Milestones as Stepping Stones in Your Faith Journey

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BY BETH HAYES | 

Milestones as Stepping Stones in Your Faith Journey

I just returned from a symposium in Connecticut done by Lifelong Faith Associates on families at the center of faith formation. It was quite the experience to be in a beautiful fall setting where leaders in churches from different denominations gathered to brainstorm. In our brainstorming, we planed ways for our congregations to celebrate family and help families to be more intentional about faith formation in their homes. More and more I realize that faith formation is not solely a congregational responsibility nor totally a home responsibility, but the two places working together.

The conference gave me many things to ponder, but most helpful was a reintroduction to “milestones ministry.” It is an essential tool for faith formation in the twenty-first century. Simply put, this ministry nurtures Christian faith, strength, and relationships. In churches and homes, it provides a way to reach out to others with the love of God in very simple and practical ways for all generations. Visit the website milestoneministry.org to read and learn more about church and home being vital places in the world. It is based on five important principles:

  • Faith is formed through relationships. Milestones Ministry brings a cross generational community together to nurture the Christian faith.
  • It is a primary partnership between the ministry of the home and the ministry of the congregation. Each module helps people practice faith with the support of a congregation and in and through ones homes.
  • It honors home as church too. It lifts up daily life relationships, especially parents and other adult mentors.
  • Faith is caught more than it is taught. It models the faith through cross generational experiences and faith practices.
  • If we want Christian children and youth, we need Christian adults around them.

There are five steps to generate a specific milestone memory. You need to first name it – identify meaningful, memorable moments. Then you need to equip it – provide faith practices. A blessing comes next as you offer a prayer. It needs a visual reminder… so gift it. The last step is to reinforce it, by following up to firmly root it in faith.

Children's Festival

Children’s Festival and Lovefeast. August 2016. Photo by Suzy Tucker.

About two years ago, the Children and Family task force produced a piece called Moravian Milestones and Stars. We visited every Regional Conference of Churches and gave a notebook to each church to have. Included are age level breakdowns of what Moravians could be expected to know at each age level. The second half of the piece is a resource from Milestones Ministries where specific milestones such as baptism, mission trips, going off to college, empty nesting and many more are described and ways to celebrate these times both in church and in homes. If you have misplaced the notebook or need another copy, all you need to do is ask me for a replacement.

I have heard some beautiful stories about how milestone ministries are carried out in specific churches. One congregation adorns their hallways leading to the various classrooms with ribbons for each individual. When a milestone is reached and celebrated, a star is placed on the ribbon. Some churches give a bowl or basket at baptism. For each celebration of a specific milestone, a particular stone with the image of that milestone on one side and scripture on the other is given to put in the bowls. An illustration of the rocks is shown. A friend of many of our educators has covenanted to spend her retirement painting these milestone rocks. If you are interested in the rocks, you may contact me and I will put you in touch with Libby Welter or you may email her at libbywelter[AT]gmail.com and tell her what you are wanting.

My next move to encourage our congregations and families is to create some Moravian specific milestones like a first lovefeast, first Easter sunrise service, first Laurel Ridge experience, or first Children’s Festival. You will hear more to come in the next few months as we continue to brainstorm together and create new milestones. Until then, consider beginning this all important ministry in your congregation. You can contact me (Beth Hayes) for help in getting it started. As you continue to see the importance of church and families at home working together, check out the website and Facebook page for Roots and Wings where we will continue to link you to important articles and websites that could be helpful.

And remember this passage from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 as the basis for the importance of this ministry.

 

                                    “Memorize his laws and tell them to your children

                                    Over and over again. Talk about them all the time,

                                    Whether you’re at home or walking along the road

                                    Or going to bed at night or getting up in the morning.”

(Common English Version)


If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Below, Beth appears with her sister, aunt, and cousin along with the family Bible.  

Looking at a Bible

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“For the Bible Tells Me So”- Selecting Children’s Bibles

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BY BETH HAYES | 

At a recent gathering of the East region the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, Elizabeth “Lib” Caldwell, retired professor of Christian Education at McCormick Seminary, led a discussion of things to consider when choosing a children’s Bibles. She offered a variety of criteria, or lenses, through which to examine children’s Bibles.

First, consider the content and the length of the stories.

  • What translation is it based on?
  • Is it faithful to the text or does it add material?
  • Does it cite the text?
  • How much of the story is told?
  • In its simplification or rephrasing is the main point of the story preserved?
  • Will it hold the reader’s (listener’s) attention till the end?
  • Are there too many or too few details?

Children's Bibles

Then, look at the illustrations.

  • What kind of illustrations are used?
  • Are they characters? Are they drawings? Are they artistic?
  • Are they multicultural?
  • Do they invite children into the story?
  • Do they make the story come alive?

Next consider the interpretation that is happening.

