Resource Center for Churches Equipping Communities for Vibrant Ministry Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:18:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Equipping Communities for Vibrant Ministry Resource Center for Churches no Equipping Communities for Vibrant Ministry Resource Center for Churches Age Inclusive Worship Resources: A Top Ten List Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:54:48 +0000 The Minnesota Conference UCC recently hosted a conversation on Worship Across Generations.  Jim LaDoux, author of Surface to Soul, shared ideas for creating engaging worship experiences.  We offer this top ten list of practical resources for creative, age inclusive worship.  What would you add?

Carolyn Brown’s Worshiping with Children

Theresa Cho’s Still Waters:  Intergenerational Worship, Interactive Prayer Stations

John Roberto’s Intergenerational Faith Formation:  articles on worship

James H. Ritchie, Jr.’s Always in Rehearsal

Howard A. Vanderwell’s Church of All Ages

Kimball & Lewin’s Sacred Space

Mandy Smith’s Making a Mess and Meeting God

Moran & Castle’s Brim

Northway & Schreiner’s The Rite Place

Susan K. Bock’s Liturgy for the Whole Church

For more, check this annotated bibliography, or search “intergenerational worship” at Calvin Institute for Christian Worship.  Find the resources above–including those out of print–and more at the Resource Center for Churches.  Contact us to consult:



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New for Lent Wed, 07 Jan 2015 20:03:30 +0000 We’ll keep updating this list of current and recommended resources for Lent.  Cokesbury provides this helpful chart of seasonal studies, featuring Rob Fuquay’s The God We Can Know: Exploring the “I Am” Sayings of Jesus; group guides for children, youth and adults may be downloaded from the website.  What Every Christian Needs to Know about Passover by Rabbi Evan Moffic is new from Abingdon.

Church Publishing features Lenten resources that include Christ Walk:  A Forty-Day Spiritual Fitness Program, Living Well through Lent 2015, and a revised edition of Pilgrim Road:  A Benedictine Journey through Lent.

Forty Days:  A Journey through the Desert of Lent from The Work of the People includes nine films with accompanying worship loops and discussion guides.

The new Feasting on the Word Lenten Companion is a resource for preaching and worship.

Patheos authors offer perspectives on The Journey of Lent.

Forty Days for Food Justice is a free, online resource.

The Society of Saint John the Evangelist provides daily videos with a downloadable workbook.

The Diocese of Winchester offers a free Lent course in the Benedictine tradition for all ages, including video, liturgical resources, and more.

Find resources for offering Ashes to Go.

Resources for Lent and Easter, from Faith & Leadership.

Family Lent ideas, from Flame:  Creative Children’s Ministry.

Ideas for Lent, from Faith in Homes.

Resources for Sharing Lent and Easter with Children, from Kids Friendly.

From Building Faith:  Lent in a Bag,  Creating a Lenten Prayer Space at Home

New in books for children:  The Easter Story by Antonia Jackson and Giuliano Ferri, an anthology of classic Easter Stories,

Ideas for observing Lent and Easter in Year B, from Worshiping with Children.  Carolyn Brown also suggests Lenten homework for families.

Sybil MacBeth shares templates for Lenten calendars at Praying in Color.

Seamless Faith author Traci Smith offers a Lenten calendar.

Jerusalem Greer has assembled this list of Ideas for Lent for families.

Creative Youth Ministry Ideas for Lent is a free e-book from Rethinking Youth Ministry.

Randall Curtis has posted videos for each day of Lent at Videos for your Soul.

Mustard Seed Associates presents 40+ Ideas for Lent & Holy Week.

Lent Consortium is a Facebook public group.


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New for Advent Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:50:10 +0000 We’ll keep updating this list of current and recommended resources for Advent.  Cokesbury provides this helpful list of seasonal studies.

This year, Adam Hamilton’s Not a Silent Night joins other favorite studies for the season:  A Thrill of Hope,  Hamilton’s The Journey, Mike Slaughter’s A Different Kind of Christmas, and Advent Conspiracy (and its companion website).  Under Wraps is an all-church Advent experience for all ages from Abingdon.

Interrupted by Hope: 9 Films on Turning Towards Advent is from The Work of the People, which also offers a bundle of 17 Advent interviews.

