Tables with Jesus

Are you looking for intergenerational worship centers that get all ages to think and become active with their faith? Well, I have a source to share that we tried out at Columbia Theological Seminary a week ago that was a success.

Earlier this summer I ran across the work of Lilly Lewin at Free Range Worship. She was the worship leader at the Intergenerate Conference in Nashville and had set up a room under the theme Tables with Jesus, where each table had a different theme from the life of Jesus that engaged the viewer in thoughtful reflection and action. Most of the tables use objects that can be found around the home and all the signs and instructions are available for a reasonable price on her website.

Here you can see how some of our tables turned out without all the people who came. We left them up for several days after the chapel for people to explore on their own time. We only did seven stations, mainly because I had seven students in my doctoral seminar and they each were in charge of a station.

Party with Levi Table- Focuses on the outcasts of society and thinking who we invite to the party. The activity is to write the names of the unlikely guests on band aids that can be worn as you remember to pray for these individuals or groups.

 

 

Beach Party with Jesus- Thinking about how Jesus provides for our needs and writing our prayers of thanksgiving on fish, before sampling a goldfish cracker

 

 

 

Table of Reconciliation- What does it mean to set a table in the presence of our enemies as it says in Psalm 23?

 

 

 

 

Every Day Table- With whom do we sit down at breakfast, lunch and dinner? Who should we invite to join us? How can we pray for them throughout our day?

 

 

 

Lilly Lewin will be writing an upcoming post for us about the many other ideas she has on her site. I hope this post provokes you to think about all the tables that constitute our lives and at which Jesus joins us.

Kathy Dawson, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur GA

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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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…”

Continue reading

WWJT

This last Saturday I was with a group from Salem Presbytery exploring what it means to be The Hopeful Church. We looked at the current state of Christian education in mainline churches, particularly the PC(USA). We talked  about how difficult it is to change the model of Sunday School with which many of us have grown up.

Then we tried an activity to break us out of our preconceived notions of what Christian Education is about. I called it WWJT, which could be translated “What Would Jesus Teach?” or “Where Would Jesus Teach?” Continue reading

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

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