August 2018 (1)

Our Mission:
Supporting lifelong faith formation in the home and congregation.

From the President's Desk
Dear friends,
Today we meet Molly Beck Dean, Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering. Anyone who has participated in any way in an ELCA Youth Gathering knows the amount of work that goes into planning and hosting such an event. Molly has accepted that challenge and more. Word on social media was that she could be found working behind the scenes and around the clock. In Houston, she was seen in the lot after the Mass Gathering helping groups get to where they needed to be.
So grab a cup of your favorite beverage and meet Molly!
Blessings on your journey,

Pastor Juli Lejman-Guy, President

6 Questions and a Cup of Coffee with... Molly Beck Dean


My name is Molly Beck Dean and it's my joy and honor to serve as Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering. I live outside of Chicago with my husband, two amazing kids and two adorable dogs. I grew up in North Dakota and most recently served on synod staff for youth ministry in the Southeastern PA Synod (the Philadelphia area). I love traveling, anything to do with the ocean, and pop music. I am a coffee drinker, but am decaf only now for the last 18 months or so.  
1. Can you describe your call to ministry?

I was in high school when I knew that God wanted me to work with kids in the church. I loved being in ministry as a teen whether it was in my home congregation or with my synod. I went to an ELCA Youth Gathering the summer after my junior year in high school and it was very transformative for me. I saw my church and God in new and bigger ways. The Spirit stirred my heart. I knew that's the kind of work I wanted to do in my life.

After serving for almost four years in an awesome congregation for Youth & Family Ministry, I took a call to the East Coast to help build and lead a synodical youth ministry. It was hard and holy work.

I never imagined being in the role I am now. In fact, when the job opened up some colleagues and I laughed about what "sucker" would take that impossible job. Out of curiosity, I read the job description and it was everything I loved to do and was good at. I prayerfully put my name in and everything else is history!

2. What is the best part of your ministry now?

Hands down, the best parts of this ministry are the amazing volunteers that really make the Gathering, MYLE and the tAble happen. We are a small staff and it would be impossible for this ministry to take place if it weren't for our amazing team leaders and the hundreds of people that serve on teams and as volunteers. I know I'm biased, but I think we have the most gifted, creative and dedicated people in the ELCA pouring themselves into this ministry.

I also love this ministry because my role in it is both administrative and programmatic. I use and grow my creative gifts through things like theme discernment, resource creation and brainstorming for our program areas. I use and stretch my organizational gifts through budget management, contract management and insane amounts of emailing. It's really the perfect mix for me.

3. What is one fact about you that would surprise people?
I really dislike talking on the phone and will avoid it if I possibly can. I'm 100% an email/text/social media gal. But don't worry -- I still call my mom on a regular
basis. :)
4. What are three things Christian educators need to keep their eye on?

This is a tough question in our rapidly changing and diverse world. I'll offer a few ideas:

1. Please continue to keep an eye on and provide support for our young people. I'm worried about the pressures they feel both from the inside and the outside. The stress they are under leads to scary things like depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse and self-harm. Watch for signs of distress and don't be afraid to step in or reach out for help on behalf of one of your kids. It could save their life.

2. Keep a lookout for places to take chances in your ministry. Where could you take a risk, try something new? If we're not changing, we're dying. Be a little wild, creative and Spirit-filled with something this fall. Invite new leaders into the fold, let a program die, engage the community like never before or introduce a new faith formation practice to the congregation. Have fun with it! Be ok to "fail."

 3. I think Christian Educators should keep an eye on social media. Not only so that you can keep a finger on the pulse of our culture and society, but so that you can experiment with different ways of engaging individuals and families. This program year, take a good look at how you are using social media to engage people of all ages in faith formation. If you aren't doing anything, see #2 above!

5. What are some of your favorite resources?  

My new favorite youth ministry book is Woo: Awakening Teenagers' Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus by Morgan Schmidt. It's a great new way of looking at how we minister to and with young people.

I think the ELCA's Faith Lens is one of the best kept secrets in our church. Every week during the school year there is a free resource that ties the lectionary reading in with current events and provides great discussion questions for a high school or adult group conversation.

If I were still in the congregation, I would be using the ideas from
Worshiping With Children every week.  I'm obsessed with their amazing resources that always seem to be spot on developmentally for kids.

I also have to do a shout out for, a website that my ELCA colleagues curate. It's a great place to go for ideas and resources on a huge variety of topics.

 6. How can we pray for you?   

Prayers of thanksgiving for an amazing MYLE, the tAble and Gathering this summer. The Spirit moved in powerful ways and lives were transformed.

Prayers of thanksgiving for the volunteers who make this ministry happen.

Prayers as we start to dream and plan for the 2021 Gathering. That God would lead our thoughts and steps to things that glorify God and form faith in young people.

Prayers for my family as this work takes me on the road a lot and it's hard with mom away.

If you would like to recommend a Lutheran or others with a passion for lifelong learning for the "6 Questions and a Cup" column, please let us know!
Prayer Pause
God of creation,
Be with each of us as we approach the end of summer plans and activities. Be present with us as we prepare for the start of school and fall programming. Help us to hear your call and guide us in all we do. In your name we pray.  
Our Facebook group continues to grow with over 
1,000 members!

Facebook parties return
in September!





Volunteer Ministry Opportunity!






Do you love Facebook?  Do you love connecting with others?  Do you feel a call to online ministry?
The Christian Education Network is looking for someone to host a monthly Facebook Party in our Facebook group.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us and we'll fill you in!
"How to Create a Safety Plan  for Your Church"
Our whole church approach is for anyone seeking to intentionally create a peaceful environment for people of all ages. Attend a four-hour workshop in your region. 
Click here for more information or to register!
Christian Education Network of the ELCA
Vision Statement
Building a community which equips, encourages and empowers those engaged in lifelong faith formation in a changing world.

The CENetwork will:
  • Identify and evaluate resources and educational opportunities
  • Facilitate communication and conversation
  • Offer guidance, networking and mutual support
  • Nurture spiritual growth online and face to face

Check out our website

Contact Us 

CENetwork of the ELCA 
P.O. Box 9304
Rochester, MN 55903

  Phone messages may be left at 
(507) 721-0057