Parents are the chief teachers of their children. When parents bring their children to the baptismal font, they promise to “live with their children among God’s faithful people, bring them to the word of God and the holy supper, teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, place in their hands the holy scriptures, and nurture them in faith and prayer, so that your children may learn to trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.” Our program of faith formation for children and youth is rooted in those promises.
As children engage in those baptismal faith practices, they will be formed in faith. That will show up in their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, hospitality to strangers, perseverance in prayer, self-control, compassion, humility, meekness (which means courageous resistance against the impulse to respond to violence with violence), forgiveness, thankfulness, offering blessings rather than curses, sharing in others’ joys and sufferings, associating with the lowly, loving and feeding their enemies, and responding to evil with goodness. (See Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 12:2, 9-21; Colossians 3:12-17)
The purpose of our congregation’s faith formation ministries for children and youth is to assist parents as they carry out those baptismal promises, to raise their children to live in such counter-cultural ways! Faith formation ministries must be more comprehensive that the old “Sunday School” model of classroom time on one morning of the week. Pastor Ballentine will be the church staff member primarily responsible for these ministries.
It is important to remember that every minute of our lives is a gift from God, and we are called to respond in thankfulness – by offering our time to God. The Third Commandment is essential for faith formation. It is also true that many parents feel pressure from competing demands on their families’ time. With these realities:
I. Sunday Morning Faith Formation
A. If you are only able to participate in one activity on Sunday mornings, worship is the fundamental formative event. Notice that what we do in worship encompasses all of the baptismal promises
- In worship, we confess sin and hear words of forgiveness, we receive God as God comes to us in scripture readings, we sing praises and laments, we pray, we eat and drink salvation, we engage in conversation with others on the journey of faith. Most of those activities are formative activities that are very different from how our culture forms us!
- There are many ways to involve children in worship, so they will want to be there! Sit up close, so your children can see what’s going on. Usher with your children. Serve as communion assistants with your children. Acolyte with your children. I will be happy to get you the training you need to do those things!
- Each Sunday, Pastor Griffin or Pastor Ballentine (according to who is preaching) will take children up through 4th grade out of the worship space during the sermon time, to do 10-15 minutes of teaching on the theme of the day. (Children aged five and younger will need to be accompanied by a parent.) The pastor will return with the children during the singing of the hymn following the sermon.
B. If you are able to participate in two activities on Sunday mornings, instruction will be offered between the services, 10:00 AM – 10:45. These sessions will offer the chance for more conversation and deeper reflection, which is essential!
- There will be two age groupings for young children: Chad and Cathy Bingman, Lori Harms and Kristy Prescott will share the teaching of children who are pre-school through 2nd grade. Pastor Ballentine and Emma Philipoom will share the teaching of children in grades three through six. We will lead children into the Bible by using story-telling, craft, or drama, according to what’s most appropriate for different stories.
- Music will be offered each Sunday, at 10:30, for young children. Patty Ballentine, a long-time children’s music teacher, will offer this.
- Affirmation of Baptism instruction will be offered for youth in grades 7-9 on Sunday mornings this year, 10:00 – 10:45. Heidi Flatin and Stan York will be the teachers. Youth will need to participate in this instruction to affirm their baptisms after the second year of instruction.
- High School youth in grades 10-12 will gather on Sunday mornings in Pastor Griffin’s office. Hannah Wiers, Dave and Rebecca Sulouff will be the teachers for this age group.
II. Faith formation for children and youth cannot be restricted to Sunday morning worship and teaching.
- Each Sunday morning will have a theme for the rest of the week. Parents will receive tools to use for five minute devotional times with their children during the days between Sundays. It takes daily attentiveness to the movement of the Spirit, for God to form us in our faith!
- “Family Faith Events” will be scheduled every couple of months, on a Friday or Saturday early-evening. These will allow time for parents and children to eat together, then for the children to enjoy an educational activity while the parents have the opportunity to build and deepen relationships with each other.
- Our faith is formed as we serve those in need. (See how Jesus stated his own purpose in Luke 4:18-19.) We encourage parents to participate with their children in one of the many outreach ministries of our congregation. Either Pastor Ballentine or Pastor Griffin will be happy to make connections with ministry leaders!
- Mentoring and modeling are important for faith formation. There are people in our congregation with great wisdom who could serve as mentors for parents, youth and children as we process the experiences of our faith journeys. Either Pastor Ballentine or Pastor Griffin will be happy to suggest mentoring matches for those who desire this!
Pastor Andy Ballentine