Dare to Lead

  Apple just announced that their stores will undergo a major shift from ‘selling’ Apple products, to eye-catching interactive labs geared to ‘using’ the products. They are leading the next generation forward, the same people that the church wants to reach– but cannot find. Apple knows.

Apple is adding conference rooms, larger screens, and transforming their Genius bar to the “Genius Grove” complete with earth friendly trees and catering to the computer generations who also has a passion for purpose. And, they are open for business when the people are looking for products-in the store or on-line.  Here’s the link to their progressive story to reach the generation that we want to reach: 


Wait! If you are reading our traditional format–paperwe don’t have the technology to link you to that story.
You must ‘copy and paste.’

Wait—we don’t offer that either, unless you can get the downloaded PDF from our website and even then, maybe that won’t work.

We could send you a text, but are not set up to do that either. 

How about a group message from Facebook?

These are the facts: the world is changing faster than the local church wants to change.
Having a computer in the office doesn’t mean that we are using  technology to connect to the rest of the world.  We still connect by paper, including a newsletter that cannot keep up with the faster pace of our changing world.
We updated the website last summer, but it can and should be used for so much more to reach those looking for Jesus, not just information about who we are or upcoming events.  Social media is just an app away to connect those searching for Jesus.
Are we connected to the app?
Meanwhile, the techy people represent the unchurched who cannot connect to us, nor we to them.
We cling to our paper, books, worship time, designs, and even our traditions as if that makes us religious.  

See the problem?  

Meanwhile, Apple leads the generation that we are missing in churchThey lead and let others follow.
Jesus is progressive, forcing change,  connecting to the ones who are unconnected from ‘the church. He  commands us to do the same.

Beginning in June, expect to see  changes–the beginning of more to come:

  • Worship moves to 10 AM year-round.
  • Kid’s Church and the nursery continue year-round.
  • Expect a colorful monthly newsletter in your e-mail.
  • Receive current happenings also by e-mail.
  • Join small groups and mission events for soul searching purpose with Jesus.

Lead and let others follow.

Be bold witnesses to a resurrected Christ.

Pastor Terri.



I shuffled through paperwork on the way to my tax appointment.  Deep in the pile of papers only an IRS agent can love, a document caught my eye: “Paid in Full-Parent Plus Loan.”  It was the first big loan I took out to help my overwhelmed daughter pay her college tuition. I didn’t want to do it, but there was no choice if I wanted to keep her in school that year and my income was just a bit too much for grants.  Her meager campus cafeteria job paid $10 per hour, but that was barely enough to cover her rent for an old house near campus that she shared with four other students. The left over paid for food, books, a variety of school fees, and gas for her slowly dying car.

Paid in Full-the relief was in my hands! Done! Finished! No more debt!

 As excited as I was, the tax guy didn’t care. He punched numbers into an on-line form to calculate the difference for another debt I owed –the government. Sigh, so much for my money… I handed him my plastic card for the difference and another debt was marked “Paid in Full.” 

When was it ever MY money?  Someone always wanted it, claimed it or needed it.  But there was this very persistent voice of God running through my head reminding me just who gave it to me to use in the first place. That’s right—use, give away, spend, and share for the Kingdom. 

 ‘I know God, but just once could I keep it all? 

 “Keep what you need-will 90% cover it?” God asked.

 “Well, when you put it that way.”  I humbly respond.

 While I whined, I realized that money was a small price to pay to help Jesus with the work of the kingdom on earth.  The investment price was steep and the set up costs exceeded what anyone on earth could pay. I looked at the cross sitting on my desk.

“That was quite a price to pay for a kingdom,” I said.

 “It wasn’t for the kingdom,” God replied. “It was for you.”


 “Without my children, there wouldn’t be a kingdom.”

 “So, why did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t he just find us and drift back to Heaven?

 “My child, you were so entangled in the cosmic net of evil.  Jesus had to pierce the heart of evil to rupture its cosmic grip. Death was the only way into the soul of evil.  When Jesus rose to life that third day, my Son burst the chains of hell open and freed my children from certain death.  It was the price he paid to save you, a price paid in full.”

