Summer typically means relaxed schedules and more time for creative faith formation. Groups may choose to meet on Sunday mornings or off-site during the week. Leadership can be provided by clergy, lay leaders, or families. Here are some resources we’ve found that provide unique opportunities for the summer months:
Small-Group Video Series
Form a small group to explore videos from The Work of the People. Choose one of the curricula series to go deeper into themes such as liturgy and worship, vocation, spiritual birth and renewal, or practices of an abundant life. Films are typically less than ten minutes each, leaving plenty of time for discussion and prayer. If meeting in the evenings, why not include a meal as well?
Summer Book Club
Hold a summer book group. Take turns meeting at different members’ homes. Unsure what to read? Consider one of our On-Line Book Club reads:
- Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown
- The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, Douglas Carlton Abrams with His Holiness The Dalai Lama and The Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
- Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus, Michael Curry
Other books we recommend:
- Take this Bread: A Radical Conversion, Sarah Miles
- Short Stories by Jesus, Amy-Jill Levine. Leader and participant guide included, as well as a six-session DVD.
Summer is also a time to change up the traditional book club format. Consider a mother-daughter or father-son book club.
- The anonymously written Go Ask Alice explores the theme of drug addiction and can lead to deep, meaningful discussions between parents and teens that may otherwise find no time or place. Please note that this book contains difficult themes.
Meet God on the Mountain
The months ahead are a perfect time to experience worship outside the walls of your church, and in a state that loves to hike, why not take worship to the trails? There is an increasing enthusiasm around the idea of combining hiking and worship and we live in a perfect state to try it out. Check out what Holy Hikes is doing in the California Bay area. Several of our own parishes have already started holding regular hikes that incorporate prayer stations, reflections, and whole liturgies.
- The Wilderness Worshipers ministry at St. Lukes, Fort Collins, holds monthly hikes during the summer months and has created A Hiking Eucharist that has hikers pause along the way for the Gospel reading, Prayers of the People, and The Peace, and culminates in sharing communion at the hike’s destination.
- Camino Divina at Church of Our Transfiguration, Evergreen, practices “walking the Divine Way” every Thursday morning at Alderfer Ranch. Camino Divina emphasizes walking, praying and meditation. Walkers are invited to be present in the moment, grow in awareness and stillness, and celebrate the divine beauty of the earth.
Intergenerational Faith Formation
This could take the form of an intergenerational VBS that meets one evening a week for five weeks, or a Godly Play series where all are invited to participate on as Sunday Morning. For VBS curricula ratings, the best resource is VTS’ Vacation Bible School Reviews for 2018.
Parish families may want to use summer as a time to come together monthly or bi-monthly to deepen fellowship and engage in fun activities that add a touch of faith learning and deepening of family ties. A Homemade Year provides a number of summertime ideas, or you may want to check out our Faith-Full Families Summer Pinterest board.
Social Justice Here and Now
Delve into themes of advocacy and social justice with one of Sojourners resources, maybe God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Christianity and Feminism, or Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith. Some resources include study guides and videos. Sojourners says of its organization: “…We are Biblical based Christians who believe in social justice. We are evangelicals, Catholics, Pentecostals and Protestants; progressives and conservatives; blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians; women and men; young and old…Together we seek to discover the intersection of faith, politics, and culture.”
Have a summer idea of your own? We’d love to hear about it and include it here. Reach out to us at Faith@EpiscopalColorado.org.
Posted May 22, 2018
Looking ahead to the Fall
Choosing a Curriculum
Sometimes we focus on curriculum content before asking the important questions of what we are trying to accomplish, how formation fits in with our church mission and identity, and what resources and gifts we possess. The article Choosing a New Curriculum? Read This First! can help parishes and formation leaders be more selective in choosing curricula for all ages.
This 2018/2019 planning calendar comes pre-populated with major feast days, secular holidays, and scripture readings from the revised common lectionary. For a customizable calendar, download the Word version.
ChurchNext provides online Christian learning from expert teachers on topics ranging from liturgy, scripture, and church history to family, self care, and prayer. Videos may be used by individuals or groups.
