Lenten Study Suggestions

Churches who are members of the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina may borrow these resources from Presbytery of Coastal Carolina’s Resource Center.

Contact kayebledsoe@presbycc.org or 910-862-8300, ext. 209 for more information.


Illuminating Lent by Donald K. McKim – Illuminating Lent deepens faith and enhances knowledge through the exploration of the Lord’s Prayer. Each of the six sessions examines a part of the prayer, its theological understandings, and what it means for Reformed Christians in practical ways during Lent. Leader’s guide and participant book.

Session 1: Introducing Lent

Session 2: Upward: What We Do for God – Glorify God

Session 3: Inward: What God Does In Us- Communion with God

Session 4: Downward: What God Gives to Us

Session 5: Forward: Where God Leads Us – Discipleship

Session 6: Onward: What God Will Do – Resurrection Hope

Who Is This Man?, by John Ortberg – In this 5-session, DVD-based study, Ortberg shows how Jesus’ influence has swept over history, bringing his inspiration to the fields of art, science, government, medicine, and education. And how his vision for us to lead lives of dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope continues to inspire and challenge humanity today. The study guide features video notes, group discussion questions, informative quotes, and ideas for personal application.

Session Titles:

  1. The Man Who Won’t Go Away
  2. A Revolution of Humanity
  3. The Power of Forgiveness
  4. Why It’s a Small World After All
  5. Three Days That Changed the World

The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus, by Adam Hamilton – Join Adam Hamilton in the Holy Land as he explores the life and ministry of Jesus in this DVD study of six sessions plus epilogue. Using videos shot on location, Hamilton takes you to the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized and the wilderness where he was tempted. Leader’s guide is included.

1- Baptism and Temptation

2- The Healing Ministry

3 – Proclaiming the Kingdom

4 – Calming the Storm

5 – Sinners, Outcasts, and the Poor

6 – The Final Week

This study has a separate children’s and youth study component.

What Wondrous Love Is – Six DVD sessions each approximately 7 minutes long. Every chapter features the reading of a passage of scripture, commentary by the scholars, and a Swanson work of art based on that passage. . The folk hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This?” which serves as the accompanying musical theme, is sung by award-winning Celtic vocalist Connie Dover.                                         

 Embracing Forgiveness – DVD based – In five lively, engaging presentations, Episcopal priest, author, and spiritual director Barbara Cawthorne Crafton shares stories and insights on forgiveness, what it is (and isn’t!), its potential for healing and restoration, why it’s so badly needed (both personally and corporately), and, how employing simple, concrete practices can more fully integrate forgiveness into our lives. Moving, challenging, and extremely helpful, this video/workbook combination provides any small group with the tools to learn to forgive! Barbara combines a passion for the arts with a life of faith. Her books, articles, and radio scripts have won many awards, including numerous Polly Bond Awards from Episcopal Communicators and the coveted Gabriel Award for religious broadcasting. Session titles: 1: Seventy Times Seven: Really? 2: You Have Heard it Said, 3: Chipping Away, 4: How to Start, 5: Why Forgive? To watch a sample YouTube video session, CLICK HERE. To view a sample session of this study, CLICK HERE.

Forgiveness: A Lenten Study by Marjorie Thompson, author of the best-selling book Soul Feast, takes a close look at our understanding of forgiveness in this encouraging study. In six brief chapters, Thompson addresses such questions as the following:

  • Is forgiveness a Christian duty under all circumstances? Or are there situations when Christians do not need to forgive?
  • Is forgiveness a matter between individuals, or is it meaningful only in the context of communities?
  • Is forgiving the best route to healing for the injured?
  • How do we get past emotional barriers to real forgiveness?

Using biblical examples and real-life situations, Thompson illustrates each chapter’s theme in an informative and engaging way. A study guide is also included that is appropriate for either individual reflection or group discussion. With clarity, insight, and sensitivity, this book is the perfect resource for examining both our ability to forgive and our own need for forgiveness.

