Category Archives: Teacher Training

Are You Called to Be a Catechist?

Many churches have lay people who take on the volunteer role of adult education chair, children’s ministries coordinator, or youth group leader. Some churches have the luxury (and budget) to have a staff person (clergy or lay) who hold a position that oversees formation ministries. For the most part, especially our smallest congregations and those with part-time clergy, the “task” of Christian formation is part of the priest-in-charge’s portfolio. Enter the ministry of all the baptized: How can lay people in the congregation be trained to assist the clergy in the formation of God’s people – especially in the realm of preparation for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal of Baptismal Vows? Consider discerning whether you or someone in your congregation is called to be a lay catechist.

According to the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church,

“a Catechist is a lay person authorized to prepare persons for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows, and shall function under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith” Canon 111.4.8.

Licenses for all canonical lay ministries (catechist, preacher, evangelist, worship leader, pastoral care) are issued by the bishop of one’s diocese.

I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching a course for Bexley-Seabury Seminary’s Pathways for Baptismal Living School beginning on Tuesday, April 11, 2021 for a total of seven sessions, ending on May 29 for the Catechist License. The school’s mission includes providing “life-long, life-wide & life-deep learning for ALL the baptized.” My hope is that my course will provide the tools for those who desire to “up their game” as a Christian educator of children, youth, and/or adults and ultimately, to be certified as a lay Catechist in the Episcopal Church by their bishop.

My introduction to course participants.

This seven-session blended (synchronous and asynchronous) course will prepare you to teach/form God’s people. Each week we will engage in independent study, asynchronous discussions, and live web conversations to gain comfort and confidence developing and leading formational offerings. All from the comfort of your home (or office).

SESSION 1: Theology of Formation
SESSION 2: Faith Development Across the Age Span
SESSION 3: Curriculum Development
SESSION 4: Delving Into Scripture
SESSION 5: Sacramental Preparation: Baptism
SESSION 6: Sacramental Preparation: Confirmation
SESSION 7: Putting It all Together

I’m happy to answer any questions; to set up a phone call, send me an email. And if you don’t feel called to the ministry of Lay Catechist, perhaps you are called to be an Evangelist, Preacher, or Worship Leader. Pathways for Baptismal Living has a course for you also, plus much more.

The Privilege of Teaching

https://www.flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/5623111085

I admit, while I like to plan for the future, I also look to the past. Recently I have been cleaning out boxes that have been in storage; boxes full of papers and notes from conferences and classes of years gone by. The cartons have included books, mostly old titles regarding “Religious Education,” including a number written by Dora Chaplin, a woman who paved the way for many of us Christian educators.

Dr. Chaplin, who was educated in England, taught at General Seminary from 1953 until retiring in 1971. In 1964 she was named a full professor, the first woman to become a full professor at the Episcopal seminary. Before that she was affiliated with the National Council of the Episcopal Church. She died in 1990 at the age of 84 and was a well-known writer of articles on religion and spirituality as well as the author of several books, including ”The Privilege of Teaching” (Morehouse-Barlow, 1962) and ”Children and Religion” (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948). It is of this first book noted that I would like to share some “back to the future” insights.

Written more than fifty years ago, the content of her books exhibit the language of her time: masculine language for God, women as teachers, men as ordained, and Sunday School as a growing phenomena of the Church. While today is different: inclusive language for God, women in ordained leadership, and church attendance along with Sunday School participation declining, much of her theses can still apply to today. So here are some nuggets to ponder . . . remember this was published in 1962 . . .

Continue reading The Privilege of Teaching

Calling Teachers to Teach

We all have gifts, graces, and talents given to us by God. As Christians, we are called to serve God and use these gifts, graces, and talents. Congregations would not be able to offer its programs or opportunities for ministry without volunteers. Leadership is often “tasked” with finding volunteers to serve a variety of roles, including that of teacher and mentor for children and youth. It’s not about recruiting warm bodies, it as about an invitation into ministry. Here are some tips and pointers to invite others to share their gifts through the ministries of teaching and learning in your congregation. It is a call to ministry.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37

vol·un·teern. one who chooses freely to do something vt. To offer or give of one’s own free will. vi. To offer to enter into service of one’s own free will.

Why do people volunteer?

  • They want to be needed
  • They want to help others and make a difference
  • They want to learn new skills or use skills they already have
  • They want to belong to a caring community and feel accepted as members
  • They seek self-esteem and affirmation
  • They want to grow in their faith and share their God-given gifts
  • They want to keep from being lonely
  • They want to support causes they believe in

When seeking to involve people in ministry: Continue reading Calling Teachers to Teach

A Back to Basics Q & A

Recently I have been invited to give workshops in numerous locations on the basics; the core documents and key websites that I believe anyone involved in Christian formation with children, youth, or adults needs to know about. For January’s Forma Conference workshop, I put together a handout where they are all located in one place.

But for those who want the documents with more of an explanation – here goes. Think of it as a catechism for Episcopal educators: a question with some answers. These are the questions I am frequently asked, and how I respond:

Q. What is the curriculum authorized by the Episcopal Church?

A. The Episcopal Church does not have an authorized, published curriculum for any age. If anything, all of what is taught should be based on The Baptismal Covenant and An Outline of the Faith (also known as The Catechism found in the Book of Common Prayer. However, the Episcopal Church, via a General Convention resolution and Task Force assigned for its implementation, created a seminal text: Called To Teach and Learn: A Catechetical Vision and Guide for the Episcopal Church  (1994). Every church was sent one. Many churches put them on the bookshelf or in a closet and never opened its covers. You can download it here, as well as a companion piece written by The Rev. Canon Joe Russell, Discovering Called to Teach and Learn. The Spanish version is here. Continue reading A Back to Basics Q & A

Program Year Countdown Resources

I can always tell when mid-August hits. The peepers are loud outside my windows at night and in the morning my in-box is full of queries: How do I access my curriculum subscription? Do you have a teacher commissioning service? I can’t find your planning calendar. What do you recommend for first communion instruction (with the caveat – “I know, but the parents were raised Catholic.”). The same questions appear year after year and I’ve tried to curate many of those answers within this site.

So here are some links (or documents) in one place to help finalize all those last-minute details as you prepare (or have already begun) to start your Christian education program year. Continue reading Program Year Countdown Resources