On its web page The Work of the People provides this invitation to its users:
“Welcome internet travellers, to a place that hopes to guide you and provide you community on the journey of becoming fully yourself. The journey toward becoming fully human.
This place is based on a Christian ethic, so some of us who consider Jesus the most human human, might call a journey toward our shared humanity a journey toward what the Christian tradition calls ‘Christ-likeness.'”
The Work of the People is a series of videos on topics ranging from beauty and justice to identity and vocation. Many of the presenters are well-known: Barbara Brown Taylor, Brené Brown, Brennan Manning, Richard Rohr. The videos provide thoughtful reflections that can be used as lead-ins for sessions of a faith formation series, or as the content itself for formation discussions. Check out video favorites here >
Individuals are offered a 30-day free trail of unlimited streaming and can then choose to purchase a subscription, from $7/month for unlimited streaming to $25/month for 10 monthly downloads, or $250/year for unlimited streaming plus 20 downloads a month.
The Episcopal Cafe includes articles, art, and Podcasts that address contemporary issues around the issue of inclusion and empowerment: “The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition. The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity. Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.” Content can be used for personal reflection or to enhance group discussion.
Both an introduction to the Christian faith for newcomers and a good refresher for longtime church members wondering about basics of the faith, Transforming Questions helps to build community among seekers and longtime Episcopalians, those who are old and those who are young, those who are questioning for the first time and those who are questioning for the thousandth time.
The following questions are posed and discussed:
Can we question our faith?
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus have to die?
What do we have to do?
How should I read the Bible?
Does God answer prayer?
Why do bad things happen?
Where do we go when we die?
Why do I need a church?
Where do we go from here?
Published by Forward Movement, the Transforming Questions curriculum is available for free online. There is also a companion booklet available called Faithful Questions, which can be purchased and used by class participants or individuals interested in digging deeper into the questions above.
Possible class formats:
If you have 100 minutes: Opening collect/welcome, meal and fellowship, presentation, small-group discussion, and closing collect/dismissal.
If you have 60 minutes: Opening collect, presentation, small-group discussion, closing collect.
Transforming Questions would provide a solid curriculum for a youth or adult confirmation class.
Questions on the Way responds simply and directly to the basic questions of faith, drawing from the catechism, An Outline of Faith, found in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP 845). In the introduction, editor William Swatos, Jr. writes, “It is certainly not the purpose of this book to replace the Prayer Book catechism…Our intention is to expand upon its content and to concentrate into one place much of the essential information upon which the Prayer Book catechism is founded.”
Audience: Inquirers, confirmands, anyone who wants to know more about the Christian faith as The Episcopal Church has received it.
Questions on the Way is available from Forward Movement for $4.00/copy.
This is the next generation of the classic Episcopal teaching series The New Church’s Teaching. “Visionary Episcopal thinkers and leaders have teamed up to revitalize the series with fresh voices and style, making it grounded and thoughtful enough for seminarians and leaders, yet concise and clear enough for newcomers.” The series currently consists of eight volumes, each with its own study guide, making it well-suited for both group discussion or individual use:
- The Episcopal Way, Eric Law and Stephanie Spellers
- The Episcopal Story: Birth and Rebirth, Thomas Ferguson
- A Faith for the Future, Jesse Zink
- Church Meets World, Winnie Varghese
- Formed by Love, Scott Bader-Saye
- Following the Way of Jesus, Michael Curry
- A Word to Live By, Lauren Winner
- Gathered for God, Jeffrey Lee and Dent Davidson
Illuminated Cards to Teach the Liturgy
These cards provide an engaging way to learn the parts of the Holy Eucharist. Distribute them in a newcomer’s or confirmation class, or keep a few sets as a resource for interested parishioners. The best thing about the cards is the photographs, which help convey the meaning, emotions, and spirituality behind the sometimes difficult vocabulary of our liturgy.
Discerning Spiritual Gifts
God has given us each unique and beautiful gifts.
Spiritual Gifts Inventory
Fill out the Spiritual Gifts Inventory to find out where your interests lie. Let this be a starting point on a grand adventure into self-discovery and a revealing of God’s Call in your life.