Sunday, September 26, 2021

CONFIRMATION: Respond to a Meme or a Picture

Below you'll find the memes included in THE ART OF TEACHING CONFIRMATION RESOURCES Leader's Guide for use for warm-ups. You can also search for images or memes in your browser. 

Intro & Bible



Ten Commandments







Lord's Prayer







Confession and Forgiveness

 

 





Monday, August 2, 2021

CONFIRMATION: The Art of Teaching Confirmation RESOURCES

THE ART OF TEACHING CONFIRMATION RESOURCES

It's available now! I just released the leader's guide for pastors and other confirmation educators on Amazon. The REPRODUCIBLE student workbook is available under the BOOKS tab on is website. In this leader's guide you will find warm-ups, notes pages, learning activities, and cool-downs for Luther's Small Catechism. This is NOT a curriculum, but a variety of resources that can be used to supplement any curriculum you use. Find a sample of the 10 Commandments unit here.

Find the leader's guide on Amazon this month only (Aug. 2021) for $24.99! 



Friday, March 19, 2021

EDUCATION: The Art of Teaching the Faith

The Art of Teaching the Faith introduces the stages of faith education and the concept of Bible Inquiry. Knowing how to teach effectively at every stage of life and development is key to having deeper understanding. How do we teach the faith to kids who are in the Narrative Stage? What is different about how they learn in the Knowledge or Understanding Stage? What about adults? Do they learn best through lecture? If so, how do we lecture in a way that engages them?

What is Bible Inquiry and how do we get students of all ages to want to know more about God’s word? How do we encourage curiosity and questions? Find insight, support, and encouragement for teaching and training volunteer teachers  to share the Bible with young children, teenagers, and adults; teaching them to interact with what they read in the Bible in a more meaningful way in The Art of Teaching the Faith. Available for a short time for $13.99 on Amazon.

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I am so proud of this book! My passion in life is to help people teach the faith better. Why? Do we really need to teach better? My youth think I'm a good teacher. My pastor thinks he's a good teacher. What does good teaching look like? Good teaching is a class that asks questions and participates in their learning experience. It's not about fun activities or how funny the teacher is; it's about active minds. How do we do that? With BIBLE INQUIRY -- It's about the questions asked by leaders and participants and, believe it or not, how they're answered. Find out about that in this book! Then ask for my workshop where we'll practice dynamic, effective teaching of the faith. 

Don't forget The Art of Teaching Confirmation! It's geared to educating students in middle school. 



Monday, January 25, 2021

ADULTS & YOUTH: Mindful Prayer

It seems that life is getting more and more stressful and people are dealing with a lot of anxiety. I've found that my anxiety has risen over the past 5 years with the changes (or lack of needed changes) in politics, the pandemic, and the world's seeming addiction to social media that seems to easily trigger emotions. My blood pressure was rising. 

It also seems that people have time for Yoga or meditation, but not for thoughtful prayer or reading of Scripture. If you ask your pastor, he will most likely tell you that Yoga and/or meditation are not a good idea and suggest you pray more, but many people will tell you that they do pray. They ask God to relieve their stress and fix their problems and the world. "God's not listening!" Yes, He is, but God likes to work on each of us from the inside out. He's not going to change the world to suit each one of us, but He does say, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

To help myself, I developed this practice, have been doing it for the past few weeks and my blood pressure is going down so I'm passing it on. I call it Mindful Prayer and it's really about taking the time to slow down and speak to the Lord, who is always listening. It can be done in the morning to begin your day or anytime throughout the day if you feel stress.


Here's how Mindful Prayer works:
 

Before You Begin

  • Sit in a comfortable straight backed chair. Don't cross your legs.
  • Take a deep breath (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and slowly let it out. Take another. Just doing that you'll feel yourself starting to relax.
  • Give yourself permission to take this time to be with the Lord. The kids are fine, your spouse is fine, and you are fine.