There it was–stamped on the empty cross–Paid in Full.

To Pew or Not to Pew

To pew or not to pew, that is the question.

This is the most pivotal question that American churches are facing today, seriously, we lose members over issues like this! But the greater question is this: Why are the pews in the front empty?  
District Superintendent, Fred Vanderwerf, visited us recently, pointing to the declining numbers in our pews all across our denominations, even in our own church.  Then, he noted the empty pews– in the front.   No one wants to sit there, not even church goers of 50 years!  We clamor for the back pew taking up the ‘best seats in the church’ and mark our pew as our own.
Ever wonder why Jesus never built a building for his ministry?  I’m wondering if it had anything to do with pews? 
Pews give permission to sit, stay put and become passive participants in what was designed  to be an active church body, each person contributing their energy, voice, and gifts to the worship service and mission outside the wall of the building.  Yet, we come early to get the back seats where we can be invisible, quiet, and withhold our singing voice except for a concert in the cities or shower back home.
Let me ask this:

Would Jesus’ disciples take the back pews or grab one in the very front?

While Jesus was teaching, they grabbed the front seats, close to their teacher   Yet, when engaging a newcomer, they would find them in the back and bring them to Jesus.  While the disciples hungered for Jesus and huddled close to him, they found those in the back and brought them forward–to meet Jesus and be saved.

The back pews are for the unsure, the newcomers, and those who are checking out Jesus.  It is safe in the back for beginners to find their home place.  Why would we steal that from them?
It is radical hospitality for the church to save the best seats in the house for the guests-the ones in the back third of the church. It is there where we greet our guests, strike up a conversation and ultimately bring them to Jesus through friendship.
It is radical discipleship to be engaged in the service, move right up to the front and be part of the worship and not an observer.  Sing with your whole heart, mind and soul to God. 
 OK, so this is where some say, “Pastor, you don’t want to me to sing!” 
Actually, it’s not what I want, but what God wants.  God wants us to be a whole disciple, from our head to our toes and everywhere in between, even our voice and our seat up front.  
Let me ask this: How long has it been since you found Jesus in your life?  And, how many years have you been sitting in the back with one foot out the door? It’s ok, you are not alone on this one.  But, if not now, when will  you ready to stand with Jesus? 
Be radical. Sit up front (all the way) and save the best seats for the guests; and then participate with your whole heart and voice. Remember, it’s a pew, not a cross.   If moving pews is uncomfortable, just look up at the cross.  Radical hospitality hung on a real cross (not a pew) saved you and me from ourselves and the sins of the world. The best seats  are ready just beneath that cross-up front.  
Pastor Terri

Heroes Wanted

I’m mad at the world and I want to fix it with a clever meme, but can’t find one Carrie Fisher just died. The original Princess Leia is gone; her death was breaking news on FOX, CNN and the Washington Post.  Carrie Fisher succumbed to an unexpected and way too early heart attack taking a Star Wars heroine along with her because no one can play Princess Leia like Carrie Fisher; her inner spunk captured in Leia. 

Yet, she died an un-heroic death leaving fans stunned and heart-broken, more so because she was Princess Leia than Carrie Fisher, which is an even greater tragedy.  Princess Leia fought evil, stood up to injustice, and put her life on the line to save entire planets.  The cause was greater than herself.  Carrie Fisher, however,  struggled to overcome personal brokenness, like troubled relationships, substance abuse, mental illness and a Hollywood that exploits the beautiful only to dump them when they outlive their youthfulness.  Princess Leia fought the dark side in the universe while Carrie Fisher fought the darkness within.  Both fought to save the innocent, including the homeless and the hungry. Both were heroes in their own courageous ways.

Ironically, children dying in Aleppo took a back seat to our hero’s death.  Children shooting children in Minneapolis never broke the headlines. And, refugee families begging for a camp to take them were too depressing even for the news.

