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Author: host Created: 10/13/2008 6:48 PM RssIcon
The Daily Voice blog explores Christian education in progressive congregations. Archives of our daily email newsletter will be posted here each weekday morning. Use the various tools to the left to see posts older than 2 weeks.
By host on 10/30/2009 7:00 AM

A sixth grade girl, an only child,
living with two parents who are
well-educated and financially secure.
Also in her life are loving grandparents, a doting aunt,
and an uncle, whose family supplies a couple of cousins.
Like a typical 12 year old girl, friends are important to her.
Any opportunity to get together is a good thing,
particularly if it involves a sleepover.

By host on 10/29/2009 7:00 AM

book coverAt some time, each one of us has encountered someone that is a bit scary. We may not have used the word scary, but for one reason or another, we are reluctant to interact with this person. Doing so would require stepping outside of our comfort zone. Emily Jenkins has written a children’s book that addresses this topic.

the little bit SCARY people is a reminder not to judge people based on their looks, or on the brief glimpse of themselves that you may see. A young girl describes the “little bit SCARY people” that she encounters. Following a description of each person, she imagines another side of his or her personality.

By host on 10/28/2009 7:00 AM

In the fascinating book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson argues persuasively that businesses need to get a lot better at giving things away for free. You undoubtedly have experienced the power of free in many places and forms before. Cell phones are given away as an incentive to get you to switch cell phone plans. iTunes offers a few free songs each week, surely because they get people to visit their store regularly to browse and to discover something new. Restaurants lure customers in with BOGO (Buy One, Get One free) offers. The technique is powerful, and it certainly can build loyalty and interest among customers...or visitors, for that matter.

Churches, of course, don't charge people for their services in ways that a business might, but the free concept still has many useful applications in ministry settings. One form of free that many churches use is the visitor gift bag, mug, folder, or envelope. In my own church visits in recent weeks, I have received such items as two small loaves of home-baked banana bread, a copy of John's gospel in The Message translation, a bottle of water, pens, brochures, candy, tracts, and even a carabiner. Each of these was no doubt chosen because it communicated something about the congregation. (The carabiner, you ask? The church hoped I wouldn't feel "disconnected.")

By host on 10/27/2009 7:00 AM

Pressure Points slideA background slide is a type of PowerPoint (or Keynote, for Mac users) slide that works very well for both song lyrics and for presentation pages after the title slide. Essentially, it's a muted version of the theme slide, with the titles deleted. If you're not quite sure what I mean, you can see an example of variations on a theme slide for worship here.

Making a background slide is incredibly easy, yet many people who are not very familiar with computer graphics often don't realize just what a simple process it is. Here's a step-by-step tutorial, using a simple slide I created using a stock image and a terrific, free graphics program called IrfanView. You can do the same thing with virtually every graphics program—even in PowerPoint or your favorite worship software program if you wish—but IrfanView's worth downloading due to its huge feature set, tiny size, and super-stable performance. (IrfanView is a PC program. Mac users, you may wish to try Seashore.)

By Different Voice on 10/26/2009 7:00 AM

In this final part of this series (if you missed them, here are part 1 and part 2) I'll offer some tips for engaging men in educational settings, in a quick list form. As with any ministry, there is no one approach or ministry that will work in every setting or with all men. This list hopefully will get you thinking about your own educational ministries—both what you're already doing and what you could easily add.

  • Use physical educational methods. Give men opportunities to be active.
  • Don’t call your Sunday morning learning opportunities “Sunday school.”
  • If something is going to be longer than 60 minutes, consider adding an “intermission” in the middle. Likewise, remember that men tend to have shorter attention spans than women.
  • Don’t be afraid of competition.
  • Encourage mentoring relationships with youth, young adults, and new Christians.
  • Emphasize projects more than programs.
By host on 10/23/2009 7:00 AM

When I walk in the fall, I collect leaves. I pick up “particularly fine specimens” and take them home. Sometimes I press them and use them as a centerpiece or in some other creative way. Often they simply add color to the kitchen table until they dry and curl up and I return them to the outdoors. (I wonder if anyone has ever seen a pile of my recycled “particularly fine specimens” and imagined a tree that dropped all these different kinds of leaves in one place.)