Release Your Anxiety

  • Sometimes when we're under stress we don't take full breaths. As you breathe, breathe deeply and slowly. Paying attention to your breathing helps your body relax. Inhale, hold, exhale. Relax your body from your feet up.
  • Think about where you’re holding stress in your body. I hold stress in my shoulders. Try to loosen that area.
  • When we have stress or anxiety it’s often due to a feeling of being out of control. We feel a loss of the ability to control what's going on around us. Our two greatest stressors right now are the leadership of our country and the pandemic which have a great effect on our family or personal life. Remind yourself that God is in control. Say it out loud. "Lord, I know you are with me and will never leave me. Thank you for your constant love. You are in control. 
  • Think about each thing in your life that gives you stress and give it to God. For each thing say (sometimes it helps to say it out loud): 
“Lord, I’m feeling anxiety/overwhelmed/stress about __________________. I worry about this because _______________. Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting you. I give it to you now. Send your Spirit to increase my faith and bring me Your peace. Thy will be done.”
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Focus on the Word

Spend some time focusing on the Word. Start a program to read the Bible in a year or choose a book and read a chapter a day. Bible Gateway has somebody who will read the section to you whether it’s a few verses or whole chapters. 
  • While you listen, keep breathing, focus on what’s being said and don’t allow anxiety to enter your body. If your mind wanders, bring it back. 
  • Pray: “Open my heart to your Word, Lord. Show me what you want me to learn about You and myself.”
  • Close your eyes and listen to the reading. 
  • After the reading, pray about what you’ve heard and learned. Pray for yourself and others. 
  • Thank the Lord for this time with Him. Amen. 
  • Notice how calm and relaxed you feel! Do this multiple times a week and you'll notice long-term changes in your outlook toward life and the stress of life will lessen. The WORD OF GOD IS POWERFUL to relieve anxiety.
Here is a downloadable reminder of the steps above. I keep mine near the chair I sit in every morning to do this. Here is also a prayer card that can help you focus your prayers. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

CHRISTMAS: In a Covid World

Christmas services are usually our most attended services of the year, especially those that involve the children. In this time of Covid, people keep asking what others are planning this year. We certainly want it to be as special and a celebration of the birth of our Lord. Here are a few options that I've come up with. 

Christmas by the Children

With technology today it is super easy to take pictures of the children in costumes at home, and just as easy to do video. Give each child a part and have them say it in costume at home. Depending on how many children there are each can have their own part. You can also do a Zoom choir of them singing Christmas songs. 

A really great idea (at least to me) is to have parents take a video of their kids telling the Christmas story. 

Another option: If you'd like to create a special gift for parents, take a few moments to ask kids questions about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and various people or situations in the Bible such as the birth of Christ and compile their answers into a book to give parents for Christmas or as an "end of the year" gift. What a beautiful snapshot of what their kids believe at that moment! Remember not to change any of their answers to make them more entertaining or more humorous. That is not the point. They need to be authentic and you might be surprised at the depth of some of the answers!

Here's a simple sample of what a page in a book might look like but I am positive there are many creative scrapbook loving women in the congregation who would love to help put something like this together.

Christmas on the Road

One year we created the story of Christmas by lining up different places to take photo/video of the kids in costume around the county. We took pics of kids on donkeys, in the country walking on a donkey, shepherds with sheep, in a stable, in a wild garden (arboretum), as angels against the sky, and anything else we could think of to get the kids involved. We even found a place that wasn't too far away that had camels for the wisemen! If there was a scene we couldn't figure out we had the kids create drawings. 

A lot of organization is required for this one, especially on photo shoot day. That's the day when everyone goes to take their photos/videos. Places need to be researched and appointments made, maps and/or directions need to be printed, costumes need to be picked up, etc. 

It was unusual, but so much fun! 

The Old Time Radio Christmas

This year we're doing an Old Time Radio Christmas. I'm writing the script right now and the youth are really excited. The one thing I didn't think about is that they had no idea what an old time radio show was. They hadn't seen anything like it. The reason I'm doing this is so that we don't have to worry about staging, costumes, or memorization and we can get away with fewer rehearsals. Not to mention that many boys have volunteered and are really excited about doing the sound effects. 

