World Communion Sunday Resources

World Communion Sunday is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2015.

Here are a few ideas to use during worship:

  • Bake a loaf of bread that morning in the sanctuary, so the smell of fresh bread permeates the worship space.  Our sense of smell is strongly connected to memory.
  • Purchase an appropriate number of world beach balls (Oriental Trading – http://www.orientaltrading.com/inflatable-world-globes-a2-49_1290.fltr?prodCatId=552882+1527 ).  During the anthem or special music, hand out the beach balls to the congregation and ask that they pass the beach balls along, pausing to hold the ball and say a quick prayer that the bread  & cup of communion will nourish their lives enabling them to share God’s hope, peace, and  love to the world.  If you are brave, during the postlude, invite members to gently bounce the beach balls into the air around the congregation.
  • Use the world beach balls during the children’s sermon then invite the children pass the balls throughout the congregation asking folks to thank God for the church world-wide and all our partners around the world in Christ’s service.
  • Find World Communion Sunday suggestions from Carolyn Brown’s “Worshipping with Children” blog – http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2011/09/year-proper-22-27th-sunday-in-ordinary.html
  • Use the 2 lesson curriculum “Touch the Water, Taste the Bread” by Daphna L. Flegal the week before & day of Communion Sunday. This is a study on baptism & communion for children. 3 lessons on baptism and 2 on communion. Find this resource in the attached document.
  • Belonging to God: Catechism Resources for Worship from the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship provides an invitation to the Lord’s Table and the Great Thanksgiving prayer that includes children (readers) with questions on the pattern of the Passover Seder.  This book is available for you to borrow in Presbytery’s Resource Center.                                                                                                                       I’d love to hear about the creative ways your congregation observes World Communion Sunday.

Teens, School, & Technology

Check out this information (published in Note to Self).  Some of it might be helpful for parents of teens & some might provide tools for adults working with teens?

So adults have a steep learning curve when it comes to kids in the digital age. The best way to start understanding what’s happening? Talk with them.

To that end, we’re revisiting a conversation from earlier this year that kicked off a series on education and technology. Meet 16-year-old Grace, who shared nine lessons about being a teenager with a smartphone.

Middle school teacher Dierdre Shetler took the conversation with Grace and adapted it for her own classrooms in Phoenix. She helped us write a curriculum you can use too, which we call: A Classroom Activity for Tweens and Teens Everywhere.

The link below shares more resources for a critical, thoughtful school year.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/back-school-guide-technology/

Another helpful article “What Parents Wish Teens Understood about Social Media and Vice-versa” can be found on MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s blog – The Blue Room –

http://theblueroomblog.org/what-parents-wish-teens-understood-about-social-media-and-vice-versa/

Does your church have a technology policy?

Has your youth group created some tech guidelines for their times together?

Children and Family Resources

Posted from list provided in an email from                                                                         Bruce & Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Co-Pastors Limestone Presbyterian Church         3201 Limestone Road Wilmington, Delaware 19808 USA Email:  bcgillette@comcast.net

Consider getting these resources for your personal library, church library and donating to your public library (great outreach to have your church on the donor bookplate in the library copy).  See excerpts from the books online at the Amazon links. The resources marked with (*) are available for members of the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina to borrow from the Resource Center. Contact kayebledsoe@presbycc.org .

Youth confirmation as a catalyst for congregational development

Reposted: 24 Sep 2015 –

by, Dr. Lisa Kimball is Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership and Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at VTS.

In late July, I stood up in front of a packed house at the Rethinking Confirmation conference and made some bold claims. When we, church leaders, believe confirmation really matters – because something profound actually happens in young confirmands’ lives – disciples are formed, we are changed, and the Body of Christ is more fully aligned with the mission of God.

You can watch the presentation here:

I am seeing a fascinating parallel between indicators of healthy congregations and qualities of robust, transformational youth confirmation programs. Yes, healthy, well-resourced congregations are more likely to prioritize resources for youth ministry, but not all of those congregations have vital confirmation programs. Some big church programs are boring, and some tiny, struggling churches are changing lives … it’s all about intentionality and relationships.

