A toolbox full of educational strategies, tools, thoughts, and ideas for ministry. My background is Lutheran but these will work for any congregation. Take, use, and/or adapt these ideas and let the Holy Spirit work through them!
I recently became a stepmom of 8. About a year ago I got married to a man who has 8 children and two grandchildren. In one rather brief ceremony I became a stepmom and stepgran to now 3 grandchildren! At first I knew I needed to start praying for them and I did, but my prayers seemed all over the place. I thought about what I thought they needed most and wrote a Parent's Prayer. Sometimes, after I pray this one, I include something unique for each child If a grandparent wants to pray there's one for them too. It's nearly the same thing with a few minor changes.
I love the idea of writing a faith journey. Most people seem to want children or teens to do this, but I have to start out with a reminder that young children have trouble with this kind of thing. They 1) don't reflect well, and 2) don't have much to reflect on. Even when you're in confirmation at 14, there's not a lot to reflect on. Consider the life of a regular 14 year old confirmation student up to that point: Baptism, hopefully taken to Sunday School regularly, they probably don't recognize life events that affect their faith, and are just beginning to be able to analyze and synthesize cognitively, If they have people in their lives who have played a role in their faith development, they may not be able to verbalize why. They just haven't the maturity and experience to draw on. That's why I do a different project for middle school students. I have them create a faith journey poster. It's not as daunting a task as a paper, not to mention that they're just learning to write papers in middle school. However, if you want them to write a paper at that stage they need a lot of guidance. I've posted on this before and created some resources to help with this.
One of my other issues is that we have kids do these projects at the young age of 14 and then never push them to think about it again. If you want to have high school students think about their faith, challenge them with the same project, but expect a little more from them.
If you really want to challenge, encourage, and uplift the adults in your congregation, create an adult class where they think about these things and write their faith journies. You can start by talking about the faith journies of some people in the Bible. Moses and Abraham would have some great stories to tell. David had quite a faith journey as did Paul. If you go through the process below with the Biblical examples it'll be easier for them to go through it with theirs so they don't include too much or too little. They can include baptism certificates, wedding licenses, photos of friends or family members, or anything that helps them express their journey. Here are some questions to help them get started and a resource.
What are your faith
milestones? These might be somebody in your family getting sick or dying, a time
when you were going through personal struggles, loss of job, divorce, drug
addiction/recovery, etc. For some people they may just be a stage of life such
as going from elementary school to middle school or from high school to
college. There may have been particular experiences in college or after that
changed the way you think, feel, or perceive faith or religion.
Is there anything in your
family history that may have affected your faith journey? For example, my
mother’s family did not go to church and after my grandmother died, the lady
who married my grandpa was Lutheran and insisted the girls be baptized and go
Do you have any certificates
that play an important role in your faith journey? These might include baptism
or confirmation certificates or experiences, wedding licenses or funeral
remembrances. How did they affect your faith?
What people in your life
have had an impact on your faith? This
could be a pastor, youth leader, parent, family friend, or even a childhood
friend. It may also be somebody who affected your life negatively. Who was this
person and how did s/he affect your faith?
books or other readings have had an impact on your faith? What did they say
that made you consider your faith differently?
What stories/accounts from the Bible have
inspired you the most and why?
What Bible character has a story most like my own? How are they similar?
gone through any challenging times or celebrations that may have brought you
closer to or drove you away from Christ?
What parts of your faith journey are evident in your life today?
the journey taken you so far? Describe your faith as it is today.
What one word or phrase describes your faith journey and why? Looking at all these things in your life. Is there a pattern?
What Bible verse best desribes your faith and why? You may want to look at a topical Bible or concordance for help.
I'm noticing more and more that there seems to be confusion about the purpose and roles of sponsors in Lutheran Baptism and thought it was time to help pastors educate people in this matter. With so many different teachings (and the internet), it's not a good idea to assume people know anything relating to the teachings of the church, and baptism, similar to a wedding, is often practiced from a secular standpoint. Some people believe being a godparent is only a legal role regarding guardianship if something happens to the parents, not realizing that the church doesn't have legal authority over such things. Some think it's about having a lifelong special mentor or friend, and some simply consider it an honor. While all of these things may be included, many have no idea that there's a Christian education or faith formation obligation involved.
My husband was recently asked to baptize a child and the parents wanted a non-Christian sponsor. He commented that it would be nice to have something to hand to people in this situation that would briefly explain Baptism and the role of a sponsor from a Lutheran perspective. Based on his comment, I created a brochure for him to use in the future and thought I would share it. While it in no way covers every question regarding Baptism, I hope it helps some of you out there too.
Below is a photo of the brochure, but you can download a pdf version if you prefer. Print it back-to-back. It's a tri-fold.