And the Survey Says . . .

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 Play continues 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 to fit their needs. Continue reading And the Survey Says . . .

Empty Pews?

lonechildinpewsIt’s been awhile since I’ve written here; I’ve been busy writing and editing some great projects coming out this Fall and early 2017. Stay tuned on that front.

Meanwhile a new “program” year has begun in our churches, with families returning after a summer hiatus of skipping worship to sleep-in, vacation, or simply doing other things. And hopefully they have returned, along with all the others who have been absent the past few months as October rolls around. With the oncoming Fall and schools back in session, everyone is eager to “begin anew,” making a commitment, at least for a few months to come to church on a more regular basis.

One of the projects that I have been working on (which has taken much longer than I anticipated) is the dissemination of a Curriculum Survey that was distributed across cyberspace in June 2016. Almost 900 individuals took the survey, with 270 taking the time to also share their thoughts in the comment areas provided. And wow – there was a lot to be said.

A few stats first: 70% of the respondents were associated with an Episcopal church, 30% from other denominations; all shared the same themes, needs, and concerns. 87% have some sort of children’s ministry program (75% youth and 75% adult). That sounds amazing. However, 82% of the congregations have 50 or fewer children who regularly attend a Sunday school program. And 50% of the churches have less than 10 middle schoolers and less than 10 high schoolers participating in youth programs. 68% of the congregations who offer adult education programming reported to having less than 30 individuals who regularly participate in those offerings. Continue reading Empty Pews?

The Cones of Shame

14th Sunday after Pentecost: August 21, 2016
Luke 13:10-17             Psalm 71:1-6

shame pointing-fingerIn you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be ashamed.
In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.

“Ryan Lochte locks down spot in Olympic hall of shame.” So headlines an article in the Houston Chronicle in a report from Rio. The first lines stated, “Congratulations to Ryan Lochte for winning the final race of his Olympic career: the race for most embarrassing athlete.” The U.S. has had plenty of embarrassing athletes before: Tonya Harding and her goon squad in 1994; the American hockey players who trashed their village room in 1998. But Lochte and his three swimming buddies managed to not only embarrass our country, they humiliated the host country in the process, not to mention themselves.

As a noun, shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. As a verb, we think of its use as when we humiliate, mortify, embarrass, chasten, or “cut down to size” another person.

An early memory of feeling shame for me comes from my grandmother when I was a child – about 8 years, I guess. I don’t quite recall the full incident, but I must have been talking back to my mother in a very hurtful, hateful way in the presence of my grandmother. Later when she was alone with me she told me how disappointed she was with me and how horrible it was for me to speak to my mother in that way. She was visibly upset with what I had said. I don’t recall what I did next, but that feeling of shame and sorrow remain with me as a visual and visceral memory. I had been called out for something I had done, by someone I had loved. It was shame given with love, meant to make me notice that my actions had broken – or at least splintered – an important relationship. Continue reading The Cones of Shame

Violence, Racism, and Hostile Rhetoric

humanityIn response to recent events in the United States, educators, parents, and clergy are again seeking resources for talking with children and engaging adults in meaningful action. In searching through past posts here, I realized that just six months ago I posted Are Prayers Enough? with the image created by Roger Hutchison from Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace following the mass shootings in San Bernardino. Within that post I listed numerous resources that churches and individuals could use to move the conversation forward – from prayer to action – regarding gun violence.

But not much has changed. It would seem to have even gotten worse. The hostile rhetoric from some like Donald Trump only amps things up, instilling fear and hatred toward “the other” – anyone who doesn’t look like us, speak like us, worship like us, or live like us. Who is the “us”? Sounds bites from social media featuring reactionary statements and speculative comments about individuals we do not know only fuel the fire. Continue reading Violence, Racism, and Hostile Rhetoric

Pack Light

Overpacked-SuitcaseA sermon preached on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 8, Year C based on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20.

For years every summer around this time I would be packing a trunk for either my son or daughter as they were getting ready to go to camp (Camp Washington in Lakeside, Connecticut). So with checklist in hand, I would make sure each had enough clothing, towels, bug spray, and clean underwear to last them two weeks. The trunk would be filled with all the necessities for being away from home that also often included a stuffed animal, some books to read, paper with pre-addressed & stamped envelopes (for of course they would write home), and other personal belongings he or she couldn’t live without. By their request, we would drop them off early and pick them up late. Inevitably, every time we picked Chris up, most of his clothes had not been touched, having lived in the same couple of shirts and shorts the entire two weeks. He came home happy and healthy, filled with stories, songs, and plenty of new friends. He had used all that he needed; I had packed too much.

How many of you have gone on a business trip or vacation and crammed as much as possible in a suitcase (even just a carry-on to beat the baggage fees)? We’ll be going to the Cape for two weeks in August and we’re already talking about taking two cars to hold all our stuff we want to bring. And I don’t know how many business trips I’ve been on that I’ve come home realizing I didn’t need that extra pair of shoes or projects to work on “in my free time.” Through the years I have learned to travel light, bringing just what I need, but I am always afraid as I leave the house with my carryon that I’ve forgotten something, so I jam in some last minute extras. Continue reading Pack Light