Saturday, December 31, 2005

Culture and IMing

According to Kidiology (and I agree) it's very important for children's ministers to stay up on kid culture. At Artisan you have to IM to keep up with the adult culture. After avoiding IMing for years, I'm getting it. If George (and Gary) use it for work maybe I should, too. Wonder of wonders my computer still runs at normal speed and it absolutely has it's advantages, especially if you spend the better part of the day on the computer anyway.

I always thought it was too confusing to type, read, think and converse with multiple people in multiple conversations at the same time. (Multi-tasking pales in comparison.) I don't even like call waiting. :)

Before I talk myself out of it again. . . the good news is that so far, one person at a time is working. I even managed to proof-read my last message before I pushed "send". My sixty-two year year old aunt learned email and IM before I did because she didn't want her grandchildren to be able to do things that she couldn't. Her father, my grandfather, was born in 1900. Pretty amazing.

This is what I'm still confused about.
I am iming,We are iming, You are iming,He/She is iming, They are iming
I/we im , You im,He/She ims,They im....
I/we imed, You imed, He/she/they imed

I left out a hyphen, right? We already thought English was hard.

Decisions, Decisions!

I'm on chapter 6 in Children's Spirituality. The chapters on children in congregations and the intergenerational community are Chapters 16 and 17. Trying to decide whether to skip ahead and then go back or to continue one chapter at a time. The book is nicely set up so I can skip around and read the parts that I'm most interested in. But it's all very rich. Don't want to miss anything!

Happy New Year!

Puppies on vacation pt 2

Their ears go straight up. Their tales go straight. They listen. Someone upstairs gets up for a few minutes and it's quiet again. You can just see the disappointment on their black fuzzy faces.

Around 10 or 11 someone leaves the door to the stairs open about 3 inches and I hear a swish and Nyah's gotten so good you don't even hear her puppy paws on the stairs anymore. But somewhere upstairs someone is suddenly dreaming of an earthquake and opens their eyes to see a smiling eager black puppy face and a long tongue and I hear one voice after the other cry, "Mom! Make them come down!" I smile.

Well, these puppies still have their number. Every half hour as a different kid comes down they're sitting by the door like they haven't gone out for hours. Last week each of the kids would enthusiastically say, "Oh, poor puppy! Do you want to go out?" The puppies go out and run around for a half hour." Come in and so it goes x 5.

This week someone gets up, they look at the puppies. Then they gp find the last person to get up and say, "Have they gone out yet?" and the last person just looks at them and nods. What's not to love?

When everyone leaves and the puppies are stuck with just me again, vacation's over!

Puppies on vacation pt 1

Trying to decide whether to do separate blogs about writing and puppies. But I suppose doing it here gives you a break from all those long heavy blogs. :)

All the kids are home, my puppies are thrilled. And my kids were thrilled with the beginning.

The last couple of nights I've heard puppies whining at 2 am. Now, these puppies have been sleeping all night since we brought them home in August unless they're sick or have to go out which is rare. They've been good every other time the kids were home. But the thing about college students is that they're nocturnal.

So it's 2 am and I hear the puppies whining. Like a good parent I decide to let them whine. When they don't stop, I finally get up and let them out. They sniff around, "Oh! _____ went out with ________ around 10. They got home around 12. ____ went to Walmarts at 5 in the afternoon. It's a dog thing. I bring them back in to bed. They whine some more, I let them whine...sound familiar?

So after I go through this a couple times, and give in again so they won't wake George up, I check to see if everyone's home. Someone says, "Mom, I let them whine for a while but I them out twice before you got up. Sorry they woke you up."

So a couple hours later, everything's quiet and I go back to sleep but I have my own internal alarm clock that wakes me up around 6:15. So the puppies are sound asleep. I could be sleeping. They get up around 8 and they mull around bored. They keep going to the door on the stairs like little kids with young sleeping aunts and uncles. They want someone to play with them. Mom doesn't cut it! They whine. They mull around bored. George gets up. They're happy for a while. They start mulling around. Then they both freeze.

Friday, December 30, 2005


These are from the most recent Faithweavers newsletter, (free from Group Publishing):

"It is important to build community in the church through your children’s ministry programs. Getting everyone involved makes each person know that he or she plays an important role in kids’ lives."

"When you build community in your church you’re building relationships, and relationships with one another help us to grow stronger in our faith."

Interesting, because they're including kids in community but coming at it from the opposite direction - connecting different generations through kids' ministry rather than including kids in multi-generational community activities. I just thought it was interesting. :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Here's another aside. (This isn't exactly taking up Lisa's meme but almost...) I checked out the profiles on my new commentors. (They have profiles and links to their names that work. Very nice!) All these young staff member blogs and photos say "energy!" I checked out Kidiology. More energy!

So I check out all these blogs, have 5 college and almost college-aged kids and their friends home for Christmas and two 6 month old puppies (I love these kids! Love having them home!) . We're part of a church made up of mostly college students and young couples, young families and energetic church planters and I'm looking at all the energy I don't have. :) Actually, I have all my energy between 6 am and about 2 in the afternoon and I'm putting most of it on paper at this point in my life.

I just wanted to say three cheers for children's ministers! Kids really should have young children's ministers or at least a staff with alot of young adult volunteers. Three cheers! "Energy" probably belongs somewhere at the top of the job application! Right? Somewhere before passion, vision, and experience?

The Lord bless you with whatever energy you need when you need it!


The Narnia movie is absolutely a "must see!" (if you like Narnia). Might be a little scary for smaller folk, depending on what they're used to watching.

Lisa wrote a great review at Lisa's Blog (Dec. 17th) . Besides all the things Lisa said about the movie, I thought Aslan was well-done and I loved the landscape and the way they did time and place.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Value of Children

Shelley Campagnola has a business degree. She's a Mennonite pastor and Chair of the Children's Ministry forum with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. She's working on her doctorate.

After looking at select Old and New Testament passages and ways that God gave value to children in Hebrew culture in ways that the surrounding cultures didn't, she looks at the child that Jesus pointed to when they asked Him who was the greatest in the Kingdom of God and she says,
"The child is... not included in the inner circle of those who think they have the way to God . . .
The child is ... not considered eligible for recognition or participation and thus does not seek those.
The child is powerless, voiceless, defenseless, claimless, forgotten and forsaken.
The child is the one who is brought to Jesus, not one who assumes access.
The child is the one pulled out of the gutter by a hand that says he does not belong there even when everyone else says he does. . ."
Then she says, "The disciples were called to become as little children..." (Ratcliff, Donald ed. Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 86-87)

The disciples were called to become like these little children... which leaves me asking new questions...

People working with children in children's ministry are focused on children in ways that other people aren't. We look at all these great things that people share about kids and faith and say, "Of course!" All of this talk about Jesus and children and priorities make perfect sense to us and we get excited!

I'm working with wonderfully supportive young leaders who want their children and all the children who pass through Artisan to be involved in community worship and community life as much as possible, yet just like the rest of the church there always seem to be things that are "more important." More so, because they're starting a new church. Despite our willingness, we have the same battles to fight as any other church. We fight the same battles at home to give kids the time and attention they need and deserve.

Staying Christ-centered as opposed to being "child-centered" has it's own battles.

People who get excited about children and what Jesus says about children are doing children's ministry. But are we sent to walk out that vision with children or share and impart that same vision to every disciple in the faith community? And if so, how do we do that? Was Jesus calling children's ministers or using children as examples to the church. If so, what does that mean for "children's ministry"?

Do we as a faith community apprehend all the things Jesus said about children through children's programs that churches and parents and kids rave about, programs for parents and families to learn how to love, care for, and instruct one another, multi-generational services a couple of times a year? Summer camps and conferences? (Respectfully, many of these are wonderful ministries!)

Are we closer to apprehending the things that Jesus was saying to His disciples, by looking for ways to include children in our community in as many ways as possible?

Is it about clearing the debris out of the road, enabling children to come to Jesus or seeing and hearing the things that Jesus wants us to see and understand through the children around us? Probably both are true and there's probably more. I wonder . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rites of Passage

Chapter 4 of Children's Spirituality was written by Klaus Issler. He has his PhD. He's a professor of Christian Ed and Theology. He's written Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God, Teaching for Reconciliation: Foundations and Practice of Christian Education Ministry, How We Learn: A Christian Teacher's Guide to Educational Psychology.
He discusses Biblical support for childhood being a time of "developmental grace". He also touches on the "age of discernment," the "age of accountability".

