Camp and Conference Remix-Part 2

As we discussed yesterday, some significant Christian Education happened at our camps and conference centers this summer. Children and youth from your congregation may have had a “mountain top experience,” a significant faith experience that brought them closer to God. Not only do we need to acknowledge a possible milestone on their faith journey, it is also important for us to share their experience with the rest of the congregation. Connecting with them as the church helps sustain this significant faith experience.

Yesterday we talked about conferences, so today we will discuss how we might connect with your children and youth after their summer camp experience. Here are some suggestions: Continue reading

Camp and Conference Remix- Part 1

The summer is drawing to a close. Vacation Bible School and mission trips are in the rear view mirror as the focus is moving towards Rally Day and fall programs. During this transition, let’s not forget that some significant Christian Education happened this summer…at our camps and conference centers. The children and youth of your congregation participated in a variety of programs over the summer. These individuals may have had a “mountain top experience,” a significant faith experience that brought them closer to God. Not only do we need to acknowledge a possible milestone on their faith journey, it is also important for us to share their experience with the rest of the congregation. Connecting with them as the church helps sustain this significant faith experience.

Connecting with your youth on conference experiences is a little easier. Adult advisors on those trips can help with the post-conference follow-up. Here are some suggestions: Continue reading

Back to School

It took me by surprise this week that the schools in my region were back in session. Where had the summer gone? As teachers set up their classrooms and families purchase their school supplies for another year, what are some ways that the church can be involved in supporting this yearly transition? Continue reading

Discussing Emotions Inside Out

Some of the best discussions I’ve ever had with groups have happened because of a movie. Beginning way back when Disney released “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and I took the youth group, to a moving community and church discussion of “The Passion of the Christ,” right up to the current Pixar/Disney movie “Inside Out,” a good movie has sparked all kinds of theologizing for me. It’s a great Nieburhian mix of church and culture – learning to see popular culture through the eyes of faith and take something meaningful away from it.

So when I saw “Inside Out,” I knew I had to write a discussion guide. This movie puts us in touch with what’s really inside of us, and gives us ways to consider how our emotions are expressed (or not expressed) in our lives. The movie opens the door so we can dive deep and learn some new things. My favorite discussion with my own daughter was about how joy and sadness can work together to make something deeply meaningful that really resonates for life. She’s entering middle school – years I remember as full of both emotions almost constantly!

Hopefully there will be something here to use in your ministries with all the different-aged theologians in your congregation.

Kimberly Secrist Ashby– Rev. Secrist Ashby is a Presbyterian pastor serving in Maryland. She is a Trainer and Board Chair for the Center for Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations Training, and soon to be in the church and leader consulting business as Shalom Consulting.

Here is the link to the free discussion guide created by Kimberly Secrist Ashby. It contains discussion questions for preschool, school age, and youth.

This resource is in no way affiliated with Disney or PIXAR. The Inside Out movie is property of Disney PIXAR which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this resource.

Protecting Children through Educator Certification

Having recently finished the process of becoming a Certified Christian Educator through the Presbyterian Church USA I am so appreciative of all I’ve learned and put into practice at my church, Wildwood Presbyterian Church in Grayslake, IL, as the Director of Christian Education. Each course that I completed was immediately applicable to my work as an educator and leader and the completion of the exam for certification was at the pinnacle of putting all that I learned into practice in my ministry. The exam involved designing, implementing, and evaluating an educational event within the context of my current educational ministry. I chose to lead the Christian Education Committee through a process to review and update our Child Protection Policy because we were faced with some new insurance requirements. The ten year old policy had only been updated once, seven years ago, and was long overdue for a review.

I offer the lesson plan, handouts and resource research, and the underlying educational and theological rationale essays, from my exam work for use by the Hope4CE community. Perhaps your faith community’s policy needs a review or you are interested in starting a task force to address policy issues. You are invited to glean ideas, use resources, or borrow any concepts from this design for your own project. The lesson plan file associated with this post contains an introduction to the project, lesson plan outline and details, handouts and resources, and an evaluation of my experience implementing the project. Perhaps you are just interested in what value the certification process may hold for you in your educational ministry. If so, you may want to read the rationale essays, each in it’s own file, which detail how my learning from four of the certification areas was integrated into the educational design.