What did make the headlines?  Political leaders fought to gain control of bathrooms.  Britney Spears really didn’t die.  Amazon sold more televisions this year than the height of Mount Everest.  Meanwhile, Christmas Day saw some churches closed for lack of interest while most were poorly attended, giving the dark side a burst of energy.  Yet, US citizens pressed on and slammed one another in malls across America trying to grab the best after-Christmas sale.  Score another for the dark side.

People!  What happened?   When did we stop playing for the good guys, more explicitly—the Good Guy, Jesus, the Hero of the Light? When did we forget that the smallest of these was worth the whole cause?  When did the ‘poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ represent mall shoppers crushing each other?  And, why were churches even asked if they would be open on Sunday for Christmas and New Year’s Day?  People—it’s Sunday, the Sabbath!  God doesn’t take holidays!

We loved Princess Leia. She was the rich fighting for the poor; defending truth, justice, and light for the lost and displaced, not only in this world, but for all facing the same injustice—anywhere. Still, we don’t get it!   Princess Leia is a story. The Prince of Peace is real.  Jesus the Christ came to fight the dark forces with a sword of light and charged us to do the same. Yet, we know more about Princess Leia than the Prince of Peace!

People, it’s time to crawl out of the movie theaters and into the churches, pick up your lightsaber and fight the real forces of darkness!  It’s time to learn the ways of Jesus, meet in churches across America to strengthen our collective resolve to fight evil, and stop our world from blowing itself up faster than any ‘death star.’ The immigrants, refugees and children of our world cannot wait for a story tale Princess to save them!  You are it!  Be a hero and be courageous.  Follow the teachings of Jesus; pitting love of neighbor against evil and GO!

May the Light of Christ go with you.


Pastor Terri 

Christmas Wish


Look at the kids and you never find a Scrooge among them.

 Kids love Christmas: the colors, lights, cookies, traditions and, of course, the gifts!

Ask them what they like about Christmas and it is the feeling that Christmas leaves in their heart.

They are excited! They anticipate  joy!  They believe in Christmas!


So why do adults lose Christmas?

We think Christmas is only for children.

Our Christmas wishes grow with things that cannot be bought in a store.


 We want our family around us,

Laugh with our friends and

Make all of the bad things go away.

This is why there is always a gift under the tree for us:

 A piece of heaven wrapped in Jesus.


Jesus connects us to the divine with a step into eternity,

Transforms our weary souls into a better version of ourselves,

Life has meaning, purpose, and direction.


Jesus forgives the secrets that still hurt,

Heals broken relationships from a life time ago,

And gives us courage to make the decisions we must make.


Jesus transforms us into a better sister, brother, mother, father, or grandparent.

We become better neighbors, friends, and strangers.

We see the world through Jesus’ eyes.


We give because our hearts will not let us stop.

That is when Christmas finds us.

We see the possibilities.


Hope, Love, Joy and Peace,


When heaven connects with our heart.


Merry Christmas,

Pastor Terri 

King Solomon’s Prayer

After King Solomon dedicated the first temple of Israel that housed the Ark of the Covenant, he turned to his people and offered this prayer:
1 Kings 8:22-61 (CEB)crown-1

Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in front of the entire Israelite assembly and, spreading out his hands toward the sky, he said:

Lord God of Israel, there’s no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep the covenant and show loyalty to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. This is the covenant you kept with your servant David, my father, which you promised him. Today, you have fulfilled what you promised. So now, Lord, Israel’s God, keep what you promised my father David, your servant, when you said to him, “You will never fail to have a successor sitting on Israel’s throne as long as your descendants carefully walk before me just as you walked before me.” So now, God of Israel, may your promise to your servant David, my father, come true.

But how could God possibly live on earth? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can’t contain you, how can this temple that I’ve built contain you? Lord my God, listen to your servant’s prayer and request, and hear the cry and prayer that your servant prays to you today.Constantly watch over this temple, the place about which you said, “My name will be there,” and listen to the prayer that your servant is praying toward this place. Listen to the request of your servant and your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive!

If someone wrongs another and must make a solemn pledge asserting innocence before your altar in this temple, then listen from heaven, act, and decide which of your servants is right. Condemn the guilty party, repaying them for their conduct, but justify the innocent person, repaying them for their righteousness.

