Category Archives: Youth Ministry

A Christian Educator’s Guide to Liturgical Planning

Liturgy is formation. We learn how to pray by praying. We learn Bible stories by hearing and reading them. We learn about community by worshiping together. We learn the traditions of the Church by being present as they are celebrated. We learn the rhythms of the Christian year by watching the “colors” change with the liturgical seasons and the prayers that set the tone of the season.

Soon we will begin a new (secular) year. We already began a new (sacred) year several weeks ago on the First Sunday of Advent. How do we help all ages live into sacred time instead of the secular patterns that we follow (and is forced upon us) in the culture in which we live?

We practice. We remember. We slow down. And perhaps we focus on what we do on Sundays when we are gathered for worship and education – forming ourselves into Christians who are of this world but strive for more.

Every week (toward the beginning) I look ahead to what the coming Sunday will bring. What lessons will I be hearing in church? What is the season and its themes? Are there ways to make them relevant to children, youth, and adults – each in an age appropriate way? Hopefully during preaching and the “education hour” there is time to put things in context. Hopefully there is a reason the lesson or story you are sharing in Church School is connected to the season or the Gospel. You don’t need to be using a lectionary-based curriculum (although that helps), but the biblical stories we share need to make a connection to where we are in God’s world (and “time”) today. And that takes planning. Continue reading A Christian Educator’s Guide to Liturgical Planning

The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell

As many of you know, I have spent a good deal of my ministry in a variety of settings researching, writing, and advocating for (or against) the rite of Confirmation. It has not that I have been opposed to this sacramental rite in which many have called a “sacrament in search of a meaning,” but that I have been critical of how we (in The Episcopal Church specifically) have been preparing teenagers (and even adults) in making that reaffirmation of their baptismal promises.

When working with congregations and their youth preparing for confirmation, it had been my experience that a majority of the young people were less than enthusiastic about meeting on a regular basis for “preparation” and many were only present because their parents “made them come.” And after receiving the laying-on-of-hands by a bishop, these same young people rarely came back, having finished their formation and requirements to be a “Christian.” And those faith statements that often began with, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe we are supposed to be good people”: The whole moralistic therapeutic deism piece explained in the research of Christian Smith. Isn’t Confirmation supposed to be one’s reaffirmation in the belief that Christ is their Lord and Savior and they will follow him as a disciple for the rest of their life? A tough statement that may not be so developmentally appropriate for a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. Continue reading The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell

2017-2018 Planning Calendars

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

2017 Curriculum Overview Charts

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

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 . . .