Check out a wealth of resources, old and new, that will help you explore faith nurture in today’s world.
Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation,
John Roberto. LifelongFaith Associates, 2010.
This is a book about hope. Hope in the future of faith formation. Hope in the next generation. Hope in churches that are resilient and adaptive in the face of great challenges and opportunities. Hope and trust in God who will do marvelous and wondrous things in our churches and world through us. Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation will guide your church in envisioning and developing dynamic, engaging, and inspiring faith formation in the second decade of the 21st century. The new environment in which Christian faith formation operates today requires new thinking, models, practices, resources, and technologies to address the spiritual and religious needs of all ages, families, and generations. This book presents the knowledge and tools for envisioning the future in your church, for utilizing practices and strategies for bringing the future to life in your church, and for developing your capacities for leading faith formation into the future.
Real Kids, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives,
Karen Marie Yust. John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
In a culture that has lost touch with love, compassion, and meaning, how can parents be intentional about building a spiritual foundation for their children’s development? A pastor, teacher, and mother, Karen Marie Yust offers a refreshing array of resources and provisions to guide and sustain parents and children on their mutual journey. Drawn from a three-year study of children’s spirituality as well as the best in theological tradition and literature, the book provides insight and a variety of helpful tips for nurturing children’s spiritual and religious formation. In addition to offering a wealth of practical advice on how to engage children in authentic faith practice, Yust helps parents identify their own important role in a child’s deepening life of faith. This book forges a path for a child’s spiritual life and invites parents to share the journey.
99 Ways to Raise Spiritually Healthy Children, Kathleen Long Bostrom. Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
Bostrom, author of the popular books 99 Things to Do Between Here and Heaven and Making Space for the Spirit, offers fun, practical, and thought-provoking ideas for nurturing the spiritual lives of children, parents, and families. Each of the 99 entries includes a Scripture passage, a theoretical or practical suggestion for weaving together faith and daily life, and a provocative challenge that encourages readers to spend some time contemplating the lessons learned.
The Power of God at Home: Nurturing our Children in Love and Grace.
J. Bradley Wigger. Jossey Bass, 2003.
Wigger provides a biblical model and practical suggestions to help the family become aware of God’s presence in everyday life. He uses honest examples from his own family that open a window to grace and encourage parents to take a second look at how home and faith connect in their own lives in caring out the role of primary educators for their children.
Family ‘Round theTable
Formerly the Logos program, this website provides a variety of resources for family ministries. One item from this group that’s worth taking a look at is Family ‘round the table ,which is an inexpensive app for your iPhone. The easy-to-use app is designed for families and keyed to the common lectionary–which is especially nice if you attend a church that follows it. Each week there are four activities: Eating Together (including menu suggestions and grace), Studying Together (a simple Bible study), Celebrating Together (worship, which may have links to stories or songs) and Playing Together. There are also options to browse by Menu, Holiday (church year), Scripture, or Activity. This app is also available as a downloadable resource for each of the three years in the common lectionary, allowing looking ahead and planning.
Ed note. I tested this app with grandchildren (10 and 15 year old) for Advent 2013. We enjoyed exploring the options and used the prayers and discussion questions.
Together We Pray: A Prayer Book for Families.
J Wigger. Chalice, 2005.
Together We Pray is a book of prayers written especially for families with children. It brings together grandparents, parents, older children, and even the youngest child to give thanks and to ask for God’s help and mercy for the family and for the world. The prayers offered in Together We Pray are inspired by the Psalms of the Bible, Scripture shared by Jews and Christians. They include prayers for the table, devotional prayers, and memory prayers that young children can easily understand. The prayers for table and devotion begin with a line or two from the Psalm in which the prayer is rooted and celebrate the good things of life just as the Psalms do–food, joy, home, love, and more. They also express a concern for other people and places around the world. This resource helps us to pause, to share in God’s love and grace, and to do so in the most profound and lasting way–together as a family.
Family, the Forming Center: A Vision of the Role of Family in Spiritual Formation.
Marjorie J. Thompson. Upper Room, 1998.
“The first place most of us experience God and learn the values that shape our lives is within the family. Is it any wonder, then, that all manner of current social ills are blamed on the disintegration of family life? Children need to see that the spiritual life is significant to their parents at home as well as at church. If your home life differs from the image you present at church, your kids will see faith as contrived and irrelevant.” Thompson suggests models, rituals, and celebrations that will inspire your children to grow spiritually and will help center your family on God.
A World of Faith: Introducing Spiritual Traditions to Teens
Carolyn Pogue. Woodlake. 2007.
