Friday, December 3, 2021

PODCAST: Children's Messages

To Cause to Learn - Episode 8 

If you want to know the truth about effective children's messages check this out! 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

PODCAST: The new Teaching the Faith Podcast

 Hey all, I decided to start a podcast. It's called To Cause to Learn: Effective Teaching in the Church and it follows my book, The Art of Teaching the Faith: Preschool through Adults. I'm disappointed in the editing of the first edition so the second edition will be out in a couple of weeks. The podcast, however, is a lot of fun and full of information. You can find it on Spotify and on Anchor using this link, and on Google Podcasts. 

So far, there are 7 episodes and number 8 will be out this weekend. The episodes are: 

Episode 1: Why be a great teacher of the faith?

A lot of people think they're already good teachers and some think they're good enough. It's a lot of work to be a great teacher. Why be better? Friends, the faith or the Bible is the most important information we learn or teach.
 

Episode 2: The Brain and Learning

We know SO much about how the brain learns and changes as we grow. It's truly amazing and the more we know, the more it can help us be better teachers of the faith. What was it the Maya Angelou said? When we know better we should do better.
 

Episode 3: Boys and Girls and Brain Development

By the high school years this doesn't make much difference, but did you know that male and female brains mature at different rates and the areas mature in a different order? They catch up in or by high school, but it can sure make a difference with the young ones for us to know more about how each gender's brain develops.
 

Episode 4: Narrative Stage: Preschool and Kindergarten

The Narrative Stage in faith education is the years from preschool to second grade. They're the years when kids learn a lot from stories and this podcast talks about kids in preschool and kindergarten and shares information that would help both Sunday school teachers and parents teach the faith well to these adorable tots.

Episode 5: Narrative Stage: Fabulous First Graders!

Oh, the first grade years. They're learning to read! How do we teach the faith to kids who love stories and are learning to read? How can we teach so that it's meaningful at this age? 

Episode 6: Narrative Stage: Let's Get Serious About Second-Graders

There's a reason I separated first and second grade. There's a lot going on with young kids and they change a lot every year. Second-graders are different from first-graders. Yes, their skills are growing and they can read more fluently, but they also have a tendency to be more serious and thoughtful. How can we teach them the faith effectively?

Episode 7: Narrative Stage: Storytelling! 

Yes, it's important to know the kids we're teaching, but it's also important to make Bible stories as interesting and meaningful as they are! How can we make Bible stories come alive for young kids when the Bible isn't written with detail and some of the concepts are challenging? Listen to this and find out. 

Episode 8: Narrative Stage: Children's Messages 

Coming soon!



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

ADVENT: The Old Time Radio Show

Last year, thanks to Covid-19, we had to get creative about our Advent services. We didn't want to do a typical online service and wanted to include some drama. What did we come up with? I wrote an Old Time Radio Show called Journey to Christmas. (Get a sample of the script here.) The plan was that the youth would come in to the sanctuary and record it live while the congregation tuned in at home and listened. There were a few times when kids ended up in quarantine so we had them "phone it in." When doing the live feed we used the slide below. We did not show the kids presenting the show because we didn't want to lose the illusion of radio. Also, nearly every parent who came to sit in the sanctuary said it was more fun listening at home. 


Christmas is not just about Jesus’ birth. It’s about the journey of salvation from the beginning of time to us today. Similar to the Sabbath, Advent is the time before we celebrate Christ’s birth for us to remember what the Lord did for His people throughout the Old Testament. We think about the question, why do we need a Savior?

With both truth and humor,
Episode 1 briefly tells the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac;
Episode 2 briefly tells the stories of Jacob, Joseph, and Moses;
Episode 3 briefly tells the stories of Joshua, Saul, David, and Solomon; and
Episode 4 is the story of Christ’s birth until the departure to Egypt. The last section contains the story of the Magi, which takes place some time after Jesus’ birth and in a house in Jerusalem.

The script is written for an Old Time Radio Show because as a radio show it’s not necessary for players to wear costumes, props are not needed, and memorization is unnecessary, though familiarity with the script helps. The radio drama can be done in front of a congregation, but it’s much more authentic having them listen online or even in the sanctuary without watching the action. With a little tweaking the script can also be used as a regular in-person drama. 

Each Advent episode has three advertisements similar to those heard in old time radio shows. There is a list of characters and possible sound effects at the beginning of each episode as well as a list of electronic sounds and what we did for in-person sounds, which are much more fun than electronics. I found great sounds online for free at ZapSplat.com

In order to stream the show with good sound a microphone is needed at the sound table for all sounds made in person and should be used with the speaker on the PC. Keep in mind that it's not necessary for good sound in the sanctuary, but for all sound to come through balanced online or on the recording. It is wise to rehearse with only sounds before you add them to the dialogue and to have someone on the soundboard to adjust volume as needed. Both the pastor/narrator and God had their own microphones, we had two standing a distance apart for the kids to share, and one at the sound effects table. The sound effects table was in front of the sanctuary because watching the kids do the sounds is part of the fun for those in the sanctuary. It also helps if they have to jump up and read a part. The microphones were not facing the congregation as it made the kids more comfortable not to face them. The narrator for the ads was not the same person as the narrator for the show. 

You can purchase the script below and I'll email it to you. Wow, those Paypal buttons are huge. I hope they work...



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.