Saturday, September 30, 2006

Emerging from Merging Worlds

Somewhere between my generation and yours real life changed forms, and the communication that used to happen face to face, by written word (snail mail) or telephone between friends, relatives and business aquaintances became communication that happens via internet (blogging) creating a virtual community that can connect people regionally and all over the world. It's real but it's different.

People use the internet today the way we used to use encyclopedias, card catelogues, the periodic guide, libraries, people. People used to write, make phone calls, sit around and eat or talk. Sometimes this amazing technology enables us to get far more work done than we would ever do without it. Sometimes we feel like it's really good stuff but it distracts us from "more important things". You guys will have a very different take on all this than my own generation just because you've been there longer.

How does this virtual world affect the kids you work with? How does it affect their faith? How does it affect the way that you work with them? What do you see in scripture? I'm guessing God had a reason for bringing Jesus into this world where and when he did. This particular era is unique as well. Given these technological tools what do you think your generation can accomplish that other generations couldn't? What about the kids you work with 30 years from now?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Another source for CM blogs

Here is a really interesting resource. It's a google/bloglines version of "people who read _____, read _____." You may have already seen it. Lots of CM blogs. Some of them, you already know about. Some, maybe not.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"A sidebar would be nice," they said.

If some of us were as technosavy as the rest of you, we would know how to list all these links in the side bar. :-)

Ok, so either you have to work harder and go searching for things when you come :-) or I have to work harder to figure out all the things I don't know.

Hard choice. :-)

When life slows down alittle, 5 chapters left. But as it turns out, (you might like to know) that the book Children Matter is the practical application book based on the first Children's Spirituality Conference (the version I've been reading) If you'd like to read what the experts are doing with some of this, that's the place to go.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another blog

I think I forgot to include Christie's Blog (Days 'Til Sunday), last time I listed blogs. (This is not the Christie who lives at my house holidays and summers. This is Christie from Days 'Til Sunday. :-) Maybe I listed it a while ago. My brain is getting old.

Serving Children in the Greater Community

As churches, we often want to do our own giving and attach our name to it when there are already an overwealming number of ways to give in our greater communities. Becoming part of things that are already happening saves you organizational and financial head aches (unless you chose to become a leader in that organization) and it gives you opportunity to meet and work with some wonderful unique people you might never meet at church-sponsored events and to keep them in your prayers. And whether you attach a "church" name to what you're doing or not, wherever you are and whatever you're doing you're still an ambassador in the way you respond to life, in the way you treat people, and in the way you do your job - even if you're not perfect. (Nobody is.)

I'm sharing this not so much as an advertisement but to share one way that one organization is giving to kids. You may have similar opportunities in your own cities, towns, and villages.

September 27, 2006

Give a Book You Love

The Rochester Education Foundation has just launched the Give Back, Give Books campaign, with the goal of obtaining 10,000 new books for city school students and city school libraries during the month of October.

Why give books?

• Many city school students do not have books at home.
• The average fiction book in city school libraries is about 20 years old.
• Providing books to children and school libraries is a proven way to help students become more successful academically and in the future.

Give Back, Give Books is an easy and tangible way to engage in the work of brightening the lives of the students in the Rochester City School District. Give district students a chance to read the great books you love!
How can you help? It's easy!

Donate New Books

Participating book stores include all area Barnes and Noble stores, Mood Makers and Lift Bridge Books. Books purchased at those stores will be collected there. Books purchased elsewhere can be dropped off at sites around the county including at all city library branches as well as those in Mendon and Penfield, and a number of other community sites.

Click here to learn more:

Easier yet? Visit the Give Back, Give Books website and shop online, using our lists of favorite titles, compiled through a survey of RCSD students and librarians:

Donate Funds

Not in the mood to shop? No problem! REF will happily accept your donation, turn it into books, and match them up with lucky kids or a library in need. Click here to learn more:

But Wait, There's More!

