Forming Faith

Christians Engaged in Faith Formation

Forming Faith: The Blog of Christians Engaged in Faith Formation

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  • 10 Feb 2017 4:32 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    by Ellen Wehn. Ellen currently serves as Director of Children's Ministries at First United Methodist Church Owasso, Oklahoma.

    You are invited to Join the conversation about children in worship in one of our Communities of Practice.

    People have strong feelings about having children in worship. In my 20 years in Children's Ministry, I have seen many children, including my own, grow up in church. I am passionate about children being a part of worship, not just sitting in worship.

     Two of the most common arguments against including children in worship are: "children don't understand what is going on" and "worship is too long for children to sit through". Those arguments can be true, if children are just sitting in church not a part of worship.

    To be a part of worship, children need help from adults. As children's ministry leaders, we need to encourage parents to bring their children to worship and equip them to help their child be a part of worship. The first, most important thing parents can do is to allow their children to see them not only worshiping, but enjoy worshiping. Suggest that families with children sit close to the front so the child can see and hear.  Encourage parents to quietly explain the different parts of the service to their children.

     Here are a few first steps for having children be a part of worship:

    • Create a liturgical dance group for children. The dance does not always have to be to music; they can also present scripture through dance.
    • Invite children who take piano lessons or sing to do the special music in the service. They do not have to wait until they are adults bring special music.
    • Encourage children to use their gifts now.  In addition to being an acolyte, ask your pastor if some of the older children can read scriptures or help serve communion. Perhaps children could walk along with adults helping collect the offering.

     Constantly sending kids out of worship could tells them "church is boring. Here is something fun to do.” I have known children that have been in church their entire lives but never attended a worship service until they became youth. Attending worship and being expected to know and understand something they never learned how to participate in as a young child can be quite a culture shock. Many youth who have this experience stop coming to church altogether. It is no longer fun or entertaining.

     Don't get me wrong. I believe children need age appropriate activities. I believe our Sunday School and small groups should be as age appropriate as possible. But in our attempts keep it age appropriate and fun, we should not forget how seeing your parents worship God can influence a child.

     The message we send children about worship is very important. We want the message to be “It is a wonderful experience to worship the Lord!”


  • 01 Feb 2017 2:24 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Rev. Kathy Wadsley is a former CEF Board Member. She served most recently at St. Matthews UMC in Bowie, MD. We are thankful for this resource she has freely shared. If you would like to make a donation in her honor to continue to support CEF's efforts to make member created resources like these available, please use the donate tab on this website.

    Printable Lenten calendars in both English and Spanish may be printed at home, or inserted into church newsletters or emails. Each day includes a suggested activity a symbol to color.

    Download 2017 Lenten Calendar .pdf 

    Download 2017 Lenten Devotional - English

    Download 2017 Lenten Devotional- Spanish 

    Intro and Printing Instructions


    These calendars are part of an ecumenical three-year series of Advent – Christmas and Lenten calendars based on the new common lectionary scriptures. The calendars, available in English and Spanish, are designed to encourage families and individuals to take a few moments each day to focus on the meaning of these special seasons of the church year. Each day of Advent through Epiphany or each day of Lent though Easter Sunday has a scripture reference from the new common lectionary or a related activity and a symbol which children of all ages may enjoy coloring. 

    Suggestions for use: 

    † For Families at home. 

    † Use in Sunday School as a class or weekday ministries to learn about the seasons and the symbols. 

    † Classes could draw their own symbols, write the meaning on it and make a large calendar on classroom wall or bulletin board. 

    † Color symbols with magic markers or colored pencils. 

    † Use as daily family or individual devotional. 

    †Distribute at Worship or Sunday School, in church newsletter or other ways. 

    Printing Instructions The Lenten Calendars Year A are designed to be printed on legal (8.5” X 11”) paper and can be printed on ledger (11” X 17”) paper for larger print. The calendars are designed to be printed with calendar front on one side and calendar back on the other side using one sheet of paper. 

    Copyright These copyrighted calendars are designed by Kathryn (Kathy) L. Wadsley, Minister of Christian Education, The United Methodist Church. Churches have permission to copy and distribute the calendars for use. Calendars may only be freely given as a spiritual formation tool and may not be sold.


