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Hey, this is the personal and professional site for Jay Winters, Lutheran pastor and campus minister. I'd love to hear from you, so comment or email me ( jay @ jwinters.com ) or use one of the icons below.

Where’s your microwave?

When I was working my way through the Seminary, I worked for an upscale catering and banquet company.  When we were at our own facilities, there would be times when a parent with little kid in tow would walk up to me with a bottle of milk and ask, “can we use your microwave to warm this up?”

I had to tell them, “Uhmn…well…you see, about that…we don’t have one.” The same goes for many restaurants that you would pay good money to eat at.  If you ask the maitre d “where’s your microwave”, he’ll probably look at you a little funny and say, “we don’t have one.”  

The reason that people choose not to have a microwave is because they care about quality more than convenience. A microwave in a 5 star restaurant tells you that they aren’t going to hold on to those stars for very long.

Often times, churches have microwaves in their buildings. I’m not necessarily talking about literal microwaves, but things that display that this church has given up on quality for the sake of convenience. What are those things at your church?  Where’s your microwave?

Posted on Thursday, August 14th 2014

Islamic State news - not just for conservatives anymore

I get it. I, too, roll my eyes when I see someone sharing “news” from some site called “rightwingersareawesome.com” or “christianityrules.org”. That is not necessarily because these sites don’t pander to my own political and religious viewpoints —- in fact, they usually do. But I spent too much of my parents’ money at a “liberal arts college” to harbor an inane paranoia of “the liberal media”.  In addition, while at that liberal arts college, I took a journalism class, and frankly what I’ve witnessed lately is that few are quite as “liberal” in their usage of the term “fact” as conservative media outposts as of late.

And so, because of that bias and because I was on vacation, I largely ignored much of the ramping news about the Islamic State crisis in Syria and Iraq. That was until today, and I took some time to read up. Thanks to a few folks who responded to my facebook inquiries about legit stories about the issue, I became knowledgeable about the subject in about 30 minutes via reliable sources including CNN, Telegraph.co.uk, BBC, and Al Jazeera.  Wait.  Add to “knowledgeable”: “horrified”, “angered”, and at least “aghast”. 

I’ve always thought the United States was pitiable in their perception of world news stories. The nation has a bit of a Pearl Harbor/9-11 predilection: If it doesn’t reach our shores, it doesn’t really matter. And frankly, it is doubtful that the Islamic State ever will.  However, that doesn’t change the facts that:

  • People are being told that they must leave their homes or pay a tax to remain in them, with the enviable option of…death.
  • Al Qaeda, notorious anti-Western terrorist group, is distancing itself from the Islamic State and saying, “woah woah woah, you guys need to chill a little…”
  •  Innocents aside, numerous people are being killed in warfare daily

I’m posting this with a title that I hope draws in my “liberal” leaning political friends, but I actually hope that no matter who you are and what your politics involve - that you take the following steps with me:

  • Tomorrow is Sunday, bring up the Islamic State violence in your prayers
  • Read good news sources and share good news sources on your social media feed
  • Conversely, don’t share sensationalistic crap, which will only serve to deaden the nerves of those who need to actually hear what is happening
  • Donate to a cause that you feel is appropriate, and search until you find that cause
  • Talk about this at dinner with your family

No matter who you are. This is a problem.  Let’s address it together as such.

Posted on Saturday, August 9th 2014

New American Values

As someone who moved to the United States at an impressionable adolescent age, I remember being told that the highest values held in America were personal independence, honesty, and a sense of work ethic. 

This presented an interesting dichotomy for me, because the Asian country in which I had been raised had a different list: Family, loyalty, and “industriousness” (which is more like “being a good employee” than the American understanding which is much more like “pulling yourself up by your personal achievements”).

So you can imagine my intrigue when I read a recent article written by an American college student about "8 Lies We’re Told About the Real World", and found both the “honesty” and “work ethic” values being brought into question.  (Specifically - Work Ethic is brought into question by “You should finish college”, not start, but finish; and “Success comes with hard work”. Honesty is brought into question with “Honesty is the best policy”.)

Cultures are not monolithic. They change and adapt over time. It appears American culture may be changing and adapting. This article isn’t the first thing that seems to suggest this as a reality. Listen to music, read an article, watch a move, observe a church, take a class on a college campus —- how often do you see personal freedom being expressed as a value? honesty? work ethic? If you do see them, you might see some evidence that their importance is waning.  

So what are the new values? That’s a good question. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to absolutely define it yet - but I would say that things like “success” are rising to new heights, replacing working ethic. “Leisure” (which is essentially what we mean when we say “work-life balance”) is probably more of an American value than ever has been (this has been a notoriously European value). And “Personal Network” (which might have been termed “family” in the past but is less biologically connected now) is on the rise, at least in part due to the strange world of interpersonal communications that we have developed via internet technology. There are probably a few others in the running.

