Check Out QUICKSHEETS for Youth Ministry

Do you know about the PC(USA)’s Quicksheets for Youth Ministry?  These are free downloadable resources. Download the whole series by clicking here.

The link below will take you to a Quicksheet sharing creative ways to spend some time practicing and expressing gratitude to others and God.


Donuts & Bible Study with Boys (ages 10 -12)

Donuts + Bible Study

reposted from Jason Evans’ blog

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed some of my comments about “donuts + Bible study.” It’s one of the best parts of my week. Every week, my oldest son and I gather with other boys in the neighborhood for donuts and a Bible study. At first, they asked for a Bible study on sports… that was rough. Eventually, I talked them into thinking about other stuff. They decided to study different personalities in the Bible. During Advent, we studied Jesus. We are now doing a study on Paul. In the spring, they asked to go back to Jesus. This summer, we’ll be studying Moses. Their choices.

We’ve been at this since the summer time. This last Saturday, I asked them if they wanted to keep doing this. They said that they did so I asked, “Why? What do you get out of this?” This image is what I wrote out as they responded:

With no prompting, these kids offered that they look forward to this. They said that they enjoyed being able to pray together, read the Bible together, share their thoughts about the Bible and how it makes them feel. And they felt as though they were learning something. That’s pretty much verbatim. Their words.

I really get a lot out of this group of boys between the ages of 10 and 12. They really push me. When I tell stories from our studies in sermons, it’s not to brag (well, maybe a little–I’m really proud of them). It’s simply that some of the best theology I experience comes out of their pushing and questioning. Since I do talk about this group from time to time, some folks have asked what we do: “How is it that you’re getting kids to study the Bible?!” It’s not hard. I don’t do anything special with these kids. I follow a few basic principles (most of them picked up from my friend, Neil Cole). So, here’s what I would recommend:

Eat together.
Food brings people together. Simple. They asked for donuts. I buy them donuts every week. It costs me about $6 a week.

Read together.
Everyone reads. We take a paragraph at a time and go around the room.

Focus on the stories.
Everyone enjoys stories. The Bible was not written for 21st century ears. So, I often retell the story in my own words after we read it together.

Ask questions.
We take turns being the person to ask the question after we read the story. The questions are simple: What stands out to you? What questions do you have? What did you like about this? Those simple questions typically create a 20 minute conversation. When I get asked a specific question, I tend to reply, “That’s a good question! Does anyone else have an answer?” And then I share mine. But I never hesitate to say, “I don’t know” if I don’t actually have an answer. Nobody seems to worry about this. We end our conversation with a simple question, “How should we respond to this?” That is to say, what are supposed to do with this information. Everyone responds and then…

Pray together.
We end by asking if there is anything else that we ought to pray for and then we each pray. Oh, and we always start with someone praying before we start each week. They ask everyone to share their high’s and low’s of the week, and then pray for these.

Keep it brief.
We try to keep within 30 minutes. It is Saturday after all and they want to go play as soon as possible. But this way, no one gets bored. We end while the energy and attention is high.

That’s it. Not rocket science. Simple. But really fun and fulfilling.

Lent in a Bag, Oh My!

Lent in a Bag

by Shawn Schreiner and Vicki Garvey

We have discovered that distributing small bags (cloth or ziplock bags) with symbols of the season assists individuals and families to “practice” Lent at home. Instructions, reflections (on purple paper) to go with each item, and materials are placed inside.

Attach instructions for use to the outside of the bag:

Use the contents of this bag as you wish.  Two suggestions:

  1. Choose one night of the week and invite those around your table to pick one of the symbols as a starting point for conversation for the whole group, including the children.
  2. For your own devotion daily or weekly or whatever best suits you, choose one of the symbols for your own reflection as you make your way through the season.

Inside the bag: 

Sand (in a sealable baggie)

Just between his baptism and the beginning of his adult ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days, ‘to be tested’.  What constitutes wilderness in your life?  What have you learned there?  What might you learn there?


While in the wilderness, Jesus was invited to transform stone into bread. Though he resisted the temptation there and then, he became justly renowned for feeding people hungry for food or for love or for a word of encouragement or for simple acceptance.  Might there be a stony place in you that needs transforming?  Some attitude or habit that, with a little attention, might even become a gift for you and others?

Human Figure (use a clothespin or wooden figure)

Because Jesus was, as we confess, ‘fully human’, he gets us, understands us from inside our skin, and knows from experience that we’re each capable of great things, godly things.  And no matter what we do, he keeps on inviting us to join us in his work which has become our own.  As you enter this Lent, what might you plan to do over these 40 days so that the Easter you will more closely reflect you and the Christ who lives in and through you?