How about an offer from the Amerks for a ticket to a hockey gave in exchange for a $10 book purchase? ...or news about a 600-book donation from the Scott Spino Foundation? ...or tips on building literacy in your house? ...or a weblog written by librarians in the city school district and their students? You'll find all this and more online at

Pass it On

Help us spread the word about the Give Back, Give Books campaign! Please consider forwarding this message to a friend ...or a few. Thanks!

Rochester Education Foundation (585) 271-5790

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pastors at the Pub

I thought this might make an interesting CM discussion question:

Artisan has what we call "Pastors at the Pub" one Wed. night a month - an informal adult discussion of scripture and present culture. A couple of us went this month and these were the passages. I've forgotten exactly what question Brian posed but it had to do with " the light of 911..." and "turning the other cheek". The guys and guests brought up a lot of interesting Biblically cultural and historical information that added a lot to the text but here are the passages:

Luke 6:28-30
". . .bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back."

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited."

Romans 12: 14-21 [NIV]
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I think that trying to teach our kids that being fair and being right aren't as important as how you treat people was perhaps one of the harder issues for our kids to grapple with. In a culture where children are taught to look out for themselves, how do you grapple with this?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another event at Strong Museum

If you have toddlers, pre-k, or half day kindergarteners Deaf Awareness Day at Strong Museum is Friday Sept 29 from 10 am to 2 pm.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Maybe it's the fact that markers make a squeaky sound like the squeeze toys Ellie and Nyah play with? They squeeze the squeaky balls with their teeth but for some strange reason, they don't chew them up.

Maybe it's the fact that after they play with their chew toys I put them in a box and the box happens to be near the small trash can where I throw the things they chew up (if I'm too lazy to walk to the kitchen with the lidded iron tight trash can). Maybe...

Anyway...why a stupid post like this on an Emergin Kids Blog? There's a time to take life seriously and a time to find something to laugh about. If you can't find anything to laugh about, you probably need to. Somebody once said that laughter's good medicine. Really!

Dog Theory Confirmed

I ask you, why would two 70 pound energetic adolescent dogs randomly target one thin paint brush, school color markers being used to decorate a tee shirt and junk mail in the trash when they could drag the tee shirt off into their beds and chew on it, chew on the plastic dog food box with brand new peanut butter dog biscuits in it, or grab the plastic peanut butter jar off the counter UNLESS they were trying to duplicate the work they saw a certain family member doing? We love Ellie and Nyah. :-)

Needless to say when she gets home she'll be ticked.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Resource Links

Have I already posted these? I was going back through comments to see if I missed posting anyone's blog which I probably have. Here are some I think I missed. I think you'll find some nice resources and encouraging posts here:

Children's Minister Blog
I Drum 4 Him
ECC Children and Families
ECC Youth
Kid Inspiration
Jeff Gill's Blog
Ministry Musing

And I'm going to pick on Ken, here. This is new to me but it might not be new to you. Turns out that if you've reviewed books for Amazon, people can find all the books you've reviewed and your reviews in the same place. So if you've reviewed books or you like a particular reader's reviews, you (or someone like me) can add the link to our blogs :-). For example, you'll find Ken's reviews here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More random odds and ends

I still find it facinating that our culture (the US) took steps to protect livestock before it stepped up to protect children. I'm not a supporter of church or state intervening or interfering in the home, yet I absolutely see the value of the community support network that parents, children and families need. It seems pretty clear that God placed individuals into families and into community pretty early on. It may be that in the late 1800's the government avoided intervening in homes, too. I don't know. But being part of a community that hold each other accountable for the way we care for one another (and those outside that community) requires a high level of relational trust and there's freedom that comes with that. Sadly, there remain times and a places in our culture when children need advocates and protection or perhaps family reconcilers, whenever that's possible.

I heard a speaker last night who left me wondering how close the correlation is between animal abuse and other abuse and apparently it's quite high. Understanding that it's good to go to lots of sources before you draw conclusions and understanding that a good statistician can make the numbers show anything, here's a site with (relatively) short, clear, concise interesting information. One of the things to do is to read and if any of these things have happened to you ( spanking, emotional or physical abuse (and I'm not saying they're the same) do you think their conclusions are valid?

