For a long time the Church has shared Bible stories with children that have included someone else’s moral or theological interpretation. In truth, the Bible has always been used to teach children right from wrong and the Golden Rule. In some part, this has lead to a generation of children (and adults) who are really moralistic therapeutic deists. Thankfully there are other opportunities to engage children IN the biblical story without adding our own interpretation or the “correct” answers as to why God did this or that. We the advent of Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we know the importance of open-ended questions, wondering, and allowing children to experience the stories of God with their heart before their head.Continue reading Biblical Story Making
From time to time the Forma Facebook Group has a post from someone (clergy, youth minister, Christian educator) who is asking if anyone has a “rubric” for what children should learn in each year of “Sunday School” (or whatever you call it). I don’t want to disparage anyone who asks such a question; we live in a culture of moving from one milestone to another and having to “prove ourselves” in our accomplishments – especially if you want to “move on” to the next step, phase, class, or even graduate with that degree. And often employment, promotion, or a raise is determined by our success. But honestly, this question drives me nuts.
For those of you who have known me for years, I get this sort of question all the time. What curriculum should we be using? What should we be teaching? What does the Church (in my case, the Episcopal Church) say we need to teach? To that I always answer, “There is no one answer. Tell me about your context.” What would Jesus say? “Love one another.”
I don’t want to rehash my mantra here. (I’m saving that for other subsequent posts in the coming weeks as I dig through old boxes of books, articles, and research papers written.) But I will share what I have learned in my 40 years of ministry – benchmarks don’t form disciples of Christ.Continue reading Benchmarks for Christians
It its 79th General Convention held in July 2018, the Episcopal Church passed 19 resolutions related to care of the environment and climate change. Many resolutions cite their strong theological basis in their first paragraph(s). A013 begins, “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we recognize that the Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24), has been made in and through Christ (John 1) and we are placed in it as a garden planet (Genesis 2).” Similarly, A018 connects climate change to Christian mission and ethics: “Resolved, that climate change be recognized as a human-made threat to all God’s people, creatures and the entire created order, while particularly placing unjust and inequitable burdens and stresses on native peoples, those displaced by environmental change, poor communities and people of color.”
How are we to implement such resolutions in our churches and homes, let alone our national government? For one, the Episcopal Church has a government relations office that can help lobby for the care of creation. In our congregations, we can talk the time to study the issues, understand what we have the power to do and change, then plan a course of action. Below are resources that you may want to consider in your planning for the upcoming program year.
For children: Continue reading Care of Creation
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
A long time ago (early 90’s in Indianapolis?) I heard my first Godly Play story. I was sitting on the floor in a circle with others, listening to Jerome Berryman tell the Parable of the Good Shepherd. It changed my way of sharing the biblical story with children, as well as youth and adults. Since then, I’ve attended (and organized) numerous trainings and workshops to dig deeper and sharpen my skills. And while I don’t have a Godly Play room in which to practice, I have many of the artifacts carefully stored in large containers in my basement to be at the ready whenever called upon to tell as story with the children (or in a sermon) at my home congregation. (You can view my telling of the Faces of Easter here).
Most recently, I’ve been shepherding the revisions and expansions to The Complete Guide to Godly Play (Volumes 2, 3, and 4 thus far) as an editor with Church Publishing. It’s a privilege to work with the leadership of the Godly Play Foundation in providing these updated books and stories. The revisions include new stories (Volume 2: The Holy Bible; Volume 3: Side-by-Side Parable and Making Silence; Volume 4: Saul Changes), many new illustrations, and updated language to all the stories to reflect feedback from Godly Play trainers and storytellers. Continue reading Godly Play: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow