to say on 10/20:

When I got bullied, it was by kids who shot rubber-bands. Today, kids are bullied in ways which would make most of us blush...
I don't know if wearing purple will really fix anything. But no one deserves to be robbed of their LIFE by those who think it is funny to push someone...often over the edge. Please MAKE time today to talk to your kids/friends about why wearing purple wasn't just a fashion statement...

Indeed, the solidarity of purple-wearing brigade and the words expressed by the It Gets Better videos are great; but they're ultimately meaningless if they don't translate into courageous action.  As one who was bullied by people who thought I was gay, I am grateful for the people who demonstrated God's love to me through their actions.  My parents...Calvin...Eric...Matt...Stephen...Jonette...and many others.  

My tearful prayer that everyone who is mistreated - especially young people - can be shown the unwavering love of God in the midst of their sadness.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Here I Am, Send Me

A pastor friend of mine (to whom I am related by birth) is preaching at a jr. high event next week.  The theme is "Sent to the ends of the earth: Here I am, send me."  He asked for some ideas of videos that would connect with the's what I came up with.

When I think of "here I am, send me" I'm reminded of the old Fogerty song, Centerfield.  

"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today."

Continuing the sports metaphor, there are two movies that come to mind:

MIRACLE, the movie made a few years ago chronicling the 1980 USA Hockey Team.  Here's the locker room speech before the game against the Soviets:

I love the line "great moments come from great opportunities."  Young people might need to have their eyes opened to the opportunities that exist in their world.  Often times young people don't see the unique opportunities for being SENT.

The other great line (which probably boarders on pre-destination theology) is "you were born to be hockey players."  This could be tweaked to be "you were baptized to be evangelists." 

* * * 

HOOSIERS also has this great scene

"I'll make it"

Knowing the opportunities for failure (missing the shot, a bad pass, a steal, blocked shot, double-team) Jimmy trusts his ability and shoulders the responsibility.  This is the same kid that didn't go out for the team until the town voted to fire the coach.  

Being a "sent people" means being confident, assertive, well-prepared, and trusting the support of people who love you.  You might be able to do a little character study on Jimmy Chitwood and its implications for "here I am, send me."

* * *

There's also a great scene in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING where the great leaders/warriors are arguing at the Council of Elrond about who will bear the burden of destroying the ring.  Through the din, little Frodo volunteers to destroy it; knowing it will likely cost him his life.  

Perhaps a great time to talk about Bonhoeffer and the cost of discipleship.  It's also a good example of how a small, young person can accomplish great things.  There's also solid examples of how community (the fellowship) supports the efforts of young people.  

It's a long clip, but I think it could be a marvelous example of what the event's theme is about.

* * *

As for any movies that have come out in the last few years, I'm afraid I'm little help.  There are, however, a couple of good websites that recommend video clips for Christian youth groups:

* * *

Koinonia readers -- what songs, video clips, or movies resonate with you on the topic "Sent to the ends of the earth: Here I am, send me"?  Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kids in Worship

Our congregation is trying two new methods of getting young people involved in worship.  Like all good ideas in the church, we borrowed/swiped these from other congregations.

Creation Station
There is a 15-20 minute stretch in the middle of the service where the sermon is preached, a song is sung, and a lengthy prayer is prayed.  This is a brutal time for parents who strive to simultaneously participate in the service and keep their kid(s) quiet during these subdued portions.

The Creation Station is a set of tables in the back of the sanctuary where kids can color, cut, paste, and mold items based on the theme of the day.  There are some coloring & activity pages (similar to a "children's bulletin) that are available as well.  During the offering portion of the service, kids bring their creation up front to the altar as their offering to God.

Joyful Noise
Shortly after a young child enters the sanctuary, they are typically given something to play with or eat so the adults can sing gathering songs.  The immediate message is "you might be in the sanctuary, but you are not a part of worship."  So, in the spirit of Psalm 100, we invite little ones to the front of the sanctuary to dance and play Orff instruments during the gathering song(s) and Gloria portion of the liturgy.  We mostly incorporated egg shakers and jingle bells, so as not to obstruct the singing.

We had a great response from members of the congregation after each of our three worship services this weekend.  Parents appreciated the chance to listen to the sermon, knowing that that their kids were still in the worship space doing something to connect with the sermon theme.  Many older folks (60+ years) loved seeing the PreK group accompanying the opening songs, and they really loved watching kids come forward to lay their creative gifts on the altar.  A couple of people even came up to me afterwards with tears in their eyes, filled with gratitude that we had carved out space for young people in worship.

It's worth noting that not everyone was enthusiastic.  Two people seated near the back commented that twenty kids moving around and shuffling papers during the sermon was distracting.  Another person, while pleased that the kids weren't very noisy, expressed a belief that Sunday School (not worship) was the appropriate venue for "arts and crafts."  Someone else wondered rhetorically why the kids needed to be moving around so much and why they couldn't just sit still in the pew.

I mention both sides, not to put a damper on what was a marvelous worship experience, but to be realistic for anyone who might read these ideas and want to implement them in their worshipping community.

What about your congregation?  How do you involve young people in worship?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Consumer Church

Great post by Brian Beckstrom about Opting In.  I love the last two sentences:
The good news is that (churches) may not be dependent on providing the most entertaining worship experiences or most tantalizing programs. People are looking for a place to belong, and as our understanding of hospitality and mission increase, we are in a great position to provide just that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seeds of Irony

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day; a day set aside for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, or transgender persons to make a public declaration of their sexual identity.  Attention was amped up this year because of the recent string of young gay people who have committed suicide.