There's probably some good material out there through Christian publishing but here is also a short and interesting article about compassion burn-out. I'm just posting it here because I ran across it and it's short and it's probably as applicable to people working with people as to those working with animals or for anyone tackling the marriage of mercy and justice where someone is saved out of an oppressive situation and offered a new start.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Just Interesting

Periodically I try to catch up on reading blogs.

This is about worship (courtesy of PoMoKidz) and this part is what I found particularly interesting: "But we have become convinced that the primary meeting place with our unchurched friends is now outside the church building. Worship must finally become, as Paul reminds us, more life than event. (Romans 12:1,2)"

"To this end, Sally Morgenthaler and the rest of the Sacramentis team will be focusing on the radically different kind of leadership it will take to transform our congregations from destinations to conversations, from services to service, and from organization to organism."

This is about veggie tales "graduating" to national TV (courtesy of Daniel's Put Me in the Zoo).

Why did I put them together in the same blog? No reason, but both may indicate ongoing and interesting cultural changes that will affect your children.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Out and About

For local parents and fun-loving grown-ups:

In a doctors' office the other day, I saw some fliers for events at the Strong Museum (Truck Day?) and the Rochester Children's Book Festival is coming again.

This magazine is a nice resource for parents. Apparently it's available in different parts of the state, Kids Out And About (Rochester)

Genesee Valley Parent is a free publication for local parents at libraries, doctor's offices and grocery stores.

Barktoberfest is coming to Lollypop Farm the last Saturday in September.

And there's probably more, like Whittier Farms has kid-friendly apple picking. There used to be a farm in Victory with short trees, too. Check out Kids Out And About.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Narrative Education and Moral Imagination

This last section of Chapter 19 is about the Moral Imagination. Robert Coles wrote a book, The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination. (I haven't read it.) Stories can transform lives. (CS p. 319)

Stories "... a storyteller's moral imagination vigorously at work . . . can enable any of us to learn by example to take to heart what is, really, a gift of grace. (Coles, 1989) . . . It is precisely because stories reflect human experience that narrative is powerful and persuasive. " (CS p. 319)

Ford and Wong again quote Bolt saying, "The key to moral growth for Christians, then, is the capacity for our imaginations to be transformed by the image of Christ, by the metaphors, stories, and images of the Christian faith." (Bolt, 1993)

"Christian education centered on the mind is inadequate; [mh It's only part of who we are.] the goal is to live in a distinctively Christian manner. . . Parents need to engage their own moral imaginations with the stories and images of Christ and the Christian faith before they can engage their child's imagination. The more a child's moral imagination is shaped by the stories of Christianity, the greater will be their capacity for spiritual and moral formation." (CS p. 320)

There's more strategy for implementation at the end of this chapter but let's stop here.

Biblical or not, what are the stories that have had the greatest affect on you? How did they change you? What stories affect your children? How?

How can we process the stories of God in a way that will give them the power to filter the media and all the other stories that bombard our lives? Or will God's stories hold their own, no matter what the competition?

Narrative Education 2

Ford and Wong see narrative education as an important tool for faith building in children at school, church, and home. It's one way children learn about God, human beings, themselves. "This understanding develops from the children's experience of relationships...These relationships [I'd assume this to apply to all of a child's relationships not just among peers and with their instructor] are an integral component of faith education in children, for relationships provide 'the language by which we communicate the truth of God at work in history' as well as in the lives of humanity today. (Miller, 1956) " Narrative education "equips children with reason, embodied learning, and an empowered brings scripture to life." It "promotes the embodiment of empathy, the capacity to reason empathetically, and the skills to articulate one's story in an empowered voice."(CS p. 316)

They go on to emphasize it's importance at home. Over the last 150 years, focus on education has shifted from home to church/school to school. They say, "The professionalizing of both the public school and church was associated with a shift away from the home for spiritual education. Perhaps parents feel less capable of encouraging their children's faith, even though dozens of research studies clearly indicate that parental influence generally overshadows all other influences in this respect. (Hyde 1990) "(CS p. 317)