  • 28 Jan 2017 8:20 AM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Angelina Goldwell is the DRE for the First UMC of Olympia (fumcoly.org) . She received her Masters of Divinity from the Claremont School of Theology in 2012. She has nearly a decade of experience doing ministry with all ages and is particularly focused on intergenerational ministries.

    I adore the church year. I grew up in a tradition of “smells and bells” and still firmly believe that the seasons of the church year invite us to engage all of our senses. Lent is my favorite season. As a child I looked forward pancakes on Tuesday night and to receiving ashes on Wednesday. I grew up enjoying the triple ritual of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. My favorite color is purple and I love the desert. I have a special place in my heart for the story of Jesus’ temptation: it is a story that emphasizes the power of knowledge, the value of commitment, the importance of choice, and being able to stand on your own two feet in your faith journey. The words of Matthew 6:1-18 shape my approach to my interior faith life. As someone who has experienced great seasons of spiritual drought, everything about this season speaks to me.

    In my time as a Christian educator I have had the opportunity teach about this season to elementary, middle school, high school and with adults in various life stages. Children and youth succeed when they have strong relationships with adults to whom they are not related.* At First Olympia we prepare for the beginning of each liturgical season with an all-ages event. These events take place either during the Discipleship Hour (between services) or are scheduled at alternate time for longer events. For Lent 2017 we have three events scheduled:

    All-Ages Lent Learning (Sunday February 26, 10am-11am)

    The Sunday morning prior to the start of Lent we will offer our intergenerational learning event. I believe in order for something to be intergenerational the structure and content of that event requires the input of multiple generations. The session outline was developed in conversation with members of our Children’s Council (which includes children and youth) and the Discipleship Ministries Team (who oversee faith formation for adults). A PDF is available here for church use.

    New Member Potluck & Ash Wednesday Service (March 1, 2017)

    Traditionally our church has done a Pancake Dinner on Tuesday night cooked and served by the staff.  We schedule quarterly potlucks for new members to meet long standing members (we have new members join on the 4th Sunday of the month and have a potluck on the first Wednesday of the second month of the quarter) and decided to combine the two. The potluck is welcome to all ages so in addition to dinner we will include some simple activities for children (coloring books, activity bags filled with different textured items, etc.). We cover the tables with butcher paper and put crayons on each table. On the butcher paper we write questions that the table group may choose to answer as a way to start a conversation. For the Ash Wednesday service itself we will invite children and youth to assist in the distribution of the ashes and in other worship roles such as greeters, ushers and readers.

    Throughout the Lenten Season

    During the six weeks of Lent the children and youth collaborate to create an entirely child/youth led worship service to take place following Easter. Each week they focus on a different component of the worship service with guidance from adults who specialize in those areas (ex: choir director helps the children select the songs, pastors help with the structure/writing of the sermon, experienced ushers teach the children host to usher, etc.).

    I hope these resources are helpful to you, reader, and hope that you will take the time to let me know how they have worked in your context.

    *http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

    **Please do not sell this material or re-post it online without express written permission. 


  • 24 Jan 2017 8:44 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Rev. Victoria Rebeck is director of deacon ministry support, provisional membership development, and certification programs for the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

    You’ve started a new job at a church as a Christian education director, children’s minister, minister to families, youth minister, or similar position. You’re excited, and during the first several months, everyone is so nice.

    Then after a few months, there are unpleasant surprises. You are expected to do many more things than were listed on the rather vague job description, and this is taking up many more hours than you were told to work (and you are not paid for this extra time). Everyone seems to think he or she is your boss—and they don’t all agree on their demands. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee reviews your performance and cites needs that were never expressed as essential when you were hired.

    Now you are stressed out and rarely have time to do the ministry you really enjoy, the ministry you were told would be your primary responsibility.

    This story is not unusual. Unfortunately, such problems are difficult to resolve if they were not anticipated at the start of employment.

    To clarify your role, the church’s expectations, lines of accountability, evaluation standards, compensation and benefits, hours, office space, and more, you will want to have an employment covenant with the church. (If you are appointed clergy, you may call this an appointment covenant.)

    Clarifying expectations benefits both the staff person and the hiring church.

    The purpose of an employment covenant is to state explicitly the staff person’s responsibilities and couch them in the church’s specific mission goals; to describe how the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) or equivalent will support the staff person in accomplishing the mutually agreed-upon ministry goals; and to spell out reflection, feedback, benefits, and termination procedures.

