Friday, November 3, 2017

EDUCATION: Luther's Kids Prayers in Song

It has been brought to my attention by a pastor that with a couple of simple changes, the Luther's Kids Morning and Evening Prayers I wrote can be sung to the Tallis Cannon or Old Hundredth tunes. What an exciting observation! I might suggest that if you're teaching them to children that you choose a different tune for each prayer. That way they won't confuse the words.

I've created posters of them and will be getting new bookmarks as well. Stay tuned!



Friday, October 27, 2017

EDUCATION: The Atheist Delusion Video

All Americans have not heard the truth. You don't have to go to the mall and reach out to perfect strangers because everybody has a friend or family member they need to talk to about what God has done for them through Jesus Christ.

This video, The Atheist Delusion: Why Millions Deny the Obvious is both interesting and enlightening, beginning with the logic behind intelligent design and the illogic of evolution, the interviewer logically takes self-proclaimed atheists down a path of discovery. Show it to your youth and adults! There are a few discussion questions below that will help them pull it all together. It will not only help people when discussing their faith, but will encourage and affirm what they already believe.

The Basic Flow of Questions in the Video
Do you believe God exists?
Can something come from nothing?
Where does the complex and unique information in DNA come from?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (What evolved first?)
Why do we have knowledge of right and wrong?
Why do we want to live in darkness?
If God exists, does hell exist?
Is it just to punish evil?
Are you a good person?
If judged, would you be guilty and go to hell?
Do you know what God did for guilty sinners so they wouldn't have to go to hell?

If you want to purchase the dvd, you'll find it at Living Waters. It's $4.99 and I believe it would be good for Christians to support their efforts.




Possible Pre-movie Questions
Everybody has a friend (or family member) who is an atheist and believes in evolution because they have not heard the truth. In a discussion with that person, what would you say to support your belief in creation, their creator, and what he did to assure their salvation?

Possible Movie Questions
Either pause periodically to give time to respond to these questions (or any that you add), or give time after the video. At the very least, make sure people have paper and pencil to respond to question 8 on this list.

  1. What is the argument against nothing producing or becoming something? 
  2. What are 3 or 4 points that prove the earth/universe was created by intelligent design? 
  3. When asked about evolution, what is a problem with the idea of evolution from a single cell?  
  4. Once they agree that there must be intelligence behind creation, why is it so difficult for people to admit there is a God?
  5. What is idolatry?
  6. If God exists, and the Bible is true, why do some people still want to sit in darkness?
  7. Do you think it would help to give these people something after a discussion like this that would help them answer their questions? What might that be?
  8. Write down anything that impresses you about the questions that were asked and answered or how they were asked and answered.
Possible Post-movie Questions
Write down a brief outline of what your heard in the video. 
What would you tell your atheist friend or family member now? 

If you want a study or video guide created by the video creators, you can find it here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

CONFIRMATION: How to Give/Take Notes

When I was in confirmation the only notes I took were the doodles on the sides of the pages of my catechism. "What? You mean you weren't completely engaged in the important information?" No. My pastor sat in a chair or stood by a podium and spoke for an hour or so and asked questions nobody really answered.

Recent studies have shown that students learn more when taking their own notes by hand. What does this mean? Using computers, tablets, or recording devices for note taking does not increase learning. Putting notes in handouts and handing them out, does not increase learning.

What does that mean for confirmation? It means that having students take notes is a good learning tool for better long-term comprehension and should be used by confirmation educators. It also keeps students engaged. Students who take notes by hand out-perform those who use technology in responding to conceptual questions. The problem is that most pastors don't expect note-taking and, believe it or not, most middle school students do not know how to take notes. Note-taking is a skill that is expected, but not taught in many schools today. The only people who think taking notes using a computer is better are people who sell computers.

How can you help students take good notes? 

  • Give each student a notebook at the beginning of the year. They should be able to use the same notebook for every year of confirmation. I recommend the composition notebooks that are not spiral so the pages are not easily removable. Put a big name sticker on the front of each one.
  • Develop some short-hand symbols for students to use when taking notes for those words that you use often. For example, Israelites = I, Disciples = D, 10 Commandments = 10C, Old and New Testaments = OT or NT, etc.
  • Remind students often that taking notes is not a exercise in writing down everything you say. 
  • Learn about graphic organizers (a visual display that demonstrates relationships between facts, concepts, or ideas). Sample 1 (Abraham) - Sample 2 (10 Commandments) - Sample 3 (6 Chief Parts)
  • Give periodic notes quizzes. These are short 3-5 question quizzes for which students use their notes to find answers. 
  • Play review games and let students use their notes to show them the value of re-reading them. 
  • Use clues or cue words to help students know when you're saying something they should write down. I used to tell my students, "If I write - you write." If you write while they do, you won't feel impatient waiting.
  • If you use slides, students will copy them down... without thinking about what they are writing. They will also stop listening while they write so stop speaking while they're writing. I often said, "Can I go on?" Give outlines and expect them to fill in the details on their own. Give them time to write definitions in their own words. 
  • Take a moment to ask a quick comprehension question about what they just wrote down. 
  • Either collect or look at notes once in a while and put a sticker or something on them to show that you've seen them and approve.
These are just a few things that can be done to help students take notes. It may seem a bit complicated at first, but the more you practice these things the better you will get at doing them. Remember, you're teaching them the most important thing they will ever learn. Do it well! 