Of interest to us: His comments about Nehemiah 4:2 and 8:2 imply that the children present had reached a "stage of understanding". A different picture than I originally had . Something to look into.

Other questions: In traditional churches the rites of passage for children include such things as:
- infant baptism or dedication
- promotion to the next class in Sunday school
-presentation of Bibles when children can read
-sometimes YA/teen baptism or a public affirmation of faith
-sometimes a form of bat/bar mitvah
-more grown-up opportunities to serve
-taking communion

Understanding that there are different opinions about faith journeys and moments of decision, are there childhood "rites of passage?" In contemporary, less liturgical, less traditional faith community are these important? In a mobile multi-cultural American culture that keeps changing its family/community focus are these important?

There are milestones for children in our culture: 1st babysitter, sleeping through the night, birthdays, no car seat, potty training, 1st day of pre-school, 1st day of elementary school, middle school, high school; reading, passing to the next grade level, 16th birthday, drivers' permit, drivers' liscence, 18th birthday, first job, graduations, leaving home, 21st birthday, 1st apartment, etc...

Are there milestones of faith for children (or adults for that matter)? Is it important to celebrate them? Why? Are they personal (a faith journal/scrapbook)? worthy of a family celebration? a community celebration?

Are there times when we need specific community instruction with others in order to grow into that new place?

Christmas, Disappointments, and Technical Detail

All five kids were home for Christmas. We had a good time. Decided not to travel.

Cleaning up after breakfast on Christmas morning, Jenny (My youngest- 16 ys. ) was hanging around. She was pretty happy. Somehow we got talking about friends in different situations. We got talking about scripture and how I think that, for Mary, the first Christmas was probably full of disappointments if you imagine yourself in her shoes. Maybe it's a mom thing, and I confess I was reading between the lines.

Run your imagination with me...Pregnant out of wedlock. Ready to deliver your first baby any day and your husband tells you that you both have to march off to Bethlehem on foot and on a donkey's back, a four day journey, to stand in a government waiting line. You get there, all the rooms are taken, you've no place to stay. So you stay in a smelly barn with a bunch of farm animals and creepy crawly night things and night noises. Where did they get water for clean up? You think you're carrying a special baby from God and this is what you get?

Then smelly scruffy strangers come by to peer at your baby telling you stories about light and angels. Hospitality is big in the Middle East but they might even be bringing their dogs and their sheep. What does she have to feed them?

Then these rich dudes from another country come with expensive gifts but Mary and Joseph are poor. What are they going to do with these? How do they get them safely home? Do they sell them, save them, hide them? What if someone thinks they stole them?

Then the dream. Instead of going home to job and family with their new son they have to run away and hide in another country where they probably have no job or family. Then to have news of the infanticide in Bethlehem? To think it was all their fault?

Disappointments. Mary probably had a better attitude than I would have... I said to Jenny, sometimes it's interesting to notice the things that aren't there when you read scripture.

But she said, why do churches white wash things for kids? (referring to other churches.) We talked alittle about the medical side of the crucifixion adding a different perspective and about the movie "The Passion" and a book by Phillip Keller about a shepherd looking at the 23rd Psalm and how he understands different things than people who aren't shepherds. My dad was a dairy farmer. He used to say that sheep are among the most stupid animals on the earth. :)

We talked about how people see things differently and that maybe there are reasons why God leaves out the details that He leaves out. Maybe He was intentionally giving us room to wonder and imagine so we could see more. It was neat. She doesn't think she has much of a visual imagination. But she really wanted to see more. She wanted more technical information.

She was funny. She said, "Let the little kids stay in worship but there should be a class like this for teens during worship, she said. Then we could go back to worship and understand more." LOL! You thought I was radical!

I guess it's common knowledge that teens want the truth. They want to hear the "technical detail". But it was interesting. Jenny's not one of my insatiable readers (fiction or NF). She's more the artist/inventor. I don't think of her being someone who's into "technical detail." But apparently, she is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


"Have I told you lately that I love you?" (And your kids!)

Merry Christmas! Joy and peace and blessings to you!

Just like Jesus, they don't stay little very long.

A new blog to check out!

Check out David Wakerley's blog (see his comment on the last post and click on his name). If you only peek at his December '05 posts, he's into Jazz and worship, Scott! There's a long article about jazz and the church. Looks like there are also ways they're "engaging culture".

(and he isn't as long-winded as I am. :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"caught not taught"

Went into Amazon today to finish Christmas shopping (long-distance which means they most certainly won't get there by Christmas!) and there before my eyes were about four books about including children in worship. One book is specifically for children. One is a planning guide for congregations. One is Parenting in the Pew, the one I read. One is a resource for "pastors, educators, parents, sessions and committees." Thought there was only one and that I'd read it. Sigh...

The table of contents for one of the books ("inside the book" - "table of contents" - an Amazon perk) contained a bold reminder for me..."Worship is caught, not taught." I think that for the first 50 years of my life I totally agreed with that. I still agree very very very much but I'm wondering if it's one of those tent cords pulling in one direction that needs the instructing cord pulling in the other to keep the tent up. Something to think about. :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tent Strings

I think the way I’m going to handle these particular comments is to pick one point from each speaker (from the book) that seems particularly relevant to what we’re doing. I get to share, and hopefully won’t ramble. All of these speakers have interesting things to say. It will also keep me from quoting more words than I’m legally allowed to. I’m not sure what the limit is.

Marcia Bunge, a contributor to Children’s Spirituality is editor of The Child in Christian Thought(Eerdmans, 2001) among other credits. After opening with ways that the church and our culture lack commitment to children, she targets 5 seemingly conflicting positions regarding children as revealed in the scriptures and in Christian tradition. She says, "Although theologians within the Christian tradition have often expressed narrow and even destructive depictions of children and childhood, there are 6 central ways of speaking about the nature of children within Christian tradition that when critically retrieved and held in tension- can broaden the conception of children and strengthen our commitment to them. Her point, I believe, is that as we understand children, all of these are important considerations.

The 5 elements:

1) Children are a gift from God- a joy and a blessing, to their families and their community.

2) We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We're born into an imperfect world. From childhood, we're prone to act in self-centered and selfish ways.

3) Children are still growing and developing. They need to be trained. Biblically, parents are a primary agent for this, but families are part of communities. Children were present in community gatherings for the reading of the Word.

4) Children are fully human, made in the image of God and deserve respect.

5) Jesus held them up as examples. To welcome a child is to welcome Christ Jesus. There are things that God wants to show us through children.

6) Orphans, the fatherless, the poor deserve justice and compassion.

We all wrestle with seemingly contradictory statements in scripture but after having read what she had to say, the picture I left with was a tent. We need the center standards to keep it upright. We need ropes pulling in at least four opposing directions to keep it stable. If all the peg ropes pull in the same direction the tent will lean and fall over. As people working with children, we need to identify the ropes and have all of them pulling equally taut to keep the tent from falling over. If you've set up a tent before, you 're welcome to ponder the details and draw your own analogies!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Let the Children Come . . ."

* * *
Berryman talks about Jesus blessing the children- saying that blessing them enables them to bless in return. He says that those of similar standing can bless one another but "the powerful...have difficulty blessing, because their power always implies control." (Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality."Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p. 37 ) That's alot to think about.

* * *

"Usually church development does not take children into consideration unless it is to use them to draw in their parents or to be politically correct. Children are assumed not to be able to make any kind of contribution on their own except perhaps, in a deferred way as 'the church of the future.' . . . If the goal of church development is to provide a way to help people enter the domain of God, then children are at the very center of what it takes for the church's mission to be accomplished. Building a child-like church, however, sounds weak and powerless, but that is just the point." (Berryman p. 38)


*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Non-Verbal and Silence

Silence and non-verbal communication are both loaded with meaning. Berryman says that as adults we know this but we depend more on language than on the non-verbal. Problems arise, especially for children, when our verbal and non-verbal communications say different things. (Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 29)

I have two almost 6 month old puppies. They're experts at reading body language. While I'm trying to teach them word commands they're reading my body language and probably getting pretty confused.

For all the months before children develop language we're communicating with them and they're communicating with us non-verbally. Even our silences communicate something.

