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

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

Christmas Participation Story

I wrote the Christmas Participation Story over 20 years ago. When I was a student at The Presbyterian School of Christian Education, one of my textbooks was A Guide to Recreation, by Glenn Bannerman and Robert Fakkema. One of the activities in that book was a participation story with a “cowboy setting.” It was a popular activity but written in a period where inclusive language and political correctness had yet to develop. I really enjoyed the format, however and began to write similar stories based on biblical texts. I paraphrased the text into a storytelling format in which I repeated words and phrases throughout and assigned groups to respond with certain words, actions, inflections, volume etc. Continue reading

All Aboard the Intergenerational Train!

In their seminal work Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069, William Strauss and Neil Howe describe generations metaphorically as distinct trains carrying groups of like-minded people to stations that represent the different stages of life. For instance, today, the “Millennial” train is passing through the rising adulthood station and the “Generation X” train is passing through the midlife station. Strauss and Howe posit that each train looks different to observers as they come through each station because each generation has a distinct character.

Generation theory (and its precursors) has been around for a quarter-century now. Perhaps an older notion than that is the presumption of a “gap” between each generation that makes living together more difficult. This perception has been aided by a trend in American society toward age segregation over the last 100 years, with the youngest Americans receiving an education separate from adults, who are in the workplace, and separate from the oldest Americans, who are retired. That is a major shift from what was previously a largely agrarian society. 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

Generations in Faith Together

Sunday school was working, but not well.  It was bringing in the same folks
we would see for almost any other church gathering and very few of the folks
we only see at worship or for our Wednesday night LOGOS program.  So we
decided to try something different.

Our Christian Education committee (through some weeping and gnashing of teeth on the part of some) decided to stop Sunday school and replace it with a program we call GIFT (which stands for Generations in Faith Together).  The vision of GIFT is to get people of all generations (preschool, elementary, youth, college, young adult, middle aged, senior citizen, etc.) to gather for some sort of educational event once a month between September and April/May. Continue reading