The teen years are often a time for searching and questioning many of the fundamental aspects of culture and society. This traditional questioning includes questions about faith—their own and that of others. What would it be like to follow the Hindu faith? How would my life be shaped by this? What are the beliefs of those who follow that tradition? What guidelines would I adopt in my everyday journeying? Carolyn Pogue’s comprehensive book covers most of the world’s main religions in a way that provides insight to these and many other wonderings in an accessible and captivating way. Carolyn’s emphasis is not restricted to describing the unique practices of the various faith traditions included in the book; rather, she goes beyond institutional rites and beliefs to touch on the deeper truths common to humanity. Throughout, there is a strong message of caring for the earth and for each other, a message of connection and social justice. She uses interviews with young people as the basis of many of the chapters—they speak in their own words about their practices and how these influence their lives and worldviews. Full-color photographs and comments from teens from other cultures allow young people to appreciate how the influences of different faith traditions affect other lives in a relevant way.
Joy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your Congregation.
Lynne M. Baab. WJK. 2012.
This book offers guidance and examples to Christian leaders as they seek ways to involve their congregations or small groups in spiritual practices. The author describes six spiritual practices that congregations can attempt together: thankfulness, fasting, contemplative prayer, lectio divina, hospitality, and Sabbath keeping. She goes on to explore how these practices can help with congregational life and discernment and provides practical instructions for communicating with group members. Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter so groups can delve into the topics more fully.
Learning God’s Stories Together: Intergenerational Program for Church and Home.
Dorothy Henderson. Woodlake. 1990.
In this valuable resource, Dorothy Henderson explains, encourages, and enables all-ages learning. People looking for help in developing an all-ages learning program will be heartened by the wealth of practical advice Learning God’s Stories Together provides. The first part of the book explains the theory and practice of all-ages learning. Dorothy opens our eyes to the myriad benefits of this approach: Its fun! It builds community. It lets us hear points of view from groups we might not normally have a chance to mingle with. Dorothy presents her ideas in an easily accessible style that will fit with almost any congregation, large or small. Helpful are the description of the five generations and the advantages of learning together, which are many. Step-by-step instructions for setting up all-ages learning and ideas to use for first gatherings are provided to inspire first timers, along with depth, insight and, new ideas for those who have already tried intergenerational happenings. The second part of the book provides twenty story sessions, each containing suggestions for fleshing out the gathering.
Making a Home for Faith
Lib Caldwell. Pilgrim Press, 2007.
Parents today seem to be at a loss to know how to speak with their children about faith. They want to do something but fear doing “theological damage,” so they leave the teaching to the church. As a result, their children’s knowledge and experience of faith are left to whatever religious education, worship, stewardship, and mission take place in their congregations. Even if these experiences outside the home are high-quality, they are not enough. “Making a Home for Faith” addresses the how-to’s of being faithful parents who, in their words and actions, show what it means to live the Christian faith. Elizabeth Caldwell offers simple, straightforward, solid guidance to help parents monitor and nurture their children’s faith development, respond to their children’s questions, and present the best possible example of faithful living.
Giving Good Gifts: The Spiritual Journey of Parenthood.
George E Conway. WJK. 2002.
Developing spiritual gifts in children is one of the most important principles of good parenting. George Conway uses scriptural insights and personal anecdotes to identify seven gifts that parents can give to their children to help them form healthy spiritual identities. Giving Good Gifts describes how providing our children with these gifts enables us to experience parenting as its own spiritual journey.
Parenting with Love and Laughter: Finding God in Family Life
Jeff Jones , Jossey-Bass, 2002.
This resource is a conversation about families and parenting, filled with inspiration gleaned from Scripture, reflections from the author’s own experience of family life, and wisdom gathered from service in the ministry. Jones shows parents how to attend to their own inner spiritual life and to the quality of relationships within their family so that they can reenvision parenting as a transformative, joyful, and spiritual practice rather than merely a set of rules and regulations. The book also features a bonus section at the end that provides simple designs and suggestions for group meeting–perfect for retreats, workshops, adult education classes, and parenting support groups.
Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults,
Robert J. Keeley, ed. Faith Alive, 2010.
Faith formation doesn’t just happen—it’s a Spirit-led lifelong process of shaping and reshaping. In this accessible anthology, twelve experts share their perspectives on faith formation at home, in worship, in education, in intergenerational contexts, in people with developmental disabilities, and more. Chapters include: Biblical Foundations of Faith Formation: Faith Formation through Faith Practices; The Importance of Story in Faith Formation; Faith Formation at Home; Faith Formation through Worship, Sacraments and Education; Fostering Intergenerational Christian Community; Faith Formation and People with Developmental Disabilities; Recent Research; and Faith Formation in the Postmodern Matrix.
Transforming Congregations through Community: Faith Formation from the Seminary to the Church
Boyung Lee. WJK. 2013.
Lee offers an encouraging vision of the mainline church’s future, grappling with some of the greatest challenges facing the church and offering compelling responses to recurring questions: What does faithfulness to the gospel look like in this changing world? What is our distinctive voice in the larger society? How does theological education have to change if it is to serve the needs of a new century?
