Background

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a major part of my conviction that Christians shouldn’t just “go to church” or “do church” but “be” church – and be church in a way that is recognizable as both distinct and meaningful to those around us. I also picked up the ideas along that way that actually reading the Bible is a good thing, that God loves us even when we do astoundingly stupid things, and that it’s for the best for everyone if we respond with joy and thanksgiving to that grace.

Over time, that faith has been deepened and broadened through my interaction with God when worshiping in a variety of denominations including (in no particular order): Lutheran, Methodist, Assemblies of God, Non-Denominational, and Baptist fellowships, among others.

Education and Experience

Undergraduate (Western Washington University):

B.A., East Asian Studies (Japan)

B.S., Sociology (Demography/Statistics)
ThesisThe World has Trained Us for God: An Evaluation Study of the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries Program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Graduate (Luther Seminary):

M.A., Ministry in Daily Life & Systematic Theology
Thesis Imago Christi and the Japanese Imagination: Toward a Narrative Contextual Theology of Vocation

Graduate (Penn State University):

Ph.D. Student in Sociology (Anticipated graduation 2016)
Specialties: Sociology of Religion and Congregations, Quantitative Methods and Statistics

What does this odd assortment of degrees mean? It means that I am a person who wants to be able to understand the different ways to look at any issue depending on the disciplinary and cultural perspectives you start from.  It means I love learning but am also dedicated to the pursuit of meaningful understanding that creates change and development for the better.  And it means that I see beauty and elegance in the fact that the same God and same creation are expressed and understood in different valid ways by each person, and each group.

Professionally, I have spent most of my adult years as a working student, supporting my family through food-service jobs as well as some work with computer and network support. More recently, I was lead statistics and computer applications teacher for a Leadership seminar in mixed methods research at Luther Seminary and served for a year as Director of Youth and Family Ministries at St. Mark Lutheran in Lacey, WA. During that time, I was also the development coordinator for Soul Bridge, a coalition of Thurston county faith-based organizations seeking to help local youth and families in need.

Currently, I am a research associate at thearda.com, the largest free archive of survey and other religious data on the internet. Part of my goal at the ARDA and in sociology in general is to help interpret quality data and make it more understandable and accessible so that Christian leaders can use it to improve their ministries and broaden their understandings.

Professional, Ministry and Academic Interests

In very general terms, my goal is to serve God in all I do by fulfilling the various roles I have been called to in the church, workplace, home, and world.

I am an integrator, bringing people, ideas and data together in a variety of ways.  I do not always achieve my initial goal, but I take initiative in trying new ideas and in addressing needs as they appear.  I take ownership in what I do, actively working for improvement and always seeking to apply abstract ideas in real life situations.  In all of this, I function best as a helper, connecting with those already around me and working behind the scenes to lead and serve, teaching and enabling others in ways that are clear and make sense to them in the context of their own lives.  I am driven by the process and the journey rather than the task.

Specifically, I hope to use the combination of my passion for understanding social dynamics together with my training and experience with congregations and non-profits to grow organizations and leaders of all kinds who are faithful to the callings (vocations) God has given them. This is likely to take place through a combination of research, teaching, writing, and consulting as a professor and speaker.

I also am a candidate for diaconal ministry in the ELCA (i.e. I am seeking to become a deacon) with a specialization in lay empowerment and congregational leadership.

If you would like to get to know more about me, or if you think you know of a project that might be a good match, visit the profiles page for contact information. May you be blessed to live your God-given life to its fullest.

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