As many of you know, I have spent a good deal of my ministry in a variety of settings researching, writing, and advocating for (or against) the rite of Confirmation. It has not that I have been opposed to this sacramental rite in which many have called a “sacrament in search of a meaning,” but that I have been critical of how we (in The Episcopal Church specifically) have been preparing teenagers (and even adults) in making that reaffirmation of their baptismal promises.
When working with congregations and their youth preparing for confirmation, it had been my experience that a majority of the young people were less than enthusiastic about meeting on a regular basis for “preparation” and many were only present because their parents “made them come.” And after receiving the laying-on-of-hands by a bishop, these same young people rarely came back, having finished their formation and requirements to be a “Christian.” And those faith statements that often began with, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe we are supposed to be good people”: The whole moralistic therapeutic deism piece explained in the research of Christian Smith. Isn’t Confirmation supposed to be one’s reaffirmation in the belief that Christ is their Lord and Savior and they will follow him as a disciple for the rest of their life? A tough statement that may not be so developmentally appropriate for a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. Continue reading The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell
It’s that time of year when educators begin evaluating the past program year and start to plan for the next year, beginning in August or September 2017, depending on what part of the country (U.S.) you live in. For some, finishing up plans for summer VBS is underway, others it is time to choose curriculum for next year. In any case, below are updated calendars that you can use that map out the Sundays from June 2017 through August 2018 that give the lectionary readings as well as other events that may correspond to Sundays or during the week. Continue reading 2017-2018 Planning Calendars
This article first appeared in “Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation” magazine which is published annually by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. The full magazine (chock-full of great ideas) is available for purchase on their website.
Today’s culture can be toxic for children and other living things. If we build our values on the “put-downs” and sound bites of social media and incidences of daily violence that permeate the news, we might lose hope in what the future could hold for our children. How do we nurture a generous spirit in children when it would seem the world is about self-aggrandizement, winning, and having the most toys?
While we may think children are born as empty vessels waiting for family, teachers, and (yes) the church to fill them with love, knowledge, dreams, values, and a purpose, we know that they are already born with a capacity to know God and experience love. As caretakers of our children, it is our responsibility to nurture that which already exists, by providing an environment where their desire to be loved and part of a community is openly welcomed, acting as role models in what it means to be a generous, loving person made in the image of God.
We are born for sympathy and compassion. In a University of Oregon study, economist Bill Harbaugh and psychologist Ulrich Mayr found that charitable generosity activated the reward center of the brain, indicating that our brains are naturally made for kindness. Furthering this research are studies on compassionate meditation such as the one conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which illustrated that through the repeated practice of mindful generosity, we can increase empathetic responses to others.
Continue reading Nurturing Children to Live Generously
Every spring I update the curriculum overview charts that I’ve been doing for about fifteen years now. Not a whole lot has changed in the below charts (for children or youth) but I have noticed a few changes:
- Most years price increases were typically 50¢ per leader guide, student booklet, or resource pack. In my checking for updates on what have become the “staples” on the list, I saw increases of $1.00 or even more. It is either getting much more expensive to publish curriculum (probably) and/or publishers are needing to increase prices to keep the “bottom line” stable with fewer people purchasing a range of products. (Just my personal observation.)
- Almost all leader guides to curriculum are available as a download and those costs are often the same as the print.
- There were fewer “new” curricular programs making a debut in the past year.
In looking at and using the below updated charts, I steer you back to some of my previous postings on choosing curriculum and processes for evaluating and planning educational programming: Continue reading 2017 Curriculum Overview Charts
Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted a reflection, sermon, review, or commentary here. Let’s just say I’ve been working on many projects, enjoying life, and piling up a stack of books and slips of paper with notes on which I wish to write about.
So here’s the latest, of which I promise more details in the weeks to come – hopefully on a more regular basis:
Working with some great authors on upcoming books to come out from Church Publishing, including these that have already been published. My “Spring 2017” list is very eclectic: formation, liturgy, social justice. Many are perfect for formation settings (individually for your own enrichment, or for discussion in small groups): Continue reading Missing, But Still in Action