One thing everyone can agree on is that the old metric for measuring congregational health: “bottoms in the pews” and “dollars in the plate,” is insufficient. Numbers and money do not tell the real story about whether a congregation is doing the vital work of making disciples and equipping them to join God’s mission. But the debates continue about exactly how to measure vitality, and even more importantly about what the essential ingredients are for a congregation to flourish.

An important discovery from our Confirmation Project site visits is that when congregations take youth discipleship seriously, the adults who lead and mentor become more fully engaged in their own discipleship. Congregations become dynamic systems of intergenerational learning and ministry, helping people of all ages grow in their relationship with God, their relationship with neighbor, and their ability to articulate their Christian conviction. Confirmation practiced with care is so much more than “getting kids done,” or formalizing adult membership.

Here are twelve marks of healthy church behavior compiled by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. They describe churches that are responsive and adaptive, and a whole lot like the healthy confirmation programs we’ve been visiting:

  • Worships
  • Knows itself and moves forward
  • Invites, incorporates
  • Disciples
  • Lives as stewards
  • Empowers
  • Cares
  • Reaches out
  • Fosters a learning culture for leaders
  • Manages conflict
  • Connected to the greater church

It may turn out that presenting a tired congregation with the challenge to provide a meaningful confirmation preparation process for its young people is just the kind of catalyst needed for renewal of mission. Even more than youth ministry as a whole, confirmation is a recognized and bounded dimension of lifelong and life-wide Christian formation. It is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a regular self-assessment about whose we are and to what we are called. Confirmation done well is an “all hands on deck” enterprise, a dynamic ecology of supports and opportunities surrounding a three-fold movement: renunciation, commitment, and community response.

Let us take the gift that is the inherited tradition of confirmation and recognize it for what it is: an opportunity for our congregations to invest fully in an intentional process of faith intensification with young people. And I have a strong hunch that our congregations will thrive.

Dr. Lisa Kimball is Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership and Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at VTS.

The post Youth confirmation as a catalyst for congregational development appeared first on Key Resources.

What! Sunday School on Tuesday Night? – The Experiment

 Reposted – Sept. 24, 2015 from Hope4CE –

by Amanda Steyer, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Thomaston, CT

We arrive at church for “Sunday School” early. While I assemble two large salads, my children set up for our feast. The scent of pizza wafts through the door ahead of the steaming boxes. People of all ages gather in a circle to share laughter, prayer, and grace. Tuesday Night Sunday School begins.

It started out as an experiment. Sunday School teachers were difficult to find. Parents were choosing between dropping children off for Sunday School and attending worship, as doing both seemed too time consuming. We wanted worship to be the family focus on Sundays.

Sunday School was banished from Sunday mornings, participation by parents or guardians insisted upon. Amidst skepticism from Church Council members, Tuesday Night Sunday School was born.

Steyer TNSS Picture 3

After sharing a meal, the lesson begins, perhaps involving a skit, a song or a short video. Always, we — families, singles, couples, and friends — learn together. Each lesson, planned during a monthly meeting of the TNSS Planning Team and taught by our Pastor, Planning Team members or guests, is based on the theme chosen during the summer. This allows us to tailor lessons to fit our group’s needs.

Some evenings lead us to the Sanctuary for a quieter lesson and another Meal. Sharing Communion among this tapestry of people is a reminder of how blessed we are to be part of God’s family. Many can’t make it to worship on Sundays, making these nights even more special for some.

We end each night as we started, in a circle, this time passing a blessing from person to person as we make a sign of the cross on their foreheads, “Child of God, Jesus loves you and so do I!”

Steyer TNSS Featured

It began as an experiment. Now, in our fifteenth year, we can call it a success.

Amanda Steyer, Tuesday Night Sunday School Planning Team,                                                        Our Savior Lutheran Church, Thomaston, CT

Experimenting with Christian Education

Update from the Research Front: You won’t believe what is happening  – Vibrant Faith

Because we know that learning is only one aspect of spiritual care and nurture for children, we will experiment with a new ministry structure designed to provide meaningful experiences for children and youth in worship, community, learning, service, witness, and care.