 Enough: God’s Blessings in Abundance – As part of the Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding series this six-session study through the parables and other biblical materials participants explore dimensions of what it means to have enough.

Session 1 – We Don’t Have Enough

Session 2 – Becoming Unbound from Fears of Not Enough

Session 3 – Enough to Make a Difference

Session 4 – Enough for Transformational Giving

Session 5 – Enough is Good for the Body

Session 6 – How Much is Enough to Leave Our Children?

  • Blessings of the Cross – 7 session study invites you to explore God’s hope and presence presented in the Lectionary scripture readings for Lent and Easter.  Key Bible readings call us to praise God as we contemplate God’s redemption and new creation through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Through the readings, we hear the call to celebrate the blessings of new life offered through Jesus Christ.

On Ma Journey – a Lenten study based on African American Spirituals

  • Lenten Journey: Beyond Questions – by Eric Burtness. Book. This book is a guide to exploring questions Jesus asks throughout the Gospels. They are transformative questions that challenge us. It is designed for a 40-day journey on your own or with a friend, small group or congregation.

– What are you looking for?

– Where is your faith?

– Who do you say that I am?

– What do you want me to do for you?

– Do you love me?

– How will you believe what I say?

– Whom are you looking for?

  • Knowing God’s Triune Story by Michael Lindvall – Book. This study unlocks the Trinity from the church’s abstractions by interpreting it as a shorthand symbol for the long narrative of God. Lindvall examines how the three persons of the Trinity form the unity of God’s embrace of humanity. This is a 40 daily readings with small group guide – 2010 Moderator’s Lenten Bible Study
  • Alive to God in Jesus Christ: 40 Daily Readings with small-group guide by Joseph Small This book in the iBelieve series provides a disciplined study of Christian doctrine of the incarnation. Five session plans for small-group Lenten study are provided in the back of the book.
  • Bread & Broth: A Lenten Bible Study, by Cynthia E. Cowan. Serve a different kind of soup and bread each week as you study the lives of Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Elisha, John the Baptist and Jesus in this six-part study.
  • Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer & Faith Sharing, by Martha Grace Reece. A six-week version of the book Unbinding the Gospel. It provides a scripture and prayer exercise each day, a chapter to study each week, and a weekly worship w/ sermon, music and prayers. www.GraceNet.info

The Jesus Creed Challenge by Scot McKnight – This spiritual formation package includes the book The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others with companion guide; 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed extends what is explored in the book; seven DVD-based lessons on loving God and loving others.

Countering Pharaoh’s Production-Consumption Society Today, one of the new DVD-based adult studies from Living the Questions. Described as a study for progressive Christians, this program has five sessions, 10 to 20 minutes each, and can be conducted over four to five sessions. Included is over an hour of video on DVD and a CD with printable written materials.

Hosted by Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggeman, each session begins with warm-up question video    clip like “Can you be a born again Christian and a progressive Christian at the same time?’” or “How are we to understand the role violence plays in the Scriptures?” Session themes are: The Way Out; The Decalogue; Countering Caesar; An Act of Imagination; and On Not Doing God Any Favors.

In the Dust of the Rabbi: Becoming a Disciple – by Ray Vander Lann – this 5 session study has a book and accompanying DVD that will investigate the world of the disciples in its cultural context and attempt to apply the message of the Bible in today’s world. Sessions: 1. When the Rabbi Says “Come” 2. When the Rabbi says “Go” 3. The Presence of God: A Counter-Cultural Community Living Stones   5. The Very Words of God

  • God is Closer Than You Think –       Six-session DVD study with book by John Ortberg.. The package has book, study guide, PowerPoint, & video presentations. Find God where you least expect to; listen to God’s voice; Identify which pathway of relationship you’re uniquely designed to travel; align yourself with the flow of the Holy Spirit; Draw closer to God even when God seems absent.
  • Seven Words to the Cross by J. Ellsworth Kalas is a 7-session Lenten study for adults which focuses on our response to the cross. Each lesson includes a scripture reference, a brief reflection, questions for discussion, prayer and focus for next week.
  • The Common People Heard Him Gadly by James W. Moore is a 7-session Lenten study for adults. In this study, the focus is on what it was about Jesus that attracted the masses to him? Just what was it about Jesus that touched people so deeply and so dramatically? Each lesson has scripture reference, brief reflection, questions for discussion, prayer, and focus for next session.

