Pass It On – Part 4: Share It

Do you remember choose-your-own-adventure books?  You’ll figure it out.  Here we go!

If the habit you learned is not yet your habit and you want it to be, GO TO Share It – “Help”

If the habit you learned is your habit, GO TO Share It – For Fun

If you haven’t learned a habit, or want a new one, RETURN TO Pass It On – Part 2: Learn It

Share It – “Help”

It takes some time to form a new habit, and sometimes it’s helpful to share with someone what you are trying to do and ask them to help keep you accountable.  Try this: ask a friend to check in with you every week and just ask if you did what you say you want to do. 

For an accountability tool, check out our Disciples’ Utility Kit under the Resources tab at

Other times no matter how hard you try you seem to have some personal resistance.  A coach can help you discover and overcome your personal resistance.  You can find a coach to share with under the resources tab at  Or you could share with a trusted friend and ask them to help you with your personal resistanceYou can find a Personal Resistance tool in our Disciples’ Utility Kit, under the Resources tab at


RETURN TO THE TOP of Pass It On – Part 4: Share It


Share It – For Fun

No pressure, just have fun with it.  As you learned in Part 3: Live It, simply share with people what you’re excited about, and what God is doing with you.  Have fun experimenting with this whole process.  Share your excitement with friends and if they ask, then tell them about your journey to learn something you saw in someone else.  Just like it was easier for you to ask someone else to share a habit with you in Part 2: Learn It, it’s easiest to teach, and for someone else to learn, if they ask you to share it with them.  So, just relax and have fun!


I hope the Pass It On series has been helpful to you.  If you have a story or feedback, please Share It with me in the comments or via email:


Intimacy as Service

I recently read an article about how to handle stressful holiday gatherings with family, which emphasized the importance of achieving intimacy with those to whom we’re inseparably connected.* The article focused on strained family relationships, particularly those that were difficult to maintain due to a family member’s addiction to drugs. This perspective was convicting for me, as I tend to resist intimacy when faced with difficult situations within a relationship. My hunch is I’m not alone in this tendency - do you also pull away when a relationship feels tense, unpleasant, confrontational?  This reaction reminds me of the passers-by in the story of the Good Samaritan.

It’s hard for me to admit, but I unfortunately relate to the travelers in the story who walked past the injured man, who refused to enter into a painful, messy situation. I’ve known for a while now that holding space with someone, making an effort to grow more intimate with them, listening to and sharing not only their joy but also their pain, does not come naturally or easily to me. However instead of remaining stuck in feelings of guilt or inadequacy (as I’m wont to do), I’m asking God to soften my heart and give me discernment and discipline as I set up routines in my life (regular time in God’s Word, practices of self care, and conversations with trusted friends about “deep life stuff”) that better allow me to serve and be served. I know achieving true intimacy with God, and with those in my life God has blessed me with, is a pie-in-the-sky vision I’ll never perfect, toward which I’ll spend my lifetime striving, but the routines are things that I can work on now and that, when I manage to stick with them, produce fruit.

The idea of achieving intimacy with those to whom we’re inseparably connected also brings to mind Pastor Josh Miller’s message from Scripture in his sermon “Who Is My Neighbor?” (November 20, 2016). Pastor Josh reminded us that Jesus came down from heaven and made his home with us; he found all of us in need, separated from God and from one another by our sins, and he truly saw us. He did not distance himself from us but instead had compassion on us. He was “moved to the core,” saw things from our perspective, and connected with us in the midst of our hurting. Who in your life comes to mind when you think of someone hurting, who you’re connected to by virtue of your life circumstances, but perhaps not truly connected to in the sense of reaching out to them and having compassion? I pray that God’s intimate love for you empowers you to step into that person’s life and to share even in the messy, painful parts.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7 NLT).


*Grenny, Joseph. ”Feasting with Unruly Relatives,” Crucial Conversations Q&A Blog (November 22, 2016). Ask Elsa if you’d like a link to this article.


The Listening Life

The missional life is a listening life.

If we don’t listen, we won’t develop relationships. Without relationships, we can’t make disciples. If we don’t make disciples, we are not embracing our Kingdom role of joining God in his mission to redeem and restore this world he loves sacrificially.

So let’s open our hearts to love, beginning by opening our ears to people. Let’s be interested, engaged, and overwhelmed by all our neighbors are, what they think, their felt needs and dreams, and what they have to contribute to their own well-being and the well-being of other people, their communities, and the Kingdom.