May God bless your learning and teaching!

Gillmore Lesson Plan for Child Protection Policy Review

Gillmore Rationale Essay Biblical Interpretation

Gillmore Rationale Essay Human Growth and Faith Development

Gillmore Rationale Essay Religious Education Theory and Practice 

Gillmore Rationale Essay Reformed Theology

Kathy Gillmore
Director of Christian Education
Wildwood Presbyterian Church

Reminder Rocks

Middle school and high school youth are an integral part of the leadership of Vacation Bible School at Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church–under the watchful care of loving adults of a large span of ages. Two of the afternoons they stay later–one is a mission day and the other is just for fun. This year, our mission afternoon was called Random Acts of Kindness Day. We began with a Bible study and discussion about the experience of feeling “not good enough” (sports, academics, looks, parental expectations…). We found we are either disappointed or discouraged when we fail or fall short of the standards set by others (or perhaps even ourselves). That failure either makes us try harder the next time or often means we never try again. Or worse. But as followers of Jesus Christ, we have hope in God and understand that God’s love is unconditional. Good news!
(Romans15:13, 1 Peter 1:3-4)
We believe that God believes we are good enough. Continue reading

Vacation Bible School-Yesterday and Today

It’s that time of year again when churches around the country hold Vacation Bible Schools in various formats. For a week or more the church is turned into a biblical marketplace or an underwater reef or a host of other locales to combine Scripture, music, crafts, and games to communicate the Gospel to children and others.

But where did this tradition begin? It seems that the first recorded summer Bible school in the United States was instituted by Mrs. Walker Aylette Hawes in 1898 in conjunction with Epiphany Baptist Church on New York City’s east side. Mrs. Hawes noticed how many immigrant children were roaming the streets in the summer, so she searched for a rented facility where she could begin a six-week summer school. The only available facility was a saloon and thus VBS was born in a bar. Continue reading

Stepping Stones in Faith

One Church’s Process to Identify the Basic Milestones on the Journey of Faith…

Over twenty years ago in my early days as Minister of Education at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA we began to talk together about what were the most important concepts to teach our children, youth and adults. We needed a plan and a goal. So we formed a committee! But what a gift this committee became to me and our ministry together. For as we met over more than a year and a half we began to solidify what became the foundational book of our Christian Education at Peachtree – Stepping Stones on the Journey of Faith. I don’t remember the term milestones at that point in time but our work does seem to relate to the emphasis that is now found in many churches in providing milestones for the journey of faith.

As we got started I did some research to see if there was a document in existence that listed what the important concepts of our faith were and at what age they should be taught. I remember having a conversation with Liz McWhorter at the PC(USA) national offices who told me they had always talked about creating something like this but never had that she knew of. She challenged me to create it. So we began our work together at ground zero and it was well worth it.

Continue reading

PRC Webinars for Church Leaders

The internet has ushered in a new way of doing almost everything, from shopping to research. Here at Practical Resources for Churches (PRC), we’ve seen an increase in the use of the internet in how we interact with people, provide resources, and offer learning and growth opportunities. Although we still offer face-to-face experiences through our workshops and roundtables, our webinar program is continually expanding. Continue reading

It’s Planning Season!

Sharon Ely Pearson shares some excellent ideas here on planning for next academic year’s educational ministry programs. I thank her for permission to reblog this post from earlier this month.

Rows of Sharon

540281_10152022877675252_1946054493_nAll the planning, implementation, and celebrations of Holy Week and Easter Sunday are now a joyful memory, and those of you working in a congregation have hopefully had a quiet week of reflection and rest. But there is no rest for the weary . . . it’s time to begin evaluating this past year and begin planning for the next program year.

A checklist for the coming weeks:

  • Collect feedback from volunteer leaders and teachers about what worked and what needs improvement. Plan how you will be recognizing and giving thanks to all those who have given their time and talents this past academic year.
  • Begin the discernment process for calling new teachers and volunteers for next year.
  • Evaluate the programs and the resources you have been using. Do they need tweaking or refreshment? Poll participants, including children and youth, about what they have found memorable and life-giving over the past…

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