Staying Connected: Advent Edition
Greetings! I am excited to bring you this newly created newsletter that is designed for church leaders who are in ministry with families. This newsletter is a response to requests and feedback from church leaders around our connection.
My hope is that this bimonthly e-resource will equip and support you as you encourage families to make living our Christian faith an everyday practice.
As you use this resource, please let me know what is working and what is missing. Share and invite others to subscribe too. Together, we can support one another on this journey.
Grace & Peace,
Growing in Faith
Advent is the season in the church when get our hearts ready for the mystery of Christmas. During these four weeks, we journey with the holy family to the city of Bethlehem and the manger that holds the Christ child, the promised king. It is a time to turn inward and to focus on our relationships with God and neighbor. We ask, “God, how are you calling me to change? How can I prepare my heart and home for your promised coming?”
These questions invite people into a time of self-reflection as they seek to deepen their faith and strengthen their relationships with God and neighbor. Advent is the perfect time for families of all shapes and sizes to pause and reflect on their faith and to develop new and remember old spiritual practices that help them connect to the holy.
You can invite people to grow in their faith during this time by:
- Retelling the story of the holy family and inviting families to consider how they will make the journey to Bethlehem this season.
- Participating in liturgy and ritual. Say the same prayer every night or every morning as a family and invite God to help prepare your hearts for the mystery of Christmas (resource: Scrambled Starts: Family Prayers for Morning, Bedtime, and Everything In-Between by Jenny Youngman).
- Wondering together. Invite families to wonder together at the end of the school day (in the car on the way home) or before bed, asking: “I wonder how you experienced God today.” “I wonder how you are getting your heart ready for the mystery of Christmas.” “I wonder what you will do tomorrow to share God’s love with others.”
- Doing holy work together.
- Worship together: Encourage families to worship together at least once a week. After the worship service, invite them to reflect together as they share their favorite parts, their least favorite parts, and one moment they want to remember.
- Serve together: Invite your congregations and families to share God’s light by serving together.
- Organize an all-church Advent project that invites everyone to help other people. Ideas include: adopting a family and inviting people in the congregation to give items for a Christmas meal or wrapped gifts to go under the family’s tree. Invite families to shop together, have children help with the shopping list as families decide what to give another family in need. Children can help wrap gifts and make ornaments for shut-ins, a local retirement center, friends, neighbors, and family.
- Encourage families to participate in a family Advent. Invite children to help brainstorm ideas and ways to share the light of Christ with others.
- Practice a 1:1 giving discipline: As children start to create their Christmas wish lists, encourage them to write next to their wish-list items those items that they will give to others. Ask them to note people with whom they want to share God’s love. Encourage all family members to give/donate one item for every gift received.
May you and your families be blessed during this Advent Season.
In Passing it On, Kara Lassen Oliver provides a practical guide to help parents, grandparents, and other concerned adults nurture children’s faith. For four weeks at a time, she offers easy-to-follow suggestions for families during the seasons of Advent, Lent, summer, and back-to-school.
This book features:
- plans for weekly family gatherings with age-appropriate activities;
- symbols to remind family members of the week’s spiritual emphasis;
- a suggested daily practice and prayer for each week;
- a leader’s guide for parent groups studying this book together.
The most valuable legacy we can pass to our children and grandchildren is a spiritual heritage. Kara Oliver shows us how to do just that.
- Children's Ministry Forum, November 17-9, Little Rock, AR - Join other people in ministry with children from across the connection as we gather to discover, learn, and grow in our ministry together. There will be opportunities for renewal as you breathe deep and reconnect with God and others. With fantastic keynote speakers, preacher, and workshop leaders, you will definitely gather new tools to take back with you as you continue to strengthen your ministry with the children in your community. Register at: www.cmf2015.org.
- Q&A Webinar with the Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell - You do not want to miss this opportunity to chat about prayer and faith formation with the Rev. Campbell, the Canon Precentor of Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Join us on December 2, 2015 at 9:00 am, CST.
Intergenerational Ministry Ideas
This Advent, host an Advent Festival. Invite people of all ages from your church and community to come for food, games, and activities that will help people learn about Advent as they create items (such as an Advent wreath) to use in their homes during the season.
How to Use the Journeying Together Newsletter in Your Congregation
The sister newsletter to this one (Staying Connected) is Journeying with God and Each Other. It offers ways for families to pay attention to God, take time to be with God and one another, do holy work together, and the bless one another. There are many ways you might choose to use this newsletter in your congregation. We will be posting tips and tools here. This month, try printing the Journeying with God and Each Other newsletter and giving it to families in your congregation. If you have ideas and want to share how you are using these resources, let us know: [email protected].
What's Happening Across the Connection?
This space is a place for you to share your faith stories, best practices, ministry bloopers, and learnings. We hope this newsletter will help connect leaders across the denomination as we share and learn from one another. Have a story to share? Let us know! E-mail us and maybe your story will appear in the next issue of the newsletter.