Churches have a variety of understanding as to what constitutes “youth.” For some this incorporates all ministry with those under 18 years of age (in High School and below). For others, it means teenagers. And there is a huge disparity in the attention span, interests, physical development, and maturity between a 13-year-old (Middle Schooler) and 18-year-old (soon-to-graduate High Schooler). Add the new label of a Tween (older elementary / early Middle School) individual who is living in two worlds – one of a child and one of a teen; an “in-between-er.”
There are a variety of curricular programs and resources for all of these age levels. But it takes an astute volunteer or youth leader to know the different needs of each group and how best to minister with them.
Recently someone posted a request on the Forma Facebook Group page for ideas as to where one might go to receive further training or continuing education in youth ministry. And of course, there was an abundance of suggestions. So, with thanks to all those folks, here are the organizations and conferences they’ve listed, plus a few that I’m aware of: Continue reading Youth Ministry Training
A sermon preached at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas on Sunday, September 13, 2015.
Proper 19, Year B:
Isaiah 50:4-9 James 3:1-12 Mark 8:27-38
I’ll admit – I’m a Broadway musical junkie. And for the past few weeks in listening to the Letter from James all I hear in my head is Eliza Doolittle singing,
Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through; first from him, now from you!
Is that all you blighters can do?
We are inundated with words. Words from politicians, words from individuals who feel they represent us, words from people seeking justice, words from people seeking help. Words telling us what to do and what to believe. Words telling us we are right, telling us we are wrong.
Words are important. They often define who we are, where we come from, and what we are feeling. Words have power. Whoever invented the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” never had a bully taunt them, a parent scold him, a fiancée break an engagement, or a doctor give her a cancer diagnosis. Words cut deep.
And we hear words in church. God’s Word – and words from those who seek to help us recognize a connection between the Gospel and our lives. Continue reading Words! Words! Words!
I have written about the VUCA World since attending a conference many years ago (Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes) that featured Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future. His research and predictions struck a chord with me and I continue to be reminded of his predictions as they are being lived out today – even though he spoke of these issues emerging in the future. The future is just as much a part of our past and present as they will be fifty or one hundred years from now.
Redding Voice offers a good overview at New Leadership Skills:
Bob also spoke about his earlier book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present – look for what you have in common, not what you are polarized about. The Book of Provocation, written for the Episcopal Church, is a product of IFTF and CEEP. Bob said “Faith will live in the space between judging too soon and deciding too late.” The Book of Provocation highlights 15 sources of provocation for the Episcopal Church from the custom ten year forecast map. For each provocation the author suggests dilemmas that are likely to be raised for Episcopal churches if this forecast comes to pass, as well as discerning questions for church members to consider.
This VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) can also lead to opportunities (vision, understanding, clarity, and agility) in the present moment. Several polarities are being lived out in our country today that he names: the Rich/Poor Gap, Polarizing Extremes, and Urban Wilderness.
As we have watched young black men die and our cities have been filled with events of violence, hatred, and polarity the Church has again named the sin of racism that is alive and well in our society. At the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, three resolutions were put forth regarding resources for discussing racism and anti-racism training. And funding was provided for the creation of new resources in the triennial budget.
But what about now? What is available for our congregations to delve into this fall as a new program year arrives? Here are a few that are available to begin the conversation, according to each resolution: Continue reading Resources for Discussing Racism
Over the next several days and posts, I will share a presentation given at the 3rd Annual “Spring Training for God’s Mission” Day 2015 for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, March 21, 2015.
How Did We Get Here?
The world around us is changing – is our church changing for the context in which we now find ourselves? However, we must remember that the gospel message has not changed at all – but how we share it and the methods we use to engage others in following The Way needs to meet people where they are – children, youth, and adults. In order to understand where we need to go, we need to understand why we do what we do today and where we have come from.
A little history . . . since the time of Christ there have been times of transition that influenced and were influenced by theology and educational praxis (how we learn and practice) of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus: (1) Apostolic Age – first four centuries – disciples went forth into communities to share the gospel in a world that did not know Christ; (2) Christendom – 4th→10th/11th centuries – Christianity became part of the “state”; (3) Middle Ages in which the Church, as an institution, held a monopoly on the gospel that left lay people “in the dark” → leading to the Reformation, a transitional time of being drawn back to the roots of Christianity for the people; (4) Modernity [the Age of Reason when answers were sought to all questions] – 17th→20th century; and Post-Modernity = Today. And we are in yet another transitional time. Read more: Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence. Continue reading Christian Formation in a Changing Church: Part 1
I spent the last few days of January in Houston, Texas attending Forma‘s 18th Annual Conference. It was a jam-packed few days filled with excellent workshops, outstanding speakers, and (most importantly for me) a chance to network and learn from colleagues from across the United States (and beyond) about new ideas, joys, and struggles in the world of lifelong Christian formation in the Episcopal Church.
There have been several Forma members who have shared their perspective of the event that you can read, including Kyle Oliver of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Seminary who wrote about keynoter Brene Brown’s keynote. For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Brown, it’s best to view her TED Talk regarding vulnerability. The best summary I can give of her amazing talk was what I put out on Twitter during the presentation (@rowsofsharonp). All her quotes:
- I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for Christian formation.
- If you want to form people with god you need to inspire them
- fear + anxiety + shame = scarcity
- The casualty of fear and scarcity is faith
- We can be a place that doesn’t offer certainty but that offers love
- Leading from scarcity moves people away.
- How many of you have a gratitude practice?
- how many of you incorporate gratitude practices into your ministry?
- Knowledge is only rumor until you live it in your bones
- Children need a place of belonging that is not school
- It is our job – formation folk – is to accept ppl for who they are and offer a space to belong
- I’ve never been asked to choose intellect over faith in the Episcopal Church
- Shame only works when you feel you’re alone. Embrace empathy.
- Our kids are desperate for boundaries.
- Difference between entitlement and privilege is gratitude
- Hopelessness + shame = violence. We need to cultivate hope and offer an alternative.
Continue reading The Art of Forming Faithful People: Forma 2015