  • How do they title the story?
  • Does it really tell what the story is about or does it point to a particular ‘message’ to be conveyed?
  • Is it inclusive?
  • How is God presented?
  • Does it attempt to find Jesus in every story, from both testaments?
  • And finally, does it offer helps for parents? Does it give resources for parents to help engage the child? Does it invite both parent and child into the story? Does it offer ways to continue the conversation about the story, applying it life?

Caldwell’s two favorite children’s Bibles are The Deep Blue Kids Bible and Shine On: A Children’s Story Bible. Both offer simple, faithful texts, engaging illustrations and offer ways to engage the story beyond the printed page.

Any material marked with an asterisk is Beth’s choice.

Recommended Bibles for Young Children below Kindergarten age

These are generally selected stories from the Bible told in appropriate age level characteristics.

  • The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Childrens Stories Gold N Honey Questar Publisher
  • The Children of God Storybook Bible. Desmond Tutu. Zondervan*
  • Frolic First Bible. Sparkhouse Augsburg Fortress*
  • My First Bible: Wonderful Stories for Young Children Good Books
  • Pray and Play Bible For Young Children Group*
  • The Toddlers Bible Victor Books Scripture Press
  • Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories New International Version. G.F. Putnam Publishers*

Recommended Bibles for Children from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3

These are generally more than picture books and give some discovery questions to ponder. They are written in simpler language for this age level covering a variety of stories from the Bible. Several are associated with particular Sunday School curriculum so if you are using Deep Blue, Spark, Shine On, or Whirl, it would be best to choose one of those options.

  • The Bible for Children. Good Books
  • The Book of God for Children Walt Wangerin
  • Deep Blue Bible Storybook. Abingdon Press*
  • The Family Story Bible. Westminister John Knox Press
  • The Jesus Story Bible. Zonderkids
  • Lectionary Story Bible Year A, B, and C. Woodlake Books*
  • My First Message: A Devotional Bible for Kids. NavPress
  • The Pilgrim Book of Bible Stories. Pilgrim Press
  • Shine On: A Story Bible. Mennomedia
  • Spark Story Bible. Sparkhouse. Augsburg Fortress
  • Whirl Story Bible. Sparkhouse. Augsburg Fortress*

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Recommended Bibles for Grades 3 and Up

These options are laid out in the traditional Bible format and have sidebars with good reflection questions to consider. Again, some are associated with a particular curriculum so you should choose those if you are using that curriculum option.

  •  The CEB Student Bible. Common English Bible Abingdon Press*
  • Connect Bible NRSV Sparkhouse Augsburg Fortress*
  • Deep Blue Kid’s Bible. Common English Bible Abingdon Press*
  • The Guidebook: Study it Connect It Pray it Live It, NRSV Student Bible.Harper Bibles*
  • Serendipity Student Bible New International Version Serendipity House
  • Spark Study Bible NRSV Sparkhouse Augsburg Fortress
  • Whirl NRSV Study Bible Sparkhouse Augsburg Fortress

Recommended Bibles for High School Students

  • The CEB Student Bible Common English Bible Abingdon Press*
  • The Guidebook Harper Bibles*
  • Serendipity Student Bible Serendipity House

*indicates Beth Hayes’s choices

With these recommendations and if you have been at one of my presentations on my faith formation recently, you can see that Bibles have played an important part in my faith journey. My first Bible was given to me by my sister and is still used today. Reading the family Bible with my namesake grandmother who taught me the value of reading stories from the Bible at a young age. And my newest Bible acquisition: a journaling Bible where I can find my favorite verses and illustrate why they have so much meaning to me.

The different Bibles I have come across are important parts of my life and story and always will be. I hope that congregations will keep up the tradition of giving the right Bibles to children at the appropriate age and recognize the importance of these Bibles. Looking for the right Bible or for ideas on presenting Bibles as gifts? Come by the Resource Center and we will be happy to assist you!


If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Below, Beth appears with her sister, aunt, and cousin along with the family Bible.  

Looking at a Bible

Holy Week for Children

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Are you surprised that I am offering this resource for congregations to consider? It’s true that I believe school-aged children and those learning to read would benefit a great deal from attending Holy Week readings with their family. It is a beautiful Moravian tradition that should not be forgotten. What better time than Holy Week to give a child their own book of Holy Week readings as a special family milestone and to participate in these readings together. But we also have many visitors to our Resource Center ask, BlogADCLaurelRidgeDSC_0791“What can we do with the children during the Holy Week readings?” We should provide a resource for situations where children are separated during the Holy Week readings, so that they too experience faith formation during this time.

At the link is a Lenten children’s experience developed from various Scripture passages used in the Holy Week readings coupled with some rich children’s resources.

May this most Holy season be truly blessed for each of you. Spend some family time together. Enjoy the rich Moravian traditions of the Holy Week readings, Easter sunrise service, and, of course, hot cross buns! And, if you do separate children from the Holy Week reading services, please consider this model of Holy Week Readings for children.102015bethhayesportrait

If you have questions or need additional information to enrich your Lenten season, please email (bhayesATmcsp.org – replace the “AT” with @) or call me at the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes, Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)