Friday, May 8, 2020


I've been hearing about a lot of people who've had a number of students and parents ask why they (or their kids) need to go through confirmation classes, especially if they're not required for salvation. My suggestion is to write some Frequently Asked Questions and answers for your website. Many people already have done that, but I see often that their questions are about when and where classes will be held, what students need to bring, and other procedures.

My FAQ were chosen carefully. I did not want to answer every question under the sun nor did I want to have answers so long that they wouldn't be read. If you're looking for some examples, feel free to check mine out:
  • What does the Bible say about confirmation?
  • What is the history of confirmation?
  • What is the purpose of confirmation?
  • ​Why did Luther write the Small Catechism?
  • ​Should parents be teaching confirmation in the home? ​
  • What is the role of parents in the teaching of the faith to their children?
  • How can parents support their kids through confirmation?
  • How can parents support their pastor through confirmation?
  • Is confirmation a requirement for being a member at St. John Lutheran Church?
  • What is taught in confirmation?
  • Why do we have to memorize so much?
  • ​Why do we have to do sermon notes?
  • Is confirmation the end of one's religious education?
  • Is confirmation still meaningful in the 21st century?
To see the answers go to the St. John Lutheran Church, Sterling, NE website. Remember that learning the Word and the 6 Chief Parts of Christian doctrine is the most important thing we all learn. 
The 10 Commandments show us how God created us to live in a relationship with him and each other. Without him we are without hope and a future. 
The Apostles' Creed describes who we are in a relationship with; briefly explaining the triune God and what he did and does for us. 
The Lord's Prayer is how we are invited to communicate with him and how he teaches us that he wants us to remain in communication with him. 
Baptism is how we are brought into relationship with him through water and the word. 
Confession maintains us in the relationship, continuously bringing us back to him for forgiveness through repentance and confession. 
The Lord's Supper is how he nourishes our relationship, strengthens our faith, and draws us closer to him.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

EDUCATION: The Storyteller Bible

Friends! This is it! For years I've been encouraging people to read the Bible as if it is the great story it is. It's so much easier to understand, especially for kids, when it's read with emotion and inflection. For some reason when we're sitting in church or reading in Sunday School we treat the greatest story ever told as if there aren't even real people with emotions involved in it, but there are!

Check out the Storyteller Bible. You can hear the difference and you'll want one for your family. You can listen together, talk about what you're hearing, write down questions for your pastor, but most of all, you'll hear the gospels as if the Apostles are telling them to you. This is a great resource!

If you use the link to go to the website, scroll down to the book of Jonah for a great sample. It's so amazing how the time flies when you're listening to the Bible in this way; and it's not a story. You're listening to the words of the Bible (Christian Standard Bible) read by Keith Ferrin.

I'm already working on ways that I can introduce this into my congregation! I'm also learning how to memorize books of the Bible through Keith Ferrin's process. I can't wait to get started!

Friday, April 17, 2020

WORSHIP: Using Open Broadcaster Software to Live Stream Worship

I don't know about your church, but with all these online worship services going on we were really scrambling to put something together that was easy to use and didn't take a lot of financial resources. We don't belong to a large congregation that has hired staff specifically for technology. I did some searching around and the Spirit sent me to OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). I figured out how to use it and taught my pastor husband and now he's able to create some really nice services. About a week ago he said, "You should really create a video to show others how to use this for worship." So... I did and here it is. It's on YouTube. Feel free to share it. 

If you'd like to see a sample worship service put together with this look at the Good Friday Service on the St. John Lutheran Church website. The earlier services (or sermons) were my husband on his phone, but with this we have great music, videos, some special music, and are adding readers. We can't wait to get back to corporate worship, but until then, we're trying to make online worship something they will look forward to. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

EDUCATION: When we know better, we do better.

So, you have some extra time in the next few weeks? Because we may not know what we don't know about teaching, why not take some of that time to educate ourelves and/or make some adjustments to our education plans?

The Feast of Victory -- A workbook for those who prepare 5th graders for their first communion. Parents and children go through the book together and meet with the pastor a couple of times before the big event. 

I Am Jesus' Little Lamb -- A keepsake and educational book for the newly baptized; includes a place for baptism photos. Parents, grandparents, godparents, or anybody can read this book as the child grows to remind them of the gifts God gives at baptism. 

The Art of Teaching Confirmation -- Learn what and how to apply the secrets middle school teachers use to effectively teach confirmation. What can you do to get them to discuss, listen, behave? How do you know if they "get" it? 