Have fun and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, September 25, 2020

YOUTH: Geocaching Prayer Adventure

A couple of years ago I wrote a Prayer Hike for the Environmental Learning Program at Camp Omega in Waterville, MN. Campers were given a map and were to hike to designated places. At that place they would find a Bible verse, an activity, and a prayer. ELP students were given a journal and part of the experience included questions which required a response. Ever since then I've tried to figure out how to provide the same experience for the youth and families at my small church in my small town. There aren't enough contemplative areas nearby to do a meaningful hike. Then a college friend told me she started geocaching and BINGO! An idea was born. What about a Geocaching Prayer Adventure in the time of Covid?

Geocaching is simply using your phone and coordinates to find a cache that's been hidden. It can be posted on your church website or the information can be picked up at the church. 

Here's how to do it: 
  1. Choose your locations carefully. If you're going to use private property make sure you get permission to do so. Do not use transportation hubs as unmarked packages may be considered dangerous and destroyed.
  2. Choose your container carefully. Make sure the lid won't pop off easily if an animal plays with it. Also, make sure it's big enough for everything you need to put in it. Choose a color that helps the container blend in with its surroundings. Don't make them so small that nobody can find them.
  3. Create your cache. Most cache's contain a log book (small notebook), geocaching congratulatory note with directions (sample note), pen/pencil, and perhaps a small trinket to swap. Place items that can be ruined by moisture in a ziplock bag inside the container. Label the outside of the container so that those not participating know not to pick it up and take it with them or throw it away. 
  4. Sample cache. First stop on list (does not have to be done first): 
    1. Bible verse card. (read aloud) What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.  1 Corinthians 14:15 ESV 
    2. Activity. SHARE with your group one thing you do or will do to praise and thank God each morning. Together shout, THANK YOU GOD! 
      JOURNAL (write/answer): How do you think starting your day with a simple prayer thanking and praising God for what He does for you each day will change your day?  
    3. Prayer card. Dear God, we love you and praise you for everything you have done and continue to do for us even though we do not deserve it. We ask that you guide us this night and bring us closer to you for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen. 
    4. Sticker. Add the sticker to your passport/journal. 
    5. Log your name(s) in the log book for the leader to retrieve later. 
  5. Camouflage your cache by using camouflage containers or finding a way to color it so that it blends in with the area in which it will hide. Don't make them too easy for people to find. It ruins the fun and challenge. 
  6. Write down the coordinates! If this is a short-term bit of fun (give your group a couple of weeks to find all your caches) keep a chart or table with written directions of where it is hidden so you can easily retrieve it. 
  7. Participants will need to carry a few things with them in a tote bag or backpack: cell phone with a map app or gps locator, water bottle, writing utensil, prayer journal (pick up at church). 
ENJOY!!

Monday, September 14, 2020

FAMILY: Tea Time with Jesus

My niece decided to homeschool her 3 young girls this year instead of have them do online learning. It's a brave choice and a lot of work. To introduce them to poetry she started having Tea Time with Poetry once a week. What a great idea!! It made me think, what about Tea Time with Jesus? What if, once a week or even once a month Moms sat down with their girls and had Tea Time with Jesus? They could take time to connect (What's God doing in your life?), read scripture, talk about it, pray, and Mom could share her faith. They could go to a coffee shop, meet with a family friends or extended family members and talk about life and Jesus while drinking tea and eating biscuits or something. If you can't do it weekly, make it a special monthly event that they never want to miss. It'll strengthen their faith and their relationships. Moms will find that their girls are more calm and face life with greater courage and confidence.

What about the boys? Boys need time with their dads to learn how to be strong, faith-filled, God-fearing men who have a strong desire to lead their family. They could do tea time too, but they can also go out for burgers or a beverage of their choice. Call it Food and Faith or something more clever. They too can pray, talk about where God is in their lives, read scripture and talk about it.

Your older kids may be resistant at first, but if you're firm and keep going, don't let them make excuses and let them off the hook, it'll be one of the things they'll talk about their whole adult lives. Know that God will work in their hearts if you don't give up.

What if you don't have kids? Treat yourself! Choose a quiet place where you can sit down and talk to God with a hot cup of tea, iced tea, or another beverage of your choice and a special treat that you only have during this time with God, reading His word. Reconnecting. Refocusing. Reminding yourself of your purpose. Reinvigorating your life.