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?

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Visual Parables: Connecting Faith and Film

Fr. John Culkin inspired me to develop bridges between faith and film when he wrote that were Jesus to begin his ministry today, he would become a filmmaker. The best storytellers are working in Hollywood, so that is where he would be in order to reach the masses with his message. VisualParables.org is the culmination of my media ministry (Presbyterian) that began in the Seventies with writing reviews for several Catholic magazines, followed later by reviews in Protestant and secular newspapers. VisualParables.org moves beyond merely reviewing films by providing tools for church leaders to use them with their people to explore faith and personal and social issues.

The site offers about 1200 free reviews with one or more Scripture references attached. (Sometimes I spend almost as much time searching for the relevant Bible passage as in writing the review.) Each month the VP journal, available by either annual subscription or individual issue, includes the reviews plus a set of questions, ranging from 4 or 5 to as many as 20. Preachers tell me that they usually read the column “Lectionary Links” first because it suggests one or more films related to the Sunday texts of the Common Lectionary. Methodist chaplain Doug Sweet contributes a column that reviews film books and new DVDs. There are special articles, such as “Celebration of the Dance in Film,” and “Social Issue Films Reviewed in Visual Parables,” arranged according to category/themes—the latter lists almost 550 films. Cindy Corey, director of a Presbyterian resource center, reviews various short films.

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St. Andrew’s FISH – Families Integrating Sunday and Home

Like many churches these days, St. Andrew’s had limited volunteer resources and sporadic attendance at Church School. The “regular” families were frustrated and burned out. And my experience had taught me that parental involvement is the single most important success factor in Christian formation. We were ready to do church differently.

We’re an Episcopal church, with a rich liturgical tradition. I have long believed that worship is the most formative thing we do, and worship was working well. We have strong and consistent attendance for our Family Service, which meets during the readings, sermon and prayers of the primary service. We do all the same things, in a more family-friendly setting. Then we rejoin the primary service for Communion, every Sunday. We don’t have any rules about what ages belong where, or parental accompaniment; we let each family make the decision that suits them best. Many parents choose to worship with their children. Continue reading

The Church Finding a Voice

Von Clemans offers these important insights on how the ways we communicate information in the church are changing. This is a reblogged post from the APCE Adovocate via Kaye Bledsoe.

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Goldfish Have Eight by Von Clemans (copied from APCE ADVOCATE Journal)

On a recent Sunday I passed through the narthex and noticed the large pile of bulletins left by departing worshipers. At least three-quarters of all the bulletins printed for that day were destined for the recycling bin. In each folded paper were dozens of carefully crafted announcements designed to engage and attract people to essential opportunities for their growth in faith. I’d like to think church people had memorized all the pertinent details for future reference. But the truth is many of them did little more than scan them. I know that because our weekly email newsletter is opened by less than half of the recipients, with a click-through rate of less than five percent.  Messages are going out but not being received.

Why?  Because communication patterns have changed. Information hits us from every direction in every possible media…

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Copyright and Educational Fair Use- Part 3

Still have questions about fair use exception? Here are several more helpful guidelines to help you make the appropriate decision.

The general guideline is that authors or creators keep copyright at least 70 years after their death. If a work is of corporate authorship, the copyright lasts 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

You ask what percentage of a work is okay within the fair use exception. The following table might help. Continue reading

Copyright and Educational Fair Use- Part 2

In my previous blog, I introduced the rights of the copyright holder or owner. When the Founding Fathers set up the copyright laws, they were aware of the social impact that innovation and new research can have on an emerging society, especially at the time when copyright law was created. In addition, they believed that the public should have access to these creations, particularly ones coming from academic research and scholarship. The Founding Fathers, therefore, created Section 107, which is an exception to the copyright law and is called the fair use exception. 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