They see the role of the church "to teach the Bible and bring theology and theological reflection from the pulpit into all church ministries, including ministries that specifically encourage and support parental faith formation of their children... [and] affirming the historical doctrine and creeds that are bedrocks of Christian education. With a strong biblical foundation and philosophy taught and lived in the life of the church, parents can be equipped to teach their children how to view the world and live life from a Christian perspective. . . Strong theological and biblical teaching in the church will help prepare parents to teach these in the home. . .The relationship between parents and children is conducive to discipleship."(CS p. 317-318)

"In the Scriptures, it is clear that the historic Christian faith is rooted in a story-the story of God's relationship with his people. . .The story of God and his people continues to unfold in the lives of his people today. The Christian story becomes alive in children's minds and hearts by telling and retelling both the personal story of faith and the collective stories of God's activities to one's children. Children are inundated by alternative and often contradictory stories through the mass media and other sources, and thus the church and parents must be certain the Christian story is heard and owned by their youngsters." They talk about teaching the Biblical narrative as more than Biblical facts. They talk about lifelong learning - a requirement for discipleship. (CS p. 319)

"Unfortunately, parents do not always teach their children to think for themselves and internalize matters related to belief and ultimate truths, thus their faith may be vulnerable in the face of cultural and educational challenges [I'd add emotional challenges as well]. . . Critical thinking can be encouraged by asking children engaging questions, and encouraging them to discuss indeas deeply, and thereby evaluate contemporary thought and culture. Parents and teachers can help children develop skills of discernment in all areas of life by encouraging them to seek and arrive at God's truth in their own way." (CS p. 319)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Narrative Education 1

I'm pushing a little with some of this stuff (and losing readers), the price of public brainstorming.

Digging a little deeper into Chapter 19, Ms. Ford and Ms. Wong are focusing on Narrative in Christian Ed. They quote Michael Connelly and Jean Clandenin (I like this quote) "narrative is the study of how human beings make meaning of experience by endlessly telling and retelling stories about themselves that both refigure the past and create purpose in the future..." (CS p. 311) You know how your little ones love to hear the same story over and over? They're processing. As they grow, listening to stories is another way to process life, to look at cause and effect, to empathize with others, to think about choices.

They say, "Narrative education is different from other formal education because of the emphasis on voice, enbodied learning, and reason as educational tools." I think these things happen when children pretend, too. They're acting out stories and putting themselves in the story.

The simplified methodology of narrative education is this: the story is shared with the entire group, then "each person has opportunity to share his or her personal experiences, understandings, and interpretations of the story." Individuals, and the group, can be transformed by this process. Sharing personal experiences and insights causes listeners to focus on other people and how other people hear or see the same story. (CS p. 311) They spend 2-3 pages describing their methodology in greater detail if you're interested.

She says storytelling can bring together experience, intuition, imaginative knowing, and rational, analytic knowing in ways that engage the whole learner. Stories often reflect the culture in which they are taught. Stories can make the abstract more real. (CS p. 314) Sometimes this is done with role playing and creative dramatics. Sometimes story introduces cultural understanding. Sometimes it helps a child see their own personal experiences through someone else's eyes or perhaps it helps a child better understand the experiences of another.

Narrative isn't the only way people learn, but it seems to be one of those tools that can cross age and cultural differences. Jesus used narrative. He told stories. Yes, we believe that His Word is the Word of God and that it carries, in itself, the potential for transformation but He chose to teach and reveal truth through stories.