    With a mutually agreed-upon covenant, it is more likely that performance concerns and successes can be addressed early through a transparent process. It also will decrease the amount of misunderstandings about responsibilities, process, and roles.

    By reducing anxiety, it also enhances the likelihood of successful ministry.

    A covenant is both biblical and Wesleyan. “A covenant is a mutually created commitment to ministry,” says Gwen Purushotham in Watching Over One Another in Love (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2010). “It is grounded in our relationship with God, who created us and called us to ministry. .  .  . It says, ‘Here is what we will endeavor to do together and how we will hold one another accountable.’ It is a commitment to life and growth.”

    The covenant should be prepared with the collaboration of the staff person, the SPRC or equivalent church body, and the lead pastor. Before meeting, each of these parties should reflect upon the concerns listed below.

    The covenant should include (but not be limited) to the following:

    • The church’s mission statement and ministry goals. If the church does not have these and they are not expressed specifically and clearly, it will be difficult for any staff member to lead successful ministry in that setting.
    • The goals of this position and how they fit into the church’s mission and ministry context.
    • The specific areas of responsibility for the staff person.
    • Hours, pay, and benefits; continuing education financial support and leave time; vacation and holidays; leaves of absence for family care, illness, spiritual development, or other.
    • The lines of supervision and accountability for this staff position.
    • Office space, department budget and participation in budget development, access to support staff.
    • Provisions for periodic feedback (who convenes the meetings, how frequently will the staff person and SPRC meet, communication guidelines for giving and receiving feedback, etc.)
    • Confidentiality agreement.
    • The process for annual performance review, including a list of who receives feedback and evaluation reports.
    • ·         Statement of how the SPRC and supervisor will support the staff person in meeting agreed-upon goals.
    • ·         Other specific expectations related to ministry performance.
    • ·         A process for addressing grievances and conflicts.
    • ·         A process for remediation when the staff person does not meet performance expectations. For example: the process for discussing with the staff person the specific shortcoming; the possibility of including an advocate for the staff person in this conversation (who serves as a listener, asks clarifying questions, and supports and encourages the staff member in his or her efforts to improve); working out a plan to help the staff person build proficiency in the area of concern; how the church might help financially support the effort, if training is part of the plan; listing check-in dates to monitor improvement; describing how improvement will be measured and the standard of adequate improvement; describe the consequences that result when the plan is not achieved.
    • Termination procedures, including notice. (For deacons, the United Methodist Book of Discipline requires a 90-day minimum notice and termination must be preceded by consultation among the deacon, the district superintendent, and the bishop, because the bishop sets appointments.)

    Then these parties should set aside a couple of hours to meet and work together on a mutual covenant. It is a significant time investment, yes; but it will save a lot of time later.

    You can see examples of such covenants on General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s deacon web page. While these are shaped for the appointed deacon, much of it is applicable to lay staff and elders.

    Encourage your SPRC to read Watching Over One Another in Love, mentioned above. It is a very quick read, and it spells out supervision practices that include both support and accountability.

    It’s not too late to start this process, even if you’ve been in your position a while. You might encourage your supervisor and/or the lead pastor to read the book and discuss it with you, and then suggest that you together present the idea to the SPRC. (The clergy staff may also want to establish this practice for themselves as well!)

    Ministry has its joys, and these are more readily experienced when expectations are clear and lines of communication are regularly maintained. Take initiative in setting yourself up for success by preparing an employment covenant with your church.

    Rev. Victoria Rebeck is director of deacon ministry support, provisional membership development, and certification programs for the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.


  • 18 Nov 2016 5:38 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    This post is by Hanna Schock, a CEF member and the creator of Picture Book Theology. She is also the writer of Manna & Mercy: An Elementary Curriculum based on Daniel Erlander’s popular book for adults.  Because of her training as a teacher and school psychologist, Hanna is passionate about Christian education that is easy to relate to, is rich with meaning, and leads to deep learning.

