Welcome to the site of the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda

We hope that this will be a helpful resource for you and your church. Whether you are looking for ministry curriculum for a youth group, VBS, or adult Bible study, we hope that we can provide you with some good recommendations. Check out our congregational development page to answer some of those tough ministry questions about working in a church! Or check out our workshops page if you or a group from your congregation are interested in attending a seminar or continuing education event for your ministry!

When Kids Ask Tough Questions

Hey, Have I Got A Question For You!

The Art of Asking and Answering Difficult Questions With Children

Why do we ask questions?

We ask all sorts of questions in Church School.  If we’re asking questions, why are we asking them.  Some of the reasons are:

  • to check in and find out what children have learned (or not learned)
  • to hear if there are concerns or issues that require further conversation and/or explanation
  • to prompt debate
  • to prompt deep thinking
  • to experience God

The art of asking questions:

Good questions open up the room to great conversation.  We don’t want to simply recite questions and receive the ‘correct’ answers.  We hope that the subject energizes the room and together we grow in our knowledge and experience of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and kingdom of God living.  These thoughts should help you plan for better questions and discussion that moves us into new realms of experience:

  • ask open-ended questions, not closed, one-word answer questions
  • ask one question at a time and resist the urge to add on even more questions hoping one of them might resonate with the class. With too many questions at once children become overwhelmed with the options
  • present questions to the whole group, not to individuals
  • provide positive feedback on the answers your receive
  • follow-up answers with more probing questions, inviting the group to dig deeper into the subject
  • be silent; let the question resonate and good thinking to occur. Don’t try and fill the silence assuming your question wasn’t well presented or with your answer so things keep moving along.  Leave time for deep thinking
  • use an inquiry style, don’t interrogate
  • encourage participants to ask their own questions of each other
  • encourage conversation across the group and away from you
  • accept responses as a gift

There are three types of questions:

  • information
  • analytical
  • personal

By ensuring all types of questions are asked, often moving from the first type, on to the second and finally spending quality time discussing the third type we help participants personalize their learning and growth in a non-threatening way.

Invite difficult questions:

These are the questions we often fear, but they are also the questions that help us move from knowledge about God to knowing God.  They require honesty and deep care  and compassion for everyone in the group.  Setting an inviting tone for such questions helps your class to become a meaning-filled place of acceptance and deep learning.

Answering difficult questions:

Thinking about how you might answer difficult questions before they are even asked helps prepare you for great conversation.  The following helps in thinking about how you might answer questions that make you sweat and stumble over your words:

  • listen carefully to what is being asked. Don’t jump to thinking about your answer, first think about the question, the age of the person asking, and what they are really asking
  • honour the question and the person asking it
  • ask questions of clarification
  • ask, ‘what do you think (feel, have experienced etc.)?
  • you might ask the class what they think,or what their experience of God ays to them
  • take time to think about your answer – it’s not a race to the finish line
  • give age appropriate answers
  • know that it is okay to say, ‘I don’t know; perhaps we could do some research together, we could ask the minister, or look into that in next week’s class etc.
  • don’t give and answer you’ll have to undo down the road
  • give answers that are consistent with what you believe about a loving and caring God
  • let parents know if a child’s questions need further conversation at home. Ask for permission to do this
  • recognize the balance between confidentiality, safety and disclosure

 

 

Do you have more questions?

 

Feel free to ask me!

Tori Smit

Regional Minister for Faith Formation

Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda

 

 

Children in the Pews

Something positive about kids to put in the pew racks

The following is a text for a permission giving way of welcoming young children into worship, put their parents at ease and remind the adults of the church about their role as faith-sharers in the ministry of children.  Please feel free to copy this resource and place it in your pew racks or print in the bulletin from time to time, especially when you might expect some new families to join you in worship.

To the parents of young children…

Relax! God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s house.  All are welcome in this place!

Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what’s going on.  Children get tired of seeing the backs of others’ heads.  Please feel free to quietly explain the parts of the service to you children.

Sing the hymns and respond to the prayers and scripture readings.  Children learn how to worship by copying us.  And, please let us know if they act out at home what they see in the church.

If you have to leave worship, feel free to do so, but please come back.  As Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”

Remember the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another.  We truly want them to know this house of worship as home.

And please allow your child to use the other side of this card to draw and doodle.  We can always make more cards!

To members and visitors…

(insert the name of your church) loves children, and we appreciate the gift they are to us, and the reminder that our church family continues to grow.

Please welcome all children in our midst and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.  This is one of the ways we continue to care and model God’s love for our children and their families, and affirm our “We will!” of faithful support for each child and his/her parents in the covenant of baptism.

(on the reverse side of the pew insert print:)

Draw a picture of what you see happening in church right now.