Commenting on the Good Samaritan, their observation is interesting. The people that the listeners were culturally best able to identify with were the ones who walked by and did nothing. The Samaritan, on the other hand, someone they would normally dismiss, was a caring neighbor. Their focus is on moral development, learning right from wrong, learning how to treat others. (CS p. 314-315)

Story is an effective tool for this kind of learning. Story shows itself in oral storytelling, in Sunday school, in books, TV, movies. Whether or not the teaching is intentional, I think learning is inevitable.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Challenging Question

I'm reading Chapter Nineteen: "Narrative and the Moral Education of the Christian Child" by Victoria M. Ford and Ester Wong. I'm enjoying the chapter but there's an underlying assumption that I find challenging. Thirty years ago I would have said, "Of course this is true." But it jumped out at me today and I'm wrestling with it.

"Narrative education is an important tool for the moral development of children, which is the main goal of religious education in general." (CS p. 314)

God does require we train up our children "in the way they should go" (I'm not disputing that) but is "moral development" (learning right from wrong) the main goal of Christian education? Was moral education God's objective when He sent Jesus to wander ancient Israel telling stories, interacting with people, and to ultimately lay down His life? People called Him "Teacher," and indeed He was. What was He teaching?

I guess I never really thought about it before. What do you think?

Monday, September 04, 2006

layers of concrete

When we take communion, the bread and wine (or juice) are simple and concrete. We eat them - also very concrete and simple. Just eating, drinking, and remembering Christ every time you do this would be concrete, spiritual, and it would be enough. But we look for meaning from this very personal yet relational communal experience - something that transcends rote ritual and tradition. Something that transcends the concrete. And we want this for our children.

...That's where I started, but it wasn't really coming together. (aptly called "Beating on Concrete") so I went back to the story:

“When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’"

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’."

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’"

“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Luke 22:14-20 (NIV)

Just Jesus, his closest followers (and even the person who would betray him) sitting around a table eating, drinking, sharing yet another experience. They knew Him as a real person. . . but I forgot that this was a Passover meal, one of the celebrations where children played such an important role. The elements are concrete at Passover, too. Passover was an opportunity to remember the story of God delivering His people. Jesus told His disciples to remember Him whenever they broke the bread. Some liken the time Jesus spent here before the cross to the time when a family kept and cared for a lamb before it was sacrificed for the Passover meal. Yet we don't hear about children at this first Communion meal, only when He entered Jerusalem and when He talked about wanting to gather Jerusalem the way a mother hen gathers her chicks.

I’m not sure that “concrete” is just for young children. Children begin learning through their experiences, before they have language, maybe before they understand. Apparently, Jesus gave a similar opportunity to His disciples. He walked with them, lived with them teaching them. As Jews, I'm guessing they were already familiar with the "concrete" traditions of Passover. They probably experienced grinding grain, crushing grapes, smelling fresh-baked bread, walking through grain fields, chewing kernels from thin dry stalks, running through the loam of a vineyard in bare feet, smelling grape flowers and ripe fruit. Another layer of concrete as they ate bread and drank wine. That experience with Jesus and the events that would follow, yet another layer.

When I take communion, I tend to confess my sins, ask His forgiveness (lest I come unworthy and get sick. :-) , and give thanks for what He did on the cross. I wouldn't call that concrete. I rarely ponder my experiences with bread and wine or all the potential interconnectedness. I rarely ponder the biology of what I'm doing, the life food, or the social elements implied when I partake of the Body of Christ though that would certainly add a layer of concrete meaning. I rarely stop to remember Jesus, the way His disciples could - not just what He would do on the cross but their daily interactions with Him.

Children eat bread, they drink juice. If they’re hungry, they feel better after they eat. They’re close to someone they know and love. Maybe someone prays for them. Maybe God answers that prayer. Maybe they're facinated by the candles or they remember a picture of Jesus or a Bible story. Maybe there’s a connection. And ok, today bread and juice grow in a grocery store but all these simple layers of experience give meaning to experiences that follow.

The paradox is that, despite the potential for many layers of meaning, even if you do nothing but see, touch, taste, partake and remember Him (like Jesus said), it's enough.

In upstate NY, it’s harvest season. Consider visiting a vineyard or a grain field. Consider making bread from scratch. And when you eat the bread and drink the juice with His disciples (every time, or just during communion) remember Him.