Chocolate éclairs and new curriculum

Guest post from Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director.

When my older children were in high school, they loved to bake. When someone mentioned chocolate éclairs, I warned them that it would be too hard to do. The next evening my son Dan was in charge of supper. At the end of the meal he said he’d bring in the dessert. His siblings looked like they’d been up to something. They had made chocolate éclairs. It had taken all of them working together and they got rave reviews from their surprised parents.

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I hope you have had many similar experiences of teamwork and having something turn out so well that others notice and enjoy it. For me, that would be Shine On: A Story Bible and its Spanish counterpart Resplandece: Historias de la biblia para niños. I’m pleased to have been a part of the team from MennoMedia and Brethren Press that made these amazing Bible storybooks available to children.

ResplandeceFrom the start we on the Shine curriculum team wondered if it would be possible. How were we going to create a Bible storybook and have the first quarter of the new Shine Sunday school curriculum out on time? It was a huge task to write and gather Bible stories for all three years of a children’s curriculum and have it ready with the first quarter of curriculum. This project involved editors, consultants, designers, artists, copyeditors, proofreaders, translators, and people to attend to details like printing specifications and the library of congress numbers. Like the chocolate éclairs it took teamwork.

It has been like the éclairs in another way. The “rave reviews” are coming in. One Mennonite pastor said, “We’ll be buying each child in the congregation a copy. I can imagine that when the children grow up to be camp counselors they will read the stories to younger kids.”

One woman shared Shine On with a friend in Fort Bragg. The friend wrote back,

Oh, how much I love the “Shine Bible”—such a great resource and just so “right on” for kids.  Don’t you wish they could have explained some of the Bible (like they did) when we were young?  They relate everything to the child’s own experiences.

Shine On remains authentic to the text and includes a broad range of Bible texts. It seems to cross denominational  boundaries. A bishop in the Amish church asked me how Shine On was different than other story Bibles. I explained our peacemaking emphasis and told him that it included the story of Amos and the Prayer of Agur. He took a look and bought a copy. His daughter, who teaches at an Amish school, bought one too. In a quite different denominational setting, Shine On was recommended by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. You can read the full review here.

The best stories come from the children who are already encountering Shine On. Isabela discovered Resplandece at her Spanish-speaking grandpa’s house. She was delighted, “My other grandpa has it too, but in English.” Now Isabela can enjoy the story Bible with both sets of grandparents and in both of her languages.

Sophia discovered Shine On when she came for vacation at her “adoptive” grandmother’s house. Sophia wrote to us.

I like the book because it has the “Connect” sections and the “Explore” sections ,which ask you questions and get you thinking. I also like that there are so many different authors and illustrations. I like the pictures. I like that every story is only one page long. The authors do a good job of making the stories easy for kids to understand.

 

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Sophia reading Shine On. Photo by Marty Lehman.

Here are a few other endorsements that we have received:

I really like the children’s Bible. Now more than ever the need to educate parents and get them talking about faith with their children is crucial. Shine On: A Story Bible is one of the best and most accessible ways to get parents doing this. I’m recommending it to churches even if they don’t get the curriculum. —Amy Cook, Missioner for Education, Formation & Discipleship, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

 

These illustrations (drawn by a rich variety of artists) are already replacing those I remember from childhood. Even Leviticus (pages 56–57) comes alive! This is what the Bible looks like. This is what God’s Word looks like. It will unlock these stories for children and adults. These are the illustrations and stories that I would love for children and parents to share for life. —Frank Ramirez, Pastor at Union Center Church of the Brethren

 

Shine On has even gotten to children in Nigeria via Church of the Brethren staff visiting there. I love imagining the hope that these Bible stories might bring in Nigeria and many other parts of the world.

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Daughters of a leader in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) hold their copy of Shine On. Photo by Markus Gamache.

Primary, Middler, and Multiage Bible stories come from Shine On each week for all three years of the Shine curriculum. Shine On is also a wonderful Bible storybook for churches, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to gift to children. We hope that every child will have a Shine On Bible at home.

To order Shine On, visit www.ShineCurriculum.com or call MennoMedia at 1-800-245-7895. In Canada call 1-800-631-6535.

Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director

P.S. Make sure to check out the new Shine curriculum training videos on our YouTube channel!

Letting Our Little Lights Shine While Getting to Heaven on Roller Skates  

By Mary Ann Weber

Do you look for itsy-bitsy spiders when you pass by drain spouts? Do you notice the wheels on a bus going ’round and ’round? Whenever you pass by a water fountain, do you remember that God’s love is deep and wide? Do you know better, now, what it means to be a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?91992981

I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s music recently because MennoMedia uses music in many of our curriculum pieces for young people. As an example, go to the Shine: Living in God’s Light Sunday school curriculum website, https://shinecurriculum.com/music/, and check out the free downloads offered each quarter.

