“We’re doing a Story Journey tomorrow to go along with our church’s yard, garden and bake sale. We’re featuring Laura Alary’s book, What Grew in Larry’s Garden. We’re so excited.”
My good friend, Laura Duggin, minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newmarket, Ontario dropped this into a conversation the other day. We weren’t talking about Story Journeys or garden sales at the time, so when Laura burst forth with this comment I needed to know more.
Churches are beginning to talk about restarting in-person Sunday school after a two and a half year hiatus from offering regular children’s programming. Leaning into the hope that our churches will be able to gather safely and with a deep desire to get children back to Sunday school before our youngest generation misses out completely on a Sunday school experience, churches are anxious to do the best they can to restart well this fall.
There are so many stories to read and hear during Holy Week; from the excitement of the crowds on Palm Sunday to the quiet of the garden where Jesus went to pray, from the shock at Jesus’ arrest to his undeserved death a day later and finally to the extreme joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Each day builds on the previous day revealing God’s deep and grace-filled love for this world.
For younger ones many of the stories we tell during Holy Week can be difficult to understand and even scary. Well-written children’s bible story books help us to share these stories from scripture with children in ways that are more accessible and appropriate for their age. For this reason this interactive Google Slide has been loaded with videos of wonderfully written and told stories for Holy Week. It is here for you to upload onto your churches website or Facebook page so families can visit each day throughout Holy Week to hear these stories together.
I was asked this week if I could recall my earliest memory of a bible story. The question came from a friend who is presently studying at Knox College, one of our denominational seminaries. Her query was prompted by a paper she is busy writing on the faith journeys of children. She is hoping to sprinkle some of these personal stories of treasured memories throughout her paper as illustrations of how children grow in faith.
What a delightful invitation to take a trip down memory lane.
How are things going at your church with your children and their families?
What did you do over the last year and a half to stay connected and provide teaching and faith formation for your youngest members? What worked well? What fell flat? What slipped through the cracks? What are you most concerned about going forward? What can you let go of that no one will miss? And, how will your approach to ministry with children and their families be transformed in light of any new learnings and discoveries that you’ve made while responding to changed circumstances?
Taking time to reflect now with your children, parents, and leaders is a crucial first step if your church wants to move forward in new ways in the months ahead; ways that will serve your entire church community well while providing the best opportunities for children and their families to grow in faith together.
While it is important that we all take time to ask the people of our own congregations, ‘how has it been going?’ we can also benefit from the research of others who have begun this process of interviewing children, parents, and congregational leaders and denominational influencers.
“As Christians, how we relate to each other should set us apart” (Douglas Powe)
Earlier this week a team of six people from our synod attended a virtual conference by InterGenerate and the Children’s Spirituality Summit. We spent Monday through Wednesday listening to thought provoking keynote presentations by world leaders of children’s and intergenerational ministries, attended a broad variety of workshops and/or research paper presentations led by leading practitioners and academics, and joined affinity breakout groups that applied to our areas of interest in faith formational ministry.
Advent is all about preparing for the coming of Jesus; preparing by doing things that help us get ready, and preparing in ways that are great fun! There are so many amazing stories to hear and fun things to do over these four special weeks.
I want to share with you a exciting collection of Advent activities you and your church can easily connect with over this Advent season; a collection of five cozily decorated living rooms that open up to wonderful world of videoed stories and music, family friendly devotions and outdoor adventures, tasty recipes and fun Christmas crafts.
These living rooms have been created for churches to request and then upload to their church website each week of Advent and on Christmas Eve.