Find other great teaching information in The Art of Teaching Confirmation.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

EDUCATION: Luther's Prayers Bookmarks and the Reformation's 500th Anniversary

As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this year we are focusing more closely on what it and Martin Luther did for all believers. I love Luther's prayers. One night I decided to start saying them more often and didn't want to get out of bed to find my catechism. I wanted a bookmark so that they would be readily accessible and couldn't find them anywhere. So, as I usually do, I created some. With the anniversary coming up I have been approached to sell them. So, here they are. If you want to give them to your congregation as a part of the celebration, don't wait too long to order them.

Sold in groups of 25. Quantities can be changed at checkout.

Bookmark Options


Monday, September 18, 2017

EDUCATION: The Bible Project

Yesterday we started a new season of Bible study at church and before we just jumped in and started reading, the pastor is taking some time to teach us about the Bible itself. Sometimes background information about the history of the Bible itself, its writers, the Israelites and their culture, and the language it's written in can make all the difference. We looked at a video resource that is great for people of all ages. Ok, well, maybe not preschoolers or young elementary age children as the vocabulary might be a challenge, but everybody else. It's called The Bible Project and the videos can be found on YouTube or on their own website. I don't know who is writing all the episodes but it's nondenominational so, as with every unknown resource, preview the videos before showing them to make sure they're compatible with your church's beliefs.

Of course, when it comes to the Bible, it's best for people to read it themselves and not just listen to somebody summarize it, so do not use this as a substitute for reading. This is especially true for kids, however, sometimes it helps them to have an overview of what's going on if the reading is challenging. This can be true even at the middle school level. So, if you're using a Bible reading plan for confirmation, some of these may be helpful. The videos are broken up into categories: Series, Themes, Old Testament, and New Testament.

Series
How to Read the Bible - Information to help you read the Bible with greater understanding.
Torah - First five books of the Old Testament about God's covenant with the Israelites.
Gospel - Retells the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
Wisdom - Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job
Shema (Word Studies) - The shema is a prayer the Jews have prayed for thousands of years. This is a look at the meanings of the words from that prayer.

Themes:  The Covenants, Day of the Lord, Gospel of the Kingdom, Heaven and Earth, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Image of God, The Law, The Messiah, Sacrifice and Atonement, Public Reading of Scripture

Here is the first video in the How to Read the Bible Series.


Monday, September 11, 2017

OUTREACH: Social Media Posts

A lot of churches are writing creative blurbs, publishing quotes, and sharing scripture on social media. Society today is all about marketing and many churches, it seems, have jumped on the bandwagon. The problem is that there's a lot out there that it is false or wrong. Some of the issues are:

Scripture out of context. 
1 Corinthians 15:57 actually says,  "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Hmmm...






False Doctrine
There is no biblical reference here, but that's because there is no place in the Bible where we are promised that if we survive unfairness or tough times that we will be rewarded with double the stuff we had before.







Incorrect References 
Psalm 34:7 actually says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." The correct reference is Psalm 37:4.




Another problem I've seen is no mention of God, Jesus, or the Bible. If you're marketing an event at your church, you mention the name of the church. If you're trying to strike up a conversation about faith, you point to God, Jesus, faith, the Bible, etc. These examples come from congregations trying to have a media presence.
Can you see a problem with them?


This one looks like great self-help advice. Perhaps it came from Oprah or another talk show helper. You would never know it came from a church, which church, or if it is scripture. The truth is, it's not about YOU. If you want to change your life, you need to follow Christ. He will lead you down the right path.

This one is true. God, the Father, loves us SO much. But then it says that he "just dropped everything that he was doing to tell you so." He dropped everything he was doing? What was he doing? This just doesn't make sense. God loves us far more than taking a moment while watching his favorite tv show or gardening to tell us. He loves us so much that he gave is one and only Son to die for our sins. How about just saying that?

If my pastor asked me to share these I would not. I would, however, share something that points to my church (which will point someone to Christ), to my Bible (which will point someone to Christ), or anything that simply points to Christ.

My whole point is that if you want your members to share something on their social media sites, make it something worth sharing. Something worth sharing POINTS TO CHRIST! You're sharing so that you might have a conversation. About what? About God, who sent His Son, to die for all our sins. Share that!!

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!!