When I think of God, Christ, Living Word, I don't think of God's silent or non-verbal communication. I don't think of "Be still and know that I am God," or of Elijah's experience with the still small breeze as anything but verbal but if you were there, I bet it would be quiet.

Berryman says that God is often silently present, in a non-verbal, non-linguistic way. (Berryman p. 28) That's one way that many people hope to encounter God in worship - feeling, inner peace. When I quiet myself, I do it so I can "hear" better, I never think about a non-linguistic, non-verbal response from God, though it happens. Listening to God's silence...a new frontier!

God communicates both non-verbally and verbally. Bringing children to worship at any age, we're communicating as much non-verbally as verbally. Berryman says, sometimes He's hiding, like a game of Hide-and-Seek. He's silent but present. The fun is to find Him. (Berryman p. 25-29.)

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I'll be reading Children's Spirituality for a LONG time and probably just sharing random thoughts that jump out at me. I'm revising these last two posts. They're weren't helpful, so let's try this:

"Children are better than adults at tracking relationships without language, because they are not yet as dependent on language as adults. This relational consciousness is a profound part of their spirituality." Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 29

God is relational. Children are relational. Before they ever learn language, they're still learning about their world and tracking relationships without yet having mastered the words to linguistically define their experiences.

One of the reasons to bring babies to worship is the association between their bond with their parents and a bond with a heavenly Father. Is a baby cognitively thinking like this? Probably not. It's experiential. It's affective. It's sensory. It's still a very real experience that will shape them. And they are learning things, non-verbally. Yes, the "positive" of this assumes a strong postive bond, between parent and child.

Parents and children at odds before they ever get to worship can go one of three ways, things get better, they stay the same, or they get worse. Another discussion.

If you have a screaming baby, obviously no one will be able to worship. Warm, fed, healthy babies who aren't fighting with colic usually do fine. Other people holding that baby during worship. Different, but still a positive experience. It gives mom or dad a break and it grows something positive between the baby and other members of his/her faith community. You work around those moments (or months) of separation anxiety.

Toddlers are more challenging. Walking, talking babes-in-motion! But they're tracking the same relationship non-verbally and are perhaps more aware of separation. They will also make the association that going to worship with someone who cares about them is a good thing. If a parent gets too stressed, having friends or older kids distract them or follow them around when it's appropriate helps alot. Yes, babies and toddlers left in the nursery usually settle down and yes, they learn that the parent returns. Yes, it gives the parent a break and lets them focus on worship. Is one better than the other? Relationally, they send different non-verbal messages.
From watching Ukrainian extended families in worship, I'd assume that in the OT babies and toddlers were familiar with many family members of different ages and got passed around alot during worship.

Somewhere I also read something implying that babies non-verbally encounter God, but of course they can't tell you about it and they probably won't remember.

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Language and Experience

Another revision:

Experience gives meaning to language, especially faith language. Berryman's point is that words giving meaning to other words without appropriate (even non-verbal) experience is not enough. Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p. 31

Carolyn Brown makes the same point in her book- that we often talk to children about spiritual things based on our experiences not theirs. Sometimes we say concrete vs abstract, concrete implying that the child has had real life experience or it's something they can touch and relate to as opposed to abstract which requires more complicated association or transfer or application. This applies to parents, Christian educators and pastors.

We are teaching children language in the wider cultural sense. We are also teaching them faith language in a faith culture.

Parents bringing very young children to worship can use that opportunity to teach them words to go with sights and sounds and smells and the things they touch and taste: people names, candle, chair or pew, Bible, star, light, the smell and smoke of incense, sing, guitar, organ, clap, dance, "shh," money, offering, walk, run, tip toe, worship folder (LOL!), bells, (depending on your worship experience) . "Listen. . ." "Did you hear..." "Do you see . . . ?" If you have stained glass windows look at them with your child and say the words for the things you see.

Not that you do all this for a full hour or hour and a half of worship. But you can do it before service, after service, or at opportune moments. But being aware that there are words and experiences tied to those words that we can momentarily focus on during worship is an important thing for us to recognize. Do we want them to learn Christianese? Probably not, but ponder language and faith at whatever age you child is.

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Forgotten Book

Before I blog more about Children's Spirituality I'm going to backtrack. I have a book on my shelf called You Can Preach to the Kids, Too by Carolyn Brown Abingdon Press: Nashville 1997 ISBN 0-687-06157-1. I forgot to put this on the list. This was one of the first books I read. It's written for pastors. I read it and marveled at her insights but put it away because I'm not a pastor. But I think her insights are for teachers and parents, too.

She says, "Dr. Cavaletti insists that children have a God-given hunger for mystery and holy silence. She claims ... children respond to the opportunity to listen and to think quietly." (p. 18) People I've talked to about this who work with young children, what I've read, and my own experience say that sharing the stories of scripture is multi-generational. The experience of sharing the stories of scripture with children, and giving their imagination room to wonder affect the adult story-teller as much as the child (and adult) who listens.

She's not talking about as much about the story as the sermon here but she is talking about children in worship:

She asks, ". . . why preach to the children?"
1) "...they need to experience hearing and thinking about God's Word as part of the congregation of God's people."
2) "...they need to hear God's Word from the leader of their [faith community] . . ."
3) "...they need to hear that their lives and ... problems are part of the life and concerns of the whole congregation of God's people."
4) ". . .God loves them and needs them to do the work of the Kingdom NOW. [as opposed to waiting until you grow up.] It is one thing to study the Word in Sunday School. It is another to be called, through preaching, to live out that Word as one of God's people." (page 19)

Elementary school-aged children are already turned outward. They want to participate. They want to understand. As teenagers they'll focus on themselves again, and on the world of peers. There are two different windows of opportunity here. (page 19)

She goes on to look at the pros and cons of the "children's sermon." With great insight she tells why the problems outweigh the benefits but continues "If you must..." She talks about vocabulary, experiences required to understand a concept, things that offend children but not adults, child-specific experiences (adult memories), how children hear, how children follow, using kid-friendly illustrations that are "concrete" as opposed to leaping into the abstract, using props, including seatwork or sermon art to keep kids focused, helping parents learn how to keep children focused. Less than 200 pages. Very reader friendly.

Why story?

Why did I blog about story? Why is the story important to worship? Maybe it's not that the story is important to worship but rather that hearing God's stories make us want to worship Him. Worshipping God opens us up to His stories.

We love a good story and the stories we love shape us. They pull us into other times and places and virtual relationships where we can safely try out this or that. That's what children do when they play. They process life as they play out the stories they hear and replay their own lives.

The stories of scripture are God's Word for children. They tell us about God and they tell us about ourselves. When we worship and focus on God it brings usright where God needs us to be, if we're going to listen and hear. God Himself in Christ is the God-spoken Word alive. He's not just a story. The Holy Spirit reminds us and makes His stories alive.

Yust talks about stories and creating a spiritual world for children. I think part of what she's saying is that this is a place where or a way that children can process seen and unseen realities. Stories help us to process and make unseen realities real. There are stories everywhere - all kinds of wonderful stories but I think her point is, which stories will shape our lives and the lives of our children?

George A. F. Knight wrote Theology in Pictures. It's actually a 125 page commentary on Genesis. Before I read this, one of the things that my husband George and I always differed on was whether the Creation story was literal. I said, "Yes, of course it is. God is God! He can do anything." George, however, Science/Math/Computer person that he is with a brilliant creative imagination, disagreed with me. "I don't believe it's literal," he said, "but I believe it's true." He said this because his understanding of God made it impossible for him to limit the God of the universe to only the material, literal world.

Stories have layers. Little children are more literal than their grown-ups but the amazing thing about God's stories is that if you're watching for Him and listening for Him, everytime you hear God's stories, there's potential to see something new that you didn't see before.

When you're with children see what stories they escape to and how they process life. If we're going to bring children to worship how do we bring the story into worship in such a way that it leaves children and adults wanting to participate in God's story?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Faithful and Fruitful

The picture of faith and dance is an artistic observation.

The observations about story are observations that we can use to make ourselves better story tellers - "story" implying in this case God's stories.

One of the things that Yust talked about in Real Kids, Real Faith was the goal of being faithful.

When Jesus approached the fig tree He was looking for fruit.

Some observe and take notes. Some take other approaches to learning how to live faith - a relationship perhaps. But I think in both cases someone is asking, What do faithfulness and fruitfulness "look" like? (Or substitute some other sense word for "look".) Can it help me or kids become more faithful and more fruitful? There it is! Let's do that!

