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November 2022 Newsletter

Updated: Mar 11

The ongoing joke in Central and Southern California is that we don’t have seasons. While I admit, the shift is subtle, it does exist. The day’s high temperature may still reach the 70s, but the time spent there will be shorter and shorter and the nights cooler and cooler. And – yes, the palm trees will drop a few fronds.

California’s quiet walk into each season reminds me of how congregations move into new life. It’s slow and subtle but the changes are there, and I love acknowledging and even celebrating them! What changes have you seen in your ministry? How did you celebrate it?

Discover and Invite has evolved from my initial toolkit idea to a workbook. Turns out, that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. One Saturday, full of hope, I gathered a group of friends (4 teachers, 3 pastors, 1 psychologist, and 1 engineer). I asked them to read my instructions and do a couple of the key activities in Discover and Invite without my saying a word to help. They couldn’t do it. My toolkit-style directions didn’t paint a clear enough picture.  And, clearly, if my esteemed friends couldn’t do it, a lay team of a congregation didn’t stand a chance.  So, instead of celebrating the completion of a toolkit, I spent the day learning just what it would take for someone to easily implement the activities of a workbook. 


The main audience and purpose of the Discover and Invite Workbook remains the same as the initial toolkit idea: To guide transition teams as they work with minimal staff support to use the MSP to tell the story of their congregation in an honest and compelling way.  It supports a team as they self-manage their way through six sessions. Every session begins with a Bible Conversation and opening prayer.  The process is full of graphics that illustrate every step of the activities and includes space for writing responses to questions.


If you think Discover and Invite might be helpful for your synod or your congregation, but you’d like to know a bit more - click the button below, and a pdf called “Discover and Invite: A Brief Outline” will download to your computer.

Brief Outline of the Discover and Invite Process (1)
Download PDF • 108KB

I’m fascinated by emotions. Not just by how each of us experiences them, but also by the names we assign them. About a year ago, leaders talked a lot about being exhausted. However, what I’m hearing lately sounds more like frustration, with maybe a bit of resentment thrown in. Being curious, I have been spending my time digging into frustration, loss, and disappointment and learning that under this set of emotions is another set: joy, hope, and gratitude. Leaning on the wisdom of Bishop Tutu and the Dali Lama (The Book of Joy), Susan Cain (Bittersweet), our own Michael Girlinghouse (Embracing God’s Future, Without Forgetting the Past), and others, I’ve developed the following three offerings that I hope will help you plan your winter or spring theological events or synod assemblies.

Hopeful Frustration: The Conversation: Introducing the topic with information and dialogue, online or in person.

Since our brains are hardwired to hold on to the negative, frustration comes easily to most of us. That’s neurobiology. But staying frustrated leads to cynicism, which is distancing and debilitating. Let’s talk about emotions and how they layer and overlap. What is under frustration? If we dig, can we find grief and then maybe hope?

Frustration, loss, and hope each contain energy that can be used constructively. To tap into their power, we need to calm our minds so we can hear what is going on inside our heads and deep within our hearts. In this workshop, we’ll learn about emotions and practice a meditation technique taught by Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama in their Book of Joy. My goal for you is the same as Nelson Mandela’s for all of us: “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.”

Hopeful Frustration: The Workshop: a deep dive – working it out in 3 hours online or in person.

As leaders, we have been winding our way through a maze of occasional joys and persistent frustrations. If frustration has a hold on you and the slippery slope toward cynicism is calling, it’s time to learn some new skills to rekindle your hope.

In the gospel of Mark, we meet a woman with a hemorrhage who suffered for 12 years. Like us, she was frustrated by what she could not control. She did not lose hope. Her hope was strong enough to motivate her to act. She touched Jesus’ clothes which caused him to stop and insist that she tell him “the whole truth.” Through journalling, one on one interviews, and a personal proposal process, this workshop will give you an opportunity to articulate the truth of a situation that frustrates you, to discover the loss and hope under the frustration, and, let hope guide you to constructive action for your future.

Augustine of Hippo said: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” May this workshop give you the courage to channel your frustration into hopeful action.

Hopeful Frustration: The Retreat: 3 sessions plus Worship (in person only).

Includes the Conversation, Workshop above, a time of reflection on the day’s events, as well as a worship service based on Psalm 86 and Mark 5.

If any of these options look helpful to your work, contact me at

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