Todd Seifert provides a podcast that usually appears on this site Fridays. One podcast each month is a story or interview that reflects on the Christian faith by telling the story of a person, a congregation or even a community.
Other weeks, Todd provides reflections on scriptures in the Bible. His passion is for helping the Bible come alive for people who either haven’t read the Bible before, find the Bible confusing or who simply want a refresher on what the passages mean for us in the 21st century.
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Click on the episode numbers below to listen to the podcasts.
Episode 52: CLMs Part 2: Teaching & Preaching — We continue a short series on certified lay ministries and certified lay servants with a look at how one CLM, Bryan Hankins, serves two churches in the Omaha area as an associate pastor. Learn about his passion for teaching, how he works with the appointed pastor, and about an exciting multi-language effort for the Lay Servants Ministry Basic course within the Great Plains Conference.
Episode 51: CLMs Part 1: Leading the Local Church — Todd starts a short series of episodes examining certified lay ministers (CLMs) and the role they play in the local church, how they are trained, and why more people may want to prayerfully consider exploring becoming a CLM. In this episode, Todd talks with Jada Hodgson, a CLM serving as pastor at Plum Creek United Methodist Church near Paola, Kansas. It is believed that Jada was the first CLM in the United Methodist denomination.
Episode 50: Seeking Justice as Christians —Todd concludes a series on re-emerging from our in-home exiles with a look at how we can reshape our communities to more closely resemble the Kingdom of God. A key part of that effort likely is justice ministries. Guest the Rev. Sarah Marsh, the new coordinator for mercy and justice ministries, talks about the difference between mercy ministries and justice ministries, and the partnership the conference has with two organizations that are building grassroots community organizing efforts across Kansas and Nebraska.
Episode 49: Lydia Patterson Institute — In this special video episode of “In Layman’s Terms,” Todd talks with Dr. Socorro de Anda and Rev. Larry Moffet about the Lydia Patterson Institute. LPI is a ministry of education and discipleship for kids along the border of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. The episode also celebrates Dr. de Anda’s 37 years at LPI and the legacy of excellence and hope for brighter futures that she leaves behind. You also can watch a video of the interviews.
Episode 48: Keeping What Works — The re-engagement series continues with an interview with the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, lead pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church in the Benson neighborhood of north Omaha. She and Todd talk about the things St. Paul tried as a means of staying connected to its community and parishioners and how some of those efforts are now so ingrained into the church that they will remain long after the pandemic is over.
Episode 47: Reading the Bible — We continue our look at re-engaging our faith by examining how we read the Bible. In this episode, Rev. Jeff Goetzinger from the Hutchinson area and Todd talk about their different strategies for reading through the Bible in 365 days. This important spiritual discipline — reading scripture — is one of the basic practices that can help you draw closer to God.
Episode 46: Returning from Our Own Exiles — Continuing with the theme of re-engaging our faith and communities after the pandemic, Calvary UMC in Wichita serves as an example of how preparation and flexibility can keep people connected to each other and, most importantly, to God. Rev. Michael Marion and Rev. Ashely Prescott Barlow Thompson sit down with Todd to talk about how the pandemic forced them to make decisions and how the congregation is adapting even 13 months after the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Episode 45: Let’s Build: Embracing the New Normal — This series focuses on rebuilding our communities and strengthening our spiritual disciplines. Using the stories from the Old Testament history books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the goal is to share stories about how people and churches are preparing to re-engage with their congregations, their communities and with God through their own faith practices. This first episode in the series sets the stage by taking a brief look at Jewish history and the way people in Jerusalem viewed the foundation being set for the new temple after their return from the Babylonian exile.
Episode 44: Ministry in the Purple Zone — Our country is more divided than ever. We have red states and blue states, and even red and blue congregations. Or do we? Aren’t our congregations really just different shades of purple? The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade joins Todd for a discussion about her book, “Preaching in the Purple Zone,” and how a method she has developed heavily involves the input from laity to help a church determine its response to topics pertinent to our times.
