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

Welcoming Children Well

One Sunday, as the children at our church were hustled back into the sanctuary from their church school classes and rushing to join their families as they lined up in the aisle to go forward and receive the Lord’s Supper, my young adult daughter leaned over to me and whispered, “At the church we went to when I was little, kids weren’t allowed to take communion but here I sometimes wonder if the kids just think it’s snack time.”

Food for thought, for sure. And, while an informal poll I took with my preschool group the following Sunday indicated they did understand that the bread and juice of communion was, as one 4 year old described it “to remember that Jesus died on the cross,” my daughter’s comment left me wondering:

What was our congregation doing to enhance the participation of children/youth in the Lord’s Supper? Were we using understandable language? Continue reading

What’s NEXT for Christian Education?

Report from 2015 NEXT Church Conference                                                                                    Fourth Presbyterian Church                                                                                                    Chicago, March 16-18

What is the NEXT Church?

It’s a movement within the PC(USA) that—in the midst of severe drops in giving, worship attendance and controversial issues like gay rights and Israel-Palestine conflict—shows that the denomination (and it’s churches) aren’t dead. But instead the PC(USA) is changing, expanding and transforming into the body of Christ that God calls it to be. Here’s how the NEXT Church expresses it on their website.

For me, what truly nourishes my heart and soul at the NEXT Church Conferences is morning and evening worship, connecting with friends and colleagues (as well as making new ones), the presentations on new ways of doing ministry/cultural trends/justice and societal issues, and workshops.

While the conference doesn’t explicitly talk about Christian Education ministry, it is faithfully educating Christians about what it means to be the body of Christ and to do God’s work in the world—to (according to this year’s theme) go “beyond our walls, our fears and ourselves” to be Christ’s hands and feet. Continue reading

Burying the Alleluia: A Lenten Spiritual Practice

Another Lenten practice to either think about for next year or if you are doing this already to live more deeply into this practice

Journey into Faith - Learning, Loving, Leading at Faith UMC

Burying Alleluia SanctuaryFaith’s worship and spiritual formation staff is introducing our congregation to the Lenten spiritual practice of Burying the Alleluia this Lent. While the practice of Burying the Alleluia might be new to Faith UMC, it is an ancient Christian tradition practiced in many faith traditions. Read on to learn more about this Lenten spiritual practice.

Alleluia is a word heard throughout the Christian world regardless of language. Alleluia is the Greek and Latin form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, a word meaning praise the Lord. In the Western world, Alleluia came to be associated with the celebration of the most important season of the Church year, Easter. The association of Alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from liturgy during Lent.  It’s a kind of verbal fast, not with the intention of depressing the mood of our worship services, but instead to create a sense of anticipation…

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Children’s Sermon Helps

Holly Inglis was kind enough to send her handouts from her recent workshop at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators’ Annual Event 2015. The workshop was titled “Don’t be afraid of the children’s sermon!” The description follows: The children’s sermon is one of the most important elements of worship, yet is often a source of stress and anxiety for those preparing and those listening. These resources offer practical tips for managing and leading a time with children during worship, as well as, recommended resources for messages and tools for training volunteers to lead messages. Continue reading