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Why Sunday School Still Matters – And Why it Still Works

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Here is the question: Is Sunday school still valuable in building up the next generation of Christians? Or is it a tragic hindrance to the overall goals of the Christian community?

The answer must take into account a full view of faith formation. But in short: Yes Sunday school is valuable. And yes, a traditional model of parish-based Christian education can still be effective is nurturing children and offering them knowledge, skills, and values to grow into adult followers of Jesus Christ.

Designed by YOU – Why your church will love Canva.com

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In my role as the design assistant at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, I spend a lot of time dreaming up, tweaking, editing, scrapping, and occasionally actually publishing graphic content. While Photoshop and InDesign have long been industry standards, I find myself increasingly turning to Canva.com for its free and easy to use online platform.

Canva is changing the graphic design game by making more accessible to new users so that within a few minutes of navigating the website you can design everything from your own social media campaign images to bulletin covers.

Classroom Management: Expectations, Structure, and Laughter

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Whether you call it Sunday school or Christian formation or education hour, if you have a group of children, you will have classroom management issues. Don’t set yourself up for failure, or benevolent dictatorship! Start the year with the right attitude and set your class up to work collectively towards Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbors […]

Secular Books That Tell Christian Stories

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As a former children’s book buyer for a large independent bookstore, children’s books are among my favorite to sell. Now, as the director of a cathedral bookstore, one of my greatest joys has been to introduce Christian educators, parents and grandparents to a plethora of brilliant and beautifully illustrated picture books.

While there are many Christian books that I recommend, I also keep a collection of “secular” books which have strong life-giving themes. In many ways, these books not only demonstrate the Christian message indirectly, but help us share it with others.

At a diocesan convention a few years ago, I was asked to bring these types of books to sell in the bookstore booth. They were a huge hit! As you consider gifts for non-Christian friends and relatives, and also resources for your own shelves, I’d like to share some of my favorites with you here.

Where to Find Good Pictures for Church Use

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We recently received a question about where to find good pictures to use in church publications. Whether you have a blog, website, newsletter, or are just looking to make a flyer or brochure, good pictures with Christian images are a necessity. We have listed some resources below for finding quality images.

In Case You Missed It (Part 2) – Best of the Summer at Building Faith

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This summer was full of helpful and inspiring articles at Building Faith. But we realize that with travel, time off, or just taking a break, you may have missed some of these terrific posts. Today we are posting the best of July:

In Case You Missed It – Best of the Summer at Building Faith

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This summer was full of helpful at inspiring articles at Building Faith. But we realize that with travel, time off, or just taking a break, you may have missed some of these terrific posts. Today we are posting the best of June:

Labor Day 2014

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As we enjoy and observe another Labor Day, we offer the following post from 2011. Prayers for Labor Day This article, by Carolyn Moomaw Chilton, includes history of Labor Day.  She also reflects on ways that Christians can view the observance.  Finally, she offers several prayers for Labor Day, including a litany. Blessings to you […]

Responding to God’s Word with Plastic Bricks: A Resource You Can Use!

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Emily Slichter Given first told us about using Legos™ to build responses to God’s Word in this post from March 2012. Building Faith is incredibly proud that Building Faith Brick by Brick: An Imaginative Way to Explore the Bible with Children will be available September 1st from Church Publishing, Inc! We encourage you to try Emily’s Scripture […]

Real Presence: Recovery Ministry

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One of the many blessings of ministry at St. Peter’s, Kasson, MN has been the opportunity to serve with folks who are struggling with, and recovering from, addictions to drugs and alcohol. St. Peter’s outreach to the local recovery community began long before my arrival three years ago, and it continues to evolve. Over the years […]

New Life in New Places – A Pastor Comes to San Marcos

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It is an exciting time to be working in the Church. God is doing marvelous and transformative wonders everyday and San Marcos is a community that is right in the middle of that. The compassion and openheartedness with which they have welcomed me into their community and their willingness to be open to new ministries is amazing. This is a congregation that is innovative and dynamic and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, has a long and bright future ahead of it. It is an exciting time to be working in the Church indeed!