As we encounter the Triune God, and others, what is He hoping to find?

quote about story

From Children's Spirituality p. 13-15

a well-told story must be told by someone who loves the story ("it must be vitally important to storytellers and they must be wrapped up in the story") and loves his/her listeners.
"These two components reflect the two great commandments-loving God (the story) and others (the children)." [W. Wangerin(2003) and Bruner( 1986)] Children's Spirituality p. 13.

a well-told story is a world where the listening child can live

a well-told story shapes those who hear it

a well-told story gives structure to random life experiences

a well-told story must grant the child personhood

A well-told story is always an act of community. Child and storyteller are companions. Together, they share the joys and guilt of the story. The differences between generations are irrelevant because the phrases of the story are repeated generation to generation.

A well-told story will leave the listener wanting to hear it over and over not to get to the end but to re-experience the story.

quote - dance

"Who can say in a child when the dance with God begins?...[T]he beginning, specifically, cannot be remembered because in the beginning there are no words for it. The language to name, contain, and to explain the experience comes afterward. The dance, then, the relationship with God, faithing, begins in a mist..." (W. Wangerin (1986) The orphean passages) Children's Spirituality p. 12.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


There are definately treasures to be had in this collection of research, experience, and observation, but as I sit here listening to my printer churn out a 37 page annotated-with-table-of-contents- bibliography I can't help but wonder how it is that our culture has to generate that much research in order to discover how to love kids and how to help them put their faith in God. Part of me understands but part of me doesn't. We wonder why parents have no confidence- why they feel the need for experts in order to have confidence that they're "doing it right".

"in many tribal cultures people live the story without analyzing it." Children's Spirituality p. 14

End of updated list

Here is a mother lode of research based books on children's spirituality .
A couple of them look interesting and readable...

The book I'm reading now is from the 2003 conference here

Here are some ideas for kids that go with the lectionary and these
(also from the lectionary) from Father Max Bower.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Resource Update Nov 05 pt 2

7) Children in the Worshipping Community by David Ng & Virginia Thomas John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1946, 1952,1971, 1973. ISBN 0-8042-1688-6. Yes, it's an old book and I just happened to see it for 75 cents at a book sale but how interesting! I don't even think I finished it when I got to the part about children holding hymnbooks but the wonderful perspectives and attitudes of people who love to worship and to bring children to worship are always inspiring. Lots of how-tos for more traditional worship.

8) I AM: This is My Name: The God of the Bible and the Religions of Man
by George A. F. Knight.
Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1983. ISBN 0-8028-1958-3. Ok. This doesn't have a lot to do with kids until they're in High School learning about other religions and say, "so Christianity and all the other religions aren't that different. . ." When they say that, this is the book to read. Why? He talks about how the God of the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament is different from all the other gods. He talks about who He is. The writer of this book is my very favorite Hebrew scholar maybe because of his obvious love of Jesus, maybe because he's the only Hebrew scholar I've read :-). This was my first initiation into the realization that Hebrew thinking is different from Greek thinking and most evangelical thinking. ie the Hebrews didn't divide a person into body, mind, and spirit. The whole person wasn't just body, mind, soul, heart, spirit, but family and other relationships, too. This has shaped my thinking about Jesus, faith, and children. Only 90 pages but a lot to chew on.

9) Reimagining Spiritual Formation by Doug Pagitt and the Solomn's Porch Community.
Emergent YS/Zondevan: Grand Rapids, MI 2004. ISBN 0-310- 25687-9. Narrative with community journal
(as in diary). Ivy Beckwith mentioned Solomon's Porch in her book. This is a radical but engaging look a spiritual formation that isn't teacher/classroom centered in any way, shape or form. They are highlighting formation that happens through people rubbing their lives up against each other, sharing their questions, their wrestlings, their faith journeys, and sharing community. I was hoping to read more about their kids. There were snippets here and there. But perhaps the beauty of this is that they've made their children less separate. It's absolutely worth reading. Read it looking for Jesus...

10) The Invisible Child: on Reading and Writing Books for Children
by Katherine Paterson . Dutton Children's Books: New York, 2001. ISBN 0-525-46482-4. Ms. Paterson is a child of Christian missionaries and wife of a pastor, a writer, and a Newberry Award winning children's author. This book captures her faith, her experiences with children, her insights as a writer and in particular a children's writer. It is a collection of speeches and articles. Her insights and anecdotes are inspiring and thought provoking for anyone who loves God, children, and books. Some (one?) of her books have been banned from various schools and libraries.

11) The Younger Evangelicals by Robert E. Webber. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 2003, ISBN 0-8010-91-52-7. Now, I waded through this one. (You can also borrow one from someone who has already highlighted the important parts. There are also compartive charts at the end of each chapter.) I didn't wade because it was hard to read but because I could only chew on a little at a time. This is a good comparison of pre-postmodern and postmodern perspectives. It's written by a professor who includes the voices of many of his students, the "younger evangelicals".

Next!) Children's Spirituality: Christian Perspectives, Research, and Applications
Donald Ratcliff, Sr Editor. Cascade Books: Eugene OR, 2004. ISBN 1-59244-711-2. Next on my list! 24+ contributing authors. I expect to be reading this one for a long time!

I think Solomon in his wisdom said, of the making of many books there's no end and studying them all makes you tired.
(Eccl 12:12) :-)

Resource Update Nov 05 pt 1

This is an update for the resource list originally posted June 2, 2005. An annotated book bibliography if that’s useful to anyone. I'm not going to turn the old list into links. Though it’s generally working, today isn’t one of those days. If the links are useful, you’ll still have to copy and paste the links into your browser. :) The ISBN's are for you, Scott! You can also find most of these books reviewed on


"Suffer the Children? Why Kids Belong in Church" by D. Brent Laytham Covenant Companion August 2005 An Evangelical Covenant article. Timely.


1) Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith
by Catherine Stonehouse (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI 1998. ISBN 0-8010-5807-4. This lady has done a lot of research from scripture, child development, social science sources, and her own love for Christ Jesus and children. She touches the role of family and community in a child's faith walk. She looks at different approaches to teaching/imparting faith to children. She examines a child's faith journey. It isn't a quick/easy book to read unless you're hungry for this kind of information but it's very very readable. There's just a lot to think about.

2) Postmodern Children's Ministry
by Ivy Beckwith Youth Specialties/Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 2004. ISBN 0-310-25754-9. I think her insights and observations are prophetic. It's a bit of a wake up call. She contrasts post-modern parents and families to previous generations and she strongly advocates change. She highlights changes in children's ministry that are beginning to happen in churches.

3) Parenting in the Pew
by Robbie Castleman (Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove Ill, 1993. ISBN 0-8308-1627-5. This is for any parent who wants to bring their child to worship with them or maybe more for those who don't! Very parent friendly! This book is an enabling book and very engaging. She shares her passion for worshipping Jesus and her willingness to bring two little boys 17 months apart with her. (They're adults, now.) She touches negatives and positives, traditional worship and contemporary. The chapter I found most interesting was her chapter about the sacraments.

4) Real Kids, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children's Spiritual Lives
. Karen Marie Yust. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, 2004. ISBN 0-664-50123-0. An interesting book - useful for parents and teachers. Written to be used by parents of any faith. Table of Contents: 1) What's Faith Got to Do with Childhood? 2) Creating a Spiritual World for Children to Inhabit, 3) Telling Stories That Draw children into a Life of Faith, 4) Helping Children Name God's Presence in Their Lives, 5) Praying with Children, 6) Supporting Children as They Grow in Spiritual Awareness, 7) Acting Out Our Spirituality with Children, Conclusion) finding a Faith Community to Call Your Own. See previous posts.

5) Young Children and Worship
by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman John Knox Press: Louisville KY, 1989. ISBN 0-664-25040-8 and the 2nd book

6) Following Jesus by Sonja M. Stewart publ. by Geneva Press, Louisville KY, 2000. ISBN 0-664-50123-0. Both are worth reading. Although the larger part of each book is a collection of actual story presentations used in the program, I think their observations and insights into young children encountering and interacting with God are priceless. They are saying that worship is as formational, perhaps more formational than instruction. I love the quiet space they provide in the midst of a clamoring world. I love the way they give God's stories center stage. I love the way they give children opportunity to interact with the story (the Word) without telling them what it means or what it's supposed to mean. I love the way they give children opportunity for personal response. Many who use this love it but others will say it may not be for every child. It's also not clear what happens when children leave this and move into other programs and venues. It is clear that that it gives children opportunity to encounter God.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


You might enjoy Jadedcm's blog.
He's talking about the next book on my list!

