The Village

Our story is so common, a 125 year old congregation, inner-city, wants to minister to the community around it, I’m sure you have heard it all before.

The Facts:
Our average attendance: 170ish
Average Sunday school was: 30ish (all in, all ages)
Most families attended once a month
We have a separate family chapel, attended by substantially more persons than Sunday school hour.

Our take away was that families are interested, but not in our traditional model.
We kept coming back to the old adage “it takes a village…”

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Make Room: A Big Picture View of Lent

When my children were very young I always looked forward to the changing seasons. Inside and outside the church, the turning of the circle brought new colors and sights and smells—plenty of opportunity to explore and create.

My little library of activity books kept us busy. But when it came to Lent I was never satisfied. The kids and I ironed grated crayon on to waxed paper to make stained glass crosses; we made purple paper chains, and hot crossed buns; we even blended and burned our own incense. But something was missing. Continue reading

A Lord’s Supper Series for Grades 3-5

I created this lesson series to fulfill my Educational Design requirement for educator certification in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I focused on scripture and liturgy together, in the context of biblical miracle narratives.

The first lesson focuses on the Lord’s Supper in its Passover context. Lessons 2-6 incorporate the miracle narratives: The Wilderness Miracles in Exodus 15-16, The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), Feeding the Multitudes (Matt 14:13-21), Cast Your Nets in the Deep Waters (Luke 5:1-11 and The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Students experienced the miracle narratives and learned the Words of Institution while handling the elements. Continue reading

Spiritual Disciplines

Amidst the busy lifestyles we Christians often lead in society, I can’t help but wonder what it looks likes to have our faith formed and grow. Yes, we have Sunday School and worship, and maybe even a Bible Study coupled with a mission opportunity or two. Some of us may be chaperones on youth trips or church officers, but in the middle of that, where is the Holy Spirit forming us and molding us? Are we even attuned to it? Continue reading

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

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

All Aboard the Intergenerational Train!

In their seminal work Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069, William Strauss and Neil Howe describe generations metaphorically as distinct trains carrying groups of like-minded people to stations that represent the different stages of life. For instance, today, the “Millennial” train is passing through the rising adulthood station and the “Generation X” train is passing through the midlife station. Strauss and Howe posit that each train looks different to observers as they come through each station because each generation has a distinct character.

Generation theory (and its precursors) has been around for a quarter-century now. Perhaps an older notion than that is the presumption of a “gap” between each generation that makes living together more difficult. This perception has been aided by a trend in American society toward age segregation over the last 100 years, with the youngest Americans receiving an education separate from adults, who are in the workplace, and separate from the oldest Americans, who are retired. That is a major shift from what was previously a largely agrarian society. Continue reading

The Experiment

We arrive at church for Sunday School early. While I assemble two large salads, my children set up for our feast. The scent of pizza wafts through the door ahead of the steaming boxes. People of all ages gather in a circle to share laughter, prayer, and grace. Tuesday Night Sunday School begins.

It started out as an experiment. Sunday School teachers were difficult to find. Parents were choosing between dropping children off for Sunday School and attending worship, as doing both seemed too time consuming. We wanted worship to be the family focus on Sundays.

Sunday School was banished from Sunday mornings, participation by parents or guardians insisted upon. Amidst skepticism from Church Council members, Tuesday Night Sunday School was born. Continue reading

Words of Hope

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and the Department of Homeland Security, there are estimated to be 480,000 immigrants of all ages and genders living without legal status in Georgia in 2010. Georgia is also home to three operating detention facilities housing those apprehended without proper documentation and/or other offenses.

The circumstances of many of the detainees involve weeks awaiting a fate that usually ends in deportation. In some cases, deportation to a country that is unfamiliar, dangerous, without family and without hope of ever seeing U.S. born children again.

The summer of 2013, I was asked by Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) to compile a Bible study for female detainees that would compliment their visitation program called Friends in Hope (FIH) Continue reading