The irony was not lost on me that the big news of the day in the ELCA was (for once) not about the debate over human sexuality, but about restructuring the Churchwide organization.  Yet, in some ways, what happened in the Lutheran Center was an extension of how volatile conversations about sexuality have become.  

Reductions in the Churchwide organization were a necessary response to these four factors:
  1. An economic downturn that has reduced financial stability across the country, especially in non-profit organizations.
  2. A cultural shift that places less emphasis on centralized institutions
  3. Denominational shrinkage, both in numbers of church members and congregations across mainline Christian denominations
  4. Congregations that have left the ELCA and/or withheld their financial support to ELCA synods and the Churchwide organization after changes to ministry policies were approved at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

In the 14 months that the ELCA officially became “gay-affirming” there have been many more individuals and organizations that have reduced their giving than have increased their giving.  

Whether people like it or not, the ELCA is the largest Christian denomination that allows congregations to call openly gay persons in “monogamous, life-long, publicly accountable relationships” to serve as pastor.

And we aren’t capitalizing on it.  

We are, as Len Sweet says, “missing our moment.”

I think lots of people - many of them unchurched - believe that Christian churches are full of judgmental hypocrites that refuse to acknowledge their own sin while amplifying particular sins of others.  The ELCA has taken a different posture, embracing the “simultaneously sinner and saint” dialectic and committing to live together faithfully in the midst of our differences.   I think that this posture has a chance to help bring about reconciliation and healing for people - regardless of sexual orientation - to hear the gospel in a new way.

What are we doing to capture the imagination and inspiration of people who think the ELCA’s acceptance of gay pastors is a really good thing?  

We are certainly good at licking our wounds and grieving the loss of people who think we are apostate.  Perhaps it’s time to be more creative about how we engage the world.  

I’ve said it many times -- the Lutheran expression of Christianity just might be the perfect vehicle to bring the gospel to an emerging, post-modern realm.  

The ground is fertile.  It’s time to start planting seeds.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Change of Seasons

“It’s a sad day for the ELCA.”

The is the sentiment held by many upon hearing the news that 60 full-time staff positions and 5 global mission positions have been eliminated from the Churchwide Organization. 

All over Facebook, people have expressed their prayers of grief, lament, and sadness for those who were affected by these cuts and for those who have been grappling with this decision in recent months.

I weep for the people that now face the dark uncertainty of unemployment in a crappy economy.  Many of the people who were laid off are friends of mine.  These are good people who have faithfully served the church in countless ways.  

If I put on my Pollyanna glasses, though, I think this could mark a very positive day for the ELCA and its people.  

Much of the conversation and research on the LIFT Task Force has pointed to something painfully radical:

The mark of a vibrant organization in a post-modern, open-source world is not a large national expression headquartered in a high-rise building, but instead consists of strong, healthy local expressions that network together for mission and ministry.

As such, the new Churchwide structure might be smaller, but that also might mean expanding the structure and function of congregations, conferences, synods, and networks.  My hope is that the people who have lost their jobs in the Churchwide organization can still live out their vocation through other expressions of the church.  

Becoming a smaller, nimbler church doesn’t come without pain and loss.  It also doesn’t mean that we have to say “goodbye forever” to the people who have served the larger church.  I pray that we can be bold enough, creative enough, daring enough to cast a vision for how we can embrace these 65+ individuals in the other aspects of the church.

At the risk of being cliche, I have spent the last few weeks dwelling in the Word that comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  I think it's instructive as we discern the new season our church is entering.

3For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jack Benny: Lutheran Witness?

The October copy of The Lutheran magazine arrived on my desk today.  A large, caption-less picture of an old man wearing a suit, black-rimmed glasses, and a donning peculiar pose is the cover image.  

Having no idea who this man is - or, more important, why he's on the cover of The Lutheran - I asked one of my older co-workers.  

His name is Jack Benny.  

Bob Sitze alludes to a Jack Benny comedy sketch in his cover story, "It Really Is Your Money or Life." 

In one of his ageless sketches, comedian Jack Benny (right) is confronted by a robber's insistence, "Your money or your life." Benny defers for several moments. When pushed by the robber for his decision, the characteristically frugal Benny replies, "I'm thinking about it!"

According to Wikipedia, Benny's comedic character is "cheap, petty, vain, and self-congratulatory."  

So why am I annoyed by this picture?

Because Sitze writes a great article!  Here's the best sentence in the whole piece:

Heading toward simplicity means slowing down; living within your means; saving more, ramping up your understanding and practice of generosity; and finding satisfaction, serenity and joy inside of what others might think of as scarcity — all good ideals for the life of a reformation-minded steward of God's gifts.

He makes ONE reference to a dead comedian (1894-1974), and it becomes THE image for the primary publication of a 4.6 million member church.

Furthermore, this is the featured image on The Lutheran's newly formatted web site.  People who are visiting this site to check out the fresh look will be presented with images of...Jack Benny.

For Lutherans who don't know of Jack Benny, or his reputation, this is just another in a long list of occasions that the church is skewing-old with references that mean nothing to people under the age of 40.

For Lutherans who do know of Jack Benny, they have confused a frugal, selfish life turned inward with a Christ's call for a simple, sustainable life turned outward.  

For non-Lutherans who are looking for an identity snapshot, they will likely see us as a bunch of old tight-wads that are trying to cling to archaic traditions and images that don't point to our mission or identity in Christ.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is being said about this?