Last chapter...

I think Yust succeeds linking faith and religious tradition here. The actual book is much more reflective than the title indicated to me but the title's appropriate.

Interesting material. Her discussion of prayer includes silence, centering on God (as opposed to being easily distracted), meditation, and lament.

Some great suggestions that I think post-moderns would especially like.

About community: "Parents are the principal guides in children's spiritual formation, yet children need a religious community within which to experience God as something other than their own friend or possession. . . Affiliation with a religious community provides children with the kind of extensive and diverse support that no one or two individuals can provide, given the limitations of human time, energy, and experience. As [Anne] Lamott says, a community of faith provides children with a 'brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle' or even the glow from a few family candles held close beside one another." p. 164

A heavy-duty chapter on choosing a community in which to nurture your children . . . This may actually look like what you guys are talking about. The fact that she moved often enough to have a check list for choosing a church means that maybe there are churches like what she describes out there somewhere . . .

Really interesting material. I think postmoderns will be more receptive to this book than most traditional evangelicals...

Aside: Her daughter and I share a favorite book: Audrey and Don Wood's The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. If you find it, check out the very last picture (my copy has it on the back cover) .

Monday, November 28, 2005

More quotes to ponder

"Particularly problematic for children has been the way in which religious educators have used developmental theories of faith development to equate faith with a cognitive understanding of religious concepts." Real Kids, Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust p. 3

"The Jewish and Christian scriptures emphasize this multisensory relationship of the divine with humanity. They repeatedly tell of God choosing to act in ways that highlight a person's or community's inability to make cognitive sense of God's activity." p.7

"Our role, then, as parents and adults who work with children, is to introduce and support spiritual practices that serve to mix and knead faith into the dough of children's lives." p. 10

Saturday, November 26, 2005

more Real Kids, Real Faith

Some glimpses of Real Kids, Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust. I'm halfway through. I'd say this is less about engaging culture and more about growing bicultural children. The primary target audience is parents, but there are alot of insights for teachers and pastors.

" children are living in two cultures. that of our local community...the other that of our religious community...Both of these cultures contribute to my children's particular understanding of what the world is like, how it works, and who they are in it. But one of these cultures - that of the general community environment-has much greater potential to dominate my children's thinking because, like the commercial icons who represent it, my children encounter it almost everywhere. I don't have to wonder whether this culture will influence my children's lives, my concern has to be with how much power this culture has relative to the second culture - that of our religious community." Her goal for her children is that they become bi-cultural. What's interesting about this is that they aren't denying one for the other but striving to make one just as strong as the other. (p. 28)

She compares this experience with that of ethnic immigrants in a new land. Ethnic immigrants deal with this one of three ways: "1) they withdraw into stronger identification with their ethnic tradition, 2) they relinquish many of their ethnic characteristics through assimilation into the wider culture, or 3) they develop a strong indentification with both cultures." These are the children who become bi-cultural. (p. 29)

She's talks about "creating a spiritual world": environment, culture, holidays. (p. 21) She talks about "stories that draw children into a life of faith." (most of chapter 3) She talks about "Spiritual celebrations for ordinary events." (p. 62-63) She's talks about language - "religious bilingualism". (p. 70)

She's talks about linking the spiritual and the everyday. Example: She and her 3 year old son were playing ball. He perceived that God played catch with them. As the ball was flying into the air God intercepted it and sent it back down. The author says, "I remember thinking at the time that perhaps I should tell him gravity, not God, was responsible for the ball's arc. The words I settled on, however, were that 'God uses gravity to make the ball act that way.' My explanation linked the religious and the scientific in a way that permitted my son to believe in both as active forces in his environment." (p. 91)

She talks about "helping children name God's presence in their lives." When her 9 year old daughter asked why God let her friend get cancer still believing him to be an all-powerful healer, it lead to "conversation about the brokenness of the world and God's grief over the sickness and tragedy... [Her daughter] could imagine becoming a partner with this "new" God, who desired to have the 'hands and feet' of ordinary people in this world working to share God's love in times of health and illness." (p. 91-92)

I'm finishing chapter 4. Her insights and understandings are really interesting. This is a book that's apt to leave you wondering, how can I order my life in such a way that my children see, hear, taste, smell, touch (experience) faith as an integral part of who we are, who they are and who we are as a family.

There are "questions for reflection and discussion" at the end of the book.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Real Kids, Real Faith

I'm about 3 chapters into Real Kids, Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust. This book is very parent-friendly (c. 200 pages, lots of sidebars!) The thing I'm excited about, (an element that this book brings to the table that I haven't seen addressed before to this degree) is that she tackles "engaging culture". She likens being a faith community in this world to the experience of immigrants moving to a new country raising children with two cultures. She writes in such a way that people of any faith will find insights here.

I'm going to keep reading. I'll also update the resource list. When I have ALOT of time to kill maybe I'll fix all the links :) My computer savy daughter is home so you might get a photo of my 40+ pound, 5 month old puppies.

Sidebar: Because writers of books try very hard to draw some of their livelihood from their book sales, if you like an author and you can afford it, I'd encourage you to buy his/her books. There are also some great second-hand book sites on-line (which doesn't help an author but keeps the book circulating.) If you don't have anyone to borrow from, you can have a book sent to your local library or check the library at your local Christian college or seminary.

Someday maybe Artisan will have a library!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Safe travel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

That relational element

When our kids are in high school they study world religions (public school). Although we'd studied them at home, somehow school put a different twist on them. School gave them all equal standing as religions. They don't talk about faith. They don't talk about who "God" is to these people of different faiths. Faith and religion aren't neccessarily the same thing.

When God used to walk with Adam in the cool of the day I'm guessing that something relational was happening. All through scripture, God is relational. When Jesus became a man, a teacher, that relational element was something he was looking to reclaim. He also came with a job to do.

In Deutermony 11: 18-20 when the Israelites are admonished to fix God's words in their hearts and minds and teach them to their children and talk about them when they rise and when they lay down and when they sit at home, when they walk along the have to be around each other to do this. Maybe it's for teachers too, but getting up, lying down, sitting home is definately for parents... There's a relational learning element here and a "call".

Alot of churches have reached out to children with or without their parents. But for better or for worse, you can't separate them. Not really... The parent in me resents institutions that usurp, undermine or compete with the role of parent. I also resent institutions who use children to get to their adults. Yet, I value the relationships my kids have with other adults that have given them things I couldn't and have influenced them for good. I value the people I've met through my kids and the relationships that have grown because of them. I have a huge amount of respect for kids who have broken away from abusive situations and gone after life despite it all. Chances are there were adults in their lives who helped them do that.

Pushing away all the clutter, the goal is to love God with everything you have, love people the way God does, to engage culture in a way that honors the God you love - no matter how old you are.

"How?" is the big question. Does it matter how? Is one way better than another or are they just different, the way people are different, the way relationships are different, the way generations and cultures are different?

Monday, November 21, 2005


-Jacob (the child of a man who had a relationship with God) found himself wrestling with God. We assume we know why but I don't know if the passage actually tells us why or what he was wrestling with God about. He already had his father's blessing.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.

26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

27 The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.

28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." [Gen. 32:22-30 NIV]

Friday, November 18, 2005

Listening (2) and wrestling

more random thoughts...

-One of the themes that ran through the book, Parenting in the Pew was being willing to do the work it takes to keep a child listening for God in worship. It's easy for kids to tune out, unless you keep them engaged, not constantly for an hour, but making the most of opportune moments.

-Ivy Beckwith encouraged us to take time to listen to children in her book Postmodern Children's Ministry. She talked a little about the shift from feeding children questions and answers to inviting children to retell the story or to ask their own questions. "What do you think about this? How do you feel about that?"

-Young Children In Worship
gives children (even very young children) opportunity to listen to, to interact with, and to respond to the Word and to God's stories, without someone telling them what it "means". Is it possible to give children (and adults) those same opportunities in multi-generational contemporary worship?