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We want music that is catchy, memorable, and creative. We want music that reflects that people all over the world love God, and that God loves people all over the world. We want music that acknowledges the community of faith, and music that guides children to form their own faith. We want music with substance, and we want to feature a variety of musical styles. It seems like a tall order, right?

There’s no doubt that music helps to shape us. Think about one of your favorite songs from childhood. Most likely, you still remember the lyrics and the melody. Maybe you even find yourself humming it on occasion. How did the song help to form you? What did you learn from the song?

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I’m fascinated by the messages in some of the songs I learned when young and can still relate to some of them. Yes, Jesus loves me. But some songs no longer resonate with my understanding of a life of faith. No, not every moment is a happy one since Jesus set me free. And I wonder about the substance of a song that tells us we’ll roll right by the pearly gates if we try to get to heaven on roller skates.

I’m grateful for songs that continue to inspire throughout my life. For example, when I travel or watch the news, I’m glad that the whole world is in God’s hands. I’m thankful that the world is filled with people who let their little lights shine everywhere they go. And it’s a comfort to know that God’s banner over me (and the whole world) is love.

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This is why children’s songs are running through my head. Let’s give children songs that encourage them to love God and follow Jesus. Let’s give them good songs that will help them grow into the people God wants them to be. Let’s give them music that will help them love themselves, their neighbors, and those across the world. Let’s raise our voices and sing!

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For other music products for children, check here.

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Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor

For Anyone Wanting the Inside Scoop on Shine

By Rachel Nussbaum EbyDocHdl2OnVERSA-PPM01tmpTarget Before I became the managing editor of Shine curriculum, I served as my church’s Sunday school superintendent. My two most important responsibilities were to order materials and make sure I had enough teachers every Sunday. Sometimes finding teachers also meant convincing people that they could teach. I even planned a lunch and short seminar after church to encourage teachers—past, present, and future. Mary Ann Weber, managing curriculum editor, was the presenter, and she offered great tips on how to use the curriculum (which was then Gather ‘Round). Mary Ann also encouraged us to talk about our own experiences, and we learned from those stories too.

If I was still the Sunday school superintendent, I wouldn’t need a special speaker to talk about the new Shine curriculum because a lot of helpful information is available. One primary source is the Shine website. You can learn why the Shine curriculum was planned the way it was, the elements of each session, what Bible stories are featured, which products each age group uses, and much more.

An even better source of information is Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers.ShineTogether150 This small book is packed with helpful information and can be purchased online. I think my challenge would be deciding which topics would be the most important to discuss. Chapters include:

  • Welcoming and nurturing our children
  • The nuts and bolts of a Shine session
  • The spiritual practice of teaching
  • Worshiping together
  • Transforming Sunday school
  • Growing in faith
  • God’s shalom

Shine Together emphasizes the role that Christian formation has in our churches and the importance of providing it with authenticity and love. With all practical advice and inspirational quotes about teaching, this might be a good item for every teacher to have when they leave your training event.

I would also want my training event to provide an opportunity for my teachers to look over the materials before they are preparing for the first class. If you haven’t already done so, purchase a starter kit. starterpackIt’s a great deal and you don’t need to know the size of your age groups to order it. (For those churches who use Multiage—kindergarten through grade 6, there’s a kit especially for you, shown below.)

starterpackmultiagebagMultiage starter kit, with carry bag.

A kit includes actual products that can be used during the Fall 2014 quarter. Several items will be used even longer like the music and Shine On: A Story Bible.

IMG_9910Be sure to play some songs from the Early Childhood Music CD and/or Year One Songbook and CD at your training event.

IMG_2298The music on these CDs is part of the curriculum—not a product added for convenience’s sake. Chosen for its relevance to the themes and Bible stories, the music was professionally arranged and performed. At the same time it is a learning CD (as opposed to a performance CD) to make the music easy for teachers to use and for children to learn.

y1Shine_SongbookAndCDMatter of fact, I was so impressed by these music products that I encouraged my church—that hasn’t purchased music in many years—to buy it, and the current superintendent did! Now when I teach in the future, I’ll be able to include music in much more meaningful ways.

Rachel Nussbaum Eby
Managing editor of Shine

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Is your church ready? What questions do you still have?

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The new church school year begins Aug. 31 and Shine launches! Order by June 24, 2014 for best service! (Store is closed for inventory June 25-30. We’ll also be happy to take your order on July 1 or really anytime thereafter!)