As 2015 comes to an end, I thought it would be interesting to see what articles I either shared or bookmarked for further reading and study that related to the changing landscape of Christian formation in the Church. In the past I have written about trends and the future, with my five-part series, Christian Formation in a Changing Church getting a lot of traction from readers. What have others been writing about this year that informs where our focus could (or should) be in 2016? Where does our attention need to be focused? Check out some of these articles:
A new ministry structure experiment at Olivet United Church of Christ in Lino Lakes, MN was shared by Faith Formation Director Amber Espinoza on Vibrant Faith. It involves ending classroom-based Christian education, toys in the atrium (aka Narthex in Episcopal circles), the integration of children in worship, and family retreats.
The Confirmation Project is a five-denomination study that has taken place over the past few years looking at best practices of confirmation preparation in our churches. Here is their latest webinar, in which Lisa Kimball (Virginia Seminary) and Terri Elton (Luther Seminary) share their insights from the study. Basically, Confirmation is just one of many important aspects of youth formation. It is an opportunity to bring young people along into a life long journey of faith. And it’s important that once confirmed, the relationships continue post-confirmation and the community continues to support them in faith. Continue reading 2015: Top Formation Trends & Articles
I’ve prayed. I’ve preached. I’ve written (and called) to my state and national representatives. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve shared articles on social media (and have gotten flak from some as well as thumbs up from others). I’ve changed my profile picture. I’ve given workshops. I’ve even compiled a book of terrific essays with my suggested process of how individuals and groups can act for change (Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: Challenging the Epidemic of Gun Violence). I’ve tried to engage others in conversation – not about rights, but about safety. I’ve really tried to act – what more can I do?
I don’t own a gun. I don’t hunt. I never have. I never will. When my children were growing up we were a “Gun Toy Free Zone.” I got flak for that, too, from other parents. The closest I’ve come to using a weapon is shooting an arrow at a target. Yes, I have used my hands and my voice as a weapon. And I’m not proud of that.
Many, including me, are saying “enough.” And many are saying “pray” – as in my prayers are for ….. (fill in the blank). Are the two connected? In this season of Advent, we await the coming of Emmanuel – God with us. But for many, Advent is the season to shop, filling our carts with more stuff – when we have enough while others in our cities and world don’t have enough. What does it mean to prepare a room in our heart for the love that is to come? It is hard when our news feed (no matter how or where we get it) is filled with vitriol, death, blood, fear, and the loss of innocence. Lives lost. Hope snuffed out. For some a promise and future that no longer will be. Continue reading Are Prayers Enough?
This is the fifth part of a series of posts stemming from a presentation I did at the 3rd Annual “Spring Training for God’s Mission” Day 2015 for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, March 21, 2015. Read Part 1: How Did We Get Here? and Part 2: Today’s Context and Part 3: A New Ecosystem and Part 4: Nurturing Networks
Part Five: Where Do We Go From Here?
Over the past several days I’ve outlined the history of Sunday Schools, the context of the world in which we find ourselves today (very much like the early Church), the emerging ecosystem which requires us to focus our energies in new directions as well as creative ways, and how technology has opened up opportunities for personalization and customization of program delivery. But tapping into technology to solve the concerns we have is not the answer. Hybrid networks and models may assist us in counteracting what some headlines proclaim, such as “Is the Sunday School Doomed?” but we shouldn’t put all our prayers into that basket.
The Sunday School is not doomed, but if we continue to develop our programs for children, youth, and adults on the pedagogy of the 19th and 20th century, we are dooming ourselves.
What IS working in formation today in our churches? Plenty. Continue reading Christian Formation in a Changing Church: Part 5
There are plenty of great ideas created by others for delving deeper into the meaning of Lent and making a space at home and church for reflecting on this penitential season. Here are some of my favorites!
Lent in a Bag by Shawn Schreiner and Vicki Garvey involves distributing small bags (cloth, paper, or ziplock bags) with symbols of the season to assist individuals and families in practicing Lent at home. In addition to the items, you can include instructions, and reflections (on purple paper of course) to go with each item.
Lenten Giving Calendar for 2015 from Jenifer Gamber offers a colorful poster to download and print (free!). Jenifer shares, this Lenten Giving Calendar is an opportunity to practice the act of giving. Each day the calendar invites you to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s abundance in your life and return that abundance in gratitude as a gift of pennies, nickels, and quarters to others. This Lent, let’s clean house, replacing habits that keep us from new life in Christ to a practice of gratitude and giving. Continue reading More Links for Lent
I’ve been an acolyte since I was sixteen-years-old. I wanted to become one sooner, but being a girl, I had to wait until a priest would allow anyone of the female persuasion to serve behind the altar rail, in the holy of holies. I was trained, and overly trained, as my mentor (who became a bishop) wanted to make sure I knew EVERYTHING so as not to give anyone an inch of an excuse to say a girl couldn’t perform this ministry. So I can tell you the difference between the gospel and epistle side, what candles are lit first (and in what order) and what candles get extinguished first. I know what a credence table is, the different between a flagon and a cruet, and the use (and meaning) of a lavabo bowl and towel.
I eventually ‘graduated’ to serving as a minister of communion, aka LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister), but find my training as an acolyte has informed every ministry I have had on the altar – preacher, bishop’s chaplain, and LEM, including taking on the role of crucifer, torchbearer, or altar preparer. And now I and my husband are privileged to train a whole new generation of acolytes. Continue reading Life as an Acolyte