New in print  
Mary Had a Baby (Abingdon) is an Advent Bible study based on African American spirituals.
In The Season of the Nativity (Paraclete), Praying in Color author Sybil MacBeth offers practices, activities, and simple tools for busy people.  Patheos Book Club offers more.
Following Ignatius, Taste and See (Upper Room) invites readers to experience the stories of the season with their senses. See more, including a video guided meditation, at Patheos Book Club.
Sarah Arthur’s Light upon Light (Paraclete) is a literary guide to prayer for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
Feasting on the Word Advent Companion (WKJP) provides resources for preaching and worship.
All I Really Want (Abingdon) by Quinn G. Caldwell includes brief daily readings, each with a simple action, ritual or meditation.
Essential Advent (Pilgrim) offers accessible activities and worship resources for all ages.
Every Valley (WJKP) explores Advent with the Scriptures of Handel’s Messiah.
Scott Stoner’s Living Well Through Advent 2014 (Morehouse) includes a booklet, a poster and an app.
Walter Brueggemann explores the royal titles from Isaiah in The Messiah, a four-session downloadable study.
Light of Lights, compiled by Robin Pippin, is a collection of devotions from The Upper Room.

For Children
Children’s Dramas for the Church Year (Abingdon) presents simple reproducible dramas for Advent and Christmas.
The Lion Classic Christmas Stories (Lion Hudson) by Mary Joslin is illustrated by Jane Ray.  Alida Massari illustrates Joslin’s The Story of Christmas (Lion Hudson).
In Manger (Eerdmans) by Lee Bennett Hopkins, all creatures are given the power of speech at midnight on Christmas.
Anselm Grun’s The Legend of Saint Nicholas (Eerdmans) includes evocative illustrations from Giuliano Ferri.
What the Shepherd Saw (NorthSouth) is a picture book edition of Selma Lagerloff’s classic tale.

On the Web
The Christmas Story, told by the children of St. Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand.
From Seamless Faith author Traci Smith:  5 simple spiritual practices for Advent, simple Advent prayer stations
Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry offers Family Advent Ideas.
Spiritual Child Network offers ideas for Advent and Christmas.
Advent resources from The Text This Week.
Search for Advent and Christmas films from The Work of the People.
25 Ideas for Christmas, from Church Marketing Sucks.
The Patheos Advent Calendar blog shares poems, quotes, music and meditations.
Sybil MacBeth provides Advent Calendar Templates.
Rachel Held Evans offers 26 Ideas for Advent to add to last year’s 28 Ideas for Advent.
The Salt Project offers Advent resources.
From Rethinking Youth Ministry:  Creative Ideas for Advent and Lent.
Christine Sine of Mustard Seed Associates has created a free resource guide for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
Practices for Advent, from Spirituality & Practice.
Advent in 2 Minutes from Busted Halo.
Four Great Outreach Ideas for Advent, from United Methodist Communications.
Seasonal resources from Disciples Home Missions/Disciples of Christ:  In Home Faith Ideas.
Advent worship litanies for prayer beads, from Kristen E. Vincent and Upper Room.
Jan Richardson, author of Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas, offers an online Advent retreat and more.
A Paper City Nativity Scene, from Made by Joel.
From Sharon Ely Pearson:  Advent Resources for 2013.
A collection of Advent resources from UMC Ministry with Children.

Check our LibraryThing display of our best resources for the season.  Choose “Covers.”

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DVD Roundup Thu, 05 Jun 2014 01:36:03 +0000 New DVD studies for fall 2014 offer a wealth of options.

Animate: Practices, featuring Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Sara Miles, Enume Okoro, Doug Pagitt, Michael Slaughter, and Phyllis Tickle, joins Animate: Faith and Animate Bible from Sparkhouse.

Covenant is a 24-week study that moves between the Old and New Testaments to cover the whole Bible.

The newest studies in The Embracing Series from Morehouse are from Richard Rohr and Barbara Crafton.  Her Embracing Forgiveness is available in September.

Living the Questions introduces The Jesus Fatwah:  Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself in September.

The Ten Commandments:  Laws of the Heart is a 12-session study with Joan Chittister from Faith and Reason.

Adam Hamilton‘s newest DVD studies are Making Sense of the Bible; Revival, tracing the life of John Wesley in versions for children, youth and adults; and Not a Silent Night, inviting us to experience Advent and Christmas with Mary.

The God We Can Know by Rob Fuquay is filmed in the Holy Land.  Appropriate for all ages, it will be released in September.

In Fresh Air, Jack Levison provides video introductions to each chapter of his book on the Holy Spirit.

Jesus the Forgiving Victim:  Listening for the Unheard Voice is a DVD (re)introduction to Christianity from James Alison.  See Christian Century‘s review here.