 

Church Behavioral Covenant Example 2

Behavioral Covenant Example 2

Preamble:

We recognize that we are a diverse group of believers holding differing viewpoints. We are, however, united in our belief that God wants us to love God, one another, and ourselves:

To that end, we hereby covenant both individually and as a Sunday School Teachers, Youth Group Leaders, Elders, Christian Education Committee members to embrace the following peacemaking behaviours both in our church life and in our everyday life: .

WE WILL:

  • Make positive statements and say what we want to do
  • Be focused towards our goals
  • Recognize that all voices are equal, because god is personal but never private
  • Keep our communications and interactions sacred, and as a body, keep Christ as the center
  • Listen to what Jesus is telling us to do
  • Not accept intimidation as a behavior in any form
  • Exercise patience, gracefully
  • Express impatience and agree to stay together in community for the good of the body of Christ
  • Be open to suggestion from all people
  • Encourage open, honest, graceful, and face-to-face discussion, where all ideas are valued and respected
  • Encourage aIl voices, particularly the quiet among the body
  • Provide a safe, non-judgmental and sacred space
  • Embrace and appreciate silence
  • Forgive and be forgiven
  • Recognize the humanity and error in all of us
  • Lead by example.

COVENANT:

We hereby covenant to follow these behaviors and hold each other accountable for them.

As members of the Christian community at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brampton we, being sinners and falling short, agree, with the help of God, to relate to each other through Christ, and thus hold ourselves and each other to:

  1. Listen to each other. “Let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak …” James 1:19. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has stated: “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them.” Life Together p. 97
  2. Respect the privacy of those who confide. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13
  3. Challenge each other with the truth. Be willing to confront when it is important.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

  1. Deal with people directly; don’t complain to others. “If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you.” Matthew 18:15. If someone complains to you about another member, help that person follow this principle.
  2. Strengthen each other. “[Speak] only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) Likewise, the test of true fellowship is to “make the individual free, strong and mature,” not “weak and dependent.” Bonhoeffer, p.88
  3. Be gentle with one another. “My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself.” Galatians: 6:1
  4. Do not speak ill of others in the fellowship. “Do not grumble about each other or you will be judged, and the judge is right outside the door.” James 5:9
  5. Do not judge each other. “Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things.” Romans 2:1
  6. Pray for one another. James 5:16
  7. Confess one’s wrongs to another. James 5:9
  8. Forgive one another. “Give and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:38
  9. Freely participate in the body of Christ according to our gifts and talents. “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

 

 

Church Behavioral Covenant Example

Church Behavioral Covenant Example

PREAMBLE:

We recognize that we are a diverse group of believers holding differing viewpoints. We are, however, united in our belief that God wants us to love God, one another, and ourselves: To that end, we hereby covenant both individually and as a Session, Board of Deacons, and Congregation to embrace the following peacemaking behaviors both in our church life and in our everyday life:

WE WILL:

  • Make Positive Statements and Say What We Want to Do
  • Be Focused Towards Our Goals
  • Recognize That All Voices Are Equal, Because God Is Personal but Never Private.
  • Keep Our Communications and Interactions Sacred, and as a Body, Keep Christ as the Center.
  • Listen to What Jesus Is Telling Us to Do.
  • Not Accept Intimidation as a Behavior in Any Form.
  • Exercise Patience, Gracefully Express Impatience and Agree to Stay Together in Community for the Good of the Body of Christ.
  • Be Open to Suggestion from All People.
  • Encourage Open, Honest, Graceful, and Face to Face Discussion, Where All Ideas Are Valued and Respected.
  • Encourage All Voices, Particularly the Quiet among the Body.
  • Provide a Safe, Non-judgmental and Sacred Space
  • Embrace and Appreciate Silence.
  • Forgive and Be Forgiven.
  • Recognize the Humanity and Error in All of Us.
  • Lead by Example.

COVENANT:

We Hereby Covenant to Follow These Behaviors and Hold Each Other Accountable for Them.

[Created on 06/30/2007]

Adult Personal Conflict Style Inventory

Adult Personal Conflict Style Inventory

This survey will calculate your preferred method of dealing with conflict

Please Note: The reflection this inventory can create is more important – and more reliable- than the numbers calculated from your responses to this form. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, nor have we “standardized” this instrument. Some takers agree with the results; others disagree. Whether you like the results or not, you should rely on them for an accurate picture of yourself only after further self-scrutiny and discussion with others. The inventory is merely a tool to enable these larger tasks.

Instructions: Consider your response in situations where your wishes differ from those of another person. Note that statements A-J deal with your initial response to disagreement; statements K-T deal with your response after the disagreement has gotten stronger. If you find it easier, you may choose one particular conflict setting and use it as background for all the questions.Circle one number on the line below each statement.