There is no single characteristic that makes a leaf a “particularly fine specimen”. They are not necessarily the perfect, unblemished leaves. Instead, they are the leaves that catch my eye and capture my attention for one reason or another.

By host on 10/22/2009 7:00 AM

Twenty-one years ago, I picked up a little book at my local Christian bookstore that was selling like crazy. It was called, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. When that didn't happen, the author came out with a revision called The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989, promising - you guessed it - a really big event that year. As I recall (yes, sadly I bought that one too), he had made a calculation error that had something to do with the year zero. Even though I was pretty firmly planted in the world of liberal theology and biblical interpretation by that point, I have to admit I was just a bit shaken by these two books. Call it the "What if" factor. What if he's right? What if I've been misled by all of my study of the New Testament? And, of course, What if he's just a crackpot milking the fundamentalist faithful for money?

Those books come to mind whenever I teach Bible studies on Revelation, as well as when I read books about contemporary apocalyptic movements. One of the latest of these books to catch my attention is by Michael Baigent, a historian known for some pretty radical religious theories, called Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World (HarperOne, 2009, 304 pp.) I was expecting something a little wild and sensational, given the title; instead, I found myself engaged by a well-researched account of the apocalyptic movements within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well by his very good summary of the historical themes of the book of Revelation.

By host on 10/21/2009 7:00 AM

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Happy New YearWe are quickly approaching the beginning of a new year. Don’t panic! January 1, 2010 is still 71 days away. However, The Liturgical Year, which many churches follow with slight variations, begins on the first Sunday of Advent - November 29 this year. That date is only 39 days away.

The liturgical or Christian year divides the year into a cycle of seasons. These seasons determine when holidays and celebrated, and what scriptures are read throughout the year. Many churches use a lectionary to select scripture passages, prayers and music that correspond with the season.

By host on 10/20/2009 7:00 AM

Think for a second about some of the ways your congregation members care for one another or for others in the community during a time of need. Perhaps you deliver meals to elderly members, families with a new baby, or individuals who have experienced a death in the family. Maybe you have had to help a family rebuild their lives after a fire, flood, or other disaster. Probably the pastor or others visit individuals who are in the hospital. Maybe you serve a meal once each month at a homeless shelter and need volunteer help. The list can go on and on.

Lotsa Helping Hands logoCoordinating all of these tasks and volunteers can be a daunting task, but it's a super simple process when you sign up for (and use, of course!) a free Lotsa Helping Hands account. This incredible web-based service gives you the ability to add and track tasks, have volunteers sign up for slots, send reminders to volunteers, share information about an individual's situation, and much more. Lotsa Helping Hands requires no special technological skills or equipment...and again, it's FREE! Anyone with web access can utilize the Community you create. The only problem you might have is that sometimes the slots available can fill up so fast that not everyone who wants to offer help can do so! You'll also want to recruit one person from the church who will serve as the lead Coordinator. (This could be a staff person, but why not pass on that opportunity to a congregation member?)

By Different Voice on 10/19/2009 7:00 AM

In the first part of this series, I provided some discouraging statistics about the gap in presence and participation between women and men, and I encouraged you to begin thinking about your own Christian education ministries and who you most reach. This week, I'll touch on the theological concepts that might undergird your men's ministries. Obviously this space is limited, so I encourage you to do further reading on your own in the recommended books listed below.

There are not a lot of Christian education books that adequately address gender differences between men and women and how to effectively minister equally to both groups. Those who go looking for information on male spirituality will undoubtedly quickly come across David Murrow's Why Men Hate Going to Church, a book with some interesting and useful research and ideas but a rather simplistic theology about gender. Murrow contends that the decline in men in the church is because the church has been "feminized" and that the best way to get men involved in the church again is to emphasize risk, reward, accomplishment, heroic sacrifice, action, and adventure in its programming (which of course derive from his simplistic understanding of Jesus' life.)

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