How Much do you Know about Ecumenism? Seven Facts


Ecumenism is the practice whereby Christians of different denominations come together for conversation, common mission, or formal agreements. Ecumenism happens all the time, in different forms. Want to learn more? The following offers seven facts about ecumenism, including some history within the Episcopal tradition.

How to Welcome Millennials to Your Church – Think Like Them!

Young adult thinking

It seems like churches are constantly asking, “How can we attract more young people?” While this opens a larger conversation, one starting point is to consider how your congregation welcomes (or would welcome) young adults when they walk through your door.

While many churches have created welcoming environments and ways to greet visitors, these policies can be updated to better welcome the millennial population. So what are people in their 20s (or 30s) thinking about as they come to church? Here are some hopes and fears, and ways to address them:

St. Francis Day Survival Guide – Practical Tips for Animal Blessings

petting goat

Many churches and faith communities offer animal blessing ceremonies. St. Francis Day (October 4th) is a common date around which these events are held. If your church is offering a blessing of the animals – or if you are interested in starting one – take a look at these 11 tips.

How Faith Can Improve Mental Health and Reduce Stress Levels


Life today is as stressful as it has ever been, and this is reflected in the fact that anti-depressants are being prescribed at a higher rate than ever before. However, there is one age-old method that can reduce stress levels for free and without a prescription. People around the world rely on faith to see them through hard times. Faith and spirituality are abstract concepts, but they can lead to concrete results in mental health improvement and stress reduction.

A Church Takes Adult Formation into the Community – “Prayerbooks and Potables”

Place Setting restaurant plate glass

And that pretty much sums up the recipe for this amazing new class at Immanuel Episcopal Church in Mechanicsville, Virginia. The ingredients are simple: food, drink, conversation, hospitality and learning in a casual restaurant setting. The Rev. Anne Lane Witt, the Rector at Immanuel wanted an adult formation opportunity that combined these elements AND was out in their local community not within the walls of the church.

“Prayer Books and Potables” is the result. It is a monthly gathering of adults of all ages – some in her church and some not connected to any church – who share a meal and study a particular topic in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

Why Sunday School Still Matters – And Why it Still Works


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

Canva front page

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


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

Story time

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

Mother and Daughter GETTY

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


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


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


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!


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


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

photo 4

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

Couple - GETTY!

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

In jail like Paul

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

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

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


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.