It’s Pentecost, Let’s Party! Four Practical Ideas

It’s Pentecost, Let’s Party! Four Practical Ideas

Pentecost Frontal

“The on-going gift of the Spirit helps us spread the news and become apostles in our time and place. And that is worth celebrating!”

 

Why Party on Pentecost?
The Day of Pentecost is one of my favorite feast days of the Church year. Many educators, me among them, consider the day of Pentecost and the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the disciples, the “birthday of the Church.” It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for the disciples to become apostles who spread the Good News throughout the world and throughout the ages. The on-going gift of the Spirit continues to help us spread the news and become apostles in our time and place. And that is worth celebrating! Here are some simple ideas that will help you celebrate the Day of Pentecost with your congregation and church school:

1. It’s a birthday party, cake required
Some years I have done one big cake with “Happy Birthday Church of God!” written on it. Other years I have done 12 individual cakes with each month of the year on them. Have your congregation gather around the cake for the month they were born. Sing “Happy Birthday” to each other – and follow it with the singing of “I am the Church. You are the Church.  We are the Church together.”

2. What’s a birthday party without presents?
As you look toward re-stocking your supply closet for the fall, get a list together of what you need – everything from diapers for the nursery to magic markers and glitter glue. Post the list in your newsletter a couple of weeks in advance and send the list home with your Church School kiddos. Ask the congregation to bring these gifts (wrapped) to the Pentecost party with the cake and have the church school children open them. Depending upon what you ask for, you can get kids wondering what you will be doing with these interesting things come fall.

3. Wear Party Clothes
This is a great day to celebrate with color – invite the congregation to wear red. Have red carnations ready for your choir, acolytes and pastors to wear.  Invite the Church School to wear bright yellow or orange. The worship service will look like a sea of flame. Some years, I have invited women to wear hats, girls to wear their most sparkly shoes, men their funkiest ties and boys the brightest shoe laces they can find. Face painting is another fun way to involve the Church School during lesson time.

4. Bubbles
We can’t see the Holy Spirit, but like the wind, we can see what it does. In every congregation I have worked in, I pass out ‘Pentecost Bubbles” (Oriental Trading has them in small multi-colored bottles with crosses on top).  Either during the morning class or with the grown-ups at the Pentecost party, head outside and blow bubbles.  As you watch the bubbles ride the wind, shout out things the Holy Spirit is doing in your congregation or in the lives of your families.  Kids come up with some really creative things!  Pinwheels are also fun to us as decorations on this day or you can pass them out during the offering time and have the congregation wave them as you sing and celebrate.

Conclusion
None of these activities are particularly expensive, but each one brings folks closer to each other and to the work of the Holy Spirit.  And it’s a lot of fun!  Be sure to get pictures and post them on your summer bulletin board to remind them of the Holy Spirit’s work during the long, green Season after Pentecost.


 

Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor is the Director of Christian Education at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Acton, Massachusetts. She is an accredited Godly Play storyteller. Christian formation throughout the life cycle is both her profession and her passion.

Featured image is the Pentecost altar frontal from Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England.

Three-Sentence Faith Stories

Three-Sentence Faith Stories

written by Snady Swartzentruber and posted from CRC Network

If someone asked you to share your testimony in a worship service, what would you say?

The average CRC member might react like this: “I really dread public speaking, and anyway, my testimony is kind of boring. I grew up in a Christian family and always believed in God. I don’t have anything dramatic to share.”

Setting aside the fact that calling any faith journey “boring” is quite an affront to our loving and faithful God, the idea that faith stories have to be ultra-dramatic is one we should challenge.

One way to make sharing faith stories accessible to all is to encourage people of all ages to craft a three-sentence faith story.  Creating these short testimonies encourages us to identify specific moments or seasons when we saw God clearly working in our lives. (They are also much less intimidating to share in public settings than a traditional testimony.)

Here’s one example of a three-sentence faith story from a blog post on the topic at buildfaith.org:

Because I am four-foot-ten, weigh eighty-five pounds, and have several auto-immune diseases, the doctors told me I would not get pregnant. When I got pregnant, the doctors told me I was too small to carry a child to full term, and too weak for a Caesarian. I am now the mother of a healthy four-year-old son.

If you’re a pastor, worship planner, children’s ministry director, or youth leader, consider weaving a three-sentence faith story experiment into your planning.  A Thanksgiving service is a great place to start, but there are many ways to incorporate these mini-testimonies into your congregational life.

Three-sentence faith stories are big on impact. They proclaim God’s faithfulness in the circumstances of life. And they speak of the hope that is ours because of God’s own three-sentence story:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

Easter Children’s Litany

Easter: The Light of the World

From March 2006 Pockets Magazine (http://www.upperroom.org/pockets/ 

One: Jesus came and walked among us

 All: And told us about God’s great love for us.