If your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, but then they change their hearts and lives, give thanks to your name, and ask for mercy before you at this temple,then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel. Return them to the land you gave their ancestors.

When the sky holds back its rain because Israel has sinned against you, but they then pray toward this place, give thanks to your name, and turn away from their sin because you have punished them for it,then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the best way for them to follow, and send rain on your land that you gave to your people as an inheritance.

Whenever there is a famine or plague in the land; or whenever there is blight, mildew, locust, or grasshopper; or whenever someone’s enemy attacks them in their cities; or any plague or illness comes;whatever prayer or petition is made by any individual or by all of your people Israel—because people will recognize their own pain and spread out their hands toward this temple— then listen from heaven where you live. Forgive, act, and repay each person according to all their conduct, because you know their hearts. You alone know the human heart. Do this so that they may revere you all the days they live on the land that you gave to our ancestors.

Listen also to the immigrant who isn’t from your people Israel but who comes from a distant country because of your reputation— because they will hear of your great reputation, your great power, and your outstretched arm. When the immigrant comes and prays toward this temple, then listen from heaven, where you live, and do everything the immigrant asks. Do this so that all the people of the earth may know your reputation and revere you, as your people Israel do, and recognize that this temple I have built bears your name.

When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you may send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and toward this temple that I have built for your name, then listen from heaven to their prayer and request and do what is right for them.

When they sin against you (for there is no one who doesn’t sin) and you become angry with them and hand them over to an enemy who takes them away as prisoners to enemy territory, whether distant or nearby, if they change their heart in whatever land they are held captive, changing their lives and begging for your mercy, saying, “We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly!” and if they return to you with all their heart and all their being in the enemy territory where they’ve been taken captive, and pray to you, toward their land, which you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen, and toward the temple I have built for your name, then listen to their prayer and request from your heavenly dwelling place. Do what is right for them, and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all their wrong that they have done against you. See to it that those who captured them show them mercy. These are your people and your inheritance. You brought them out of Egypt, from the iron furnace.

Open your eyes to your servant’s request and to the request of your people Israel. Hear them whenever they cry out to you. You set them apart from all the earth’s peoples as your own inheritance, Lord, just as you promised through your servant Moses when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt.

As soon as Solomon finished praying and making these requests to the Lord, he got up from before the Lord’s altar, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out to heaven. He stood up and blessed the whole Israelite assembly in a loud voice: “May the Lord be blessed! He has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. He hasn’t neglected any part of the good promise he made through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us, just as he was with our ancestors. May he never leave us or abandon us. May he draw our hearts to him to walk in all his ways and observe his commands, his laws, and his judgments that he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine that I have cried out before the Lord remain near to the Lord our God day and night so that he may do right by his servant and his people Israel for each day’s need, and so that all the earth’s peoples may know that the Lord is God. There is no other God! Now may you be committed to the Lord our God with all your heart by following his laws and observing his commands, just as you are doing right now.”

Modern Times

waiting-man Our world is one hot mess.  We are polarized, captivated by our own anger at one another. No one wins.

But, these words keep pushing me :If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14  (NRSV)

Humbleness… well that trait went out of style years ago, replaced by an insatiable appetite about ourselves.  We tuned into the stationWIFM-What’s In it For Me, pushing and shoving our way through life just to get an edge up, a tiny piece of something more than the stranger next door.  We want it, therefore we take it.  Nothing else matters but our own point of view.

We didn’t get here overnight, you know. It took time, well planned and orchestrated effort to develop a nation of people primarily fixed on their own needs and desires. It took self-help books, talk shows, slogans, and messages on our walls to create a world of takers instead of givers. “Believe in yourself,” “fight for yourself” and “look out for number one!”

Somewhere in our effort to foster healthy self-esteem, we created a monster and unleashed it across America. The beast invaded the presidential elections, the nightly news and the streets of our cities. We felt a need to be right above all others, from city hall to our kids’ ball games, nothing was off-limits. Profanities, sarcastic humor, accusations, and bullish behavior was not only condoned, it was exemplified.  There was no filter, no attempt to be nice, and no effort to be kind to one another, let alone be ‘humble’.

