By Teri C. Peterson, MDiv ‘05
In many congregations, summer was a slightly (or much) slower season, and as autumn approaches we gear up for an onslaught of new and returning programs. Sunday School returns from sabbatical, the worship schedule may expand to more services, youth groups and confirmation classes and adult education and fellowship opportunities and Presbyterian Women circles and mission projects and and and…
For many pastors and church staff, looking at the September calendar can feel daunting. Continue reading AND, AND, AND.
By Rev. James Ellis III, Chaplain of Discipleship at Hope College
In Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, CEO and founder of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen raises a timely moral inquiry for our society: “Are we raising our children to be safe or to be brave? Are we raising our children to be smart or to be loving? Are we raising our children to be successful or to be significant?”
Given years of work with young people in churches, my interest in Haugen’s concerns the responsibilities of Christian parents and adults. I have encountered many in Christian communities who, perhaps through a wacky combination of innocence, avoidance, and theological misguidance, live as though playing dodge-ball with hardship is the way of Christ.
In this mindset it’s anathema to not pursue or enjoy an existence that avoids risk at all cost. Continue reading The Struggle is Real
August 3, 2016
As I write this article, J. Herbert Nelson is enjoying his first day on the job as the new Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church, USA. I have imagined this day for a while now.
We are at our best as a Church when we imagine the wondrous things that God can do.
When Denise Anderson and I were discerning whether or not to stand as Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly, we went back and forth for several weeks trying to imagine what it might look like to serve the Church we love in this way. Sometimes I was ready to take the leap and Denise was not. Other times, she was on board but I was not. But then we started envisioning together: imagine working with a new clerk and a new vision. Imagine leading our denomination to talk about race and white privilege together. Imagine modeling a new way of serving as co-moderators. And so we leapt.
And here we are several weeks after the 222nd General Assembly still excited about the possibilities. As I wrote for my own Presbytery: Continue reading GA Reflections by Jan Edmiston
By Keith Anderson, author of The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World
We are learning about the Ten Commandments in our Confirmation class this fall, and most recently the Third Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy” and Martin Luther’s explanation of it in the Small Catechism, “We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s Word, but instead keep the Word holy and gladly hear and learn it.”
Inspired by the work we are doing in my class Catechism as Platform and conversations on experiential learning with Bethany Stolle, I decided to craft a Confirmation class that was an experience of Sabbath, rather than just a discussion about it. It turned out to be a great mashup of premodern and postmodern, ancient and digital. Continue reading Keeping Sabbath With My Confirmation Class
By Rev. Dominique A. Robinson, Children’s, Youth & Young Adult Pastor, Providence Missionary Baptist Church
It’s summer time and this means that most churches are either on break or working overtime to keep their children, youth and young adults engaged. My church is of the latter type. We work hard to offer more than the usual programming beyond the Graduate Recognition service in May and the Back-to-School service in August. We seek to have weekly discipleship encounters for the purposes of consistency and faith development.
However, as a Children’s, Youth & Young Adult Pastor of an urban context, I have learned that weekly bible study, two Sundays a month separate worship and monthly fellowship events are not enough to sustain the attention and develop the faith of my young people.
What they are looking for is beyond a lock-in. They want answers! They want safe and sacred spaces to express how they feel about what’s going on in the world around them. Continue reading Beyond the Lock-in: Real Ministries Require Real Conversations