TheoEd Talks

Several years ago, our church began wondering how to advance church-based theological education. While the church continued its traditional Sunday school and adult bible study programs, we also perceived that the culture around us was changing. Our members (and potential members!) interacted with sophisticated, on-demand technology every day in their offices and homes. Those in our community listened to podcasts as they commuted and streamed YouTube videos in the evening.  How could we better leverage technology in our Christian Education programs? Could we think more creatively about how to deliver our programming to an increasingly busy and technologically-savvy congregation?

These wonderings led to the development of “TheoEd Talks.” This program brings together leading thinkers from the academy, the church, and the non-profit sector. Each speaker offers a 20-minute talk designed to spark meaningful conversations on how we think about the Bible, theology, and faithful engagement in the world. These talks will be recorded on audio and video and made available through our website as a free, public resource for download.

The first series of talks will feature: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Dr. Brent Strawn, Professor of Old Testament at Emory University; and Dr. Gregory Ellison, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The inaugural live recording will be held at First Presbyterian Church on the evening of Sunday September 24, 2017 from 5:00-7:00pm in Fifield Hall.

To register or for more information, visit our site at: theoed.com  or contact us at: theoed.com@gmail.com.

Cassie Waits,Stembler Fellow for Adult Discipleship, First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Cassie Waits graduated in May from Columbia Theological Seminary in the Masters of Divinity Program. To read her complete essay on the rationale behind TheoEd Talks, which won the Julia Abdullah Award for innovative educational ministry design, click on the file linked here.

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And the Survey Says . . .

Sharon Ely Pearson shared the results of her ecumenical curriculum survey on her own blog. I wonder how your ministry matches or challenges these results.

Rows of Sharon

4006230793_9b2742c25e_oAn on-line survey was held on a voluntary based during June 2016 to learn what curricular programs were being used in congregations with children, youth, and adults. The survey was disseminated through e-mail and social media (predominately Facebook groups) and various organizational list-serves (Forma, APCE, CEF,AUCE, and the Christian Education Network of the ELCA). The construction and results of the survey was conducted by the research group of the Church Pension Group, the parent company of Church Publishing Incorporated. The analysis of the data is strictly mine, and I take all responsibility for its interpretation.

Godly Playcontinues to be the most used program with children, with Montessori-type programs used by 36% of churches. The other three types of curriculum were lectionary-based (25%), Bible story based (30%), and workshop rotation model (9%). Most churches use a variety of resources, combining and tweaking them…

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Faith Sprouts

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a number of questions from parents and grandparents about where and when to start talking to their young children about faith. Many of them have little or no experience as children themselves or ones that they would not like to repeat. Recently, I began a blog “FaithSprouts”. Designed to provide simple ways to engage small children around stories of faith, the blog includes a short reflection for caregivers, a book suggestion, an activity and a suggested prayer. You can find the most recent blog here . Hopefully these simple stories and practices can support faith in each household.

Linnae Himsl Peterson
Coordinator, Formation Network NH
Episcopal Church of NH

TED Talks for Parents

For several years my church has offered a parenting class as part of its mid-week programming. This class has looked at church-y books, secular books, and dvd-based how-to studies. Through it all, the main expectations from the parents have been: 1) keep it real, and 2) don’t expect us to read anything ahead of time.

This fall we’re using TED Talks as our curriculum, and we’re looking at these videos through the bifocal lenses of parenting and faith. Continue reading

Illustrated Children’s Ministry

In my ten years of ministry, serving four different churches, one element of worship that has always been hit-or-miss was the children’s moment.

More often than not, a well-meaning pastor or lay leader would invite the kids up for a few cute jokes, or maybe a creative object lesson that would just go over the kids’ heads. This always annoyed me.

In my last call, as I was exploring and reclaiming my identity as an artist, I began creating illustrations of the lectionary passage for the day, and used those as visual aids to simply tell children the biblical story for the day. I then gave the children a copy of the illustration to take home. Continue reading

World Food Day

You may not be aware of it, but Thursday, October 16 is World Food Day in Canada and the United States. This day was first established in 1979 in a collective effort to make the needs of hungry people known to the world at large.

Each year the World Food Programme(WFP)  of the United Nations publishes sobering facts about the number of hungry people in the world. Did you know, for instance, that there are at least 795 million people in the world who will go to bed hungry tonight? That is about one in every nine people. Asia is the continent that has the most hungry people, although the largest percentages of the total population can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. WFP also provides downloadable hunger maps that make the scope of this problem even more visible.

There are many resources available to churches who wish to educate about and simulate the issue of hunger. Continue reading

The One Year Seminary

This is certainly one approach to adult education. I wonder how you structure your faith formation for adults. KLD

Columbia Connections

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Every once is a while (like last month, in fact) I get a call from a church leader wanting ideas about creating a mini-seminary in their congregations. While that idea is driven by a sincere desire to make Christian education more meaningful and effective in their congregations, I remain suspect of that approach. I believe that any congregation will be well-served by taking Christian education more seriously and, by going about its practice in more intentional ways. But I also believe that a seminary is one thing and a church another—and when it comes to educating in faith, the two should not be confused.

However, I appreciate the well-intentioned efforts of those who want a more rigorous “school of faith” in their congregations.

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