Lent begins in the dimness of late winter and ends with the burst of bright spring.  Jesus is, according to John’s gospel, ‘Light of the world’ and that Light, directing his attention to his disciples and through them to us, insists: ‘You are the light of the world.  Don’t be hiding under some bushel basket.’  So where do you shine?  How do you keep your light lit?

Creating a Multi-Room Labyrinth for Lent

Reposted from

The Idea
Lent is the time for this sort of self-examination and perhaps you could set aside part of the church or a hall for a weekend for this activity at the beginning of this season of the church year.

This “labyrinth” was first devised and used on an all-age parish weekend. It is something that, once set up, can be allowed to run on its own, to be visited by individuals or groups at their convenience. The idea is to provide a way of taking time out for a spiritual check-up using the format of a visit to a health spa or gym. Clever, right? The participants go from room to room, and in each space they do an activity or reflection, connected to a Bible verse.

This activity works with children, youth, adults. The result is that participants will deepen self-understanding, have an exciting experience of prayer, learn about important Bible passages, and more!

Creating the “Rooms”
Setting up the labyrinth will need some time and thought. You will need eleven spaces at which those traveling this journey can stop, reflect and take part in a simple activity. A traditional labyrinth has these spaces on the way to and from the center of a winding path.

However, keep this simple and merely use whatever large space you have and divide it up into a series of ‘rooms’, with some partitions if possible (even just chairs) and leave enough space for up to three or four people at a time in each area.

The Rooms and the Bible Verses
The eleven ‘rooms’ and the Bible verses are as follows.

1. Safe space  – Matthew 11:28-29

2. The changing room – Hebrews 12:1

3. Personal trainer – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

4. Exercise – 1 Timothy 4:9-10

5. Diet – John 4:13-14 and John 6:35

6. The jacuzzi – Psalm 139:1-16; 23-24

7. The temple – 1 Corinthians 6:19 and Ephesians 2:22

8. Jesus on the cross – Isaiah 53:2-9

9. Jesus in majesty – Philippians 2:5-11

10. The team – Colossians 3:15 and Ephesians 4:2-3

11. The vision – Luke 4:18-19

The Directions for Each “Room”
In each room there are objects or an activity, along with instructions about what to do. The Bible verse is included in the instructions and should be read aloud. If you have the time and equipment, then recording the words on to MP3 players for individuals to use would be a great idea.

Full directions along with the objects for each location with reflections can be found here:
A Labyrinth for Lent.

Barnabas Children’s Ministry is one of the core ministries of BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) in England. As part of their ministry, they provide a growing range of resources for parents, teachers and others who work with children up to the age of 11.

Go Make Disciples – More Than Membership


 Waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. . . A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way.  (Isaiah 35:6 -9)

Why “Water Way”? 

                                         WELCOMING NEW DISCIPLES:


The Holy Spirit is calling people to come follow Christ for the first time or to be more deeply immersed in baptismal living.

The Water Way follows the spirit of the ancient Christian catechumenate, an apprenticeship in The Way of life lived by followers of Jesus Christ.

The catechumenate is not a set program, but a spiritual process to train disciples, tailored to fit questions and needs of the those whom the Lord sends to us with the resources of the church–scripture, worship, reflection, witness, and service in relationship with others in Christ.  There is no set curriculum to buy.  There is simply the Spirit and the gifts of the church.

What Is This Way of Discipling?  

What Is the Catechumenate? This way of making disciples is an intentional one that invites people into the faith journey and walks with them from where they are to help them become immersed, or more deeply immersed, in the river of life.

To introduce the catechumenal Water Way,  see this informational PowerPoint introduction. You will find the notes on the slides helpful as you share this with others in your church.

Attentive to movements of the Spirit, the Water Way progresses through stages of faith’s formation that are like those of any relationship:

The church celebrates and marks passage on this journey with certain rites in worship that signify how important baptismal living is to the Christian faith.

The Water Way is not a set program that runs people through its course like a new members’ class.  It realizes and works with how faith is formed–in a way that meanders and plunges like a river across the trajectory of one’s life. Companions along the way serve as guides, though, to help people along faith’s journey toward more faithful living.

Because this way of making disciples is attentive and intentional in the Holy Spirit, the entire church becomes transformed as it lives out Christ’s great commission to make disciples, baptize and teach them how to live in accord with God’s life-giving way in the world.

Interested in Learning More?

Get a copy of the book Go Make Disciples: An Invitation to Baptismal Living.  This is an easy-to-read guide helpful for starting this practice of ancient wisdom for today’s church.

Because the catechumenate is not a ready-made program, but a process tailored to fit those the Spirit brings us, the best way to learn about how to do a catechumenate is from other people who are doing it.  Get a group of interested people in your church to come to a training event sponsored by the North American Association for the Catechumenate, Portsmouth, Va., September 25-27, 2014.