    Advent, a time of waiting, hope, and giving can also involve a journey and a surprise. These are themes in secular picture books that I feature on my blog www.picturebooktheology.com and want to encourage you to use in ministry. “Why not use a picture book about an Advent story?”  Such picture books are hard to find and sometimes saccharine and shallow. Instead, give your faith family a well-written story that is relatable and has depth. Help them make connections to an Advent story and their own feelings. I believe such wider, deeper learning across these three contexts leads to more meaningful learning. Consider these 4 picture book possibilities:

    Brown Bear’s Wonderful Secret by Caroline Castle (illustrations by Tim McNaughton) is a silly story young children will love. Brown Bear’s wonderful secret is that she is pregnant, but this surprise isn’t revealed until the end. She tries to tell her animal friends, but they don’t listen. When spring comes, Brown Bear’s delight and surprise is revealed and all agree it is wonderful. Attach this story to Mary’s pregnancy and her journey from isolation to joy. Ask your children about having a secret or wanting to tell news but not being heard. Help explore, in age-appropriate ways, changes that pregnancy brings. Talk about Mary’s surprise. Likely, Mary will be more real to them during Advent because of this picture book and your conversation.

    Hope is an Open Heart by Lauren Thompson is a picture book that many people will enjoy. Here you have a photographic essay demonstrating the universality of hope by offering various inspiring photographs of children from around the world. Hope is one of those concepts that is difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. These photographs will give groups of all ages images to enjoy. Encourage them to explore this important Advent concept. Tie these photographs to the hopes that your faith community has during Advent or to the Messianic hope the Jews had at the time of Jesus’ birth until today. What might it mean to have an open heart? Have your listeners hypothetically imagine photos taken to demonstrate Advent hope. Then encourage them to talk about how Jesus’ story offers hope during the Advent season and beyond, for themselves and for others around the world.

    Shoebox Sam by Mary Brigid Barrett (illustrations by Frank Morrison) will be fun for elementary children. This story of generosity involves two children spending a Saturday with Sam in his shoe repair shop. Sam is known for welcoming those who are homeless and offering them food and new shoes. One elderly lady, who is likely homeless, surprises them all with a specific desire, the prized ballet shoes that are on display. At first reluctant, Sam gives in to her yearning. Her pleasure is his reward as she tenderly wraps her new treasure and exits. Help your children connect this delightful tale to the delight God must have when we are given just what we want. Then talk about Sam’s generosity and hospitality, spiritual practices that are most evident during Advent. Explore why giving is such an important aspect of our journeys toward Christmas.

    Going Home by Eve Bunting (illustrations by David Diaz) is a picture book about two Mexican children who have immigrated to America. Their parents take them back home to Mexico for the Christmas holidays but the children struggle because their very American expectations aren’t met. The little village doesn’t feel like home to them. As the visit progresses, the children expand their understanding of home since they’ve been lovingly welcomed and reminded that they are family. Initially connect this story to Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, their village of origin. They later became immigrants in Egypt. Explore the common feelings across stories, but also contrast these journeys. The Bethlehem journey was fraught with danger and hardship. Point out how people in both literary contexts made the travelers feel welcome and remind your listeners that home and family can be created anywhere if relationships are grounded in love. Wrap up by talking about feelings immigrants might have during Advent and Christmas.


  • 07 Nov 2016 7:58 AM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Rev. Melissa Cooper is an ordained United Methodist deacon in the Florida Annual Conference, the Program Coordinator for the Life Enrichment Center, a United Methodist retreat and conference center in Fruitland Park, FL, and the director of LECFamily, a ministry that includes intergenerational retreats and camps, resources for families and churches, as well as training and workshops for local churches and leaders. She was a 2016 CEF Conference presenter.

    Everyone seems to be excited about Christmas, don’t they? Nowadays, once the Halloween hustle is done, the Christmas craziness begins!

    But in the church, we know that that’s not the whole story. We know that there is something in between - something important and meaningful. A time where we are called to do something that is a challenge for most folks in American culture … wait.

    In Advent, we wait, which is why it’s so ironic that we mentally and culturally move so quickly to the Christmas season. We’ve even replaced Advent entirely - calling the time leading up to Christmas the “Christmas” season as well!

    I like to think that Christmas is such a theologically powerful and spiritually moving season, we want to expand it into more of the year! However, by doing that, we ignore what our ancestors were trying to remind us in the formation of the Christian calendar. We start our year by waiting. We start our year reminded to be patient: hat God’s timing is not our timing.

    It’s a message that Christians throughout history have found important, and there has never been a time that a message of “Wait!” has been more appropriate or needed. No matter your age or stage, a reminder to be still and find hope, peace, joy and love in the anticipation of the coming Christ is a needed and welcome reminder.