We lost the value in being humble, to lift up the soul of another person with equal honor and respect. Humbleness underscores kindness, generosity, compassion and human dignity. To  humble ourselves is to stop pushing, shoving, and accusing; to let the other go first, congratulate the winner,  be a gracious opponent and put down the weapons of violence.  It allows us to be silent, to experience the moment and to recognize God plunked down in our midst.

Humbleness changes our perspective on life.  We discover that we are not  center stage of the universe, nor have we ever been.  Life is not all about us!  We have no choice but to fall down to our knees, seek God’s favor and ask forgiveness of our selfish ways. We admit  that we are thirsty and hungry, compelled to drink in God’s perfection like a beautiful wine and share in the holy bread. We long to be refreshed,  for the peace that fills our empty souls and heals our broken land. 
God, in your mercy, hear us.


rel·e·vant/reləvənt    adjective: relevant

closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.

“the applicants experience is relevant to the job”

synonyms: pertinent, applicable, apposite, 

to the point, germane,
connected, related, linked…

“Face it,” the young millennial said, “The Church isn’t relevant anymore.  It’s not you. It’s the whole church in general—it’s just not relevant.” 

It felt like a punch to the gut.  Not relevant??  What does that even mean-not relevant? So I took a deep breath and said, “You have other things you would rather do on Sunday?” 

“Yeah, but it’s more than that. Church is just not important anymore.” 

“Well,” I said, ‘How do we make it more relevant?”

“You can’t,” the millennial said before walking away, “It’s bigger than you. My generation doesn’t need church like you did. You can’t change that.”

Under my breath I muttered, ‘Watch me, I have ‘connections’.”
I went straight to my connection, a hot-line to God to complain who threw it right back at me.   Connections.  That is the point, isn’t it? It’s the mission of the church, sharing a meaningful connection with Jesus Christ, greatest hero of the universe. But, how many of us have ever shared even one personal story of that relationship with our kids?  They only know what they see or hear.  If we hold all those spiritual stories of connections deep inside our Minnesota niceness, well…our kids will never know a single reason for being connected to Jesus, let alone attend the church that points the way. 
We will just be a bunch of nice people visiting on Sunday morning.
Church, I have to tell you something.  It’s not me, it’s you. Millennials expect it from me, but you—that’s proof that church is more than nice people.  Why?  Because, if we have no story after claiming a lifetime of a relationship with Jesus Christ, then there is no relevance and the millennials are right. Church, in the name of Jesus, show the millennials why!  Share YOUR faith stories about ‘why Jesus matters’. Share it out loud so our kids hear it!  Write it, claim it, speak it at JAM, put it the newsletter, or post it on our web site.
But, don’t hold it in! Faith is NOT personal; it is meant to be shared! Faith in Jesus Christ IS relevant-for millennials, Gen-X, baby boomers, and the next ones coming!


Be bold. Be faithful. Be connected. Be relevant.—SHARE YOUR STORY. 

God Happened

God hacross sunsetppened one Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago.  I learned about it after the fact, after the collection was given, the check was written, and one of our own headed to the cities to present the donation.  God happened here, and then again there in a Minneapolis neighborhood with a Baptist church we do not know. God happened in both locations at the very same time and it never made the news.

 A few days earlier, Bruce B. sent an email requesting financial help for needy kids at Zion Baptist church in the cities, a church that he was connected to in his missional work. Zion Baptist was doing an awesome ministry, helping kids get to camp, especially the neighborhood kids who were not members of any faith community.  The church was planted in a neighborhood struggling with poverty, crime, and stress along with wonderful families trying to help their kids navigate it all. Zion Baptist stepped in to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and raised money to send those kids to church camp along with their own.  But, the response was overwhelming and soon Zion found that they were short the money to send the additional neighborhood kids to camp. 

