It Takes a Team – by Sharon K. Williams

October 3, 2014

Writing and publishing Adult Bible Study (ABS) is truly a team effort. As the editor, I get to be the coach. It takes at least 25* people to produce one year’s course of Bible studies!

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Twelve writers for four student guides, four teachers guides, and 52 online articles are matched with writing assignments from the Committee on Uniform Series outlines. We have several criteria in mind. We match Scripture texts and themes with writers’ interest and expertise. We’re looking for writers with theological training (student guide), educators who understand curriculum development (teachers guide), and church leaders who are keen to interpreting Scripture in light of current events in the church and in the world (ABSOnline). We are also committed to maintain a balance of writers from Canada and the United States, people of color and white people, and women and men.

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When the manuscripts are written, the rest of the team goes to work. We have a wonderful partnership with Mennonite translators in Mexico who prepare Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos (EBA), our Spanish translation of ABS. Our copy editors, designers, and proofreader prepare the manuscripts and proofs for publication. Other editors provide support for me, and the marketing and shipping folks make sure your church receives its orders.

Currently, MennoMedia is contracting writers for the 2016–17 and 2017–18 Bible studies. Student guides for 2016–17 are being written, as are teachers’ guides for 2015–16. EBA translation is in process for spring 2015. A free ABS Online article relating each Bible study to current events and occasional ABS Reproducible teaching aids are posted ten days ahead of the time. MennoMedia’s Rejoice! devotional magazine uses some of the Home Daily Bible Readings related to each week’s study.

ABS

Creating ABS is a labor of love. When I first started as editor, managing all the deadlines for each step in the publishing process used to make me dizzy!  Our team works hard to write, edit, design, and distribute 13 Bible studies on top of whatever else Jesus calls us to do. It’s no small task, but it is a joy to see what God is doing through us.

Sharon Williams in her office

—Sharon K. Williams
Editor, Adult Bible Study and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos
abseditor@mennomedia.org

*We wish we had time to construct a neater/graphically pleasing collage of all these writers, but we plead “it is no small task” and other jobs are pressing. Some writers/editors are also missing from this post, due to the blogging format not accepting certain formats of photos. We are so very grateful to all of them, for the marvelous work they do and the part they play on the team. — blog editor Melodie Davis 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Thinking? – by Mary Ann Weber

What are you thinking? It’s my job as an editor to find out. Or, at least it is as long as your thoughts are about resources produced by MennoMedia.

That’s why I spent time earlier this summer exploring how to develop surveys. What makes a good survey? How can I convince people to complete a survey? How can I write a survey to get the information I need?

I discovered that it’s good to offer an incentive to complete a survey. For example, we frequently include a discount code that can be used toward a future MennoMedia purchase at our store. I learned that it’s helpful to let people know about how much time they may spend taking a survey. No one who has two minutes of free time wants to get trapped in a survey that takes five minutes or more to complete. And I gathered that it’s good to include a no-answer option for those who want to take the survey but don’t want to respond to a specific question.

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(We generally use Survey Monkey to create handy online surveys
that are actually kind of fun to complete.)

With my new found knowledge, I put together a number of surveys related to projects I’m working on. Are churches interested in an intergenerational worship resource? How do pastors and other church leaders find resources for their ministries? What would be a good title for an upcoming Bible study guide? Which cover option will make people want to purchase a book? Why does your church offer vacation Bible school? As you can tell, survey topic possibilities are endless.

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The information I receive is used to shape current and future projects. It turns out that half of the people to whom I sent the survey about intergenerational worship resources, responded. That might sound like a small percentage in general, but in the world of surveys, a 50% response shows tremendous support. Those results spurred me to begun preliminary steps to create a worship resource that all generations can use together.