    Don’t you wish your church could slow down, learn to wait and connect with one another for Advent - the WHOLE church? Don’t you wish there was some common thread that could connect generations, classes and worship services this Advent season?

    What if that resource existed - and it’s FREE?

    That’s what #pictureAdvent is all about - a chance to connect your whole church during this special season.

    From daily devotions written by people of faith from a variety of denominations and locations, to worship and preaching resources, to activities for age-level ministries, to activities for families to do at home … #pictureAdvent’s framework meets each of your people where they are, while connecting them through common words and texts. #pictureAdvent even enhances the place we already connect the most by offering a framework for sharing experiences through photos.

    All you have to do is sign up online at www.pictureAdvent.com for daily devotions and all the latest updates on new resources as they become available. You can also visit the site to download the resources already available for your worship and program ministries.

    So the only question remaining is … how will you #pictureAdvent?


  • 04 Nov 2016 10:27 AM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Rev. Kathy Wadsley is a former CEF Board Member. She served most recently at St. Matthews UMC in Bowie, MD. We are thankful for this resource she has freely shared. If you would like to make a donation in her honor to continue to support CEF's efforts to make member created resources like these available, please use the donate tab on this website.

    Printable Advent calendars in both English and Spanish may be printed at home, or inserted into church newsletters or emails. Each day includes a suggested activity a symbol to color.

    Download Year A Advent Calendar in English

    Download Year A Advent Calendar in Spanish

    Download Directions and Information

    These updated Advent - Christmas Devotional Calendars are part of an ecumenical three-year series of Advent – Christmas and Lenten calendars based on the new common lectionary scriptures. The calendars, available in English and Spanish, are designed to encourage families and individuals to take a few moments each day to focus on the meaning of these special seasons of the church year. Each day of Advent through Epiphany or each day of Lent though Easter Sunday has a scripture reference from the new common lectionary or a related activity and a symbol which children of all ages may enjoy coloring. 

    Suggestions for use: 

    † For Families at home. 

    † Use in Sunday School as a class or weekday ministries to learn about the seasons and the symbols. 

    † Classes could draw their own symbols, write the meaning on it and make a large calendar on classroom wall or bulletin board. 

    † Color symbols with magic markers or colored pencils. 

    † Use as daily family or individual devotional. 

    †Distribute at Worship or Sunday School, in church newsletter or other ways. 

    † Distribute and begin using at Advent worship. 

    Printing Instructions The Advent –Christmas Calendars Year A are designed to be printed on legal (8.5” X 11”) paper and can be printed on ledger (11” X 17”) paper for larger print. The calendars are designed to be printed with calendar front on one side and calendar back on the other side using one sheet of paper. 

    Copyright These copyrighted calendars are designed by Kathryn (Kathy) L. Wadsley, Minister of Christian Education, The United Methodist Church. Churches have permission to copy and distribute the calendars for use. Calendars may only be freely given as a spiritual formation tool and may not be sold.


  • 23 Oct 2016 2:30 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Rev. Vincent Harris is an elder in the Texas Annual Conference, currently serving at Journey of Faith United Methodist Church. He is a certified Christian Educator in the UMC. Below are his closing remarks from the CEF 2016 Conference. Slides from  this presentation may be found in the member section of the CEFUMC.org website.

    This season of Pentecost, is a season for the church to be on fire. They were talked about, as people who appeared to be drunk, but not having anything but the Holy Spirit of God moving them.

    It does not matter if you are not understood or appreciated as a Christian Educator. You are living out your gifts in the Spirit. There will always be someone who will try to throw water on your fire. You are special and your spirit is one that is anointed by and with the power of God for a good life.

    The prophet Joel said that in the last days, God will pour out on all flesh [not just leading pastors, or lay leaders, big name, big givers, church pillars, leading families, but all flesh; not just young adults, children, and the seasoned adults, but all flesh, not just the rich, the educated, the privileged, the mighty, the talented, but all flesh] and your sons and daughters shall prophesy and your young men [and women] shall see visions and your old men [and women] shall dream dreams…It shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    If the world has any faith it must come from the real, relevant teaching community that is filled with people with a vision for making radical changes in the lives of others as Jesus did.

    Inspire the living faith (which whosoeer receive, the witness in themselves that have consciously believe), faith that conquers all, and doth the mountain move, and saves who eer on Jesus call, and perfects them in love.