When I first discover that differences exist…

A  …I make sure that all views are out in the open and treated with equal consideration, even if there seems to be substantial disagreement.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

B  …I devote more attention to making sure others understand the logic and benefits of my position than I do to pleasing them.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

C  …I make my needs known, but I tone them down a bit and look for solutions somewhere in the middle.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

D  …I pull back from discussion for a time to avoid tension.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

E  …I devote more attention to feelings of others than to my personal goals.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

F  …I make sure my agenda doesn’t get in the way of our relationship.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

G  …I actively explain my ideas and just as actively take steps to understand others.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

H  …I am more concerned with goals I believe to be important than with how others feel about things.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

I  …I decide the differences aren’t worth worrying about.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

J  …I give up some points in exchange for others.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

If differences persist and feelings escalate…

K  …I enter more actively into discussion and hold out for ways to meet the needs of others as well as my own.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

L  …I put forth greater effort to make sure that the truth as I see it is recognized and less on pleasing others.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

M  …I try to be reasonable by not asking for my full preferences, but I make sure I get some of what I want.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

N  …I don’t push for things to be done my way, and I pull back somewhat from the demands of others.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

O  …I set aside my own preferences and become more concerned with keeping the relationship comfortable.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

P  …I interact less with others and look for ways to find a safe distance.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

Q  …I do what needs to be done and hope we can mend feelings later.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

R  …I do what is necessary to smoothe the other’s feelings.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

S  …I pay close attention to the desires of others but remain firm that they need to pay equal attention to my desires.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

T  …I press for moderation and compromise so we can make a decision and move on with things.

Not at all characteristic  1  2  3  4  5  6 Very characteristic

Information on the full version of this survey

The Adult Personal Conflict Style Inventory is an early version of an inventory developed by Ron Kraybill that is available in a low-cost, culturally-sensitive upgrade entitled Style Matters: The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory. The version on our site was published by Mennonite Conciliation Service in Mediation and Facilitation Training Manual, 4th ed., 2000 (Akron,PA: MCS), p. 64-66. It is here by permission of Mennonite Central Committee and the author and may be used at no charge by individuals and religious congregations. Other uses, including assigning it for use in college or university classes are a violation of copyright and take unfair advantage of the publisher’s willingness to make this early version available at no cost on our website. The full version is a 22 page booklet with modifications that recognize cultural diversity among users, several pages of principles for interpretation, practical support strategies for each style, and discussion questions for group leaders.   It is available for .95-.95 for print copies depending on order size from www.riverhouseepress.com. Rights to reproduce it from a PDF file can be purchased for .95 per copy.

Read user feedback about the full version from trainers.

Get a free trainers’ guide for Style Matters.

Info about an Online Full Version with self-guided tutorial and capacity to email scores.

Please support our agreement with the publisher by practicing fair compensation if you use this for purposes other than individual or congregational use.

Style Inventory Tally Sheet

When you are finished taking the inventory, write the number you circled for each situation beside the corresponding letter on the tally sheet below. Add each of the 10 columns of the tally chart, writing the total of each in the empty box just below the double line.

A __G __ K __S __ B __H __ L __Q __ C __J __ M __T __ D __I __ N __P __ E __F __ O __R __
Calm Storm Calm Storm Calm Storm Calm Storm Calm Storm
Collaborating Forcing Compromising Avoiding Accommodating

Now list your scores and the style names in order from highest score to lowest in both the calm and storm columns below.

Calm
Response when issues/conflicts first arise.
Storm
Response after the issues/conflicts have been unresolved and have grown in intensity.
________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________
Score Style Score Style
________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________
________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________
________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________
________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________

 

Interpreting the Scores:

This exercise gives you two sets of scores for each of the five approaches to conflict. Calm scores apply to your response when disagreement first arises. Storm scores apply to your responses if things are not easily resolved and emotions get stronger. The higher your score in a given style, the more likely you are to use this style in responding to conflict. The highest score in each of the columns indicates a “preferred” or primary style. If two or more styles have the same score they are eually “preferred.” The second highest score indicates ones’s “backup” style if the number is relatively close to the highest score. A fairly even score across all of the styles indicates a “flat profile.” Persons with a flat profile tend to be able to choose easily among the various responses to conflict.

Read more about these five Styles of Conflict Management and take this inventory online at:
http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/conflictstyle

 

Critical Decision Making for Congregations

A Decision Making Process for Congregations

1. Ask the Right Questions

  • What is the scope of our inquiry?
  • Who are the strategic people?
  • How can we accumulate relevant information?
  • What questions do we need to answer before we proceed?
    • Can we do research? (before/ during / after?)

2. Document, Document, Document

  • Get/ use appropriate technology to reflect current realities.

3. Appropriately slow down the process.

  • Make sure we have time to make important decisions
    • Include information gathering
    • Resist deadlines – especially artificial ones
    • Don’t allow deadlines to manipulate.
  • Review the decision and the decision making process.
    • More questions
      • Were you heard?
      • Are you comfortable?
    • Make the process consistent.

4. Make my voice appropriately heard.

  • Advocate my own position
  • Function as facilitator
  • Bring together process with questions.