Schools are great a helping kids find out how to do things – reading, writing, math, research, and critical thinking to name a few. They are good at helping kids discover the importance of physical activity, sharing, honesty, art, music, and learning languages to name a few. What I don’t see very often, is helping them to discover more about themselves by looking at who they are, what makes them tick, why they think certain things are important while others don’t, or how to become centered rather than scattered. It won’t work to simply tell them to go discover themselves – we have to be there to mentor them on their journey.
The first Sunday in Advent also is the first Sunday of the church calendar, the new year of our church. Depending on your tradition, you’ll notice scriptures, colors, and traditions that follow the liturgical new year.
A few years ago, I led a congregation in learning more about the church year. Working with the faith formation and worship committee, we created a mini wreath for each church attendee with pony beads to help them notice the colors of the church year. The mini circle had 13 colors on it. These represented the 13 major colors of that church’s liturgical tradition. We called the circle: the liturgical circle of color.
Take a quick look at this 30-second ad from Southwest Airlines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpV41xfGcuw.
“If it matters to you, it matters to us.” Sometimes in ministry, we prefer to reverse that statement and add a word for the guilt effect. We might say, “If it matters to us, it should matter to you.” Churches can become so wrapped up in their own preservation that they forget their mission. They forget that their purpose is to serve the needs of others… from the perspective of the others.
Intergenerational: relating to, involving, or affecting several generations.
All too often, in ministry, intergenerational refers to an event or gathering where all the ages come together for an activity or event several times a year. Serious thought about intergenerational opportunities as a regular practice or as a way of life in the church does not seem to be the norm. Using the word intergenerational is not something we normally understand to be happening each time we gather. It is set apart.
Cardinal Godfred Daneels said, “The human person hesitates before the True, is impotent before the Good, but loves Beauty.”
As congregations begin to make preparations for Advent, this holy – true, good, and beautiful – season of the year, the O Antiphons stand out as one of the Church’s Advent prayer practices that can lead us to the peaceful, simple, rooted posture that we all seek.
I wrote recently that if you want to set others on fire for faith learning, you need not just a spark but a stack of kindling to feed the flame. We all need a substantial list of resources that will speak to the faith situations and learning styles of the different people we work with. As a curator of the “Online and Digital Media” pages at Faith Formation Learning Exchange, I believe strongly that some of those resources, perhaps even most of them, can be online resources.
How many times do we hear someone in the congregation tell us, “but this has been a tradition here for many years.” And when we investigate a bit further, it was perhaps done one time or not at all. I have often compared the memory of the congregation to a person who has dementia. Our short term memory fails us and our long term memory moves us back to a time and place remembered well but that no longer exists. I have found there are times when what is referred to as tradition by someone is a memory of something from their own background, not something built as a ritual over time with the goal to pass on faith from one generation to the next.
A lot of church work is done in meetings, and church leaders often resist making meetings better and more productive. Church meetings are about ministry, church leaders say, not about business. Yet, often churches have a lot of business leaders who participate in church meetings. If you don’t adapt your meeting style somewhat to make business leaders feel more at home, you’ll end up with only relational people in your meetings. You want both: business people and relational people in addition to those called to ministry. Try these tips.
Children who enjoy being together look forward to more times together. That’s why it’s essential to create ways for children to get to know each other and to build relationships. However, it’s easy in children’s ministry to focus mainly on the learning. Children will be more likely to come back and learn when they have friends.
I remember now with fondness what was, at the time, a depressing February day during my childhood. I was at scout camp, and I was working with friends on the fire-building requirement for Camping Merit Badge. There was snow on the ground, and everything our chapped fingers touched was cold and damp. We were allowed five matches to set our would-be fires going. If unsuccessful, we had to wait for the next campout to try the test again.
It is no secret, that in youth ministry (as in most ministry) connection, relationship, and communication are key elements to a good, healthy ministry. When we are connected to one another, we can more closely know one another and understand one another. There are many wonderful books written about this such as Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andrew Root or The Godbearing Life by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster.
Sometimes Thanksgiving passes by without much notice. Thanksgiving as a holiday was almost abandoned around 1816. Sara Hale, who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” began an effort to bring the holiday back. She thought Americans were not paying enough attention in giving thanks to God. Agreeing, President Lincoln ordered that the nation celebrate two Thanksgivings each year. In 1941, Congress made the last Thursday in November the national Thanksgiving holiday.
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: