Archives For Christian Education

Parents: Echoing Back

Jason Micheli —  August 23, 2013 — 1 Comment

luthersockeLike I do every August, I’m busy preparing for the kick-off of our year long confirmation program for 6th graders and our nascent year long catechism for graduating seniors. Throw in there plans for a class on Mark I’ll be teaching.

Meanwhile our youth and children directors are getting ready for their years and the hundreds of kids who will come through the doors after Labor Day.

Throw in all the admin time such time requires.

And here’s the bitter, ironic but abiding reality:

NONE OF WHAT WE DO MATTERS

NONE OF IT MATTERS

NO SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS, CONFIRMATION RETREAT, YOUTH GROUP SESSION CAN MAKE YOUR KID A CHRISTIAN IF NOTHING WE DO WITH THEM AT CHURCH IS ECHOED BACK AT HOME.

WHERE THEY SPEND 98% OF THEIR LIVES.

Martin Luther, the Reformation theologian who spent his whole life embroiled in matters involving the institutional church, was convinced that Christian formation actually happened in the home not in the Church. It happened in the family.

If ever the People of God are to flourish, Luther believed, if ever people will be capable of believing in God’s love it will be because of what happens in the home, in the family, and not in the Church. For Luther, teaching about God’s love had less to do with the official words of the Church and more to do with the love shared in the home.

Luther called it ‘echoing back.’

It’s the kind of teaching that happens in families- around dinner tables and shared struggles, in conversations and in ordinary moments.

Echoing back: it’s where the words of scripture and the words Church are made visible in the lives of the people who love us. In other words, our ability to understand Christ’s love for us depends on whether we see that love, experience that love, through the lives of those who love us.

According to Luther, the words of the Church alone can’t do it because God invites us not just into believing in him but into a way of life. And for a way of life, we need more than words; we need guides, mentors, friends.

If it’s true that the laos have abdicated the ministry to the cleros, it’s also true in too many cases that families have abdicated Christianity to the Church, leaving it to pastors and badly paid staff to Christianize (or at least inoculate them against the corroding effects of secularism) them.

The one bright side is that if kids and youth don’t grow up in homes where the Church’s message is echoed back by their families, then they’re still ripe and vulnerable to an anti-family, fight-the-Man-renegade like Jesus of Nazareth.

 

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Why We Volunteer

Jason Micheli —  June 18, 2013 — Leave a comment
photo-300x300This is from Elaine Woods, our Children’s Minister, reflecting on the end of the Sunday School year.

The Sunday school year has come to a close, and I’m reminded again how greatly our programs rely on volunteers.  Teaching young children week after week takes preparation, dedication, and time.  Over 200 kids attend our Sunday school each week.

Most of our teachers are parents donating time away from their families to help others.

They show up week after week with smiles on their faces, ready to show a young child what it means to pray; what it means to have faith; what it means to be a Christian.

Volunteering does more than accomplish a task.  It allows us to “actively” live out God’s word.

Most volunteers discover that the more they invest in their task, the more they enjoy it.  It’s like a hug: in giving one, you get one, too.

Doing something for others without personal gain exemplifies what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And what better way to teach children how to serve others than to see it in action.  They learn from example, especially from their parents.

Volunteering also fosters a sense of community where all generations can come together for a common goal.

It creates unity and is universal.

When the youth from our church travel to Guatemala to build ovens as part of their mission project, they work side by side with local residents of all ages who don’t speak English.  But neither party has trouble understanding each other.  They speak the common language of charity and service.

It is not enough to just listen to the word of God, or just read the Bible; we should put the teachings of Jesus into practice in our everyday lives.

It is about giving our time, attention and resources to help others. It is about nurture, and patience and gentleness; all the things described in 1 Corinthians 13.

So as we try to put the word of God into practice in our everyday lives, opportunities exist whenever we encounter another person who needs our help.

What is our attitude toward that person? Do we ignore them? Do we think, “I’m too busy?”

It’s a challenge, but practicing love helps us grow in love.  It brings God’s plan into our earthly lives.

Whether you are volunteering as project manager, or just providing that much-needed smile to those around you, challenge yourself to lend a hand and improve your community.

For in helping others, we honor Christ.