That’s when God happened.  It was a Tuesday.  God tapped Bruce on the shoulder, who then tapped me on the shoulder, who then sent it to the missions committee, and ultimately to the whole church body by the following Sunday morning. God spoke, we listened and then collected a special offering on a random, hot Sunday in July. The kids were going to camp the next day and time was of the essence, but God already knew that.

Bruce shared the story about Zion’s ministry which was a lot like our own, reaching kids for Jesus.  Bruce described the neighborhood we prayed for a few Sundays back, praying for the children who were living in the chaos. God listened to LeSueur UMC and to Zion Baptist who, it turns out, were praying too and that’s when God happened, again.

 Bruce left our 9 am service with a check collected from our rural church filled with folks who did not know anyone in that neighborhood, but they wanted to help “Bruce’s Kids.”  Now, Bruce was going to be late for the Zion service, but God already knew that. 

The pastor at Zion was praising his community for raising additional funds to help send the kids to camp the next day,  but they were still short funds, $2000 to be exact.  That was precisely when Bruce arrived at Zion, with a check for exactly $2000 in his hands.  Yup, God happened. This time, it was a Sunday.

 We called that grace. John Wesley called it prevenient grace, a big term that meant God moved all of the pieces of the puzzle into place before anyone in LeSueur or that Minneapolis neighborhood even knew that a puzzle was being created.  God connected two very different churches who both loved kids, Jesus, and grace.

Here’s to God grace happening in your life!

 Pastor Terri 

I Left the Church Over Pie

 I lost my faith over blueberry pie made with little duck cutouts on it.  I re-arranged time I didn’t own between kid sports, supper, homework, pets and working full-time.  The church ladies had a festival and 2 pies were required of every woman. Men didn’t make pie; they just ate it. I offered a monetary donation knowing that I was already over the edge of sanity. Nope-everyone (woman) had to make 2 pies.

blueberry pie

“How many do they need?!?
“Two homemade pies per person (woman).”
“Why do we need that many?  The calculator in my head was spinning.
“Because we  always  ask for 2 pies each (woman).” 
It didn’t matter how much overtime I put in at work, or the fact I was single parenting it with duties at home. I HAD to make pies. It was my church DUTY. So, I made two perfect, blueberry pies from scratch because frozen wasn’t acceptable.  It took all of my reserves to pull them from the oven at 11:30pm and stop the cats from tasting them.  
I got up at 5am the next day and arranged a rendezvous  to get my pies to the church before I headed off to work.  I skipped lunch to leave work early, and arrived at the church to help the late shift clean up. I was already exhausted. Then, I saw my pies, pushed to the back of the counter not even touched, not scored, not served, full and wholly intact.  


“We didn’t need that many after all.”

If this had been the first time, I might have let it go, but it wasn’t.  It happened before—twice to be exact, along with a special six-week choir practice for music that was never performed, an extensive list of asks claiming ‘no one else could do this but you’, and now my blueberry pies were untouched.  I didn’t need a thank-you for my efforts; just needed to know that my service was important instead of unnecessary.  My soul was empty. My faith was burned.

I left the church over pie.

It took weeks of healing before I returned –to a different church to be exact. I missed God and church.  I wanted to show my kids how to jump into a God-filled mission and put faith into action. I found a productive mission that recharged my energy and I didn’t have to bake a pie to prove membership.
I think about that every time we need volunteers, especially among busy families. What can we do to make their lives easier and not busier?  Do we need that many volunteers? How will their labor matter? 

Today, I look at the effort going into the ministries of Wednesday night JAM (Jesus and Me) and Children’s Church, painting the class rooms bright colors, and all of the planning for one very important mission: reaching kids for Jesus. I see renewed energy in the giving and the mission knowing that the labor matters.

Yes, a few more JAM volunteers would help teach, feed families, mentor kids, but–if you’re feeling so stretched you cannot humanely do anything else,    I get it!  No pies.   I only ask this—grab the kids and come for supper.  Eat. Be fed.  

JAM starts Wednesday Sept 7th   at 6 pm–with supper– in the LeSueur UMC social hall where souls are fed and faith is refreshed.  See you Wednesdays at JAM. 
Pastor Terri