 One: Jesus came and walked among us

 All: And taught and healed.

 One: And then he was gone, killed by people who thought they needed to protect their power

 All: And by crowds who let themselves be talked into turning against Jesus.

 One: That day was very dark and very sad.

 All: Our hearts were broken, and we felt empty.

 One: But that was Friday,

 All: And today is Sunday,

 One: And everything is different!

 All: Jesus is alive!

 One: And because Jesus is alive, we are Easter people!

 All: We have hope and joy and new life!

 One: We are healers and peacemakers.

All: We are people who love instead of hate, forgive instead of get even.

 One: So from this day on we proclaim

 All: We are Easter people! Alleluia!

*Make a huge Alleluia! poster. Decorate it with things that make you want to shout “Alleluia!”

“The Village” Replaces Sunday School

THE VILLAGE, by Katie Rode, Director of Family Ministries, St. John’s Lutheran Church, San Antonio

March 3, 2016 – reposted from HOPE4CE blog

Our story is so common, a 125 year old congregation, inner-city, wants to minister to the community around it, I’m sure you have heard it all before.

The Facts: Our average attendance: 170ish Average Sunday school was: 30ish (all in, all ages) Most families attended once a month We have a separate family chapel, attended by substantially more persons than Sunday school hour.

Our take away was that families are interested, but not in our traditional model. We kept coming back to the old adage “it takes a village…”

In a whirlwind of ideas, over 4 weeks, with input from various teams, age groups and families, we decided to replace our Sunday school hour with The Village @ St. John’s.

We have one service each Sunday, and following that we gather in our fellowship hall (which is what mostly everyone was doing anyway!) We have been using the Faith5 concepts (Dr. Rich Melheim, Faith Inkubators) for several years, so we begin each month with a potluck meal and we do the Faith5 in table groups as a community. Fellowship leads to sharing and it is a slippery slope from there into closer friendships and stronger connections.

The rest of the Sundays we gather following worship for fellowship, but there in the middle of the room is a square of tables for Christian Education. In that square I have 2 activities each Sunday for families to complete, related to the gospel reading, or the church season. The tables have chairs, and there is no time limit. The activities are appropriate for 2 different ages (preschool and elementary) but most families do both. Grandparents pick-up take home supplies for grandkids who can’t attend, and adult members without children have gravitated to participate as well.

We still have a retired pastor offering a bible study class in the library, if someone prefers that, and our confirmation and high school groups meet separately, because that’s just best for us. There is also room in the village for the Music Ministry team to plan hymn sings, or a camp songs day. The beauty is the flexibility, we make it what we want every Sunday.

What happens on Sundays is only ½ of the story though. We wanted to empower families to take Christian Education into their homes, every day, even if they can’t make it to worship on Sundays. So we made our Facebook page and website a tool for everyone. Each month there is a downloadable “fridge page” with lectionary readings to do the Faith5 daily, the page also has Christian education ideas to keep the fun going at home. Almost all those ideas come from Pinterest, so our church Pinterest page is another resource for families. Lastly, we created a Facebook group called @Home with St. John’s. I post there almost daily to encourage Faith5 participation in the home, share teasers for the coming Sunday’s village, and just start conversations about how this is working. We have been at it for a month now, and I am sure there will be much adjustment as we grow and change.

Here is a copy of their “downloadable fridge page” for Lent. –KLD

Peace,

Katie Rode, Director of Family Ministries, St. John’s Lutheran Church, San Antonio

Easter Sunday Gift for Children

Found this idea posted on the HOPE4CE Facebook page.

We had a bride donate her left over bubble vials from her wedding (Small tubes with bubble solution and a wand, used for blowing bubbles as bride and groom leave instead of throwing rice) I made stickers that said Alleluia and placed them on the vials longways. Our take away was that when we blow the bubbles they spread out over the city and we never know where they will go, just like God’s love. When they burst, it is as we should be on Easter Sunday, bursting with the Good News!

Church/Family Stewardship Activity

Intergenerational Activity – Being grateful during the Lenten season

Congregations might start during Lent with a reflection series that focuses on how we understand Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it. “

Everyone is invited to select a very ordinary but “essential” object in his or her life: a car, refrigerator, bicycle, bed, or a favorite tie or pair of shoes.

A special table or bulletin board is set up in the church to receive a symbol or picture of these objects from members for everyone to see.

At home, a picture of the object(s) is placed where every day during Lent each person takes a moment of silence while touching the object and intentionally praying, “Thank you God for providing me with this _______. May I use it to your glory this day and every day”.

All are asked to make short note of what the experience is like and to share it at a family meal or gathering at the end of each week. Perhaps the children can draw a picture of the experience. Insights from those family discussions are then shared both in writing and orally in as many places as possible. All are preserved for later use in the stewardship season.