August 19, 2014
When I was a pastor, August was a busy time of preparing for a new season of Sunday School and lots of small group opportunities and Bible studies for the congregation. I loved pouring through the catalogs and new websites full of curriculum resources. I anticipated each fall like a child getting ready for the start of a new school year, gathering all the supplies and eagerly awaiting the first chance to open a brand new box of crayons. I never had the luxury of a professional Christian Educator on staff, so most of the planning went to me and a few members with the gift of teaching and administration. We decorated the bulletin boards, sent out flyers and prepared bulletin inserts and newsletter articles with something for everyone to nurture their spirituality and grow in faith.
One of the greatest tools that I used was the Conference Resource Library. Having a limited budget, and not wanting to purchase anything without a test run, I would find out if the curriculum I was interested in was available at the conference office. More often than not, it was, and with a quick call or click of the mouse, and I had the item in my mailbox two days later. My small committee would evaluate the resources and choose which ones we would order for our use. Sometimes, we could even keep the item long enough to use for a short-term class without having to purchase it. Other times, we simply checked out the leader guide and DVD and ordered copies only of the participant books. The library is filled with VBS kits, Bible studies, DVD based small group resources, and more. Browse online for whatever you might want or call Rosemary McNulty if you need recommendations. If you are in the Lawrence area, stop by anytime to explore! Our mission shares support the staffing for the library and shipping costs, and our gifts to the Christian Education Sunday (a special offering we ask each church to collect any Sunday in September) pay for the purchase of new items.
And now we have an even greater resource! Did you know that you have access to a Christian Educator to help you resource your education program? Dr. Elizabeth Windsor serves on our conference staff and is available to advise, resource, and assist you with your own Christian Education program. Her excellent website provides tools from establishing Safe Sanctuary policies and running background checks on volunteers, to ideas for seasonal programs for children, youth and adults, and children’s sermon ideas. Even better, at your request, she will add you to her periodic email list where she sends materials for your use (at no charge) right when you need it. Her latest email has plenty of great ideas for back-to-school. Again, our mission shares pay for this staff member which most of our churches would not otherwise be able to afford. I encourage you to take full advantage of her expertise. You can reach her directly at email@example.com
Our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world begins with careful planning and intentional efforts to nurture our congregations and communities with the good news. It can be an overwhelming task to figure out how to reach across generations with relevant, inviting and engaging programs. With the resources available to us through our conference connection, the work is a whole lot easier.
Connected in Christ,
Read Erica's blog any time at www.neumc.org/vine