Episode 43: Coming of Age During the Civil Rights Movement — Oliver Green has been heavily involved in the Great Plains Conference since its inception. As we wrap up Black History Month, Oliver shares his story and what it was like to move into adulthood — as an African-American man — during the Civil Rights Movement. Oliver shares how the movement of the 1960s is similar to the cries for racial justice that we experience today, what attracted him to leaders like Malcom X and Martin Luther King and what can we do today to move forward on the important topic of racial justice.
Episode 42: Continuing the Push for Racial Justice — It’s been nine months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, so in this discussion with the Rev. Dee Williamston, superintendent of the Salina and Hutchinson districts, and the Rev. Robert Johnson, lead pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, the Great Plains Conference’s largest predominantly African-American church, Todd talks about how their ministry has changed in the past nine months. Watch a video of the interview.
Episode 41: Listening & Response — Part 2 — In the second of a two-part series examining how God calls us to service, Todd shares a reflection from Mark 1 that recounts the way Peter, Andrew, James and John responded to Jesus’ call to follow Him.
Episode 40: Listening & Response — Part 1 — In the first of a two-part series examining how God calls us to service, Todd shares a reflection from 1 Samuel that recounts the call of the prophet who would anoint the first two kings of Israel. As you listen to the episode, consider how God may be reaching out to you.
Episode 39: Jesus: Child of Light — This compilation of the Christmas story takes the accounts from Matthew, Mark and Luke — framed in the concept of light coming into the world from John — to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. Watch a video presentation of this episode.
Episode 38: Advent — Showing Love — In this fourth week of Advent, Todd continues to explore the themes of each week’s candle. This week we light the candle of love. See how Jesus showed love to others and, particularly, to all of us through his sacrifice on the cross.
Episode 37: Advent — Enduring Joy — We often think of joy as a feeling we have after a fun activity or an emotion to be felt when we’re among loved ones. But Jesus explained that joy is something much deeper than that. It’s a state of being, an enduring trait. Jesus explains how we find joy and how we maintain it, even amid difficult circumstances.
Episode 36: Advent — Seeking Peace — In this second episode in a special series during Advent, we explore how Jesus gave us the gift of His inner peace and how that has three very real impacts on our lives. May you embrace inner peace as you listen to this episode.
Episode 35: Advent — An Attitude of Hope — We celebrate the coming of the Christ child during Advent, but we sometimes forget to celebrate why Jesus came to earth in the first place. Many Christians recognize that He came to provide for our salvation and reconciliation with God. This holiday season, let’s embrace Jesus’ mission, and recognize that because of Jesus’ arrival as a baby, we have hope.
Episode 34: Miracle of Innocence — Rev. Darryl Burton, a newly ordained elder in The United Methodist Church sat in prison for 24 years. Lamont McIntyre sat in prison for 23 years. Neither man actually committed the murders for which they were accused. A ministry in New Jersey helped exonerate them, but there was no assistance to help them re-acclimate to society. So the two men joined forces in 2018 and launched Miracle of Innocence, a ministry meant to help innocent people find justice and regain their freedom, and then receive the help that Darryl and Lamont didn’t have available to them. Check out the organization’s website at www.miracleofinnocence.org.
Episode 33: Church of the Resurrection’s 30th anniversary — In October 1990, a relatively small group of people met for worship for the first time — in a funeral home. With a name that was somewhat tongue-in-cheek because of its location but also a theological statement because of its dedication to Jesus Christ, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection was born. The congregation made a pitstop at an elementary school before settling in the first of what is now a five-campus church in Leawood, Kansas, campus. Led by a then 25-year-old pastor and now world-renowned author, Rev. Adam Hamilton, from that humble beginning started a congregation that is now the largest in the entire denomination.
Episode 32: Adapting Church: Virtual Choir — The worship team at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Papillion, Nebraska, missed its choir. Like so many others, the church had to cancel choir amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But a group of lay people and the church’s pastor worked together to figure out how to create a virtual choir. Now, with three songs under their belt, the people responsible talk to Todd to share what they learned as they took the journey down the path of musical innovation.
