Friday, July 21, 2017

CONFIRMATION: New and Updated Free Forms!

Vehicle Visor Bible Verse
I recently updated the free forms that I give away when I give Confirmation workshops. You'll find them under the CONFIRMATION tab. Also, I hope you've already started to update your confirmation curriculum for next year. You can view all the confirmation posts if you use the quick link VIEW POSTS BY CATEGORY at the right. Lots of resources in those 69 posts from cool ideas about memorizing (like the vehicle visor Bible verse shown) to having a better discipline plan or how parents can help.

Teach them well, friends. It's the most important thing they'll ever learn!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CHRISTMAS: Amateur Gingerbread or Cereal Treat Nativity Contest

Being the middle of July, we're getting close to fall, which means we're getting close to Christmas. I posted before about two things I'd like to bring together. People seem to love making gingerbread houses, but they're sometimes a challenge for kids, so I posted on making Christmas cereal treat churches as a silent auction fundraiser. (You can see my attempt below.) I also posted on having a Nativity on Parade, an idea I love as I love seeing everybody's nativity scenes when I visit them. What a cool Advent evening event that could be!

Today I want to bring them together and think it would be a great idea to open up a gingerbread church or nativity contest to the community.

Rice Krispie Church (mine)
Obviously I'm not going to be winning any Christmas baking contest any time soon, but it was fun!

Gingerbread Nativity

Rice Krispie Nativity

Here are some practical ideas or options for your event:
  • Have age categories. (Adult or 18+ years, Teen or 13-17 years, Youth or 9-12 years)
  • Allow teams or partners.
  • Everything (except the base) must be edible. 
  • All structures will be tasted and hopefully eaten with coffee/milk and joy after the competition. 
  • Judge entries on overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficulty or complexity, and taste. Who wants a beautiful gingerbread nobody can eat? 
  • Have forms so everybody can vote, a specific group that will vote anonymously, or both! 
  • Have two categories: gingerbread and/or cereal treats. 
  • Have free beverages and other baked goods (maybe for sale - the youth could make some money). 
  • Combine it with a homemade ornament sale.
  • Get to know your neighbors!!! 
  • Make it fun! Don't make it so serious or formal that people forget to laugh at themselves and each other. Share the joy of the season!

Always be sure to invite the community to an event like this and don't forget to have the pastor share the gospel story for why we celebrate the birth that inspired all these lovely edible treats before the winners are announced.  After the winners are announced, EAT THEM!

Yum! I'm really feeling in the spirit now!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SERVICE: Backyard Mission

Summer, the season of youth trips, mission trips, and servant events. Everybody is taking a group out of the country for a great mountain top experience. What fun! We had a great time and we helped!

Yes, but what are we missing in our own backyard? Do we see the needs of those who live across the street from our homes and the church? Those who live around the block? Do we even know their names? Are we so busy doing service overseas that we don't do it in our own backyard because it's not so exciting or because it's so much more difficult to get volunteers to do it?

Start a Backyard Mission

Every congregation should have a Backyard Mission. What's that? It's getting to know and helping your neighbors. If your church is in a neighborhood, do you know the names of the neighbors across the street? Do you know their needs? Have you prayed for them? Have you introduced yourself?

My suggestion is that for a week in the summer, make it a big deal to have groups go around the neighborhood and see if there's something you can do to help them. Then turn it into an ongoing project, not just something you do once a year. After all, how much money does it take to take a group of people overseas to help and how much more further would that money go to help in your own backyard. Try one or all of these:

  • Pray for your neighbor.
  • Fix up a yard.
  • Paint a room or a house.
  • Do a walk around food drive for the local food shelf. 
  • Do a walk around sock drive to prepare for the winter months.
  • Clean up trash in a local park.
  • See what you can do at a local homeless shelter.
  • Work in a community garden.
  • Build a Men's Servant Team.
  • Develop a continuing relationship with a local retirement or nursing home. (They don't just need you at Christmas!)

Make your church known in the community as a church that doesn't just talk about Jesus' love inside the walls, but shows it outside the walls and into your own backyard. Don't show that you only do service in other countries and then come back all pumped up to share your great experience when those around you may be needing that energy and your help. Jesus didn't set up a tent and try to get people to come to him. He went out. We need to go out too... into our neighborhoods and then the rest of the world.

I posted on this subject before here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

SPRING DISCOUNT: The Art of Teaching Confirmation

A great resource for a pastor, DCE, or volunteer confirmation educator!

The Art of Teaching ConfirmationThe Art of Teaching Confirmation
20% OFF Spring Discount Code: XXXXXXXX
SORRY! The Spring Discount has ended...

This book shares the secrets of secondary education with confirmation educators. Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." In light of what we have learned through research about how children learn, and educational policy and practice it is time now to do better by taking that information and applying it to confirmation. By changing just a few things about how they teach, confirmation educators can bring about a more significant understanding of the Bible and their faith for adolescents and with the help of the Spirit, a more meaningful personal relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The purpose of this book is to provide insight as to how to help adolescents interact with the information in a more meaningful way at their developmental level.