A Trail of Tears: Bible study for Lent, Bob Bankhead. Seven lessons (with texts from the three Synoptic Gospels) that trace the events of Jesus’ final journey into Jerusalem and toward crucifixion.

Journey To Jerusalem: Celebrating and Teaching the Life of Jesus, Boyd Lien. Book. This can be an intergenerational study using the learning center concept that can be adapted to each church’s needs. It can be done as Sunday school for six weeks, Vacation Bible School or mid-week programs.

From Palm Sunday to Easter, N. Raymond Day. This Lenten study has six lessons that reflect on some of the persons involved in Holy Week. The persons are Jesus, Judas, the high priests, Pilate, Herod, and Peter.

We Are An Easter People, Adrienne and John Carr. Book. A five-week Lenten study designed to help discover what it means to be “Easter People” – those who have discovered anew the power of God in their lives. Leader’s guide & participants book.

  • Meet the Risen Lord: Scriptures for the Church Season by, Kurt R. Schuermann Adult Study for Lent, ’99
  • DVD – The Four Acts of Prayer with Walter Wangerin, Jr. – Wangerin uses stories to explore these four vital elements of the complete circle of praying: We speak, God Listens, God Speaks, We Listen.

100 Things Kids Should Know Before Confirmation

Reposted from “Bread not Stones” blog by Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick

For the next several months, I am taking on the challenge of blogging through this list of 100 things that a young person should COME to their Confirmation class already knowing. You can readhere my first blog entry in this series, which gives some more background on why something like this is helpful and necessary.

There are two things to keep in mind when looking at this list. 

First, it is overwhelming. Each time I added more I kept asking myself, “Should I really expect a student to know this?” My litmus test for what belongs on this list was a common exchange that I have had with many students over the years. It goes something like this…

me: You know the story of the woman at the well…right?
student: um…no.
me: WHAT!?

Everything on this list is something that would elicit that shocked reaction from me. 

Second, this list is not exhaustive. I have tried to wrap my head around different categories of the biblical story and topics that are generally covered in a Confirmation Class. This should not be the limit of what a student brings, just the minimum.

In each post I will explain what I mean more specifically by each item and what I am able to teach in the class because they come with the knowledge below already. For example, if they come already knowing some of the most iconic parables of the Gospels, I can spend time teaching them some more difficult parables or spend time digging deeper into the ones they already know.

The headings throughout this list provide links to each corresponding post.

Bible Basics
1. The Bible is composed of many different books with different authors written at different times.
2. Much of the Bible comes from ancient oral tradition.
3. The Old Testament is the story of the Israelite people.
4. The New Testament is the story of the life of Jesus and the early Christians.
5. There are many different modern translations of the Bible.

6. Creation and other primeval stories
7. Noah’s Ark
8. Abraham and Sarah
9. Isaac and Rebecca
10. Jacob and his sons

11. The birth of Moses
12. The call of Moses
13. The plagues
14. The Exodus
15. The wilderness experience

16. You shall worship God alone
17. You shall not make any idols of God
18. You shall not abuse the name of God
19. You shall keep the Sabbath holy
20. Honor your father and mother
21. You shall not murder
22. You shall not commit adultery
23. You shall not steal
24. You shall not lie
25. You shall not covet what your neighbor owns

