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Rich Melheim's Biography

Rich MelheimDr. Rich Melheim
Founder & Chief Creative Officer
Current News/Blog: The Melheimian Sabbatiblog

Rich Melheim grew up on the plains of North Dakota but never did own a pick up with a gun rack.

An entrepreneur, author, semiotician, cartoonist, comedian, speaker, publisher, playwright, songwriter, family counselor, business systems consultant, amateur complexity theorist, log cabin builder, preschool designer, and student of the human brain, Melheim has appeared on 50 network television news shows from WNBC-NY to KTLA to CNN consulting on family issues.

An ordained Lutheran pastor with a BA in Journalism (UND – 1977), an MDiv in Theology (Luther Seminary – Spring 1981) and a DMIN in Semiotics and the Future (George Fox Evangelical Seminary – Spring 2013), Rich has invested his ministry in creating Christian education systems that pull parents into the core of children, youth and family ministry “every night in every home.”

Rich is the founder and initiating force behind Faith Inkubators, a Christian education systems design think tank. He founded and serves as CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Faith Inkubators, the Faith Inkubators Foundation, and the Preschool Incubators Project, a new entity dedicated to creating "access to excellence" in early learning through the arts.


Rich holds a BA in journalism from UND where he graduated summa cum laude in three years and was chosen Outstanding Graduate of 1977. With an MDIV from Luther Seminary,Rich served parishes in Owatonna and Stillwater, MN (1981 to 1993). In the fall of 1993 Rich left salary, pension and parish life for a sabbatical, threw his wife and babies in the back of a borrowed Winnebago, and hit the road as a faith entrepreneur to speak about changing the educational paradigms of thechurch.

The restless pastors and frustrated Christian education pioneers who heard him speak in 75 cities that fall started the national think tank and learning organization that became Faith Inkubators. 275 churches joined the movementthat first year. A year later there were 540. A year later 1000 churches were members. A year later 1500. A decade and a half later, tens of thousands ofchurches and millions of families from Minnesota to Australia have been impacted by the ministries of the Faith Inkubators Foundation, the Faith Inkubators Endowment Fund, and Faith Inkubators Publishing.

Needless to say, Rich is still on his sabbatical.

Melheim has counseled parents on CNN, Donahue, Leeza, Rolanda, Montel and has appeared on 50 network news shows from WNBC/New York to KTLA/LA. He has two children, Kathryn Elizabeth, 21, and Joseph Martin, 17. Rich is married to his Bible Camp sweetheart, Arlyce Joy, who has put up with him for 31 years.

In his spare time, Rich is volunteering as a business consultant and art agent for China's most vibrant and prolific Christian artist, his friend Dr. He Qi (www.heqigallery.com). In 2005, Rich co-founded Salt Lick Productions, LLC (a film and media company) with his life-long friend, Arlen Nordhagen, of Franktown, CO. In 2008, Rich founded the Preschool Incubators Project (PIP) to research the neurology, psychology and sociology of optimal early learning and design systems, resources and curricula that bring "access to excellence" to lower income children using brain-based learning on an arts-based platform.

In 2009, Rich launched a major new initiative to get parents into their own kids' faith life every night in every home. He taught pastors, parents and youth workers a simple process called FAITH 5 (Faith Acts In The Home) in 15 Australian and 79 US cities from Warick, RI to Ancorage, AK to Mililani, HI to Orlando, FL, and every major city in between.

In the summer of 2010 he began a doctoral program at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, studying under Dr. Leonard Sweet and Dr. BJ Jun, and writing his dissertation on “The Meaning of Meaning in a Post-Gutenberg/Neo-Google World” with a focus on meaning making in children, youth and family ministry.


Rich has won various awards for writing, speaking, and leadership including Publisher's Marketing Assn's Humor book of the Year (1993), International History Week's Book of the Year (1994), the Stillwater "Outstanding Young Executive" JC's award (1995), Youth Specialties Jack Young Award for the Ministry Innovator of the Year (1996). He has written and produced 200+ songs, six stage plays for teenagers, four values-based children's books, 24 music albums, 200 youth skits, and hundreds of articles and curricula. His most recent books include three adolescent home journals ("Living Faith", "Living Scripture", "Living Lutheran") in the Faith Inkubators confirmation series and the first four volumes of an eight volume cartoon Bible and Home Journal ("The Books of Moses" (Genesis - Deuteronomy) 2006; "Into the Promised Land" (Joshua - Job) 2006; "The Good News" (Matthew - John) 2007; "Word Spreads" (Acts - Philemon); "The Songs of Israel (The Psalms) 2010. His next three cartoon books will include: "The Rest of the Story (Hebrews to the Revelation) 2013; "Good Advice" (Proverbs - Daniel) 2014; and "God Speaks!" (Hosea - Malachi) 2014.


In his speaking life, Rich teaches and counsels parents and teens how to survive adolescence, educators how to rethink education systems, and business leaders how to survive and thrive on change.