Episode 31: Class Meetings: History as Future — In the third of a three-part series on class meetings, Todd explores how class meetings provided a model of growth and evangelism in the past and how they can be a sustainable force in the present. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is the featured guest who shares a vision for how class meetings can sustain a United Methodist witness in smaller churches but also can bolster discipleship in larger congregations by enhancing spiritual disciplines and introducing accountability among believers.
Episode 30: The Color of Law — Noted columnist and author Richard Rothstein started exploring how segregation impacted education. What he discovered was how detrimental policies set by federal agencies deliberately held down African Americans regarding housing. As a result, Black Americans have not been able to build wealth, they live near more environmental hazards and have continued to be treated as second-class citizens. Rothstein records his findings in “The Color of Law,” and he sits down with Todd in this episode to walk through the major themes in his sobering yet easy-to-understand explanation of how the U.S. government carved out such a divide among people of different races.
Episode 29: Let’s Talk About Race — We may never be able to conquer racism if we don’t start openly talking about racism and the way it impacts our entire society. In this episode, Todd talks with the Rev. Kathy Williams, an African-American pastor serving a small town in Kansas, who talks about the silence she observed after the death of George Floyd, with Garlinda Burton, who will begin serving as interim general secretary of The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race starting Sept. 1, and with the Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson and the Rev. Ashley Prescott Barlow Thompson, who lead the Neighboring Movement in Wichita.
Episode 28: Class Meetings: Laity as the Key — We continue our look at class meetings and class leaders by taking a look at a pilot project in the Great West District in Nebraska, where Pastor Mark Baldwin is helping mentor a class leader. We also talk to Lisa Maupin, Great Plains Conference lay leader, about the way the class meeting model can help shift the story from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
Episode 27: Class Meetings: Why Now? — Class meetings — with strong class leaders — were among the ways the Methodist movement spread westward and through the prairies of the United States. But could looking to the denomination’s past help laity and churches pave the way to a brighter, more vital future? In this first of several episodes about class meetings, host Todd Seifert talks with District Superintendents Cindy Karges and Don Hasty, as well as retired elder, author and Methodist historian David Lowes Watson. They share why class meetings show promise for helping churches of all sizes — but especially small, rural congregations — boost discipleship, promote leadership and provide churches the tools they need to better serve their communities.
Episode 26 — Response to Racism — In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — and following our previous episode titled “Black Lives Matter,” we explore how people can respond to help end racism. In this episode, we talk about white privilege, how to educate ourselves and other ways to help bring about change — from stopping racist chatter at the water cooler to speaking up to casting ballots. Our featured guests are the Rev. Junius Dotson and the Rev. Steve Spencer. We also talk to the Revs. Kyle Reynolds, Portia Cavitt, Dee Williamston and Pastor Ronda Kingwood.
Episode 25 — Black Lives Matter — The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day weekend 2020 sparked outrage. Video of the incident shows a police officer with his knee pressed down on the man’s neck for almost nine minutes. In response, people have taken to the streets in protest. They are voicing their anger and telling their stories. This episode aims to tell the story of the African-American experience through the words of six black pastors in the Great Plains Conference: Rev. Dee Williamston, Rev. Dr. Kevass Harding, Pastor Ronda Kingwood, Rev. Robert Johnson, Rev. Portia Cavitt and Rev. Kirstie Engel. A warning this episode does include some of the recording of Mr. Floyd asking officers to allow him to move so he can breathe.
Episode 24: Adapting Church: Worship & Counseling to Stay Connected — The Rev. Dr. Kevass Harding had to adjust quickly when stay-at-home orders went into place in Wichita, one of the original hot spots for the coronavirus in Kansas. But he and his congregation at Dellrose United Methodist Church adapted quickly. Kevass shares about the struggle it was to get used to preaching to an empty room, and he provides some thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately striking the African-American community.
Episode 23: Traits for Being a Good Shepherd — In this reflection on John 10:1-10, Todd shares his thoughts on what he sees as a choice we have to make: Be a bandit and continue to put ourselves first, or strive to be a good shepherd who leads our personal flocks toward The Good Shepherd. Download a transcript.
