Slow down the Holidays!

How to slow down your holidays…

I found this great resources thanks to my friend Pastor Rich Nelson – very worth your time – from

Check this out!

Friday, November 9th, 2012 | class, events, Family, holidays | No Comments


Think the holidays are still a long way off? I know it’s still 80+ degrees here in Austin but I don’t think it’s too early to start pondering how you want your holidays to go. Not if you want to make some changes to the way it’s always been done. Not if you want to set yourself up for a thoughtful, happy holiday time. I talked to Vicky and Jen about this for their amazing show What Really Matters and they put together a beautiful little podcast on Creating Your Slow Holiday full of great ideas for taking out the hectic and adding in a little more love and joy. Listen to it! And then while you’re there listen to the show they did with Carrie a while back about slowing things down in general. That was chock full of good ideas.

And if you want to dive in a bit into your own ideas for Slow Holidays, there is an ebook. And even a teleclass that is on the books for Thursday November 29th starting at 7:30pm central time. We’ll go over the ebook and get to the source of how you want your holidays to feel, look, go. This year and all the years that follow.

You can make it how you want it. Truly.

Peggy Hahn

Peggy Hahn

Assistant to the Bishop

TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA

12941 I-45 North Freeway, Suite #210

Houston, TX 77060-1243

832-594-5016 cell

281/873-5665 ext. 101

281/875-4716 fax


Godly Play

A great approach to teaching the faith! I took these photos at Christ the King yesterday when I attended their teacher ‘s meeting. I love the sacred space created for learning Bible stories & wondering about God.

Peggy Hahn
Assistant to the Bishop
TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod

Day 2 at Stanford…

Today I realized that I am one of maybe 8 people representing faith-based organizations in the room for the Non-profit Management Institute. The blank, disinterested or occasional nod from people I meet when they asked about my "organization" told me a lot. This is a good reality check for someone who lives most of her life inside the church bubble.

I did have a really interesting conversation today with a guy from Australia who spent the day before the conference talking to homeless people in San Francisco. He learned that they are all on social media – networked homeless people who are passing the word on where to get a meal, shower or even a job opportunity! Never underestimate what you can learn by mingling with people at conferences.

So the presenters were stellar again today. I am struck by the strong prophetic voice of every speaker who were clearly on the leading edge of their field. I’m thinking carefully about what it means for the church to be a player in anticipating the cultural changes, human needs and problem solving frontiers. So — the ah-ha moments:

1. Crash Course in Creativity – by far my favorite session (actually the last of the day) was worth the whole trip here. Tina Seelig’s new book "inGenius" outlines a framework for problem solving that makes the point that in today’s world, innovation and creative problem solving are more important than ever to succeed. She introduced a new model called the Innovation Engine which explains how creativity is generated on the inside and how it is influenced by the outside world. I bought her book and read half of it at dinner.

She quotes Einstein as saying "If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, i would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once i know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes."

The Innovative Engine includes: knowledge, imagination, attitude, resources, habitats and culture.

2. Using Brand Democracy and Affinity to Drive Your Mission by Nathalie Kylander, Harvard University

This session started with clarifying the different way non-profit organizations use branding compared to for-profit organizations. The big differences are:

a. The distinctive sources of pride that nonprofit leaders have in their organizations and

b. The distinctive roles that brand plays inside these organizations to create cohesion and build capacity.

My mind went first to our synod – do we have a brand? If so what is it? and then to congregations – should congregations have a brand? How is that different from mission, vision, etc.

She explained that nonprofit organizations are most powerful when the organization’s internal identity and external image are aligned with each other and with its values and mission. It makes me realize that we have a lot of work to do here. She talked about: brand integrity, brand democracy, brand ethics and brand affinity all in alignment with values and mission. I really look forward to thinking more about this one with our staff.

3. Strange Bedfellows: Leadership, Trust and Collaboration by Akaya Windwood

This session was the closest we got to a spiritual experience because Akaya was a fantastic spiritual guide – I kept thinking, would she mentor me? She was engaging and worked us hard, pushing total strangers to spill their guts about important life lessons on trust to make the point about the value of collaboration. I could picture her working with pastors, helping them get over their "Lone-Ranger Mentality" for true networking.

4. Forces for Local Good: Applying the 6 Practices of High Impact Non-profits with Heather McLeod Grant

Every single one of these practices are a growing edges for our congregations and our synod life together. Yes, I bought the book. I think you will agree that these are essential yet not always our best game as Lutherans:

a. Share Leadership

b. Inspire Evangelists

c. Nurture Networks

d. Advocate & Serve

e. Make Markets Work

f. Master the art of Adaptation

I feel exhausted and energized at the same time from the depth of information I am processing after these two days. The trajectory of our synod’s strategy on growing leaders is becoming clear to me. Tonight I am mainly thinking, wow, why have we waited so long to get serious about leadership development?

Tomorrow I have one half day session called "Collaborative Leadership: Learning with Horses" before heading home. I am praying that I don’t actually have to ride a horse to learn with one as that would be an even bigger stretch for me than the high ropes courses I’ve been on! With any luck I will be able to report on this adventure with out having been injured physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Stay tuned!