-We look at the Biblical model where men, women, and children gathered to worship and hear the Word. We imagine something similar to what we would see in a western gathering but I'd like to propose (from Katherine Paterson's experience) that it might look (and sound) different in a culture with strong oral tradition, a culture that's used to listening.

-Sometimes it's hard to read the scriptures and just listen. It's hard to approach them without bringing what we already think we know.

-It's hard to listen to someone wrestling with or questioning God. It's hard to just listen, especially if we think we can save them time, energy and frustration. But it's healthier for a baby chick to dig itself out of the egg alone than it is for someone to help him.

-Sometimes God answers, sometimes He doesn't. Why? Is there some way to guarantee that God will always answer? It's interesting to hear a new generation of adults saying we don't have to have an answer for everything - children of a generation who did.

-Apparently God doesn't shrink back from our questions, our wrestlings. Sometimes Jesus gave someone exactly what they asked for but how many times did Jesus field questions? How often did He actually answer the question? How many times did He answer with a story? How often did He leave his listeners with more questions than they started out with?

-God keeps listening to us. He wants to fellowship with us.

-How do people encounter God? Where? When? Is there some formula? Do the scriptures tell us where to look for God? They tell us that if we keep looking, He'll let us find Him. It takes a great deal of faith to say to a child - "If God says He will, then He will."

Listening (1)

Here's a story from 10/17 because JadedCM brings up a critical issue. Actually, it probably wasn't intentional on his part, but this is where my head went!

Katherine Paterson (in The Invisible Child) told an interesting story about speaking at a conference in the Pacific or Southeast Asia. The conference was a book/literature related conference. After realizing the first night just how these people valued oral tradition she felt abit out of place pushing the written word. But when she spoke to the audience at the end of the week, she experienced something she'd never experienced before. She experienced the facinating, magical experience of speaking to 1000's of people who had mastered the art of listening. You'll have to read it in her book. She tells it better.

When I read Jade's post it amazed me that it took a researcher to hear and record what these kids are saying. Was no one else listening? Where are the people who spend endless hours each week with children? Why are we not hearing these things? Now, maybe, publishing companies are just beginning to publish books like this recognizing the needs of a new generation of teachers, a new generation of children and the dramatic shifts in our culture.

But connecting with children (or any generation for that matter), may be more in the listening and hearing than in all the other things we do ... not hearing what you want to hear or what you think you hear but listening to the heart of what someone is really saying. I'm feeling like a horrible listener right now. My kids tell me I'm a good listener but rarely is my brain quiet and still when someone's talking to me. I'm trying to teach my eyes and my ears to hear but rarely does my brain stop and shift gears to devote all its energy to listen and hear. It's in those rare moments when my brain stops to listen that my heart hears. Mental multi-tasking isn't really listening!

Parents, teachers, older siblings, aunts, uncles, friends ... I don't even know how to blog about it except to say we serve a God who listens and hears. Thankfully, he's a willing teacher, too!


Ok, let's try that blogging link thing again:
Jadedcm's Blog

YES!!! It worked! Thank you Lisa!

I'm sending you to J's latest blog because he's already reading and commenting on the next book on my list and the info from the book (and his comments) are worth your reading. Profound and fascinating!

And you have no excuses because (finally!) all you have to do is click!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What are we joining exactly?

Artists use art supplies, experience, and creativity to capture what God is doing or make their observations and comments about life. Writers use experience, keyboard, pen, pencil, paper. Musicians - experience, music, instruments, lyrics, voices.

We're searching the scriptures and using experience, comments, observations, creativity to shape the opportunities that we provide for children to encounter God, embrace people, and engage culture in the way of Jesus. Different word choice to express the things Jesus touched in what many call "the Great Commission." We are also looking to equip parents to bring their children with them as they pursue God - to encourage and nurture their faith. Add to the mix that I'm reading and reading as much as I can digest about children and faith.

You can sift through these posts to find the official Artisan philosophy of children's ministry but the short of it is this: Many of our pastors and parents at Artisan have worked in traditional children's ministry or grown up with traditional children's ministry and they don't want that for their kids. They've searched the scriptures but what they see there doesn't look like what they see in traditional children's ministry. They look at the things that feed their own faith and faith in their children and they would rather offer those things. They want to raise a congregation where younger generations are just as involved as older generations continually shaping their faith community.

So there you have the canvas and the art supplies. At least 20 people (30 if you count the kids) regularly contribute to this canvas (and there's probably a better metaphor) but "Children's Ministry" at Artisan is a work in progress. I will be the first to tell you that we don't have a finished, debugged, polished, efficient, well-oiled program. We have a brave, prayerful group of people willing to think outside the box and work together to try to figure out how to make it all work to the glory of God. We may not even all be thinking the same way at this point but that's the short version of what you're "joining" when you sign up here! And, trust me, I'm using the word "join" loosely at this point. As far as I'm concerned, all you have to do to "join" is get involved. Come and join the discussion. Come and serve with us. might want to read most of these 109 posts or if you have questions, talk to me!


Someone used that word, "membership". If we ever have a membership roster, reading and commenting here will get you LOTS of stars by your name.

Anyone can read and comment here. You can even live in California! If you're a parent or someone specifically working with kids (past or present) , your comments are especially helpful. Of course if you've ever been a child your comments are also especially helpful. The more recent, the more helpful. If you've been a parent or watched a couple of generations grow up your comments are just as helpful. We'll listen to whatever observations come our way.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you're a core member at Artisan, the teenage child of a core member, or if you've been regular and serving at Artisan, people know you, and you're willing to help parents and children on Sundays you can fill out a form for a very official background check and when you pass, we will give you an official badge to wear on Sundays. That kind of security is important to us.

What are you joining? If you're reading and commenting here, you're joining a discussion.

If you're a regular at Artisan, have any interest in kids or you're a parent (not mutually exclusive!) you can be an active part of this guild. At this point, the things we're doing with children also include their parent(s).

But wasn't there something about a guild, historically, being an association of craftsmen or merchants? What is it we're doing exactly? Are we performing? Are we creating something? The Visual Arts people create visual art, the Music people perform and create music, the Writing people create writing (they might even "perform" their writing) .

What are we joining, exactly?

Funny you should ask.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

returning to the guild idea...

According to the most recent Artisan E-news this is formally the [Artisan] Children's Ministy Guild. The term "Children's ministry" conjures up a wealth of things that Artisan isn't doing right now. Merriam-Webster On- line defines "guild" as " an association of people with similar interests or pursuits; especially : a medieval association of merchants or craftsmen." Well, we're not buying or selling so we must fall into one of the other three categories. Medieval? I think scripture and the early church fathers pre-date "medieval" and I don't think Medieval Kids is where we're going, either. Nothing like defining yourself by what you aren't :-) .

"an association of people" (implying many!) There are actually about 20 people somehow involved with kids at Artisan and/or commenting here. Most of whom are busy working in areas other than "children's ministry."

The short of it: I really don't know where to go with this beyond using this space to share and brainstorm. . .

Book update: 10 pages into Real Kids, Real Faith. Really interesting material. It may be one of the more parent-friendly books I've read with the added bonus of yet another bibliography!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interesting quote

"Scholars are starting to recognize that the 'cute' things children say about life and God may not match adults' sophisticated belief systems, but they do grow out of the genuine and important processes of making sense of the world and their place in it. . . More and more, experts and parents alike are recognizeing that children teach us, just as we seek to teach them."

"...Nurturing spirituality is not something you do to or for your children; it is something you do with your children. And with your children, you will learn, discover, and grow in ways that you cannot predict or control. It will change you."

Eugene C Roehlkepartain - Director, Family and Congregation Initiatives Search Institute in his introduction to Real Kids, Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust, John Wiley & Sons, Inc - Josey Bass: San Francisco, 2004 (p. xii)

Monday, November 14, 2005

more Odds and Ends

I'm about ready to stop blogging again. You could tell I was running out when you read the last couple posts?

Still reading The Invisible Child by Katherine Paterson. I also have Real Faith, Real Kids by Karen Marie Yust and Children's Spirituality Edited by Donald Ratcliff to read and digest. They're on top of my growing "To Read" pile of history, writing, and children's books. (Is that why Lisa tagged me?)

Artisans are thinking through some visual art for the holidays. Family visual art for the holidays would count, too, wouldn't it?