We can track how many times the offered discount codes are used. Surprisingly, they are not redeemed very frequently. Maybe it’s the idea of receiving something, instead of actually receiving something that motivates people to complete surveys. Or, maybe people just understand that if they want their voices and opinions heard, they need to take a few minutes and tell us what they are thinking. Surveys also help us involve a wider spectrum of the church and the public in developing or fine-tuning the projects and products we produce. They give us some hard data to go on, instead of guesses.

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If you ever receive a survey link from a MennoMedia staff member, we’d appreciate if you take a few minutes to work through it. Your willingness to do so means that we can continue to create and offer relevant products that meet real needs. Thank you!

If you would be willing to give occasional feedback by means of surveys, please indicate your interest by leaving a comment below. We will then be able to have your email address as well as your area of interest. Here are some key areas in which we solicit feedback:

  • Trade books
  • Book content, titles, and covers
  • Curriculum materials
  • Websites
  • Periodicals

Thanks again for any help you are able to offer!

Mary Ann Weber, Curriculum Managing Editor120127_3988

How Will Your Church Launch Shine Children’s Curriculum?

A complete worship service/celebration planning guide; blog post by Rose Stutzman

ShineLogoAt the Shine office we are hearing from churches who are planning their introduction to Shine. First use will be August 31 but some congregations are waiting to begin until everyone is back from Labor Day weekend.

A church in Ottawa, Ontario is planning to tie in Shine spiritual practices and Shine key Bible passages into their worship service on the first Sunday of using Shine. Here is a link to a PowerPoint of the verses if you care to do the same. Shine key scriptures

A church in Goshen, Indiana is doing a series on faith formation of children, youth, and adults this fall (inspired by, among other things, Shine Together). On September 7 every family with children under the age of 12 will receive Shine On: A Story Bible. (Imagine a stack of 45 story Bibles waiting to spring into use!)

IMG_9929Households with no young children will receive Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book. A basket on the table will allow households to contribute toward the cost of the books if they are able.

Other possibilities include:

  • Playing songs from the Shine Early Childhood CD during children’s time. Three MP3s are available at https://shinecurriculum.com/music/.
  • Choosing a song from the Year 1 Shine songbook and CD as a fall theme song so that the congregation is singing along with its children.
  • Doing a series of sermons on the biblical theme of light.
  • Blessing teachers and children with these words as they leave for Sunday school” “May the light of God’s presence guide you as you hear God’s story together.”

Some folks in Kansas planned a whole worship service, which follows below. This is also available at https://shinecurriculum.com/extras/ Click on Shine worship resources in the grid of Shine general resources.

Oct2013Various 040Shine Sunday Order of Worship

Bulletin Cover – see Shine graphics / logos available here.

Songs – refer to Year One Shine Songbook and CD. Some of these songs may also be available in other church hymnals you use.

Welcome!

Opening Prayer

Gathering Songs:“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (p. 8, track 5); “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (p. 7, track 10); “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!” (p. 11, track 21);

Hold up the Shine songbook and explain that each Christian education room will have a copy of this songbook and CD which will be used throughout the year.

Shining Christ’s Light Together

Scripture: Matthew 5:14–16

Worship Leader: You are the light of the world. A city built upon a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Congregation Response: We are a reflection of God’s light; called to shine that light at home and beyond.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “Let Your Light Shine” (p. 27, track 1)

Known and Loved by God

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2

Worship Leader: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in the land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.

Congregation Response: God’s light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “You Gave Us Hope” (p. 13, track 2)

What is congregational faith formation? (three minutes)

A Christian educator / parent or pastor can offer some thoughts here about how we are formed in our faith from cradle to grave; that Sunday School is just one way of many that we are able to pass on our faith; that everything we do as adults is modeling faith for children and youth. Look in Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers for more statements on faith formation that you could adapt for this time of informal input).

Presentation of Shine On: A Story Bible to all households that have children

Explain that Shine On will be used each week for grades K–5 and that each story includes some ideas for further conversation at home. Tell them to read the same story together as a family.

Presentation of Shine songbook and CD to all households that have children ages 5–12

—Hold up an Early Childhood Music CD and explain that parents will be getting directions for downloading free songs for the quarter on the leaflets children will bring home.