Episode 22: Adapting Church: Getting People Involved Amid Social Distancing— The Rev. Stefanie Hayes of Sargent and Ord First United Methodist churches in Nebraska shares how she decided to get more people involved in recordings of online worship. Instead of just recording herself giving a sermon at her kitchen table, she recruited others in her congregation to record themselves saying prayers, reading liturgy or reading scripture. From those smartphone videos, she stitches together a worship service each week while she and her congregation shelter in their homes using just her iPad. Hear how she started this way of worship and how she has continued to do so each week amid the pandemic.
Episode 21: Easter Discussion with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. — In the conclusion of a series on the seven final sayings of Christ from the cross, special guest Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church, provides some reflections on why the resurrection of Jesus Christ was such a powerful story in the first century and how it provides hope for people even today.
Episode 20: Adapting Church: Learning New Tools for Spreading the Gospel— The COVID-19 pandemic has forced churches and pastors to do some things they had never before tried. The Rev. Gary Brooks, lead pastor at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Wichita is one of those people. He and some of the staff at Aldersgate figured out a way to stream to Facebook Live. Now Sunday school classes, youth groups and more are using technology to stay connected and to continue to worship and study about Jesus Christ — all from their homes.
Episode 19: Discussion with Bishop Saenz — “… I commend my spirit” — In the sixth of seven special episodes focusing on the final sayings from Christ on the cross, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares his reflection on Luke 23:36, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” The bishop shares his thoughts on how Jesus turned over His spirit to God after being beaten and mocked and tortured by his captors.
Episode 18: Discussion with Bishop Saenz— “I am thirsty” and “It is finished” — In the fifth of seven special episodes focusing on the final sayings from Christ on the cross, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares his reflections on two sayings, from John 19:28 and John 19:30, “I thirst” and “It is finished,” respectively. The bishop provides his reflections on these two verses and provides guidance of why the writer of the Gospel of John may have included a statement about thirst and in what tone was Jesus speaking when He declared His work on earth “finished.”
Episode 17: Discussion with Bishop Saenz— “Why have you forsaken me?” — In the fourth of seven special episodes of the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast focusing on the final sayings from Christ on the cross, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares his reflections on Mark 15:34, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” The bishop explains how these words from Jesus shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as words that reflect Jesus feeling abandoned, but rather how they teach us that even in the worst of circumstances, God never leaves us alone.
Episode 16: Discussion with Bishop Saenz — “Here is your son”— In the third of seven special episodes of the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast focusing on the final sayings from Christ on the cross, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares his reflections on John 19:26-27, “Woman, here is your son,” and “Here is your mother.” The bishop explains how Jesus gives us a glimpse into how Christians are supposed to treat one another — like family — and how with these words Jesus shows love for His mother while also expanding His family.
Episode 15: Discussion with Bishop Saenz — “You will be with me in paradise” — In the second of seven special episodes of the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast focusing on the final sayings from Christ on the cross, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference, shares his reflections on Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Through this statement to a criminal on the cross, Jesus shares His love for all of us who fall short of God’s expectations of us and gives us the hope of a life with Jesus in paradise.
Episode 14: Discussion with Bishop Saenz — “Father forgive them … “ — Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church, is the featured guest for a special series of episodes that explores the seven final sayings of Jesus from the cross. In this first episode, Bishop Saenz explains why Lent is special to him, and he provides some reflection on the first of the seven sayings: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Episode 13: Temptation in the Wilderness — Where does the 46 days (40 when we subtract the Sundays) of Lent come from? We trace it back to the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent in the Judean wilderness following his baptism in the Jordan River. Jesus spent time preparing for the critical ministry ahead. During that time, Jesus was tempted by the devil. Todd explains that within those three temptations are three lessons for us: Avoid putting our needs in front of others, avoid taking advantage of others, and don’t succumb to power and prestige. Download a transcript (minus commercials)
Episode 12: Laity Summit— Jesus tells his believers to make disciples. That’s not a command just for clergy. Laity actually play the biggest part, but that important role requires leadership. The Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church will host its first Laity Summit on March 21 in Kearney, Nebraska. In this episode, Todd talks with Shane Warta, conference coordinator for lay leadership, and David Teel, director of laity and spiritual leadership at Discipleship Ministries, who will serve as the keynote speaker for the event. Read more about the summit.