Peggy Hahn

Peggy Hahn

Assistant to the Bishop

TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA

12941 I-45 North Freeway, Suite #210

Houston, TX 77060-1243

832-594-5016 cell

281/873-5665 ext. 101

281/875-4716 fax

At Standford today…

I’m attending the Stanford Non-profit Management Institute along with about 300 other people who are increasing their capacity to lead. Ah-ha moments included:

1. How to Make Better, Bolder Decisions by Chip Heath

You may have read one of the other great books by Heath & Heath and already guessed that this presentation was very thought provoking and clearly communicated. We got a sneak preview of their new book, being released in March, focusing on increasing the odds of making good decisions by following the framework presented. My most helpful take away (I have 10 pages of notes so there are many!) is that you can’t trust your “gut” feeling to guide your decision-making if you want a better than 40% chance of making the right choice! Ouch! This book will go on my “every leader should read this list” along with Switch and Made to Stick.

2. Thinking About Talent

Sal Giambanco filled my head with clarifying thoughts about successfully staffing positions. I think his thinking applies to paid and unpaid positions and has a lot to offer those of us that manage volunteers. I especially appreciated his philosophy on expecting everyone in the organization to be a change-maker, not just a few out-front leaders or agitators. He said, “The most effective learning we can do is peer to peer – teaching and learning from each other.” He offered some specific strategies for having pipelines for growing leaders, for helping people develop their capacity (or their career,) for recruiting staff or volunteers and for firing fast if you make a mistake. (Harder with a volunteer to be sure!) He said, “The number 1 thing that brings down an organization is rewarding mediocrity.”

3. New Skills for the New Social Economy

This was an eye-opener about changes in philanthropy that includes charitable giving, impact investing and even political giving. Two things struck me hard about this presentation:

a. Religious organizations, up until the last 5 years, received 50% of all charitable giving. Today this is about 32%. His comment on this is “When people realized that their churches weren’t doing anything with them money, they started giving less to the church and sharing the rest with organizations that are effective at making changes in the world.” Ouch – the truth stings in this one to me when I think about how little of our congregation’s budgets / staff time / building space and mission is focused beyond themselves.

b. Only a few of us in the room were from faith-based non-profits. It hit me hard that essentially everyone else in the room are our “competitors” if you will for charitable giving! The church (even if we don’t act like it) is in competition with every other organization that someone might choose to donate money. I think about the money my husband and I give away every year and realize that this hits pretty close to home.

4. Becoming Networked Nonprofits: What Nonprofit Leaders Need to Know to Succeed in the Age of Connectedness

Beth Kanter was energizing as she unpacked not only the role of social media in organizations today but as important, the mindset that takes seriously what it means to be a networker. To work with a network mindset means embracing an emerging leadership style that is characterized by greater openness, transparency, decentralized decision-making, and collective action. it means operating with an awareness of the networks you are embedded in and listening to and cultivating these networks to achieve the impact you care about. It means exercising leadership through active participation.

It’s no surprise that my head went immediately to the multiple controls that we have in place in congregational life. I remember Bandy & Easum’s writing on “permission-giving leadership” that makes what Beth is talking about feel like baby food. Still, most of our congregations struggle with sharing power and decision-making to anyone not on the Church Council or staff (or one or the other, depending…)

I am sure that this is one of the areas that leaders in the church will have to have long, hard conversations. How do we lower the walls around the mine-field of decision-making? I’m pretty sure this is a deal breaker as we look to the future.

Enough for today – my head is spinning with ideas and questions. I am energized by this deep thinking about how we do what we do. This is a good place to start as we take up our synod’s strategic plan to grow leaders. What does this mean for us? (A nice Lutheran question!)

Peggy Hahn

Peggy Hahn

Assistant to the Bishop

TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA

12941 I-45 North Freeway, Suite #210

Houston, TX 77060-1243

832-594-5016 cell

281/873-5665 ext. 101

281/875-4716 fax

Galilean Worship Update

From Bret Jacobs – Council President at Galilean Lutheran Church:

Dear Galilean Brothers and Sisters,

I have some wonderful news to share with you about our recovery from Hurricane Isaac.

Much has happened since we first began the repair process on our building just one week ago. Our building has been completely gutted, cleaned and dried. This is the first step in our rebuilding process.

Our roof has been repaired, power has been restored and our airconditiong systems have been checked and are again operational.

Tomorrow morning, our Pews will be on their way to Alabama for refurbishing.

What this all means it that we WILL WORSHIP in our sanctuary on Sunday morning at 10:30 AM!

To be ready for worship, we will need to set up the sanctuary tomorrow afternoon at 2:00PM. We can use some help moving our fellowship hall chairs from the upstairs storage room, so, please come and lend a hand if you can.

Again, these are the first steps. We are currently receiving proposals from several contractors for the repair of the interior of the building. The church organ will be inspected this coming Tuesday to see if it can be repaired. This process will take some time, but, we are well on our way. We have truly been blessed to have made so much progress in one week.

Please continue to pray for our community and all those that were impacted by the storm.

I am looking forward to seeing you all in worship on Sunday.

Yours in Christ,


Growing Leaders for the Gospel

LEAD: Living Every day as Disciples

Resources to grow as Disciples