Body & Soul:  Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism from M. Craig Barnes includes resources for a six-week all-church study.

Bonhoeffer is a four-session study by Eric Metaxas.

Engaging Local Schools from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership supports this missional work.

Unusual Gospel for Unusual People is a series on the Gospel of John by Adam Thomas.

DVDs from Jacob ArmstrongTom Berlin, Jessica LaGrone, Melissa Spoelstra and Rob Renfroe complete the list.  Contact us at the RCC about using these studies in your faith community.


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Curriculum Update Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:18:21 +0000 New curriculum offerings for 2014-15 abound.

Shine:  Living in God’s Light, from Bretheren Press/MennoMedia, replaces Gather ‘Round for age 3 to grade 8.  Each session teaches a spiritual practice.  The RCC will host a presentation on the Shine curriculum Thursday August 7 at 10 a.m.

Whirl is a lectionary-centered curriculum for preK to grade 6 from Sparkhouse.

Echo the Story from Sparkhouse helps youth enter into the biblical narrative, now in 36 sessions.

Building Faith Brick by Brick by Emily Slichter Given (Morehouse, September) includes lesson plans for 30 Old Testament and 24 New Testament stories using Legos.  See sample content here.

Godly Play Digital now offers downloadable resources.  New picture books will be available this fall.

Contact the RCC to see materials or consult on curriculum selection.



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Including Young People with Learning Differences Wed, 26 Mar 2014 21:18:11 +0000 Updated April 2015.  From a wealth of resources on the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in faith communities, we highlight a few that our users have found particularly helpful.

Amy Fenton Lee’s blog, The Inclusive Church, is a goldmine:  see especially Ideas & Best Practices, Getting Started, Top Posts, and her Facebook.  Her volunteer training DVD, Surviving to Thriving:  Successfully Including the Child with Special Needs, is available at the RCC.  Lee shares ideas in Leading a Special Needs Ministry (Orange, 2013) and in two recent posts from Fuller Youth Institute:  Refusing to Ignore Teenagers with Special Needs and Sticky Faith and Special Needs.

Child by Child:  Supporting Children with Learning Differences and Their Families (Morehouse, 2011) by Susan Richardson includes short descriptions, interventions, and resource lists for each of many areas of need.

Barbara J. Newman, Director of CLC Church Services, is author of several essential resources:  Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship; G.L.U.E. Training Manual and DVD (available without cost to churches); Autism and Your Church; and Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities.  The Disabilities Concerns Ministry of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area has granted the RCC several CLC Network training DVDs:  Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities, Including Children with Disabilities: Preparing a Place of Welcome, Autism: A Christian Response, and Behavior Management Playing Field.

The Inclusion Handbook (2011) from the Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America Disability Concerns, is available for free download, as is Autism and Faith:  A Journey into Community (2008).

Faith Formation Learning Exchange has updated their list of books on faith formation with people with disabilities.  They feature Erik W. Carter’s Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities and Benjamin T. Connor’s Amplifying Our Witness:  Giving Voice to Adolescents with Disabilities.

Red Fish Theology by Leslie Nugent is a how-to guide for offering an inclusive worship service with the special needs community.

The Autism Shop in Minnetonka offers hundreds of sensory toys and tools.

Disability is one of the diversity issues addressed in the Families All Matter Book Project.  Contact us at the RCC to find picture books, curriculum, guidance for worship and more resources on inclusion.


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Resources for Intergenerational Faith Formation Mon, 03 Feb 2014 16:53:23 +0000 The UCC faith formation leaders of children and youth met last month to learn about intergenerational ministry.  Here’s a list of resources we shared.


 From Joyce Ann Mercer:  “Cultivating a Community of Practice”

From John Roberto:  “Our Future is Intergenerational”

From Carol Howard Merritt’s Tribal Church:  “Fostering Intergenerational Relationships”

From Sticky Faith“Intergenerational Ministry Beyond the Rhetoric”
“Five Keys for Effective Mentoring”

From Ministry Matters“Congregations as Families of Faith:  Beyond Age-Level Ministries”

From Csinos and Beckwith’s Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus:  chapter 9 is readable in full here

From Rethinking Youth Ministry:  “10 Ideas for Creating Cross-Generational Youth Ministry”

and a website:  Worshiping with Children


Susan K. Bock, Liturgy for the Whole Church, Church Publishing, Inc., 2008

Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton Ross, Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship, IVP Academic, 2012.  See especially Part Four and Appendix material.