26. The basics
27. The stories of David
28. The temple
29. The exile
30. The historical books

31. Psalm 23
32. Proverbs
33. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (A Time for Every Season)
34. Isaiah 9:9-7 & 11:1-9 (The coming of the Messiah and the Peaceable Kingdom)
35. Jeremiah 18:1-11 (The Potter and the Clay)

36. Jonah
37. Daniel
38. Ruth
39 Esther
40. Samson

41. Matthew
42. Mark
43. Luke
44. John
45. The Acts of the Apostles

46. Good Samaritan (Luke 10:2-37)
47. The Lost Sheep and Coin (Luke 15: 1-10)
48. Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)
49. The Sower (Matthew 13:1-9)
50. The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31-32)

51. Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44)
52. Walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-33)
53. Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)
54. Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)
55. Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 15:17-26)

Sayings of Jesus
56. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-11)
57. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
58. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7: 12)
59. “Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
60. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only beloved son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

61.  The stories of Jesus’ birth
62. Jesus lost in the temple
63. Jesus’ baptism
64. The temptation in the wilderness
65. The Transfiguration

Iconic Stories of the Gospels
66. Jesus turns over the tables in the temple
67. The woman at the well
68. Call of the disciples
69. Zacchaeus the tax collector
70. The Sermon on the Mount

The Stories of Holy Week (and beyond)
71. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
72. The Last Supper (Maundy Thursday)
73. Passion/Crucifixion (Good Friday) 
74. Resurrection (Easter)
75. Ascension

The Life of the Early Church
76. The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost)
77. The Conversion of Paul
78. Journeys and Letters of Paul
79. Differences between Jews and Gentiles
80. The Book of Revelation

The Liturgical Year
81. Advent
82. Lent
83. Easter
84. Pentecost 
85. Ordinary Time

Life of the Church and Your Family
86. Basic worship practices
87. Baptismal practices
88. Communion practices
89. Your family’s religious background
90. How parents (grandparents) volunteer or are involved in the church

91. Roman Catholic
92. Episcopal
93. Methodist
94. Lutheran
95. Presbyterian

World Religions
96. Christianity
97. Islam
98. Judaism
99. Buddhism
100. Hinduism

Inviting Other to Lent – The Church Has Many Doors

Reposted from BuildingFaith.org

by Carolyn Moomaw Chilton on February 11th, 2015

door handle

“Put out signs, advertise in social media, create simple flyers that you members can give to colleagues, neighbors and friends, ask children and teens to bring their friends.”

Engaging the Culture
I have no data to prove it, but I think that Lent is a church season that is still fairly well known in the culture. Certainly it isn’t as recognizable as Easter or Christmas, but I think there is a recognition that once a year, before Easter, Christians observe a period of preparation that usually involves giving up something (chocolate seems to be among the most popular). And if you listen to news stories about Shrove Tuesday or Carnival celebrations there is almost always a mention of it being the party before Lent!

Assuming that I’m on to something here, the church needs to take advantage of this. Evangelism is part marketing, and marketing is part taking advantage of trends and events and trying to persuade others to join you.

So…invite people to Lent!  I know it seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it isn’t really. What do all the studies tell us that people in the U.S. want from religion or spirituality? They want a sense of mystery, silence, a connection to God and connections to others. How can you open your many doors and offer this to your community during Lent?

Invite People to Shrove Tuesday
Put our signs, advertise in social media, create simple flyers that you members can give to colleagues, neighbors and friends, ask children and teens to bring their friends. Coming to Sunday worship can be very intimidating to many people, especially those who have little experience with formal worship. It feels much less threatening to come to a dinner. There are many doors into the church – Sunday worship is but one. Meals are another.

Offer Ashes to Go on Ash Wednesday
This is taking the church out onto the street, and it is a wonderful way to open the doors of your church. All the information you need is on this website. There are many doors into the church, and the community and streets around you are some of them.