Church Tips – Five Ways to Scare Away Visitors

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Here at Building Faith we have been fielding various complaints from parishes seeing TOO MANY visitors. We understand how frustrating this can be, and so one of our experts Carolyn Chilton has offered some practical ways to scare these folks off.

This Church Had to Close its Sunday School Wing – The Positive Effects Shocked Everyone

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Like many churches, ours has Church School space in the basement. Like many churches, our Church School space has unhealthy mold. And in the way most things happen in the Church, we found this out just before Church School began last fall. Our only option was to combine our 6 year olds – 5th graders and gather them in our fellowship hall – a big space with a stage and next to our kitchen. We knew that others use the space throughout the week and that coffee hour takes place in the hall at the end of Church School. After our initial “how can we make this work?” reaction, my Christian Education Team and I tried to figure out how we might use this space effectively to engage our children and deepen their formation experience. Here’s what we learned:

A Handy List of Christian Feast Days and Observances

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Here is a list of major Christian feasts and observances. Ready reference, all on one page, nicely formatted. Print it out, stick it on your bulletin board, put the dates in your computer or paper calendar, and rejoice!

How to Identify and Welcome Visitors – Make Welcome Packets

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Here at Building Faith we believe that welcoming visitors is closely tied to formation. Here’s the issue: a welcoming congregation does not just “happen.” Churches that are truly effective in welcoming (and integrating) newcomers have been taught and formed in this practice.

Why do we say that? A Priest Gets a Congregation Excited about Learning Liturgy

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In order to meet this hunger for deeper liturgical catechesis within the time constraints of my parishioners’ over-programmed lives, I had to come up with a creative solution. The result of that creative process is what I call “The Liturgy Moment.” Every second Sunday of the month after each of our three services (8:00 am, 9:30 am and 5:00 pm), we have our “Liturgy Moment.” Immediately after the service, those folk who are interested gather at the front of the nave, and I share some information about a liturgical topic for about five to ten minutes at the most.

A Website to Bookmark – Working Preacher

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At Building Faith, one of our goals is to equip church staff and volunteers with the resources they need for effective ministry. This is includes online resources. There are some web pages that everyone should have bookmarked, and we hope we can help you build that bookmark library.

Today’s suggestion: Working Preacher at www.workingpreacher.org

ON Scripture: A Resource for Adult Faith Formation

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Odyssey Network’s ON Scripture -The Bible: connecting Sacred Texts with a modern world   What is ON Scripture? A multi-media resource to explore the relationship between the Bible and our lives today. Lectionary-based, thought-provoking, and complete with discussion questions and direction to learn more. Free. Led by faith leaders, ordained and lay, and partnered with Sojourners, […]

Summer Camp Formation – Why Does it Work SO Well?

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Greetings in the name of the Lord! I write to you, having just completed another inspiring, exciting, boisterous, reverent, and one-of-a-kind day at Christian summer camp. I am serving as a chaplain for a session of 89 middle-schoolers here at Shrine Mont Camps, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. We just came from an evening Communion service in the outdoor chapel, surrounded by candlelight, with guitars and voices rising to the darkened sky.

And the kids are LEARNING. The messages are sticking. The group is coming together. The answers (and questions) are getting more deep and honest. When I ask, “What did we talk about on the second day?” a dozen hands go up, and the correct response “Jesus is reliable,” comes without delay.

Blessing of the Backpacks – 6 Tips for Success

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It’s that time of year…

They’re going BACK!
Back to school, that is. Around the country, some student will be returning to classrooms this week. Others will start up in mid to late August, or the first week of September.

Churches shuld absolutely find way to honor and bless students and teachers at this important time. One popular method is a “Blessing of the Backpacks” ceremony. This can be done in a variety of ways. Here are our tips and suggestions.