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on my way to canada

Small Canadian Flag

this weekend i'm traveling to canada to speak at a church - i'm really looking forward to the topic: discovering a fresh perspective for the spiritual formation of  kids.  i'm so energized by conversations that stretch our minds and challenge our assumptions - in order that children benefit in their faith relationship.

i'll be presenting 2 workshops - the first is called how to see the lemons and the limes and gives vision to developing a new perspective. it's based on isaiah 43:19 which is one of my all-time favorite passages: be alert, be present, i'm about to do something new. it's bursting out! don't you see it? there it is! i'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.

i believe that we need a fresh perspective in order to discover new ways of building a lasting faith for children. much of the research cited in this workshop is from unChristian by david kinnamen and gabe lyons, growing up digital by don tapscott, and children's ministry in the 21st century by group publishing.

the second workshop is called 3 keys to spiritually forming kids and is a practical lab in which we discuss:

  1. connecting parents with the church (by partnering together in providing family resources, establishing safety for new parents, and providing a nutritious and allergy free environment),

  2. bringing the bible and faith to life for children (by providing opportunities for children to discover the bible as a cohesive story and ask honest questions about the bible, and providing opportunities for children to see their faith as bigger than themselves by serving others and understanding the global community.)

  3. modeling an authentic faith - specifically through the hidden curriculum

i'm excited about the trip - and all that it will mean for the children of this lovely church.

a few of my favorite things

these are a few of my current favorite resources for children's ministry..

seeds family worship

i absolutely love the music - great songs for families and churches! and the website is a fantastic resource for families, worship leaders and children's leaders. the best part is that each package comes with 2 identical cds - 1 to keep and 1 to give to a friend. what a great idea!


JellyTellythe newest creation from phil vischer, founder and creator of big idea and veggie tales. a great place for kids and families to play games, watch episodes, and listen to music. and the best part - jellybits where you can download individual videos for your children's ministry program!

emergency response handbook for children's ministry

i love how practical and useful this tiny book is. each chapter is 1-2 pages long and gives information about how to handle various situations in children's ministry such as: a child experiencing a tragic loss, poverty, a parent with alcohol/drug addictions, etc. i love that the book is simple, easy to understand and offers several approaches to every issue. and now it's available as a download!

i have 2 seeds family worship cds to give away - just leave a comment about your current favorite thing for children's ministry and i'll pick 2 people to receive a cd!


twitter as a volunteer training tool

my friend matt guevara recently blogged about the various social media tools necessary for networking and learning in children's ministry. i love the conversation about how to best use facebook and twitter and cm connect in order to stay connected. i especially love how easy twitter is in helping me stay connected to the children's ministry conversation.

i use twitter for 3 main purposes:

  • to stay connected with children's ministry leaders from various churches

  • to be linked to new blogs or articles

  • to share my own ideas about children's ministry

and i've been wondering if volunteers in my own children's ministry might be interested in twitter for the same purposes. twitter might just be a great way to train volunteers in small, bite-size, manageable pieces - and a way to offer training between sundays. volunteers would start by receiving a simple list of children's ministry folks to follow, and then they would be encouraged to tweet on their own schedule. they could follow links, ask questions, and choose to follow additional leaders.  twitter seems like a great way to provide training that is customized to each individual volunteer, some might like to participate in certain conversations based on their serving roles. as a follow up - at each children's ministry meeting - the group of volunteers takes a few minutes to talk twitter - by sharing new learnings, suggesting new people to follow and bringing helpful articles for the whole group.

i think twitter as a training tool has real potential.


children's ministry in the urban church

yesterday morning i had a great meeting with darlene, a children's leader who is interested in envisioning the urban church, specifically the african-american urban church, to re-think spiritual formation for children in their local context. she described the dilemma many african-american churches have when it comes to age-appropriate children's ministry - most families hold a high value for being together during worship and aren't eager to send their children to a separate classroom. how can the church affirm this value (which of course is a fantastic value) and still provide relevant teaching for both children and adults?

i believe this children's leader has a new voice that will encourage and empower many urban churches - and challenge those of us who have worked for a long time in suburban churches. darlene promised she would put all of her thoughts together to be posted on this blog, look for that in the upcoming weeks.

but until then - i'm curious to hear from you - what are the needs of the urban church in the spiritual formation of children and youth? and are there any resources or training that already exist or is this an area of great need?

i'm a big fan of confirmation sunday

i'm a relatively new presbyterian - 3 years to be exact.  yesterday i experienced my second confirmation sunday - and i think it's one of the greatest things we've got going in our church for the spiritual formation of kids and students.

for the entire school year - the 8th graders of our church spend their sunday mornings in confirmation class - learning about their faith, their church, and the history that surrounds their faith and church. then on a sunday morning in may, they stand up in the front of the church - before their entire faith community, their family, their friends, their pastors, and their shepherds - and commit to following jesus the very best they can, and to build his church with their skills and passions. it's fantastic.

there is a part at the very end of the worship service that always makes me emotional. near the end, all of the confirmands stand in the front of the church in a circle as the pastors, family, friends and confirmation shepherds gather around them and pray for them. it's a beautiful picture of the church and home working together, partnering closely for the sake of the child. last year, my husband served as a confirmation shepherd to the coolest 8th grader in the bunch. i was extremely emotional as i watched him pray over the student - i felt so much pride for my husband and the way he continues to use his gifts to invest in students. but this year - my husband and i watched from the balcony - and it was just as emotional. young 14 year old students committing themselves to following jesus and his church.

i love what confirmation communicates to both students and adults at our church - you as a 14 year old are crucial to our faith community. god leads you, and gifts you - and we need you to contribute to our community. in her book "postmodern children's ministry" ivy beckwith quotes horace bushnell by stating:
"my argument is to establish that the child is to grow up a christian and never know himself as being otherwise."

i love this - and i believe the ritual of confirmation affirms faith in students, as they continue to build on the foundation from childhood and move into a mature life of faith.