During this time of experimentation and innovation in church ministry, as churches move out of their buildings and into homes and virtual spaces, there is one consistent thing I hear from many educators. “There are so many great ideas out there that I’m feeling overwhelmed right now and can’t do it all!” As we continue to face this pandemic together, I would encourage and challenge your church to pick one new idea and do it well. In this post I will focus on adult education and will detail the one good idea that Oakhurst Presbyterian Church has been doing during Lent. At the end there will be an attachment with more good ideas for adult education that may spark your own one good idea. Continue reading
This is the time of year for college students to return to campus or to attend for the first time. It seems to be a good time to talk about this transition from a faith perspective. According to James Fowler’s stages of faith development, this is likely the age when young adults begin looking critically at the beliefs they have taken for granted in their younger years. They begin to take authority for their own beliefs. For this reason Sharon Daloz Parks in her book Big Questions, Worthy Dreams advocates for faith mentors to walk alongside emerging adults as they make this journey of reflecting on and wrestling with their faith.
For churches this is a time of sending their youth off around the country, sometimes with commissioning, sometimes with care packages, but neither they nor the family is there to walk alongside students as they grapple with all the new ideas and people that higher education may bring. Enter campus ministries–those hardworking folks who do this important work of partnering with young people on their faith journey. Continue reading
Almost ten years ago, Columbia Theological Seminary inaugurated a new online journal, @ this point: theological investigations in church and culture. The goal of the journal was straightforward: to model (and encourage) theological conversation among Christian laity on important topics of the day and, therein, help shape a more theologically literate church. The format, too, was straightforward: invite a scholar to write a lead essay on an assigned topic, ask three other scholars to write responses to the lead essay, and then have the lead essayist write a reply to the responses. The back-and-forth is intended not to foreclose conversation or thought but to open them up; as such we ask the scholars to end with questions, not criticisms and to highlight new ideas rather than simply assessing old ones. And we strongly encourage our writers to be brief but thoughtful and to avoid academic jargon where possible. “Think of your audience as the people sitting in the pews with you,” we tell them. “They may have college degrees, but those degrees aren’t likely to be in religion or philosophy. So think about the engineer or the schoolteacher in your midst.” Continue reading
Dominique Robinson begins a series based on her Doctor of Ministry research on preaching and teaching for “Black Millennials.” Thanks to Columbia Connections for sharing of the beginning of her series. There is much here for all to contemplate in addressing this digital generation.
Here is the link to Part II. She has also done a public presentation on this and is willing to share her bibliography for this event.
By Dominique A. Robinson, Staff Associate for Contextual Education
Preaching has always been a lively communal dialogue between the preacher, God and the congregants within the Black Church tradition; however, technology and social media have invaded this dialogue for Black Millennials. Their idea of interactive preaching goes beyond the “preacher, music and frenzy” that W.E.B. DuBois refers to. Black Millennials want church as they know it to reach beyond the four walls of the sanctuary. For them, preaching is no longer what happens when the preacher stands behind the lectern but preaching happens when one’s truth is shared no matter the medium or mode of communication.
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Dana Waters is a current Masters of Divinity Student at Columbia Theological Seminary. He also serves in youth ministry. This lesson plan speaks to the conversation we are having in the Facebook group today on Christian Education beyond the walls of the church.
I created this lesson plan after I realized that everyone in my youth group had learned about climate change at school and many other places, but it had never been discussed at church– not even once. How could this be? Continue reading
On March 16, 2015, we looked at a database of Christian Educators of the 20th Century. Today we focus on emerging leaders in the church, specifically the Presbyterian Church (USA) and what they may be thinking about educational ministry and faith formation for the present and future church. The Next Church movement is a network of leaders in the PC(USA) committed to hopeful conversations and reflections on ministry that is more relational, diverse, and collaborative. They host an annual conference and regional gatherings to carry out their mission. If you want to catch this year’s annual conference that began yesterday, they are offering live streaming on their website. There are also members of our Hope4CE Facebook group in attendance this year, who will be contributing their insights via Twitter, Facebook, or through this site.
A portion of this conference is set aside to present short Ignite talks (no more than seven minutes) that detail innovative ideas on a variety of topics. One of these talks from last year, by Landon Whitsitt is linked here. It launched a site of free resources (short videos with accompanying study guides) for new member and church officer training called Theocademy. Although designed specifically to address theology and polity in the Reformed tradition, they may be useful to others beyond the PC(USA) or to “ignite” your own ideas regarding educational ministry for these groups.
I wonder how you address new member and officer training in your church or denomination.
Kathy Dawson, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary
We are at the height of living through the Christian holy days of Lent and Easter. At the same time, we may find ourselves in conversations with people of other faiths who may not understand what we are celebrating or why it is important to Christians. In the same manner we may not fully understand our Jewish brothers and sisters in their Passover celebrations or our Hindu neighbors in their Holi celebrations at this same time of year.
How do we begin to understand the diversity of faith expressions that surround us here in the United States? What are helpful ways of teaching and learning about others’ religious traditions and beliefs, as well as explaining our own Christian faith to them? Continue reading