Tools for individuals, parents, and primary caregivers to nurture faith formation at home.
d365.org daily devotion for youth (enjoyed by adults).
waytolive.org Christian practices for teens.
practicingourfaith.org a way of life for a searching people.
GenOn.org family faith formation tools, including the Heartfelt newsletter.
vibrantfaithathome.org devotions and activities for all ages.
openingdoorstodiscipleship.com four online courses for personal development.
Daily Prayer app for Scripture, prayer, and worship.
Tools for nurturing in small groups at church, around town, or anytime people gather.
Growing in Grace & Gratitude Toddler (Ages 1-3) Children this age are nurtured in the love and grace of God learn the story of who and whose they are by watching, listening, tasting, smelling, and exploring holy things in the context of a faith community.
Growing in Grace & Gratitude Ages 3-5 Children this age play and learn by pretending and mimicking what the adults around them do.
Growing in Grace & Gratitude Ages 5-7 Children of this age enjoy engaging with other children rather than just the adults around them.
Growing in Grace & Gratitude Ages 8-10 Children this age are developing an understanding of abstract concepts.
Growing in Grace & Gratitude Multiage (Ages 5-10) A multiage environment is a wonderful place for children of various ages to grow in faith.
INformed adolescent development resources.
Faith Questions from teens, for teens in small groups.
Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding short-term, topical studies for adults.
Feasting on the Word Curriculum lectionary-based faith formation for all ages and all church.
The Present Word uniform lesson series for adults.
On the Go
Tools for everyday conversation, dialogue, and devotion.
Faith Questions coffeehouse version for offsite youth gatherings.
Feasting on the Word Curriculum Conversations on the Feast for young adults anywhere.
Daily Prayer app Scripture, prayer, and worship anytime, with anyone.
YouVersion app daily Bible verse and reading for handheld devices.
PC(USA) blogs provide conversation starters
Planning for Educational Ministries
If your team cannot clearly express a common purpose, your group and, possibly the whole congregation, will need more time to create a vision. Ask questions like these, “How has our ministry changed? Are we the kind of church God is calling us to be? What is God asking us to do and to be today?” A clearly defined sense of direction in mission is needed to plan educational ministries that nurture a living faith.
After determining the overall mission of the church, sketch the context―a typical week at-a-glance in the life of the church. Ask questions about the opportunities that exist, “Where are people making connections with one another and with God? How are people learning God’s story and hearing it as their own story? What are we doing to help people practice their faith within and outside the faith community?” Depending on answers to the initial questions, formulate a plan. Consider using one or more of the books recommended in this bibliography to help in your planning process.
DOWNLOAD RESOURCES FOR MINISTRY EVALUATION
Reformed faith form
Thank you letter
Letter of invitation
An important task for congregations is ministry evaluation. Whether assessing participation in Sunday school or determining overall strength of the congregation, churches thrive when they intentionally ask questions about their ongoing ministries. Where have we been and where are we going? What do we value in our life together? Taking stock is part of planning and dreaming. Evaluation helps churches establish worthy goals.
One focus area for congregational evaluation is the educational ministries of the church. Begin the process by creating a systematic review of the existing courses and classes for each age group. Ask individual members of the Christian education committee to conduct classroom visits. They may begin with the one they attend regularly. Encourage them to participate, to observe, and to listen. Some of the most important insights about the value of any study come from those who are actively engaged in learning.
Ask classroom observers to take notes from their visits. Create a uniform tool for recording important information. The form could include a simple checklist or a set of basic questions. Gather any information that your committee may need to plan for the future. For example consider space needs in relation to the learners. Was the room adequate? Did it seem crowded and uninviting? Another important observation is the number of leaders to students. This is especially important information to consider for children and youth classes.
Committee members may want to ask the leader or teacher for a brief amount of time to talk about the evaluation process and to have a conversation with the class participants. Older children, youth, and adults will appreciate time to express what it means to be students in your church and studying within the community of faith.
Consider creating an online survey through Survey Monkey or other Web tools. Remember to create a set of uniform questions or statements that will glean the information you need to plan. Ask participants to reflect on the strengths of your ministries and consider areas of growth to help them as a disciple of Christ.
Include an opportunity to evaluate curricula that is used during the year. Most publishing companies provide an online or printed form and appreciate feedback. It is important that your education committee evaluate the content that helps meet learning goals more than the flash or the packaging. Use this information to determine resources for the coming year. An evaluation of the materials through the Reformed faith lens is part of this process.
Equally valuable in the year-end evaluation process is an intentional process of “calling” to current leaders and for prospective teachers. Communicate appreciation to this year’s teachers with thank you letters and small tokens. Make plans for a celebration Sunday to recognize leadership. Extend an invitation to all teachers to reflect and discern their ongoing call. Include a covenant card or form to return for the convenience of current teachers. After determining needs for the coming year, create a separate letter of invitation for potential leaders, identified by the committee. Prepare a FAQ sheet about education at your church; follow-up letters with phone calls and personal visits.
Evaluation takes a certain amount of organization and administration. The benefits far outweigh the investment of time. Consider your church’s worthy goals!
Tools for Christian Education
Plan worship, commissioning services, and Christian education emphases using these resources and tools. Download, print, or send these tools to encourage disciples of all ages to grow in faith anytime, anywhere.
The season of Lent, with many opportunities for reflection and worship, brings renewed interest in Sacrament education. Although understanding the Sacraments is unattainable, intentional study and reflection on Communion and Baptism help participants have a richer, more meaningful experience in the midst of the mystery. Congregations may want to provide Sacrament education to strengthen and deepen the faith of their members.
One tool for beginning conversations about the Sacraments is Gifts of God: The Sacraments DVD and the companion study guide. These free resources were produced by the Presbyterian Reformed Educational Partners (PREP) for educational use in congregations.
Your congregation can watch the video online or download the video and a copy of the study guide from this location.
Gifts of God: The Sacraments
Plan a more in-depth study of Communion using God’s Abundant Table by Cynthia Campbell, a Witherspoon Press title from Congregational Ministries Publishing. This book, containing key biblical texts for personal reflection and a six-session study guide for adult small groups, is ideal for Lenten study, but the book can be used at any time of the year.
Consider a study of Being Reformed: Re-membering Baptism by Ronald P. Byars to help adults explore the theological meanings of baptism in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions while remembering the ways baptism has an on-going and daily significance by Christians in the church.
Gather a cohort group and use Opening Doors to Discipleship, Course C: Presbyterian/Reformed Faith to study and grow together in your understanding of what it means to be Reformed.
Other resources for Sacrament education and worship planning, including Invitation to Christ for the renewal of the Sacraments in congregations, are available through Theology and Worship.
Make plans this spring to provide Sacrament education for all ages.
Share best practices
Do you have an example of best practice in faith formation that you would be willing to share on this Web site? Please submit your ideas through Educational Ministries.