Faith Practices

Faith Inkubators


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The Families All Matter Book Project Faith-Based Guide Fri, 07 Jun 2013 11:18:40 +0000 Many faith formation leaders know the power of reading picture books with young people.  The Families All Matter Book Project from AMAZE uses picture books to help children understand and respect families and the many cultures and experiences that shape them.  Through discussion and activities, children develop empathy, love of neighbor, skills to recognize and challenge bias and mistreatment, and a passion for justice.  The books focus on ten diversity issues:  families are different, race/ethnicity, divorce and break-ups, lesbian and gay family members, socioeconomics, immigration, adoption, disability, aging, and religion.

The new Christian Faith-Based Curriculum Guide, offering additional questions that invite discussion of Christian stories and themes, is available for preview at the RCC.  Members may borrow many of the picture books, with discussion questions and activities.

The Families All Matter Early Childhood Anti-Bias Curriculum is also available for preview.  This guide also uses picture books to help preschoolers gain insights about themselves and their families, accept people who are different from them, and learn ways to have a positive impact when bias and unfairness occur.


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Short Videos for Faith Formation Wed, 05 Jun 2013 15:39:49 +0000 updated August 2015.  Many of our members have used Rob Bell’s NOOMA series of films for youth and adult faith formation.  New options in short videos for faith formation are appearing, and many are available online.  These engaging films allow plenty of time for discussion.

The Work Of The People is an independent ecumenical platform that offers multimedia to stir imagination, spark discussion, and move people toward transformation.  Their short “visual epistles” gather the wisdom and insight of well-known figures like Diana Butler Bass, Brene Brown, Walter Brueggemann, Shane Claiborne, Stanley Hauerwas, Brian McLaren, Parker Palmer, Richard Rohr, Barbara Brown Taylor, Jean Vanier, and many more.  Browse by theme or people.

Each of the three Animate studies from Sparkhouse offers seven short videos.  They are available on DVD or as digital downloads.

Practicing Our Faith provides 12 short video conversations from the authors of On Our Way:  Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life (Upper Room, 2010).  Produced for emerging adults, the videos are available online or on DVD, and are accompanied by discussion guides.

Randall Curtis, aka The Holy Geek, has gathered short videos, “slices of life that show…what it means to be in relationship with God,” at Videos For Your Soul.  Each video is accompanied by a thought or question.

At Soul Biographies, local filmmaker Nic Askew has created black and white human portraits, indexed by subject.  Please note the policy on personal use.

The SALT Project produces short films for small groups, available as DVD or downloads.

As part of their Living Spiritual Teachers Project and their Remembering Spiritual Masters Project, Spirituality & Practice offers video clips from major practitioners such as Frederick Buechner, Matthew Fox, Thomas Keating, Wayne Muller, Parker Palmer, Richard Rohr, David Steindl-Rast, Desmond Tutu, and many more.

ChurchNext offers video-based classes from expert teachers.  Students can interact online.

ON Scripture is a free, lectionary-based multimedia resource.

Rethinking Youth Ministry has shared three lessons on faith issues based on YouTube videos, designed for mixed groups of youth and adults.

We love to find new sources of excellent short videos for faith formation:  let us know about your favorites.



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New Curriculum Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:17:38 +0000 Several curricula are new for fall.  Here’s a list.

A Joyful Path (The Center for Progressive Christianity) is a progressive Christian curriculum for children ages 6-10.  Year Two will be available this summer.

Awaken Sunday School (Logos Productions, Inc.) emphasizes spiritual practice and the arts for children ages 3-12.  William H. Willimon provides background for texts from the Revised Common Lectionary.  Devotions for home use are included.

Sparkhouse is introducing Echo the Story, a 12-week Bible overview that helps youth find themselves in God’s story through the art of Biblical storying.  In addition, animate.Bible will follow the format of the popular animate.Faith DVD series for adults.  Contributors include Nadia Bolz-Weber, Will Willimon, Jose Francisco Morales, Jay Bakker, Rachel Held Evans, Phyllis Tickle and Eric Elnes.

A Place for Everyone Placemat Curriculum (Wood Lake Publishing) is recommended for congregations with smaller class sizes, multi-age classrooms, or sporadic attendance.

Preview these and other curricula at the RCC as they become available.  Check our Curriculum tab for links to online info and assistance with choosing curriculum.  Contact us for consultation or feedback.

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