Register for the Laity Summit.
Episode 11: Culture of Call Part 2— In the second of two episodes exploring the concept of a culture of call, Todd talks with the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, coordinator of clergy recruitment and development for the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church. In their discussion, Ashlee shares resources available to local churches, young adults and others to help them explore their call into ministry — whether that be pastoral ministry or as part of their secular vocation — and how everyday Christians can nurture their own calls as well as the calls of other people.
Episode 10: Culture of Call Part 1— The Madison Effect — In the first of a two-episode exploration of culture of call, Todd talks with Gary Robbins, author of “The Madison Effect,” about why he wrote the book, some of the concepts he introduces and how Gary thinks churches can create a culture of call in their congregations.
Episode 9: Parables of Lost Things — Some people feel lost. They don’t think they deserve love or respect. Jesus tells us through the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin that while we may be lost, He never stops searching for us. To Jesus, we are the valuable sheep that has wandered off. We are the highly valued coin that has been misplaced. Through these parables, Jesus teaches that we are loved, we are highly desired, and we are of great value to God. Download a transcript (minus commercials).
Episode 8: Parable of the Good Samaritan — We continue our exploration of what Jesus taught by using parables. In this episode, we look at the widely known parable of the Good Samaritan. Even if you don’t know the story, you probably know the term. But what does it really mean? What was Jesus trying to teach us? And who, exactly, is our “neighbor”? Download a transcript (minus commercials).
View photos mentioned in this episode.
Episode 7: Parable of the Prodigal Son — Todd starts a series of Bible-teaching episodes on some of Jesus’ parables with a look at the Prodigal Son. This story teaches us many things and makes us ponder even more. But Todd shares in this reflection how the story of the younger son teaches that nobody is too far gone, too lost to find his or her way back to the God who yearns to see them appear over the horizon. Download a transcript (minus commercials).
Episode 6: The Christmas Story — In this Bible-teaching episode, Todd walks through the Christmas story by merging the first few chapters of the books of Matthew and Luke to share how Jesus came into our world. Download a transcript (minus commercials).
Episode 5: God’s motive for sending Jesus to Earth— In this Bible-teaching episode, Todd points us to a familiar verse, John 3:16. But he looks beyond that verse to the following three to provide a framework for explaining why God sent the Son, Jesus, to live among people and, ultimately, to die for our sins. Download a transcript (minus commercials)
Episode 4: Jesus as the Light of the World — In this Bible-teaching episode, Todd shares a reflection on John 1:1-18 and explains how the opening poetry of this gospel introduces Jesus as the light of the world. Learn how the darkness in the shadows of life don’t have to be permanent, nor do they have to be scary, because Jesus will be the light to drown out the darkness amid many circumstances. Download a transcript (minus commercials)
Episode 3 — In this story episode, Todd tells the story of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship. A quick glance reveals nothing grand about this organization on the campus of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Oh, it’s a fine building, but it’s relatively small, with three or four office spaces, one larger hall space for gatherings. It looks like nothing special, but looks are deceiving. Just as King David started off small in stature, this small institute has blossomed. In fact, some mighty big things regarding relationships with Christ happen because of what takes place here.
Episode 2 — In this story episode, Todd talks about how the days of opening the church doors to find a waiting crowd eager to take their seats are long since gone. Now, many other activities occupy people on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. So, how can you make a connection? In this episode, he looks at three churches — two in Nebraska and one in Kansas — that use a variety of techno-tools to connect with their congregations outside of Sundays while also reaching new people, even folks who otherwise likely would not willingly set foot inside a church without first making these kinds of connections.
Episode 1 — In this premiere episode, Todd tells the story about brokenness and resurrection of an entire town. On May 4, 2007, the Rev. Terry Mayhew found out he was being moved from Plains and Kismet United Methodist Churches to the town of Greensburg. Less than an hour later, a tornado nearly wiped Greensburg off the map. Or at least the twister would have killed the town, if not for the hope provided by faith in Jesus, the determination of residents, and people from both near and far working together to serve as Christ’s hands and feet in a shattered community.