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.
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
How can congregational leadership bridge the gap that takes place between what happens on Sunday morning church and home (or school or work) the rest of the week? Even if one were to attend worship every Sunday of the year, that would account for less that 1% of waking hours – and we know the average worshipper is not in church every Sunday. Family life today is full of carpools, running around, juggling a multitude of activities (chosen and mandatory).
View the Prezi presentation online: Creating Burning Bushes: Supporting Faith at Home and on the Road and read some of the commentary that accompanied each slide below:
Many parents are searching for ways to nurture their children in the life of the Christian faith. They come with honest questions and look to the church for answers. Others, realizing their lack of biblical and theological background, turn their children over to the church and the church school – because they want it done right, by the experts. We cannot assume that parents know what to do with their children in regard to nurturing them in a life of faith. They may bring them to us to be baptized – but what happens after that? And more and more, that is nothing. We are lucky they return for times other than their child to participate in the Christmas pageant, show up in their Sunday best on Easter, or reappear when confirmation age rolls around. Continue reading Creating Burning Bushes: Supporting Faith at Home
On Sunday, November 13th, I led a workshop entitled “Reconnecting Children to Nature” as part of the Climate Stewardship Summit, sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network of Connecticut (IREJN). It was an event fused with a commitment to continue to work to fight climate change, especially with the concern that the new presidential administration to take office in January 2017 will not believe in the existence of global warming and climate change. What follows are portions of my presentation, along with resources I referenced.
As adults, it is so easy for us to encounter God’s creation and environmental ideas with a sense of apathy. Children, on the other hand, have a sense of wonder about creation. If they are to keep that same sense of wonder into adulthood, they need to have adults who model these attitudes. This task is not always easily accomplished. My hope is that this workshop will provide information, activities, and resources that will assist you as parents, teachers, and faith leaders to help our children and youth continue to grow in wonder and awe of all that our Creator has given to us. Continue reading Reconnecting Children to Nature