In the meantime if there's something you want to discuss that we haven't touched that relates to children and faith, yell loud. Questions, concerns, ideas . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A multi-generational story

Here's a multi-generational story:

My mother-in-law was a woman who left Indiana for NYC in her early 20's, had her small craft pilot's license around that time, drove a car before there was a driver's license and loved deep-sea fishing. She was an art teacher and an artist. She'd promised to take the kids to the beach. But the weather wasn't bad but the waves were bigger than what I'd seen before. Apparently my mother-in-law felt the same way. We drove up, got out of the car, walked to where the tall grasses meet the sand and she said as only Grandma could, "Ok, we've gone to the beach. Time to go!"

But George decided to let the kids actually go and walk on the beach. From his perspective the waves were still wavelets by the time they reached shore. The danger zone lay somewhere between the edge of the water and where the waves swelled. But Grandma didn't even want the kids on the beach.

Easily this side of the danger zone, and knowing she was worried, her son said we're ok. They're just getting their feet wet, knowing they wouldn't go past their ankles. He kept them close (though not as close as even I would have liked). My mother-in-law and I hadn't gone past the edge of the grass. (LOL! Yes, I was nervous. Ok. I was very nervous.)

In the end, they didn't stay long, just longer than Grandma and I were comfortable with. A little risk, alot of wisdom and everyone was fine. He knew the kids. He knew he could keep his eye on them. He knew they weren't going to run off into crashing waves. He'd make sure they stayed well away from the depths that could pull them under. He wanted the kids to respect the water. He wanted to be wise. But he also didn't want to be ruled by fear. And sometimes the roles are reversed when you're a parent trying to lead a child to overcome their fears.

Am I saying go do this? Not really. Just one picture of multi-generational interaction. You probably have photos of your own!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Through the Bible in a Year

Speaking of different generations. I ran across this yesterday.

"Before I go to school every morning I read three chapters in the Bible. I read three every day and five on Sunday and that takes me through the Bible in a year."

Sunday March 20, 1853 Caroline is 10 or 11 yrs old
from Village Life in America: 1852-1872 by Caroline Cowles Richards p.12

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Odds and Ends

This is a fun article about a mom trying to knit with a two year old who wants to help. (courtesy of Mindy)

About twenty years ago, I introduced my 4 or 5 year old daughter to a ball of yarn and a very LARGE crochet hook. Her three year old brother had to try everything she tried. She lost interest at the time, but I have a photo of one very intent little boy sitting in a large square vinyl chair with a ball of white yarn and a very large wooden crochet hook. (Don't tell him I told you this) We still have a VERY long chain of white yarn single crocheted that's long enough to wrap most of the way around a Christmas tree. (He was so into it and worked so hard on it that I couldn't throw it away!)

What does this have to do with emerging kids? Advent and Christmas are coming folks! Ideas?

[Don't know what the sermons will be yet]

1) We could do something related to whatever the Visual Art Guild cooks up tomorrow night.
2) We could do something related to a creche scene that the kids can play with and that we can add to and reuse each year. (It needs to have an empty crib so we can put the baby in at the end.)
3) We can do something to give away
4) Other ideas?

Keep your eyes on the newspapers. There are lots of different Christmas activities around town from live creches to Handel's Messiah to Christmas plays and concerts. The Craft Co-op on West Ridge Road is an interesting place! You might want to take kids...maybe not. Handmade stuff, old stuff, and books of course!


On the serious side: Gary's comment brings up something I've been wondering about since we started this. There's probably research out there somewhere. But I'm wondering if having a community that's more inclusive ( less divided by age or anything else, less focus group oriented) is a healthier community over all, maybe less self-centered? It's probably in sociology journals somewhere? Any observations or experiences. I appreciated Gary's comments.

One Anothers

The infamous "one anothers" I keep referring to... (a pastor we had about 30 years ago brought these to everyone's attention.) These are for every member of the Body of Christ - they're not focus group specific, gift/leadership/layman specific, or even age specific. They maybe not even believer specific, just one-anothers! You'll catch the heart of it.

These are from the Epistles. It's interesting to look at one anothers in the OT and Gospels, too. These are to-do one anothers as opposed to not-to-do's and (absolutely) read them in context. (NIV)

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love." Romans 12:10

"Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

"Live in harmony with one another." Romans 12:16, I Pet. 3:8

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another..." Romans 13: 8 et al

"Accept one another, . .. just as Christ accepted you..." Romans 15:7

"full of goodness, complete in knowledge, competent to instruct one another." (read it in context) Romans 15:14

"agree with one another" I Cor. 1:10

"serve one another in love" Gal. 5:12-14

"bear with one another in love" Eph. 4:2

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph 4:32, I Pe 1:22

"Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." Eph. 5:19

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Eph. 5:21.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another ..."Col 3:13

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Col 3:16

"Encourage one another and build each other up." I Thess. 5:11

"encourage one another daily." Heb. 3:13

"let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." "encourage one another" Heb. 10:24-25

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." I Pet 4:9

"clothe yourselves with humility towards one another." I Pet. 5:5

and there are a couple more...

In very nature God

Maybe this borders on being too theological but I'll share it. I was talking with George about the leadership post. (I've almost got him convinced that he should blog. Almost...) He reminded me of the passage he's been thinking and talking alot about lately. Call it observation or call it revelation depending where on the spectrum you stand:

Philippians 2:5-11
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. . .

You should read the whole passage. But his observation is that all these qualities are "in very nature, God." Did God change when He came to earth? Did Jesus change when He ascended?
Or is He the same, yesterday, today and forever?

Man created in the image of God? God taking the form of man? Who is this God we serve?

Last year during Advent when I was reading the passages about the glory of God I realized that the glory of God is that He bends down to the lowly, as opposed to the glory we associate with a rich, famous, politically powerful king or famous person - a really interesting word study (still looking at each in context) Maybe it comes full circle. He is King, but who He is defines "king". Who He is defines "glory."

We see through a mirror darkly, or maybe glimpses through a dirty window, but we keep looking and every glimpse we get of the Living God changes us and (hopefully) we'll reflect on Him and reflect Him a wee bit more - ambassadors to the world, to one another and to our children.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Young Leadership

I've decided to edit and repost this (the reason I'm 8000 words behind on my other writing project). After I posted this for three hours last week, I got an email from someone I respect, saying he didn't really understand so I took it down. I let it rest for a week but I'm left still feeling that this is something I need to say. Given that all these guys have me laughing hysterically (I'm only exagerating a little bit) I feel even more compeled to post this. So here goes:

Over the last two years a number of people my age have said little things, not intending to be mean, but implying that when you’re working with people who are a generation or more younger than you, you have some responsibility to “keep them in line.” I confess that I've ignored the comments for lack of a pointed rejoinder instead of jumping to your defence. But each time I get a little more ticked off, "You're telling me that our generation has the task of keeping a younger generation in the old paradigm when God is trying to use them to break the rest of us out of it?" My pointed rejoinder! Ok, it's not great but at least I'm working on it.

The fact that Jesus was 30- 33 years old during his years of ministry is profound. Don't you find it odd that God didn't let Jesus live long enough to minister as an old man? Why, I wonder...

Our attitudes towards leadership matter to God. Read about Miriam and Moses. The annointing, even the abilities of a leader aren't neccessarily age related. Read the story of David, and Samuel chosing the next king. Read about David and Saul or even little Samuel. Wisdom isn't always age-related. Look at Proverbs and Jesus in the temple. Experience isn't even always age related. Look at the story of Naaman.

There are alot of people who don't understand the wealth that different generations can bring to the table and the ways that we form one another. (If I really get my act together, I'll post a list of one anothers.) This isn't a top down process or Jesus never would have come to be a man, a poor carpenter, no less- a baby, a child....

Working with younger generations means more than just keeping them in line. Our growing together as the Body of Christ requires building relationships, humility, and mutual respect. Believing that you can live and work together and learn things from one another, not just about ipods, but about who God is, violates something deeply ingrained in the more authoritative-traditional parent/teacher/church leadership model.

As parents, teachers, leaders there are always battles to fight but we have to pick our battles. We have to choose carefully. At the moment, I'm picking this one because it's blocking my way- no, not my way but the way for the people who will carry the next generation on their shoulders.

We're each made in God's image, none perfect, whatever generation we come from. What does that mean anyway- perfect? What does it mean- a Father, a Son, a Holy Spirit - one God? Are the omnipotent 3-in-1 so unlike our generations?