Ordered it. Read it. Marked it up. Loved it. It's an easy read and full of great, easy to apply tips and tricks for anyone to put into practice. I think you should take all the same logic but expand it to more than just confirmation. Those who teach Bible Studies, or lead Small groups would benefit as well - obviously some of the statistics and research would be different - but especially the quotes from Brain Rules says - this applies to any brain....I'm planning to have this book next to me as a handbook for all my confirmation lesson planning!
– Nathan Erb, Vicar and Minister of Youth & Family Ministries, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Garden City, NY

I learned a lot from reading this book-- everything from the science of the adolescent brain to practical tools and templates. I've been teaching Confirmation for 23 years as a pastor and I found myself nodding in agreement on many things I have stumbled into through experience (could have used her book 20 years ago!) and starring many ideas to use. I particularly liked her classroom management tips, her lesson plan strategies, and her analyzing of the questions we pose in class. In chapter one, she tackles the question: "Parents or pastors?" and I was surprised and challenged by her conclusion. This book offers sound educational theory, a good reminder, a powerful encouragement, and a collection of tools. It is good for the beginner and the seasoned professional.
– Jim Bender, Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church, Topeka, KS
20% OFF Spring Discount Code: TC8NC7H6

Thursday, April 20, 2017

EDUCATION: God's Promises at Baptism DISCOUNT

Introductory 10% Discount

I Am Jesus' Little Lamb: God's Promises at Baptism

When we are baptized God promises us great things! What are they? This book highlights the gifts of baptism and what they mean for those baptized. Add personal information and give a gift of baptismal remembrance. It's a great educational gift that keeps on giving! 

It's also a great book to read for a Children's Message if a child is baptized in the worship service.

Use this website to use the discount code below.
10% Discount Code:  MMC82824

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Find it on Amazon.
My third grandson is being baptized this weekend! In my own family (as it probably is in many) some children are baptized in the Lutheran faith, some are baptized and their parents take them to a non-denominational or reformed Christian church, some have been baptized but aren't taken to church or Sunday School for follow-up education, and some are not baptized at all. More often than not, both inside and outside of the church, people think the role of a godparent is to raise a child upon death of the parents or to be a special life mentor and friend. They miss the true responsibility. Many Lutherans, even those who have been confirmed, cannot tell you what Lutherans believe about baptism or what gifts it brings.

As many people know, I have concern about how the Lutheran church educates its members from cradle to grave. One of the ways I combat my concern is to use my teaching degrees to create resources for the church. I Am Jesus' Little Lamb: God's Promises at Baptism is one of them. It's a book about baptism that can be read to children on their baptismal birthday or any day. It shares information for parents and sponsors about the truth of baptism to clear up some of the beliefs floating around today. It would be a great gift for sponsors, for children being baptized, and for churches to give parents who have their children baptized in their church. 

This will be the first of a series I call Faith Milestones. 
First Milestone: Baptism. Check. 
Second Milestone: First Communion. Stay tuned. 

You can see a few random pages from the book below. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

EDUCATION: Need Something to Challenge Them?

If you need a problem for your youth or adults to struggle with on some random Sunday morning, try this one. I got it from a comment on a blog post (not mine). The blog was about forcing your children to go to church or letting them decide on their own. Here's the challenge:  What do you know about faith and the Bible that can help you respond to this? It might work best if people are broken into groups and share their responses at the end. You might find a lot of good, yet different, responses. Ready? Go!
If I saw a growing minority of people who never ate [went to church], at all, and never suffered any ill effects from it–they never got hungry, never got weak, never missed food in the way we’d expect–I might give up daily eating. It would save a lot of money, after all, if food wasn’t really a need, but only something we’d been taught to THINK we needed. 
If I saw children routinely being hit by cars and not being hurt–and I’m not talking about miraculous near-death brushes, I’m talking about if a child could be hit full-on by a speeding vehicle with no harm, like the child was Superman–then I probably would let my daughter play in the road. 
If science and statistics proved that children learned just as much by NOT going to school as they do by going to school, I wouldn’t make my kids go to school. 
And what of church? Well, the more I learn about the world, the less I see Jesus actually doing anything real. I see there are good people and bad people in Christianity just like there are good people and bad people in other religions, so Christianity isn’t needed to be a good person. I see unhappy Christians and happy non-Christians, so I know Christianity isn’t required for happiness. I see dozens and dozens of examples where the Bible got things wrong, where it looks like God doesn’t even exist–so I have less confidence about the Bible’s predictions of heaven and hell. So no, forcing your kids to go to church isn’t the same as educating them, protecting them from harm, or caring for their most basic bodily needs. It’s just brainwashing, to force them to behave how you want them to behave.