—Say that the Shine songbook and CD will be used for all year during the Christian nurture hour. One way for families to do simple faith formation at home is to play the CD in their car to and from church each week or play the downloads for younger children at bedtime!

Presentation of something to all adult households

This is to emphasize that faith formation is for everyone. Ideas could be: a yellow votive / tea light candle, a prayer book, a yellow flower bulb, a bookmark with the colorful Shine logo and a list of the scriptures that Shine will cover during the fall quarter.

Sharing Christ’s Light – God’s Shalom

Scripture: Romans 12:2

Worship leader: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Congregation response: The light of Christ transforms us and gives us wisdom to do God’s will. We cooperate with God to bring healing and hope to our world.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “Prayer of Peace” (p. 19, track 4)

Offering: “Jesus, You Fill Our Hearts with Your Love” (p. 16, track 18)

Sharing

Individual sharing could be framed or preceded by these phrases . . . I am seeking God’s light or I am thankful for the way God’s light has shined on . . . or I pray that the light of Christ will transform . . .

Litany of Commitment (from Matthew 5:14–16; Romans 12:2)

Leader: Today we celebrate the greatness of our God—the one who created us with minds to learn, and who opens our hearts to understand.

People: We are a reflection of God’s light, wanting children to experience the transforming power of God’s love and to shine God’s light in the world. Arise; let your light shine.

Leader: We are thankful for teachers who share God’s story. We are thankful for children and youth who see the light of God’s message unfold. We are thankful for a congregation who encourages and supports these efforts.

People: Let us look to God and be radiant. Let us reflect the brightness, as nothing can hide God’s glorious light. Arise; let your light shine.

Leader: Together, we promise to experience God’s story and respond, as we serve you faithfully. We give you all the praise, honor, and glory.

All: We believe that expressing our faith through lives of compassionate peacemaking and service to others shows that the light is stronger than darkness.

Sending/Blessing: “Sending Song” (p. 31, track 22)

Additional options:

  • Have an older child read a story from the Shine On: A Story Bible to the younger children for a children’s time.
  • Show the introductory video about Shine found here.
  • Ask parents, teachers, and pastors to mark their favorite Bible story in the Shine On: A Story Bible before you hand them out to families.
  • Ask children or youth to write the Welcome and Opening Prayer.
  • Ask a child or youth to be the worship leader, along with an adult, if preferred.
  • Invite children to play some of the songs from the Shine songbook as a prelude on piano or other instrument. Invite children or youth to accompany the congregational singing.
  • Use one of the scriptures as a call to worship, rather than as a whole focus for one of the sections.
  • Provide paper, crayons, or markers in “Shine” colors for doodling during the service. Or use shape-prompts on the page like part of a sun, part of a candle, etc., and have doodlers complete the object and add to it. Display creations in hallway or sanctuary wall.
  • Have rhythm instruments available for folks to grab as they enter the service. If adults are too cautious, make sure the children get them. Be sure to invite them to use them during the singing.
  • Visuals – Use the Shine colors! Yellow, Royal Blue, Green, Orange.

o  Bright-colored fabric draped on a table or podium, with large pillar candle to be lit when first scripture is read.

o   Different kinds of lamps or different heights of candles representing different kinds of light can be grouped on the communion table.

o   Large mirrors can be placed behind lit candles to reflect light back into congregation. They might even see themselves in the reflection.

Credits:

  • Worship outline developed by Vicki Hinz-Ensz, Shine trainer from First Mennonite, Beatrice, Nebraska, and adapted by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation, Western District Conference, Mennonite Church USA.
  • Litany of Commitment by Pat Denno, First Mennonite, Newton, Kansas

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Do you have other creative or useful ideas for launching the new curriculum?

Please do let us know what you do; comment here or send an email to roses@mennomedia.og. We would love to hear from you!

Rose Stutzman
Shine Project Director