Discovering God’s Way of Peace; MennoMedia 2018 vacation Bible school curriculum ready for orders

News release
October 31, 2017

Discovering God’s Way of Peace
MennoMedia 2018 Bible school curriculum ready for orders

HARRISONBURG, Va.—God’s way of peace will come alive as children discover how to be peacemakers in Peace Lab, the 2018 vacation Bible school series from MennoMedia. From learning how to resolve conflicts to helping others, children will find out that peace begins with them.

“We’re pleased to offer this curriculum, knowing that peace is important throughout the biblical story. Plus, it’s very relevant to children as they encounter situations where peace can be a practical solution,” said Mary Ann Weber, project director.

The five-day curriculum includes stories and themes rooted in the Bible, and helps concepts about active peacemaking come to life in age-appropriate ways. Written by a team of writers in Pennsylvania, the Bible stories become real through worship, music, dramas, crafts, games, and other activities.

Graphic with Bible memory verse for VBS.

Children’s booklets, Lab Book and My Book of Stories, include stories and activities to help children learn about peace and peacemakers. Leaders’ guides and a resource CD aid teachers as they lead VBS for children from ages 4 through grade 5. Adaptations for grades 6–8 are offered on the resource CD.

Peace Lab may be ordered in an all-in-one starter kit that includes everything needed for planning and preparing an effective VBS program. All items are also sold separately. More information is at www.MennoMedia.org/vbs.

—Staff release
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

 

How do Words Enhance or Hinder Worship?

By Mary Ann Weber

I’m a word person. I’m fascinated by how words are put together to make phrases and sentences. What do they mean? What do the words convey? Take this phrase: “Did you eat today?” Say it out loud four times, each time emphasizing a different word. Notice how the meaning changes, even though the same words are spoken. Fascinating!

All of this tells me that words are to be considered carefully and I thought about this as I was working with worship resources this week. MennoMedia offers a bulletin series subscription for congregations to receive bulletin covers for each Sunday. They are offered with or without worship resources printed on the back. You can read more about them see samples here and below.

The congregation where I spent my formative years did not use preplanned worship resources. I noticed that each Sunday, the prayers and words were similar to ones said the previous Sunday. It was predictable and did not tap into my love of words.

When I moved to another area I got involved with a different congregation. The worship leaders and pastors gave great thought as to what was spoken during the service, and I came alive! The poetic phrases, the images that came to mind, the careful nuancing of words, all enhanced my worship. A whole world opened up to me.

I keep these congregational stories in mind as I work with worship resources. How will words enhance, or hinder, worship? How will words lead someone into the presence of God? How will words encourage community and discipleship?

Some people are gifted in writing worship resources. Some people prefer to use resources written by others. Hymnal: A Worship Book, Sing the Journey, and Sing the Story, are all designed to lead congregational worship.

Along with quality song selections, each book includes good worship resources to be used during worship services and throughout the church calendar year.

Words for Worship and Words for Worship 2 pay careful attention to words and how they fit together. Take a look at these books the next time you plan a worship service.

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How do you use words during worship? How do they invite people into God’s presence?

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Visit the Congregational Resources Section of the MennoMedia store to find many of these items.

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Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor

Invigorating the adult Sunday school program at your church

WilliamsburgMCSSClassHow are your adult Sunday school classes doing?

One of my MennoMedia responsibilities at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix in July was to lead several workshops—one was on adult Sunday school. It was called “Sunday school or Starbucks?” I had no idea how many people would show up but knew that my own experiences with adult Sunday school have not always been ideal. As I watched the room fill with people, I realized that I was not alone in this.

As you look ahead to fall church school season and focus on getting ready for children’s Sunday school experiences, it’s also wise to pay attention to the adult Sunday school program. Are your adult Sunday school spaces welcoming and accommodating? Are the classes invigorating and challenging? (Coffee/tea helps.)

SSClassDiscussionI was pretty certain that the excellent panel members for our workshop at Phoenix would have good input. The three of them, Marlene Bogard, Barbara Ewey, and Shanna Peachey Boshart, did not disappoint. All are resource advocates for their conference or district. Resource advocates work or volunteer with the churches in their conference to let them know about the many helpful resources put out by the Mennonite Church USA agencies. Resource advocates also have their pulse on the types of resources and programing helpful to the churches in the conferences, and they pass that information along to the MC USA agencies. (In Canada, see Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre for resource help.)

resourceadvocates
Some Mennonite Church USA resource advocates

In the seminar, Marlene challenged us to take a good look at our Sunday school spaces. Are they inviting? Are they spaces in which people want to spend time? Shanna mentioned that though gathering for Bible study and fellowship can happen at any time, people are already together Sunday mornings and therefore it is one of the best times to have Sunday school. Barbara shared several excellent study resources so that adults will want to gather and study (see partial list below).

MaryAnnWeberPhoenix
Mary Ann Weber talks with a convention goer at the Mennonite Church USA
gathering in Phoenix about ideas for church school classes.

Following the panel discussion, we divided into small groups to ponder two questions. Participants jotted down responses which I then collected, collated, and emailed to those who requested them.

Here are just a few ideas that came from the workshop participants that you can use in analyzing and improving your own program:

1. How do you support Sunday school leaders?

  • Make the teacher’s guides available
  • Have a half-day prayer retreat to re-energize leaders
  • Offer prayers and send cards
  • Good teachers need to mentor others
  • Early Sunday morning meetings for the purpose of training, discussing topic, etc.

2. What are Sunday school ideas that work at your church?

  • Teaching styles that invite conversation without judgment
  • Find teachers with passion about the subject
  • Coffee, doughnuts, and fellowship are important
  • Fall quarter includes elective and intergenerational classes based on the passion of the leaders
  • Sunday school class outings to build relationships outside of Sunday school
  • Support groups for real-life issues that may not be traditional Bible or Sunday school topics (ex.: parents struggling with parenting, divorce, addictions, women’s group, etc.)
  • Provide opportunities to share stories

Many people have observed a decline in Sunday school attendance in recent years, but the amount of people who showed up for this workshop tells me that there is value in having a Sunday school program, and that people recognize the distractions that pull us away from opportunities to engage in serious Christian education. There is always room for conversations regarding how to update it and make it relevant for daily lives. May the conversations challenge and inspire us.

What has worked well in your congregation or conference for adult classes? Comment, please!

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Here are just a few of the many resources available through MennoMedia for adult classes (click on each one to find out more):

Also, find out who the resource advocate is for your conference and make connections with him or her. Contact your local conference office if you do not know who your resource advocate is, or check this list. Or join the Facebook page group with occasional links from Resource Advocates.

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Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor