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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Faith Sprouts

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a number of questions from parents and grandparents about where and when to start talking to their young children about faith. Many of them have little or no experience as children themselves or ones that they would not like to repeat. Recently, I began a blog “FaithSprouts”. Designed to provide simple ways to engage small children around stories of faith, the blog includes a short reflection for caregivers, a book suggestion, an activity and a suggested prayer. You can find the most recent blog here . Hopefully these simple stories and practices can support faith in each household.

Linnae Himsl Peterson
Coordinator, Formation Network NH
Episcopal Church of NH

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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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.

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Peace Garden

After Easter—Spring and Summer in the Garden! Wondering what to do with kids and adults in Ordinary time? Go outside!!! Our Christian Education team invited adults’ and children’s classes to come out to the Sweetwater Garden behind our church to make a Peace Garden. This garden is part of the Wylde Center neighborhood gardens. We enlisted folks who could help us but were not the usual teachers: a person who volunteered in the garden, another to build benches out of recycled wood, an artist to help paint the benches and the peace pole we erected as well as a bird bath that we decorated with mosaic tiles. Continue reading

Preach This, Tweet That (Part I): What Black Millennials are Looking for from the Preacher

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.

Robinson iHomiletic Presentation Bibliography

Columbia Connections

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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Is reading books a dying art?

Earlier this week we looked at Maria Harris’ three questions of what may be living, dying, or rising in educational ministry. I’m working on a project now where I need to write an apologetic for reading books in the digital age and am wondering if the reading of printed books is something that may be dying. Will it go the way of cursive writing in this ever increasing proliferation of electronic devices? Is there something inherently different in the way our brains work when we pick up a book with paper and ink and when we pick up a tablet or sit in front of a screen to read? Continue reading

Interactive Worship Ideas

At Faith Presbyterian (https://www.facebook.com/faithpresgso), we embrace our traditional worship style and space while making our service accessible and engaging for all. Children and their families are welcome at the front of the sanctuary with activities geared toward their age level. Our family worship guide follows the pattern of the service and offers extra enrichment ideas and activities for children and active learners of all ages.The outline of a traditional worship service centered around The Word is beautiful and quite freeing when we remember that The Word is The Living Word of God – incarnate in Christ, written in scripture, and enacted in the world.

For Lent, we are using a themed sermon series inspired by Rev. Whitney Wilkinson following the “Landscape of Lent.” Each week, we add a new visual element to represent some aspect of the scripture – ashes, wilderness, wind, water, mud, cave, palms, bread – and we will close with Easter in the garden. Continue reading

Grief to Bear

I am about to attend the second of two memorial services this week –people of strong faith who I’m sure are with God and who are no longer in pain. While knowing that they have moved from life into life, it is still difficult to bear their loss. Our beloved former president of Columbia Theological Seminary, Steve Hayner, will soon be lifted up in communal remembrance. He and his wife, Sharol Hayner have let us walk with them in this journey through pancreatic cancer by means of the CaringBridge website. In tribute to their incredible witness of faith, I lift up here a portion of one of Sharol’s posts from October 8, 2014 on discipleship during difficult times: Continue reading