Let’s Try a Spiritual Arts Camp

Spiritual arts camp nurtures children’s faith

RePosted: 21 Jan 2015 1:44 ET

Every summer, children, from ages 8 to 12, in Manhasset, Long Island, open their hearts and minds to God’s love and beauty through fun and by engaging artistic exploration. Christ Episcopal Church, in partnership with its neighbor, The Community Reformed Church, provides this spiritual arts camp to underserved communities on Long Island each summer free of charge.

The five-day program blends Bible stories, storytelling, multicultural fables and ancient myths with various forms of art and theatrical activities to explore a spiritual theme that nurtures children’s faith and deepens their relationship with God.

Using structured activities and free exploration, along with joyful conversation and laughter, we encourage imagination and curiosity, expand the art of collaboration, and inspire self-confidence, authenticity and personal growth.

The spiritual arts camp is limited to 20 children, to allow us to provide an experience that offers personal and loving attention to each child. In all of our activities, we value inspired learning, fun, compassion, safety and excellence.

The children are in activities from 8:30 a.m. to noon. each day. Their morning starts with an opening prayer and group song, dance or game that welcomes them into the creative space. This is followed by three artistic sessions, each building on the other. The first hour focuses on the chosen spiritual theme, using unique storytelling formats and multi-sensory materials. Our spiritual theme is reinforced with an engaging lesson and group discussion.

For the final two sessions, we welcome art professionals, theater artists and special guests, who bring their gifts and life experience to the camp to further explore the spiritual theme in unique and creative ways.

The first session includes a theater arts experience: storytelling, improvisational drama, puppetry, movement, and music, to name a few. The last session of the day is dedicated to making art: Painting, sculpture, arts and crafts, collage, mixed media and drawing are all part of the program. No limits are placed on the children’s artistic expression.

This past summer, the camp focused on the spiritual theme, God’s Great World, as described in Nehemiah 9:6: You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

We explored the world as a creative celebration, deepening our appreciation and connection to all of the beauty and wonder: earth, wind, water, flowers, trees, animals, and most importantly, each other!

We made art with an amazing variety of materials, from arts and crafts, drawing, painting and collage supplies; items from nature; recycled materials; everyday objects and even trash. Everything was included as we explored how to care for and live more fully in this remarkable world, knowing that we are God’s greatest creation!

Lesley Mazzotta is director of spiritual formation at Christ Episcopal Church and Community Reformed Church in Manhasset, NY.

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Signs of God the Creator in Faith Formation Spaces

Key Resources

Emphasizing God the Creator in Christian formation spaces

Reposted: 14 Jan 2015 – PST by Cynthia Coe

Look at any Sunday School room, and you will likely see symbols of the Christian faith, such as crosses, stories of Jesus’ teachings in various formats, maybe even pictures of eucharistic bread and baptismal water. But a huge part of our faith – the belief in God the Creator – is often missing from our Christian formation programs.

Creation is a continuing process, not just something that happened way back in the first few chapters of Genesis. All of life is in a continuous state of transformation. As humans we are a part of our world and interact with it constantly.

We are not just stewards of our environment; we are players in the environment. Nature affects us, and we affect nature. As Christians, we believe that God the Creator made all of nature and the marvelous processes of life around us.

But are we teaching the concept of God as Creator in our Christian formation programs? Where do children and youth see visible signs and symbols of God the Creator? How do we incorporate stewardship of our environment in our teachings?

An easy first step towards bringing the concept of God as Creator to people is updating the furnishings in Sunday School rooms. Are these rooms full of objects and materials created solely by people? Do we illustrate our respect for God’s creations by including nature in our spaces?

As a Christian educator, one of my favorite tasks in preparing for weekly lessons was the early Sunday morning process of putting out flowers and water for young children to use in their Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. The time spent in quiet, fairly mindless labor helped me to spiritually prepare myself to minister to the children.

Before we started any of the lessons, children would arrange flowers in small vases and put them on the prayer table. Others would water and prune plants that lived in pots around the room. Time with plants calmed the children, preparing them to listen attentively to lessons themselves.

Adding plants and flowers to a Sunday School room is an easy way to introduce to children a sense of awe and wonder in God’s creation. Even the smallest flower is an object of beauty more delicate and well-designed than anything we could create ourselves.

Plants not only supply life-giving oxygen, but also make us more in tune with the natural world. If we bring plants and flowers into our Sunday School rooms—a relatively inexpensive undertaking—we can set an example of care and appreciation of the natural world for our children. We can also illustrate the continuing work of God in creation in our world, bringing to life the scripture and theology of Genesis.

Cynthia Coe (@CynthiaCoe) is Environmental Stewardship Fellow of The Episcopal Church, an active member of Forma, and former Director of Children’s Ministries at Church of the Ascension, Knoxville.

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