2022 Christian Education Week: Partners in Faith Formation & Discipleship: Peacebuilders
By Kevin Johnson
A quick scan of the Merriam-Webster online dictionary of the word peace yields many results. Many of the definitions are not about peace; they are about the absence of war. We live in a world that can be overwhelming with conflict, strife, death, violence, and grief. We are reminded by Jesus from his words in John’s Gospel, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36, NRSV). These words serve as a reminder that as followers, we also live in God’s kingdom with the promise of hope, love, and peace through Jesus Christ. Our world is yearning for words of hope and peace and for people who will live as peace providers in the world.
What is peace? Peace is so much more than the absence of conflict; it’s even more than just living in peace with one another. From a Christian perspective, peace includes our relationships with God and one another and bringing reconciliation and harmony. It reflects the peace that comes from God that surpasses all understanding. Peacebuilding includes conflict resolution, understanding how we respect one another, understanding how we are called to be peacemakers in our homes or work, and modeling peace to the children and youth in our lives.
The 2022 Christian Education Week resource focuses on why we are called to be peacemakers and provides leaders in your congregation an opportunity to consider how they are or could be peacebuilders in their own contexts. In our world that is full of anxiety, we have information at our fingertips, yet discernment is essential. Learning about and experiencing the source of true peace in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is more vital than ever.
This resource is designed to give people an opportunity to see the impact of peacebuilders, those who are both well-known and unsung heroes, and how each of us is called to be a peacebuilder.
This resource is intended to help you plan your Christian Education Week/Sunday celebration. Check with your annual conference to determine if a date has been set for this occasion and if the conference receives a special offering to support educational ministries.
This celebration may be combined with ministries in your church that are involved with peace, such as Christian Home Month. It is a wonderful time to recognize and celebrate the unsung peacebuilders in your church and build peace in your community. Make this a celebration of God’s love and peace in your midst and God’s call to be peacebuilders in the world.
Rev. Kevin Johnson is the Director, Children’s Ministries for Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship at Discipleship Ministries. Kevin’s hero Fred Rogers suggests that we, “listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.” This quote defines Rev. Kev’s approach to ministry. Kevin, an ordained elder of the Kentucky Annual Conference, has over fifteen years of ministry experience in which he has thought of the children first. Prior to ministry, Kevin worked with children in the hospital setting and in group homes for emotionally and physically abused children.