Invite people to special Lenten programs  
This can be book studies, meals, worship, special Lenten speakers. Try to offer child care at these events to make it easier for families with young children to attend. I try to avoid having meals be pot luck – people are busy and having to come with a casserole is just more than many folks can manage these days. Instead have a group or committee from your church host a meal, or bring in take-out. Set clear start and end times, and include this in your publicity. An ideal length is 1 ½ -2 hours which includes worship, meal and some program time. There are many doors into the church, and small groups are one of them.

Invite someone to join you in your Lenten discipline
Ask a colleague to walk with you at lunch; offer a brown bag book group at your office or in your neighborhood. If you participate in an online Lenten program or activity share that information with others and invite them to join you. There are many doors into the church – workplace activities and dinners or groups at your home are among them.

Spread the Word
Put information about your own Lenten discipline and/or programs at your church on your personal social media sites, always extending a welcome to your friends to join you. There are many doors into the church and technology is one of them.

Lent is an opportunity to name all the doors in your church, reach out through them and invite others to join you.

Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.

2016 Lenten Resource: Rule of Life

A New Lenten Resource from SSJE: Rule of Life Workbook

Growing a Rule

“This is an exciting opportunity to dig deep and dream big about ways to live into a more abundant life with Christ.”


Rule of Life Lenten Resource
Are you looking for a new Lenten resource that works for individuals and groups? “Growing a Rule of Life” is a brand new Lenten workbook for individuals and congregations. It is produced by SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist), in partnership with the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.

What is it?
“In this series, we focus on God as the Chief Gardener of our souls, and we seek out ways to grow into the fullness he desires. Just as stakes and lattices nurture the growth of young plants, so too can spiritual disciplines support the flourishing of our whole being. This series uses a tool from monastic spirituality called a ‘Rule of Life’ to explore and cultivate our relationships with God, Self, Others, and Creation. This is an exciting opportunity to dig deep and dream big about ways to live into a more abundant life with Christ.”

Through a combination of readings, videos, and guided questions, participants will spend the 6 weeks of Lent discovering what a Rule of Life is, and what their relationship is with God, with their self, with others, and with creation. As participants discover what is life-giving in each type of relationship, they will also discover what needs to be nurtured in their spiritual lives in order for their gardens to flourish.

Using the metaphor of the garden, participants will visualize what their personal Rule of Life. Based on the work they have done during the season of Lent, each individual’s Rule of Life will have a few, simple, realistic steps they can take to nurture their relationships in each quadrant (God, Self, Others, and Creation).

Growing rule large

Who is this Resource for?
This series is designed for both individuals and small groups. A downloadable resource guide makes facilitation easy for small groups. Groups gather once a week to walk through the workbook together, while also receiving daily videos. For individuals, daily videos and reflections will lead them through the same process. Ultimately each participant will create a unique Rule of Life or ‘Garden Plot’ to sustain and expand beyond the class.

Participants will be able to:

• Design a balanced plan for growing into a deeper relationship with God, Self, Others, and Creation.

• Celebrate areas of their lives that are thriving and explore areas that need extra nourishment.

• Tune their sensitivity to the rhythms of nature to help them in keeping a Rule of Life.

• Grow in fellowship with other participants and support them through the growing process.

Where Can I get it?
You can get copies via free download, or single or bulk copies at cost via Amazon.

As always, subscribe to SSJE to receive daily inspirational messages from the brothers, and special video meditations during Lent.

Lisa Kimball Shares her Excitement
In the video at this link, Lisa Kimball, Director of the CMT, describes the importance of a Rule of Life and the exciting opportunity for Lent 2016. http://www.buildfaith.org/2016/01/11/a-new-lenten-resource-from-ssje/


A Lord’s Supper Series for Grades 3-5

Reposted from – http://hope4ce.net/2016/01/07/a-lords-supper-series-for-grades-3-5/

January 7, 2016

by Roberta Schlecter, CCE, Portland, OR

I created this lesson series to fulfill my Educational Design requirement for educator certification in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I focused on scripture and liturgy together, in the context of biblical miracle narratives.