We challenge these same strongholds when we include children in the ways that Artisan is including children. Spiritual strongholds? Thoughts and ideas that raise themselves up against the knowledge of God and obediance to Christ.

You think spiritual warfare means "Help! We're on the defensive?" It means we're on the offensive. We're taking ground. It's the ground that you have to keep taking in order to keep knowing God better. And you have to take some risks to do that. There isn't one generation that has it all together. There never has been and there never will be. We're a body made up of many parts and we need each other.

Ok, it's still too long, but I said it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

and the story board...

I also listened to a great story teller with a flannel board who had some 5 year-olds mesmerized!

Observations from the Book Festival Activity Room

Yesterday, at the book festival, I spent part of the day in the activity room. We had about 10 (I think) 4 foot round tables set up in a space about the size of the Artisan sanctuary. Each table seated eight. There was also seating for 15 in front of the room for presentations.

Each table held two activites with instructions and the two sample crafts displayed in the middle and the neccessary materials. We set up a puppet theater with fuzzy puppets in another corner of the room. The under 3's liked the puppet theater and the Pre-K to Elementary school children could use the theater with the puppets they made.

We had a variety of activities targeting kids preschool to middle school. Many of the activites could be easily stretched for younger and older children. I figure about 80 parents and children at a time were rotating through the room between 10 am and 4 in the afternoon. About 1500 people attended the festival.

The room was incredibly quiet. Kids were very well behaved. If they weren't (which was rare even right before lunchtime) the parents took them out. I'd say parents averaged 30's and 40's (some older and some younger- male and female.)

Though most tables were rarely empty, we cleaned up tables as people left and straightened and replenished materials which only took a couple of seconds. Most people cleaned up after themselves. I'd say that most people spent 20 minutes per table. Many families went to more than one table.

Now, book festivals are apt to draw parents and children who like books. That's what they had in common. The Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators worked with the Rochester City School District this year so I think there was a mix of Greater Rochester and City families.

Incredibly quiet and orderly. I had to ask myself, why! Because this model is so similar to what's happening in the sanctuary at Artisan on Sunday nights, I thought it was an observation worth blogging.

I suspect that the reason "why" is that every child is engaged. Very, very engaged. Each child had seven other children and adults within an arm's length, direction, help, materials, an age appropriate challenge and creative alternatives to choose from. They were creating. I think it's also the reason a guided-discovery/movement ed approach worked so well in my preschool gym classes.

What if.... each table was creating a project together or a part of a project to join with the projects that were being created at the other tables? The noise level would grow, but one the objectives of a model like this would be that social/community element. Children middle elementary and up would be especially ready for something like this for special projects.

...maybe we are a guild!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Book Festival at MCC tomorrow!

There's a Rochester Children's Book Festival at MCC tomorrow (Sat. November 5).

It's free. There are lots of activities and lots of story telling. You don't have to buy books, but if you do you can get them signed! If you buy children's books for Christmas presents, I highly recommend it. It's a fun annual Greater Rochester event for area children and their grown-ups.

Check out the website for more information:

[I don't know why the link lingo isn't working this time, Tyler...] I actually created a working link in the text on the Artisan Writer's Guild blog ( We'll keep working on this.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I'm thinking that as a culture (both in the church and out) we're very very near-sighted. We don't focus on how the things we do will affect generations into the future - or even one generation into the future. Maybe I'm being short-sighted to say that.

It would be interesting to look at the fruit of generations and cultures who do focus their strength and energy on equipping future generations (if there is such a thing).

Artisan Kids - a Guild?

This site is listed with Artisan guilds in the worship folder ie. you might consider "kids" an area of specialization. Part of the thinking on that, is the hope that people or groups of people will step up and say, "let's do ___ with the kids (or for the kids)".

Do you have an idea for children? (music, drama, dance, art, science, sports, carnival, crafts, culture, history, language arts, people, etc) Are you willing to gather the help and the resources and make it happen?

Let's make it happen or plan it and send invitations! Consider the upcoming Advent/Christmas season a perfect opportunity!

What's God doing?

Do you talk about what you see God doing in postmodern churches? Don't know. Here's your chance! We've been including kids in worship since the end of August. It's November. It may be a little early for this, but what do you see God doing in you and in your kids as a direct result of sharing worship together and doing it the way we've been doing it? Tell us how old they are and male/female. You can share comments you've heard from other people, too if you want: the good, the bad, and the ugly...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cider Days and Open Houses

We've had some fun "Meet the Pastors" open houses recently. At Brian and Becca's, it seems like people came and went in small groups. They had a great spread of supper/snack food. The adults visited and got to know each other on the deck. On the other side of the picture window, the little ones played, pretended, enjoyed each other, and watched some videos when it was time to wind down. They have a kid-friendly back yard, too. It was probably well used before we got there! We got there late so it was already dark. About 6-8 kids under 1 to 8 years?

Yesterday was an afternoon of apple-picking and an evening of apple mashing, cider pressing, deep fried turkey, luscious baked goods and apple desserts and lots of great fellowship in a relatively hidden shared back yard in the city. The kids joined us picking apples at the orchard. The orchard had a preschool play yard. Sitting on the back of a bumpy farm wagon staring at a dirt road 6 inches deep in muck brought back some of my own childhood memories!

The gathering yesterday drew about 50 people by the time the evening was done: Artisans, friends, family and neighbors. I'd say mostly friends and neighbors, and more kids! It was a great time for the kids to get to know each other and just play. Some of the kids who came for the first time Sunday will feel like they know someone when they come back. I counted about 12 kids yesterday. Some played inside, some played outside, some played foozeball in the garage with college students. Some of the kids interacted more with other kids and some interacted more with the adults they were comfortable with (parents close by) but it looked like everyone made new friends.

For more of our Artisan folk than I realized, this is their first October in the Northeast so it was a nice taste of fall.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sunday Immersed Event and Kids

For All Saints' Day we're including an Immersed element to worship on Sunday night: "From Stained Glass to Vibrant Living." See the website! The website description is a much more concise description of an Immersed event than what you'll find here. Skip to the middle of this post if you want to know how our Immersed event this Sunday affects parents and children. Skip to the end here if you want a St. Francis bibliography for children! I'll try to put together one for the other saints later this week.

If you're wondering what an Immersed event is at Artisan it's an opportunity to worship the Living God a little differently. Alot of Sunday worship is a corporate expression in the sense that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. You start singing together, you stop singing together. You pray together. You take communion together. You listen to the message together. You bring your offerings together. You leave together. It's individual in that we're all individuals in terms of how it affects us or how we respond to God but we're all doing the same thing together at the same time.

For us, an Immersed event has been a night set aside during a holiday season. For one of their Immersed events before our merge, Capax Dei created a Labyrinth. Usually, there's comforting quieting background music, subdued lighting, and a series of stations that the participants move through individually at their own pace. People can come and go, start and stop whenever they want to. There's usually something to read, a way to respond, the creators of the stations try to draw on as many senses as they can to enrich the experience. It's a very personal time, yet a shared experience. This week it will be part of our Sunday worship. In times past it's happened on a separate evening so you could come and go, commune with God for whatever length of time you want to and not have to talk with anyone if you don't want to.

If the night is set apart for an Immersed event, parents can come alone or bring their children. This Sunday, because it's part of our regular worship, we'll offer a place and people to care for restless toddlers while their parents are going through the stations, but children 3 and older can easily participate with their parents or guardians, respond to the visuals, respond to questions, pray and experience the sensory experiences that are available to deepen their knowledge and worship of God.

I have St. Francis. Here's a list of some beautifully illustrated library books for children, if you're interested.

Hodges, Margaret. Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts. Charles Scribner's Sons: NY, 1991. Beautiful soft realistic watercolors by Ted Lewin. (at least my daughter tells me they're watercolors.)

Mayo,Margaret. Bother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of St. Francis. Little , Brown and Company: New York, 2000. The book of short stories doesn't have as many pictures but they're nicely done: medieval style, gentle and childlike.

Visconti, Guido. Clare and Francis. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Grand Rapids, MI 2003. Beautiful gold gilt illustrations; medieval iconic feel by Bimba Landmann.

Wildsmith, Brian. Saint Francis. Wm. B Eerdman's Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI 1996. Vibrant colors, metallic feel, lots of detail, more oriental feel.