    If the world has any hope it must come from the real, relevant nurturing community that fills the people of God with the Spirit of God that speaks truth to power and heals broken lives –without apology

    If the world has any love it must come from the real relevant praying community that is filled with people who have peace in their hearts, compassion in their souls, and a Spirit of life that cannot be quenched.

    John Bunyan once saw in a vision a man throwing water on a flame of fire and yet the flame continued to burn. He wondered how it could keep on burning, until he saw there was someone behind the door pouring oil on the flame.

    I’m so glad that when this world tries to drown out our Christian education fires, the Holy Spirit is there to keep pouring oil on the flame.

    Sometimes I feel discouraged and it seems my works and my living is in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

    There is a Balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole, there is a Balm In  Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

    So I’ve learned in moments of testing and trial to pray like the hymn writer,

    Won’t you pray with me:

    Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me

    Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me

    melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

    Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me.


  • 21 Oct 2016 4:02 PM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    Mandy Hall is a CEF member and Director of Christian Education at Plymouth UCC in Fort Collins, CO. Read more from Mandy at Soul Tending. 

    Last week I had the joy and privilege to attend the Christians Engaged in Faith Formation conference in Nashville, TN.  This conference is hosted by an association of primarily professional United Methodist Christian Educators.  It gathered together people whose experience in Christian education spanned since before I was born to college students discerning their call to ministry.  Some people traveled from the UK while others were Nashville natives. Many worked in local churches while others write for publishing houses or in non-profits.  Some are generalists others work with elders or youth or children.  It truly was a great cloud of witnesses with a deep well of knowledge;  sitting at the feet of the masters, learning, listening, sharing stories.

    At one of our worship services we sung the old hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” set to a new tune.  These old words came to life, were given new meaning, and spoke truth into our gathering space, all because the notes behind them changed.  The message never changed, but a new delivery made the message easier to hear.  

    Surrounded by fellow educators, I was struck by this hymn. We all come from different ministry contexts, yet our call to ministry is the same.  We are Christ bearers, we share the good news, we help you to interpret the love of God in your life.  Our methods differ, our platforms of communication keep evolving, but the message of God’s love is eternal.  At the end of the day, we were all connected and a part of the community of saints.

    “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” This is what the church has to offer, this community and sense of connection to something bigger and greater.  I reflected on this while sitting in the airport waiting to board my plane.  I was surrounded by people, and yet I was alone and disconnected in the midst of the crowd.  This is the reality of the world in which we live, we appear to be in community and yet too often we are disconnected.  

    This is why we need the church.  We need to connect to the people of God!  Our faith is magnified by community.  God’s grace grows in the fertile soil of church connection.  We need church to help us see where God is in this world and in our lives.  

    We need you in the church.  We need you to come home and share your stories of encounters with the Holy on the mountains, in your baby’s smile, in the peaceful passing of a loved one.  We need you to point to these glimpses of grace and help us to connect to the movements of the Spirit outside our community.  

    We need the church and the church needs you.  Come and teach us new tunes to the same Gospel words.  Come and learn a new way to sing when your old song looses its meaning.  Blest be the tie that binds, and may each of you be blessed with the love of Christ this day and every day.



  • 18 Oct 2016 7:52 AM | Christine Hides (Administrator)

    DeDe Reilly is a design team member for the 2016 National CEF Conference and  president of the North Georgia CEF team. She serves as Children's Ministry Director & Business Administrator at Wesley Chapel UMC in Marietta, Georgia and represents those who serve in ministry with children at the North Georgia Conference Connectional Table. This article was originally published on her blog, https://dedebullreilly.wordpress.com/.

    CEF is collecting prayer station ideas to be added to an online member library.IIf you have prayer station ideas that you have created, please email them to content@cefumc.org.

    Just last week I enjoyed the company of Christian educators at the 2016 National CEF (Christians Engaged In Faith Formation) Conference in Nashville. After participating in teaching, communities of practice, conversations, worship, workshops, table life, and laughter on the lawn, we finished the last day with an hour of response stations. Outdoor stations, enjoying nature, and giving hands-on responses to gather our thoughts and feelings before worship and returning home. These were those stations:

    cefresponse7Response Station #1 – Kind Hands TV TRAY, STAND UP FRAME

    We are called not only to ‘pray without ceasing’, but also to pray with our whole selves. How we use our bodies when we pray shares what is on the heart of the person who is praying to God.  The KINDNESS that comes from God tells us we belong to His family. We must be KIND because we belong to Him.