When they started, they knew that intergenerational relationships mattered for spiritual care and nurture, and that was where they had to begin. Yes, it was this simple, and yet for many of you, it will be this difficult. Using the Vibrant Faith Research process, Amber and her team assessed the specific nature of intergenerational relationships at her congregation by both first listening and paying attention to their gifts as a congregation.   Based on the findings, they implemented four specific experiments.

Experiment #1: Ending classroom-based Christian education

Amber’s church was one of the many churches throughout the country that struggle to keep classroom-based education going, so they stopped trying. Instead, they put their energy into activities that could nurture relationships, which were the next three experiments.

Experiment #2: Toys in the atrium

Amber and her team brought nursery toys into the atrium where all the adults stand and have coffee after church. And it happened. Families with kids stayed and played. And there were all kinds of new conversations that happened between kids and adults. And there were adults playing legos with kids instead of talking with other adults about football or the weather. This didn’t happen just once. It became a part of their church life together.

Experiment #3: Integrate children into worship

Amber and her team created bags for each child in the church. In the bags are journals and a variety of other items that children can use to “create.” The items get changed up regularly, and are loaded weekly with “prompts” to help children engage the story. Each week, during worship, all children are invited up to the front, and Amber or another adult tells the story. This is the same story that the rest of the congregation is listening to and working on that day. The children go back to their seats, and are invited by the prompts in their bag to get into the story in any of the creative ways that they choose. The children are also asked to share what they made or thought about with one other adult after the service. The sharing is facilitated by the presence of the toys in the atrium, creating an atmosphere of intergenerational conversation. Adults have shared with Amber that they have never had the kinds of conversations about the sermon or Bible Stories that they are now regularly having with kids after church!

photoExperiment #4: Family Retreat

This summer, at the Family Retreat, two girls shared what this process has become for them by telling about this picture and Haiku that they had journaled about after hearing the story of the burning bush.  Together, they read what they had written.  “Burning and alive.  You must let go to come in. And believe in God.”  The girls said, “We listen, and God gives us words.”

We at Vibrant Faith are so excited about the bold and effective changes that Amber and her team have implemented in their congregation. If this sounds like something that you might be interested in, learn more about our action research process. 

Interactive Prayer Stations on Creation & Community (Genesis 2)

Reposted  – · ·

 18 Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.” (Genesis 2.15)

Below are ideas for interactive prayer stations focusing on the creation story and how we are created to be in community.

Genesis 2 is God creating human (‘adam) and finding the perfect compliment to the ‘adam. After naming all the living creatures, still no perfect compliment was found, so God put ‘adam to sleep and fashioned another – someone that would be compatible. In Kevin Ford’s “Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great,” he refers to the creation story to explain how “we were made then to be creative within the context of life in community. Relationships inspire us to create, and creativity happens best in the context of relationships. We cannot be genuinely creative outside of community with creativity. God calls us to “creating community.”

As a step in creating community in church, Ford quotes sociologist Ray Oldenburg from his book “Celebrating the Third Place.” In it, he suggests that “the lack of casual relationships puts too much strain on family and work relationships. First place is home. Second place is the workplace. Third place is where casual relationships occur. Sometimes it’s a coffee shop.” Sometimes it’s at the gym. Sometimes it’s in the elevator. Sometimes it is right after worship during coffee fellowship hour. Oldenburg says that not every relationship must involve a deep connection with another person. “The development of casual relationships is every bit as important. The concept of third place is one where people have a place to hang out, meet new friends, and talk with old friends. Small talk is not unimportant talk – it is an essential part of community. That is the purpose and mission of the church – to be a third place – help strangers make new friends and provide a place where old friends can catch up.” Especially in a transient city like San Francisco, where I live, how more important is it to have a place where people of faith can connect with one another. It is what God created us to do. It is how God created us to be.

As an attempt to invite worshipers to explore the third place, these prayer stations were designed and inspired by Soul Pancake. One of the many things Soul Pancake does is create these third places for people to find a connection.

Interactive Stations:

#1 – Common Prayers

#2 – Flying Prayers

#3 – Words to Live By

Find Rev. Cho’s complete blog with videos and details at http://theresaecho.com/2015/09/14/interactive-prayer-stations-on-creation-community-gen-2/