The Art of Teaching Sunday School -- From preschoolers to adults we can't teach everyone the same way. What is the most impactful way to teach preschoolers? How are middle schoolers different from high schoolers in how they learn? How do we have an adult Bible study that gets people talking? This book tells all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

CHILDREN: Culture-Appropriate Bibles for Children

I was speaking at a conference where some of the teachers asked me about finding resources that fit multicultural classes because they couldn't find anything from Lutheran publishers. Well, my friends, here is what I found for you. I couldn't see inside all of them to see if they were appropriately paraphrased, so if they're not, please use your best judgment about what story you read, but use the photos that help your students identify with them.

Getty Images
What would Jesus have looked like as a 1st century Palestinian Jew? Well, from what I've found, he was neither black nor white, and would not have visited a barber very often, but his hair would not have been very long (1 Corinthians 11:14) unless you took a vow where you promised not to cut your hair or drink wine. It is thought by some that 1st century Judeans would appear biologically similar to today's Iraqi Jews. He would have had black or dark brown hair, brown eyes, and olive-brown skin. He would have worn a knee-length tunic, as only the wealthy wore long tunics, and a wool mantle or cloak without color. Check out information from the well-researched book, What did Jesus really look like?

Culture-Appropriate Bibles
Nearly all of the book I found have very white people or white people with a tan in them.
The Jesus Storybook has wonderful pictures, but the text is advanced for young audiences. 

Culture - Appropriate Online Bible Pictures
Sometimes it's easier to look for individual pictures. There are also coloring pictures that are really easy to find if you do a google search. Those, of course, you can color the way you like.
Shutterstock has some great pictures, but it's not free. It might, however, be a good investment.
Free Bible Images has a lot of pictures, but you have to look for those that don't portray everyone as white. There are also maps which is great for kids in the Knowledge Stage (The Art of Teaching Sunday School).
The Glory Story has some pictures that seem to be close culturally and some are free and some you have to buy. Again, it might be worth the price.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

H.S. YOUTH: Poinsettia Sale Fundraiser

For years when I was living in MN we sold bedding plants each spring as a youth fundraiser. It was our best fundraiser great because so many people buy annuals, it's not focused on getting more money from the congregation (a detriment to many small congregations regular giving), and the youth can make as little or as much as the effort they put in. One year I had a girl make over $600 because she not only asked her family, but tons of people in her community.  We used Gertens because they always provided good, healthy plants and a lot of choices. Guess what? Gertens has a poinsettia funraiser too! Some people sell Christmas wreaths or other greenery and that is nice, but so many people buy holiday flowers that this is a no-brainer for youth fundraising.

What if you don't live near Gertens? Looking online I can find a nursery that sells poinsettias for a fundraiser in almost every state. Search for poinsettia fundraiser near me or try searching poinsettia fundraiser (your state).

The only thing I want to caution you on is making sure you get healthy, good quality plants that will be blooming when needed. Nobody wants a sanctuary of non-blooming lilies or green poinsettias. Look for reviews of the nursery you use!!

It may be too late this year, but put this in your file for next year!
(I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier...)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

EDUCATION: NO-NO for Fill-in-the-Blank or T/F

I know that people love workbooks that have true/false or multiple choice quizzes as well as fill-in-the-blank notes. Why? Because they're easy to do and easy to grade and on some level we think when students get them completed correctly that they've learned something. Not to mention that they're so much easier to teach. You don't have to come up with challenging questions that students don't answer. It's so much easier for kids to look at the verse and or listen to the speaker and pick the missing word. The problem is that those things don't indicate learning. They indicate listening or looking. Look at the example below.

You can see that the first question is a guess at what someone is going to say. Any number of words can go in that blank, so the first thing students are going to do is to listen for the teacher to start the sentence so they can catch the word. Our brains do not multitask. They can think about something or listen, which is why it's never a good idea to talk while students are writing. They will either write or listen, but cannot think about what you're saying while thinking about what they're writing. Let them write and then talk or talk and then let them write. Get comfortable waiting. You can also see that with the other two blanks there are Bible verses listed. Again, students will look for the missing word, but not think about what the verse says. Do you want them to think or come up with the correct words?  Look at the true/false quiz example below. 

There are two problems with true/false quizzes. One you've got a good chance at a correct guess. When looking it over you'll never know if a student understands more than what is there, understands any of what is there, or was just a good guesser. Also, it's not easy to write a good true/false question. These questions were found on an online confirmation curriculum and anyone could guess the correct answers. (The first question should be revised.) 

It's time to start teaching confirmation with the inquiry method. If you want a more meaningful class that's based in discussion and meaningful interaction with the material, take a look at this book on Amazon