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Topics - Commencement2020

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Your Turn / Youth profiles as a matchmaking resource
« on: December 10, 2020, 10:42:04 PM »
A certain Lutheran congregation & school formerly placed detailed profiles of their high school aged students online. I am not linking to it here, because it contained the sort of information minors are supposed to safeguard.

The overall impression I had from these profiles is that this would be a great church to join if you had teenage children and you wanted a good crowd for them to hang out with. But looking more closely, I noticed that each profile included the astrological sign of each teen. The most obvious purpose of posting astrological signs is to enhance the possibility of the teen profile directory as a matchmaking device.

This church has over several generations generally failed to gain new members from outside and even lost about half of their children. But they make up for it because their children marry each other and have enough children. Because of this they have been consistently growing in size.

The downside of this is that

  • there are no wealthy congregation members
  • the typical member has a high school diploma but not college
  • they are still in debt
  • in general few if any of them aspire to the "American Dream". There is no norm towards homeownership. They typically work trades or service jobs.

There was no indication from the profiles that any of the teens resented creating a profile. The compilation was put together by an adult woman, who presumably acted as a censor. For some reason there are no recent editions of these profiles online. Maybe they are in a password protected part of the website, which would be smart. I suspect that their use of youth profiles may go back decades, but maybe only in printed form.

I am reminded of how historically Walther/Luther League also functioned as loosely disguised matchmaking services. This church has a high degree of internal trust, like many Lutherans did way back in the leagues' heydays.

This old blog post discusses what plagues Luther League, even calling it "dead" even though it still exists. And Walther League was killed off by the LCMS due to church politics. In both cases collective trust is a factor. The amount of autonomy and resources they had at their disposal was substantial and seems unlikely to be replicated today.

Church-run camps are still around and can serve as a matchmaker among their employees. So is the "Good Lutheran College". But this method is hamstrung by a sex-imbalance and tuition.

Teen relationships are too messy and too much of a liability for the local church to handle directly. So the "responsible person" role is left to the parents. If something goes wrong the church and individual pastors can avoid blame. Parents with a higher social class are able to get their teen into the teams and activities that give them a superior chance at networking. The rest of the teens are left to their own devices, to workplaces, and to school. If the "responsible person" role isn't filled, and it often isn't, the risk factor increases. Or teens just don't try to form romantic relationships at all, which is generally accepted.

A church which does short term missions could benefit from producing some sort of extended teen directory that could be shared with the leaders of churches they do missions with. They in turn would be trusted to share the directory responsibly with their own youth. Even if printed so they are safely offline, services like or can allow printable links to individual social media accounts to be included in the directory. If so the potential for exploitation means that an adult (maybe a mother or grandmother) would need to be the one managing this. (A downside with printing is that teens can change considerably even over the course of a single year. Meanwhile, Facebook allows an identity change on a whim.)

Teens could use a youth directory shared across multiple congregations to network with each other through social media and texting. Trust would need to be maintained with teens, parents, and pastors. The directory, be it printed, password protected, or the form of a closed Facebook group would need to be safeguarded from misuse. I'm not sure that can be done 100%. The liability factor to the church if something goes wrong must be a consideration.

If the short-term missions happened to involve foreign travel, Lutherans from developing nations could eventually develop online relationships with US Lutherans. This could eventually lead them into "marrying into the US" through these relationships. Then, when/if the US becomes a bad place to stay, the new family might relocate to the foreign spouse's country. All of this would be more bearable if the immigrants (going either way) have company from others they already know.

A substantive youth directory would not really be able to complete with the strength of their other networking sources. Yet it seems doable and compatible with all of the other things churches are trying to accomplish. Some good could come of it.

I came across some things which relate to this, sort of.

A Useability Study of A Thesis
(Especially see the table on page 8. Only 4% meet their spouse through church.)

We have a match! Japan taps AI to boost birth rate slump

A short history of Christian Matchmaking:
(which oddly doesn't mention Moonies at all)

PDF page 63: Beyond the Traditional-Modern Binary: Faith and
Identity in Muslim Women’s Online Matchmaking Profiles
(even though it is about Muslims it can relate to Lutherans because they are a diaspora too)

Your Turn / Illustrated hymnal
« on: December 07, 2020, 08:44:28 PM »
I have been rather impressed by My First Hymnal (CPH).

I would like to see a full size illustrated hymnal produced mainly for home use. It could be filled with public domain artworks taken from old Bibles and historic museum pieces and published on a website like lulu. Or a Christian art professor could take it upon his or herself to farm the work out as student projects over several years. Or a publisher could pull it off with say $5,000 to budget for professional illustrators, such as ones currently underemployed worldwide right now with the lousy economy.

A long time ago they had illustrated hymnals like this one and this one

If you have any interest or ideas for pulling off something like this, post below.

Your Turn / Any mass requests for CW hymnals in 2021-2022?
« on: November 29, 2020, 09:12:54 PM »
This thread is for any churches or missions considering making a request for either the 1993 Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal or the 2008 Christian Worship Supplement.

The 1993 Christian Worship was well-bound and can be expected to be in good shape. The supplement may especially suffer from bent covers, but generally supplements don't get used as much as hymnals and are less prone to damage.

When Christian Worship first came out, Lutheran Worship was already old, so some LCMS churches adopted it. I am aware of one LCMS church which used it for blended worship. They supplemented with contemporary worship materials.

Because churches often give away their old hymnals to their members, it can take a little planning to arrange a mass transfer of hymnals between congregations. I am offering to privately contact various WELS pastors to see what might be available, and then contact you to arrange a transfer of free hymnals. Pick-up is preferred over shipping. I am more confident that I will be able to procure supplements rather than hymnals. Most churches do not have the supplements, so they are less available.

The new hymnal is expected to come out in fall 2021, so you could expect to receive them in 2021-2022. This gives you plenty of time to discuss this possibility with your congregation members, or to buy or borrow one yourself to preview it.

If you want just one hymnal, you can buy them online via used booksellers.

Your Turn / Official antisemitism label
« on: November 23, 2020, 11:29:54 PM »

"bar any groups that participate in it from receiving government funding"

Would that mean most mainline church bodies, including the ELCA? And their congregations? Could this impact Lutheran Social Services, the universities, the nursing homes?

Or maybe this won't really get implemented, or only very narrowly. Some reports indicate it concerns only funding directly from the State Department itself. Or it all gets overturned following the next inauguration.

Your Turn / -----
« on: July 22, 2020, 05:57:27 PM »

Hi, I am looking for volunteers willing to code the Luther Timeline and Letters databases into Schema ( ). Google crawlers are capable of recognizing the hierarchy used by Schema and is feed it into Knowledge Graphs. If someone asks Google "What did Luther do in 1517?" questions answerable from the databases could then appear under the "People also ask" section: such as "When was the Heidelberg Disputation?"

The databases are currently underused. Because they are unusually complete, I believe this will take quite a bit of work. Respond to this thread if you are interested in contributing.

The databases:

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