He argues that the church’s future is a promising one if the church can offer a richer and deeper definition of community–one that moves beyond the excessive individualism of western culture and that helps mainline Christians understand their solidarity with one another and with all of God’s people. Lee further explores the crucial role of faith formation at the congregational and seminary levels. Theological education must engage all aspects of educators’ and students’ lives to prepare seminarians for the challenges that lie ahead. While not dismissing the mainline church’s challenges, Lee offers congregational leaders and seminary educators a vision of a church transformed for the 21st century.
The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality.
Henry G. Brinton. WJK. 2012.
This practical book by pastor and writer Henry G. Brinton studies the biblical basis for Christian hospitality and how it is practiced in congregations today. While recognizing the challenges for embracing all people in the life of the church, Brinton offers a helpful guide for creating a hospitable congregation and welcoming others through spiritual formation, reconciliation, and outreach. He includes discussion questions and an action plan in each chapter.
New Life through Shared Ministry: Moving from Volunteering to Mission.
Judith A. Urban . Alban. 2013.
Urban observes that shared ministry is a way of being church together that creates a distinctive congregational culture. It encompasses the many ways members of a congregation serve their faith community and the wider community. It is based on the concept that all are called to participate in the work of the church—bringing the good news of God’s saving grace to the world. It is also a system of interrelated parts that work together to bring the concept into reality. The goal of this resource is to assist readers in transforming their congregation into one where members are invited into volunteer ministry; people are matched according to their gifts and interests with ministry opportunities; volunteers are offered support, training, and appreciation; and all grow to spiritual maturity through that ministry.
Learning from Nonprofits: How Church Boards Can Benefit From Secular Practices
Dan Hotchkiss, Alban. 2013. http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?id=2286
Many congregations and councils are discussing a new way of governing called Policy Governance. This article explains John Carver’s Policy Governance in a clear and concise fashion with examples of how it can facilitate the work of the body.
Vibrant Faith in the Congregation.
David W. Anderson,Vibrant Faith, 2011.
The Vibrant Faith Frame described in the resource is designed to help connect all of a congregation’s programs into one ministry, rather than having several disconnected activities under one roof. Working through the process in this resource helps congregations stay focused on two foundational tasks in everything they do—Christian faith formation and community outreach. Whether you are just getting started or looking for best practices, this book outlines what the Vibrant Faith Frame should look like from the perspective of various congregational ministries, including evangelism, Christian education, worship and preaching, youth and family, and stewardship.
How Pastors Are Redefining Their Role in Community Life .
Nelson Granade, Alban, 2006.
This resource demonstrates how pastors can use their unique gifts to strengthen their communities beyond the walls of the church. The author argues that clergy possess invaluable resources for working with people because they are trained to look for God’s bigger view and patient working. They understand that asking the right questions is as important as finding the right answers. And they have the skills, experience, and perspectives that are needed in community leadership. What’s more, by “lending your leadership,” pastors can form a deeper connection with their call to ministry and help cast a vision of renewed, and even new, communities.
Teaching Our Story: Narrative Leadership and Pastoral Formation.
Larry A. Golemon, Alban, 2009.
This book is based on the premise that as congregations become intentional story-forming communities, they can shape the lives of millions of generative, faithful, and civic-minded adults. To do so, a framework that relates narrative work to the full range of congregational life is needed. This book offers such a framework, featuring essays that examine crucial shapers of narrative, outline a course in preaching that addresses crucial questions for today’s church leaders, illuminate the creative power of listening to the collective stories of a faith community, and observe what can happen when first-year seminary students are asked to become story brokers — integrating the stories from their communities with biblical stories, their own personal stories, and the theological doctrines formed within the story of their tradition.
Equipped for Every Good Work: Building a Gifts-Based Church
Dan R. Dick, Barbara Anne Miller . Discipleship. 2003.
Equipped for Every Good Work is a four-tool process that can help you discover and develop the spiritual gifts, spirituality types, interaction styles, and working preferences of each person in your congregation. This process focuses on the gifts, graces, and abilities of the leadership core of a local congregation. It shifts the attention away from what we do and onto who we are as called, gifted, and empowered people of God. Through self-exploration and discovery, each person can gain new insights about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the entire congregation can grow as a faith-forming spiritual community. Downloads of resources and brochure available at http://www.equippedforeverygoodwork.wordpress.com
Making Space for the Spirit: 100 Simple Ways to Nurture Your Soul
Kathleen Bostrom , WJK. 2010.
Having a bad day? Having a bad year? With this warm and thoughtful volume, Kathleen Long Bostrom offers one hundred simple exercises that will boost and strengthen your spirit—that essential part of you that connects you to God. These exercises will help readers nurture their souls, a practice too often ignored as we deal with the day-to-day minutia of our lives. Each imaginative entry contains a practical step to boost the spirit, a relevant Scripture passage and quotation for reflection, a fun fact related to the exercise, and ample space for journaling. More than simply cheering us up, Bostrom’s suggestions, thoughtfully undertaken, can create an enduring shift in how we choose to view the inevitable downsides of life.
Mary E. Speedy is a retired certified church educator living in Mechanicsburg, PA