Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It Takes a Village

Hey, ELCA citizens of the blogosphere and theological kissing-cousins! I have a favor to ask you, by way of our pastoral intern (have I mentioned that she's doing a terrific job?).

First some backstory: Our church, like many others, has a difficult time these days gathering people together in real-time to do religious formation. Those days when parents dutifully brought their children to Sunday School and their adolescents to catechism class week after week on a consistent basis are no more, for a variety of reasons.

A couple of years ago our Education Committee, at the request of frustrated parents, came up with a program of monthly educational packets -- an assortment of lessons, prayers and activities that families could do together -- that we've been sending to families of small children. This is supplemented throughout the year with special educational events/family worship. In our locality, this seems to be a workable alternative to traditional Sunday School.

Now parents of older kids, tweens and teenagers, have asked the Education Committee if a similar program could be developed for confirmation class.

Knowing all the creativity that goes on in other congregations, I am asking my online friends for help in finding resources to create a confirmation-class packet. We have until recently been using a resource called Free to Be, but we need to update and upgrade. And we are open to thinking outside the box in terms of utilizing "homegrown" materials, including online resources, that congregations have developed themselves. I'm also interested to hear how other congregations are navigating religious formation these days when it's so hard to get people (including FT and me) committed to a physical classroom presence on a week-to-week basis.

Thank you in advance for your helpfulness and creativity.


Jody said...

No ideas for the at-home packets, but our new pastor has introduced a program of overnight "lock-ins" and a week of camp as the backbone of our confirmation program. Working with 11 other congregations, we have the lock-ins twice a year (they rotate between the churches) and then kids are expected to attend camp for two years. Over the course of three years, kids are expected to attend four lock-ins (each focuses on a different part of the catechism, and then the history of Luther, I think?) and two sequential years of camp (because the camp does Old Testament one year, New Testament the other).

We still have weekly confirmation classes on Sundays, but no Wednesday night offerings, and open acceptance of the fact that kids will miss some Sundays.

I'm not thrilled about the flexibility myself (I think it's a powerful signal about what we believe is important: you NEVER hear a soccer coach or a band director tell a teen, "hey, we know you have a lot of demands on your time, so it's OK to miss some practices and the occasional game") but these are the steps we've taken to make sure that the kids get exposure to all the big themes of confirmation over time.

Kristin said...

We have created a new worship service that combines materials from Faith Inkubators with our own creativity projects and Communion. It's one of our more energetic services and the only one that's growing.

I'd be happy to give you more info, but don't want to hog all your comment space. Let me know if more would be helpful.

There's also a Facebook page: Killing Sunday School/Cross-Gen Worship that's full of ideas.

lorrainefort said...

Hi; I stumbled on your blog through RevGals! :)
Our confirmation ministry has taken on a decidedly different form. We do meet weekly and use the "Here We Stand" Curriculum. It's inexpensive, I downloaded the whole thing so am only paying for it for one year. This year, we were able to do the online connection that allowed folks who were not able to attend to get the materials and have them done when they returned to class. I like it and I don't. It's pretty tied into discovery through Bible work, which I like. Because we have adults who also attend the class, we didn't get to do much in the way of activities they suggest. The material is complete and diverse, if you have time to mete out what you want to do!
I also, in my former call, used Concordia Publishings materials both of their "eyes, ears, and all my senses" books which are hands on activities to learn/explore ideas from the Catechism as well as their Blue, spiral catechism book and their old-fashioned looking Bible story book. Applying Luther's Catechism and According to Plan. both are very readable and have activities but we did the readings more and enjoyed them.
I like both, but the HEre we STand takes much less prep time, for me.
Good luck. IT's not easy to navigate how to put all of this together!