This has been my message as I have served this past year. As I prepare to honor God's call in the next phase of my ministry, I trust God that this message has been transformational, moving some to live a listening life.

It has been a joy for Beth and me to worship with you, serve alongside you, laugh and cry with you, and grow deeper in faith. May God's peace always be with you.

The missional life is a listening life. I pray this will be true for us all as we continue on and do well in Jesus’ name.


Returning but Still Sent

On behalf of those who worshipped at our recently closed Verona site, I want to thank our entire church family for the warm welcome we received as we returned home to Fitchburg on October 9. We count it as God’s blessing that we, for a season, gathered in Verona to celebrate God’s grace in the sacraments, robust worship, and commitment to one another through Jesus-honoring relationships.

Beth and I came to Verona less than a year ago from the City of Minneapolis to the suburbs of Madison. This transition would have been much more difficult had it not been for the love and acceptance of the Verona family. We thank them for their welcoming way and generous hospitality.


Our last worship service together, we celebrated memories of Verona’s beginnings, children born and baptized into the family of God, leaders who have served faithfully for more than five years, and relationships that formed and strengthened over time and sure to last until Kingdom come.


On October 2, after worship, we rolled up our sleeves and began the somewhat sad and demanding work of vacating our site premises. In all honesty, I have never witnessed such camaraderie and positive attitudes in the face of a difficult circumstance. By 2:00 pm we had brought the last of Verona’s furniture, sound equipment, ecclesial supplies - you name it -  over to Fitchburg (sorry for the mess for those who use the Fellowship Hall). Everyone contributed in some way. I praise God that though many were working on very tall ladders removing heavy audio/visual equipment and wiring from the ceiling, no one was injured. God’s grace covering this project was overwhelming.


Though we no longer have a lifeWorhship Center in Verona, we have not in any sense abandoned Verona as a mission field. The energy we gave to facilitating Sunday worship will now be redirected toward facilitating Regional Impact Gatherings to serve and restore shalom to Verona area neighborhoods. These gatherings will focus our imaginative energy on the health and spiritual vitality of the Verona community, one neighbor and one neighborhood at a time.

On October 9, it was wonderful to see most of our Verona brothers and sisters in worship at Fitchburg. As we worship and integrate with the larger church body, may we be refueled for the missionary task at hand, connecting people to life in Jesus in the Verona region.

The Church Leadership Board - Meet the Nominee

On Sunday, December 11th, from 12pm-1pm, our church will have its Annual Voters Meeting. A few key points of the agenda include learning about the budget for 2017 and electing one new board member. The 2017 budget is available for review at the Church.


I find the Annual Voters Meeting is the perfect chance to become more informed about some of the servant leaders of the Church as well as the specific ministry plan of the church. And in preparation for electing a new board member, here is just a little information about her as well as the board’s criteria for nominees.


Joan Dawson - Board Nominee

  • Joan lives in Fitchburg with her husband Mark and attends the Church in Fitchburg. As a senior plan consultant with Cuna Mutual Retirement Solutions, she is responsible for retirement plan administration support of large clients. In serving her community, Joan shares her gift of music on worship teams and volunteers countless hours with our youth in Higher Ground. She and her husband Mark are recent “empty nesters” and she looks forward to serving on the Leadership Board as God directs her.


Criteria for Nomination to the Leadership Board

  • Regularly participate in the worship and educational life of the congregation.

  • Undertake personal spiritual disciplines for the development of their own faith lives.

  • Not be ministry staff members or employees of the Church.

  • Have been communicant members of the Church for at least two years prior to assuming a position on the Leadership Board.

  • Are visionary and good communicators.

  • Understand and support the basic concepts of Policy Based Governance.

  • Are willing and able to support the vision frame and vision proper.

  • Invest personal energy and skills in the mission and ministries of the congregation, seeking opportunities where individual skills and abilities can be applied other than the role of Board member.

  • Be willing and able to accept the responsibilities of Board membership as specified in the Policy Manual.


You can meet the rest of the Leadership Board here. The congregation is welcome to submit names of nominees as well, and may do so by contacting anyone on the nominating committee by November 27, 2016. (Peg Strange , Elsa Gumm, Dannie Jaeger)


I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, December 11th, for the Annual Voters Meeting. And don’t forget that the Packers play the Seahawks at 3:25 pm that day, so we won’t miss the game!

Do you have other questions or comments for the Leadership Board? Sign in and leave your questions or comments in the comment section below.