What do you think? Are we experiencing a cultural shift? Or are these more “exceptions that prove the rule”? If we are, what are the old values and what are the new values - and how does their exchange of placement in the list affect how we live our lives together as a culture?

Posted on Saturday, August 2nd 2014

Donuts Matter on Twitter First, In Church Second


I’ve found that, as a Twitter user, I’m often followed by people who are simply looking for the elusive “Twitter follow back”. To many, it is basically quid pro quo to follow someone back after they follow you, and that is what a whole host of Twitter users are counting on. 

This probably explains why just yesterday I found out that I was being followed by @FSU_Hotties . I’d like to think it was because they looked at my hunky pics on Instagram and Twitter and thought that I was deserving of at least being in the running…but the reality is probably that it was the best advertising method they could think of for their website. Which, actually worked. I had no idea there was a “FSU Hotties” before this. Kudos, guys. But I still won’t follow you back - here’s why:

When someone follows me on Twitter, I will respond to them with “Thanks for the follow! Favorite donut?” I’ve had some delightful conversations about donuts this way, but I’m not actually that interested in donuts. I just know that nobody in their right mind doesn’t have a favorite donut…and even those who sadly are abstaining from donuts can still wade into conversation around that question.  I ask the question to determine if you’re a.) a human (humans love donuts), b.) interested in interacting with me (nobody has nothing to say about the serious topic of donuts).  If I ask “Favorite Donut?” and you don’t respond, then you’re not a human…at least in the sense of having a soul.  If I ask “Favorite Donut” and you only “Favorite” (which is like “liking” for you facebook-only folks) my query, we either do not share English as our primary language or you just want me to follow you back with no sense of relationship.

And how does this all come back around to churches?  Should all churches have donuts as a part of their Sunday morning routine? Well, I won’t say that having donuts at your church is a bad thing…unless you’re a specialized ministry to diabetics… But think of the donuts more metaphorically if you will.  When someone engages in a relationship with your church either by coming in on a Sunday morning, or sending an inquiry email, or whatever it might be - it’s like they’re saying “Hey, what’s your favorite donut?”  

I think most of the time we’re not actually ready for people on the other end of our interaction with church to have questions like “What’s your favorite donut?” but if they are engaging in a relationship with your church they actually want to get to know the things about the your church that might be delightful or quirky. They, in fact, may be more interested in how your church is delightful or quirky than in some of the stuff that you think is more important. They’re asking about donuts because they want to know that you’re human. Donuts matter because people matter. Jesus would care about your favorite donut.

Posted on Friday, August 1st 2014

Being a Campus Missionary Site Director


I am a site director for Lutheran Campus Initiative, which means that this year, my church at University Lutheran in Tallahassee, FL - home to the campuses of Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College - is joined by two outstanding women who have given a year of their lives to learn and apply that learning to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those campuses.

Last week I demanded (something that I get to do, I guess) that they write blogs about their experience getting settled in to Tallahassee and starting ministry here. Those excellent things are found at:

Iowa Girl Meets World


Missionary on the Move

I figure it is only fair that I do the same and take some of my own medicine and blog a little about my experiences settling in with having their presence here.

First thing - They’re awesome - Even though I can hardly say that I really know them, so far the two campus missionaries have really impressed me with their attitudes and motivations. I can tell that they both have that sense of “being on an adventure with Jesus” that is so necessary if you’re going to do this kind of work.  

Second thing - Woah! - I thought I had most of the general stuff about their year planned out for them, but I’m finding that after years upon years of working with students and parishioners with relatively little time to give to the grind of ministry work, that I’ve underestimated what the two campus missionaries can do.  This is going to be a huge part of my own personal growth this year, adjusting to team ministry and its differences and challenges.

Third thing - So excited for the Church - After I helped put this program together with Pastor Daniel Prugh, we piloted the program at the University of Florida in Gainesville.  While that was cool and all, I didn’t get to see first-hand the kind of impact that campus missionaries can have.  There is a whole new world of possibilities out there (that have always been there) that the Holy Spirit is showing me now. 

Fourth thing - Help Support Katie and Mary - Our campus missionaries have to raise their own support.  Please consider visiting the University Lutheran giving page and donating $25 to help Katie and Mary do what they do here in Tallahassee!

Posted on Saturday, July 12th 2014

Trainwreck 1979 by Death From Above 1979

It’s [Videos again!] Music Friday

Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014

Rain Damage by Grieves

It’s [Videos again] Music Friday!

Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014

Get Hurt by the Gaslight Anthem

It’s [Videos again] Music Friday!

Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014