The first lesson focuses on the Lord’s Supper in its Passover context. Lessons 2-6 incorporate the miracle narratives: The Wilderness Miracles in Exodus 15-16, The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), Feeding the Multitudes (Matt 14:13-21), Cast Your Nets in the Deep Waters (Luke 5:1-11 and The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Students experienced the miracle narratives and learned the Words of Institution while handling the elements.

Each lesson in this series maintains a balance between The Lord’s Supper as a specific event, and the larger picture of Jesus’ life and ministry; between Bible study and activity based exploration.

I like Cynthia Campbell’s view that “Rightly understood, the Lord’s Supper is connected to Jesus’ entire ministry…and to the ministry to which each of us is called as Christ’s followers.” (Campbell, 2011, ix).

When the classes were finished the students were invited to “shadow” Elders as they served Communion. Students wore the Communion stoles and held the plates and chalices.

I welcome your feedback and inquiries!


Schlecter 1-COMMUNION Lesson plan

Schlecter 2-MANNA FROM HEAVEN-Exodus 16

Schlecter 3-CANA-John


Schlecter 5-CAST YOUR NETS-Luke

Schlecter 6-EMMAUS ROAD-Luke

Roberta Schlecter, CCE, Portland, OR

Let’s Make a Three King’s Cake for Epiphany

Reposted from http://www.BuildFaith.org

Celebrate Epiphany
The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, is just around the corner. There are many ideas to celebrate this remembrance of the Visitation of the Magi. Every Epiphany party could use a special cake, room decorations as well as community singing. Here are some ideas to add to your own church’s tradition to mark this feast day on our church calendar.

This is a European tradition. The cake – usually a flat circle – hides a bean or two, a doll, or a clutch of tiny fortunes. The significance of the hidden fortune varies. A hidden dime might signify wealth in the coming year. The finders of two dry beans might become king and queen of the Epiphany party. In New Orleans, the finder of a hidden black bean must give a party for all the other guests. Invite your group to make (and eat) a traditional King’s Cake.

Ingredients for King’s Cake

  • ½ c. blanched almonds
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 6 T. soft butter (save the wrapper)
  • 1 t. vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. raisins or currants
  • 1¼ c. flour
  • 1½ t. baking powder
  • beans, dimes, or thimbles

Directions for Kings’s Cake

1. Grind the almonds with ¼ c. sugar in a food processor or blender.

2. Use a fork to mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl until thoroughly blended.

3. Beat in the eggs (saving a tablespoon of egg to glaze the top) and the extract.

4. Sift together the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture.

5. Stir in the sugar-almond mix, the raisins or currants and any fortunes (beans, dimes, etc.)

6. Turn the dough onto a greased cookie sheet (use the paper from the butter to grease the sheet).

7. Pat the dough flat into a ½” thick circle.

8. Spread the reserved beaten egg on the top of the cake.

9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Recipe will serve 12.

Decorating for Epiphany
Change the look and feel of your classroom. Hang star garland loosely across the doorway and invite children to wait until the whole group has arrived before entering the room. The room is darkened except for a string of star-shaped lights and/or votive candles (or use battery powered candles) illuminating a picture of the magi and candles following the star. Talk about the meaning of Jesus as being the light coming into the world.

Hymns for Epiphany
Check your church’s hymnal for some “star” songs. Here are some suggestions:

  • I want to walk as a child of the light
  • We three kings of Orient are
  • Brightest and best of the stars
  • Earth and all stars!
  • O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
  • This little light of mine
  • We are marching in the light (Siyahamba)


Sharon Ely Pearson is an editor and the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI). She is the author/editor of several books, most recently The Episcopal Christian Educator’s Handbook and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century. When not traveling for work or pleasure, she enjoys tossing tennis balls to her year old black lab, Chobe.