Melheim'sspeaking style is described as 1/3rd stand-up comedy, 1/6th brain science, 2/9ths systems theory, 1/4 pithy, practical, applicable and directly to thepoint, 1/12th shouting, 3/16 chaos theory applied to intellectually challenging your audience, and whatever is left over is dedicated to making you laugh, cry and think.

Melheim is a regular keynoter and teacher at business, education, church, and family conferences and seminars. His favorite speaking topics include:

A. Business and Educational Keynotes

1. Teaching the Way the Brain Learns

2. Designing with the Young Mind in Mind (Destroying Your Concept of Education and Starting Over with Something Fun that Actually Work)

3. Rethinking Stinking Systems (Systems Theory and How Not to Kill Each Other in the School or Workplace)

4. Making a Living or Making a Life?

5. Complexity Theory and How the Worst Things that Happen to You Can Turn Out to Be the Best

6. Rethinking Preschools on a Performance Arts Platform (How to translate "watch me, mommy!" into the foundation for all learning)

B. Church Conferences Keynotes

1. The FAITH 5 (Five simple steps to keeping your families together in a world that can tear them apart)

2. The Life of the Mainline after the Death of the Mainline

3. The Fifth Church (Reengineering the Institutional Church for the Postmodern World)

4. Conformation (sic!) is Dead (Rebuilding a Confirmation Ministry that Retains Both the Kid and the Information)

5. Music,Bible, Muscles & Memory (How to Teach God's Word at a Cellular Level soKids will Never Forget It)

6. How to Be a Senior Pastor Without Being a Jerk

7. How to Kill the Pied Piper Youth Worker Before the Pied Piper Youth Worker Kills You

C. Marriage, Parenting and Teens Keynotes

1. Sex, Drugs & Fast Cars (Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit)

2. The Secret Formula for Surviving Adolescence

3. Working on the Dream (How to Create a Dream Relationship with your Teen)

4. The Cow & the Haystack (How to Become Your Child's Impact Adult and Faith Mentor)

5. God and Science (How can there be a God? And how can their not be a God? And it this God the God of the Bible?)

6. Marriage Without Murder


Richard Alan Melheim

Born: Bottineau, ND, 10/10/55

Early Elementary: Fargo/Moorhead Area

Jr./Sr. High School: Williston, ND (Graduated in 1974)

BA/Journalism: Grand Forks, UND (Phi Beta Kappa, Outstanding Journalist of 1977)

Masters: MDivinity, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN (Graduated in 1981)

Doctoral:DMIN, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Portland, OR (Spring 2013)

Served Ministries in: Trinity, Owatonna, MN (1981-89) Trinity, Stillwater, MN (1990-93) Specialized Ministry Call/St. Paul Area Synod (ELCA)/Lutheran Leadership Institute (1993-94) Specialized Ministry Call/St. Paul Area Synod (ELCA)/ Faith Inkubators (1994-present)

Founder: Faith Inkubators (1994 - Present) Faith Inkubators Endowment (2004 - Present) Faith Inkubators Foundation (2005 - Present) The Preschool Incubators Project (2008 - Present) The FAITH 5 (2009 - Present)

Co-Founder: Salt Lick Productions, LLC: A film and media company (2005 - Present) He Qi Arts, LLC: An art company for Dr. He Qi's www.heqigallery.com (2004 - Present)

Writing: Curriculum for Concordia Publishing and Faith Inkubators ; Humor for Doubleday Mainstreet Books Novels and Children's Books for Creative Outlet Dramas and ministry articles for Group Publishing, The Clergy Journal & Lutheran Partners Marketing/Business Writing for various publications

Stage Plays Written & Produced: This Christmas Morning: A Comedy of Christmas Tragedies (1992) The Best: A Comedy on Suicide (1988) Restless (1986) A Little Bit Touched (1984) A Tap On The Window (1982) The Journey of the King (1980)

SatelliteTV: Head to the Heart Telecast Series (1997-8)

Videos Produced: Sex, Drugs & Fast Cars - Your Body's a Temple (1996) Faith Incubators Teacher Training Series (1995) Faith Stepping Stones (1994) Bald Arnold & the Fiendish Plotling (1994) Conformation (sic!) Is Dead (1993)

Awards: Youth Specialties Outstanding Youth Ministry Innovator - Jack Young Award (1998) Ben Franklin Humor Award - Publishers Marketing Assn. (1994) Stillwater Jaycees Outstanding Young Man of the St. Croix Valley (1994) International History Week Literary Achievement Award (1993)


NPR-Morning Edition CNN Donahue Montel Rolanda Leeza The Osgood Files 50 network news shows from WNBC - New York to KTLA - LA.


Since his heart stopped and they had to pound him back to life on June 29, 2007, Rich's time is limited (Hey, so is yours!) He now only takes a handful of speaking engagements each year, but he would be happy to consider keynoting your conference or seminar if time, schedules and strategic interests align. Contact ajmelheim@faithink.com or call 1-888-55FAITH (553-2484) for a request for dates and rates.


Paintings by He Qi