    “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

    While standing, rub your hands together gently as if you were putting on lotion. Make sure to turn your wrists in all directions and touch all parts of your hands – between your fingers, the back of your hands, and even your wrists.

    Share with God as you rub your hands, “Thank you, God, that You are kind when you ______ and ______ and ______. Help me to be kind when I ___________. Amen.”

    Additional Resource: Body Prayer: The Posture of Intimacy With God by Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill

    cefresponse5Response Station #2 – 10,000 Reasons TV TRAY, CLOTHESPINS, CUT PAPER & CONTAINER/BASKET, BIG FRAME, STANDUP FRAME

    Let’s COUNT our blessings!

    “For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find, …to bless the Lord, O my soul. Worship His holy name.”

    cefresponse8Write (or draw) a blessing from this week at CEF.  Clip it to the frame with a clothespin.

    Additional Resource: Counting Blessings by Debby Boone and Gabriel Ferrer



    cef1Response Station #3 – Praying in Color TV TRAY, STANDUP FRAME, FABRIC RIBBON CUT INTO 4-5 INCH STRIPS & CONTAINER, SMALL FRAME

    Take a strip of fabric and as you tie it onto the frame, share with God your regrets over the last year. Make a conscious decision to let it go and move on.  You may also choose to give thanks for lessons learned.

    “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

    Additional Resource: Praying in Color: Drawing A New Path To God (Active Prayer) by Sybil MacBeth

    cef2Response Station #4 –Psalm 23 TV TRAY, STANDUP FRAME, 15 OIL ROLLERBOTTLES IN CONTAINER/BASKET, PSALM 23 BOOKMARKS

    Anointing sheep’s heads with oil shielded them from annoying and even deadly insects, so anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.

    Using the anointing oil, anoint yourself (on the back of your hand, on pulse points, or on your forehead) and recite the 23rd Psalm.

    “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” 1 John 2:20

    Additional Resource: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

    cefresponse1Response Station #5 – Bubble Wrap Worries TV TRAY, BUBBLE WRAP CUT INTO STRIPS, 2 CONTAINERS, STANDUP FRAME

    Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength. Corrie Ten Boom

    God loves you and knows the desires of your heart. He also knows what you think can keep you from fulfilling His call on your life as you use your gifts and graces back home.

    Take a strip of bubble wrap and pop the bubbles as a symbol of giving your worries over to the One who has called you, will equip you, will go before you, will never leave you, and will teach you along the way.

    “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthews 6: 34

    Additional Resource: Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Samuel Chand

    cefresponse4Response #6 – A Fresh Word TV TRAY, KIDDIE POOL, STANDUP FRAME, BAG OF SAND, GLASS BEADS IN CONTAINER, FINE SHARPIES IN CONTAINER

    Play in the sand with your hands and fingers.

    When you choose a word to take with you in your heart, write that word on a glass bead and take the bead with you as a reminder of ‘the fresh word’ you received this week at the 2016 National CEF Conference.

    “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

    Additional Resource: Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century: Engaging All Ages & Generations by John Roberto

    cefresponse2Response #7 – In Memory PVC PIPE STAND, FISH NET, WHITE TABLE CLOTHS, 2 COLORS RIBBON, STANDUPFRAME, TV TRAY, BASKET FOR RIBBONS

    We all follow the saints of our journey. The saints who plowed the fields before us. The saints who spoke truth into our lives when we didn’t want to hear or maybe didn’t know to listen. The saints who have gone on to Glory, yet their influence upon our own calling lives on in us. We are their legacy.

    Tie a ribbon in the net as you give a prayer of thanksgiving for the saints of your journey who have gone on to Glory, yet their influence continues in you.

    “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

    cefresponseResponse #8 – In Honor (SAME STATION #7 AS ABOVE, ADD ON)

    We all share in influencing others for the cause of Christ. We teach, we lead, we speak, and we pray. We laugh, we train, we offer an effective hand off to those coming behind us. They are our legacy. They are the lives in whom we speak truth and influence to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.

    Tie a ribbon in the net as you offer a prayer of hope for those who you are influencing to answer the call to carry the banner of Christian education.

    “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” Kenneth H. Blanchard

    As you end a growth event, like a conference, how do you process on the last day to gather your thoughts and prepare to return home to implement what you’ve gleaned and learned?


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