In the past, houses of worship have been safe places. However, recent events have shown the violence can occur in a congregation if someone brings a gun and threatens to use it. The U.S. government (FEMA) has created a free booklet for congregations to use in developing a safety plan.
Life is never boring and humdrum. There are moments we may feel it is, but if we are awake to life, it doesn’t take long to realize the giftedness of life, especially because of the diversity with which God has surrounded us in all of creation. We are formed by the sacredness of all life; we learn through the events of life which we choose to remember and celebrate.
As we plan our congregation and faith formation events, we are fortunate that our liturgical year guides us through the ebb and flow of our lives and its challenging and glorious moments.
I get asked questions at least once a month about Confirmation. What program should I use? What videos are the best? How can I keep the kids interested? How long should it be? How long does it have to be? Can we do a confirmation class with adults and youth together? How big or small should the class be? How old should the person be to be confirmed? How do we help people decide if they are ready to be confirmed? How do we honor what the youth decide? How do we involve mentors? How do we involve the parents?
A few years ago there was a two-paneled cartoon. The first panel showed a gentlemen sitting in front of a Christmas tree piled high with gifts. The second panel had a few gifts and a Nativity set and his question as he could now see the crèche, “Hey! Where did that come from?” A voice from the other room replied: “It’s always been there.”
I recently attended a regional young adult ministry event in a large metropolitan area. Participants gathered from across the judicatory for a night of storytelling, fellowship, and prayer. I came away energized about the work the Spirit is doing in our area and with some ideas about the best practices for young adult ministry that I saw in action there:
It’s that time of year again. For those of us involved in planning Advent, it is a given, we anticipate the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. We look forward to the readings from Isaiah, Matthew, and John about preparing the way for the Messiah. We get excited. We set apart four weeks each year to prepare the way for the congregation to reflect on the coming of Jesus. For those not involved in the planning, the secular world carries a much different message. We all experience the challenge of keeping a foot in both worlds.
Marriage, family, faith formation at home… there is simply a mountain of evidence that tells us why we should be putting more effort into this arena of ministry. A key reason why families are so important for faith formation is because emotions are so important for long-term learning. Research continues to confirm that emotions are the glue of learning. People need to be in the right emotional disposition in order to learn and retain what they have learned. Emotional bonds are strongest in families. This is why the home is the ideal learning environment and it is also why kids from healthy families learn healthy habits and kids from unhealthy families learn unhealthy habits.
Many people today are yearning for quiet time, or time to be still, or time for themselves without interruptions. Life today is full. Full of study, work, friends, family, play, technology, etc. We have cars and bikes that get us places more quickly, we have technology that helps us get things done more quickly, we have fast food, and instant gratification. It is all more than we can truly take.
“ ‘And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. ‘Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!’”
(How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss)
According to recent national surveys, 70-80% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on spending, gift-giving, decorating and all the materialism of the Christmas season.
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: