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Spiritual Meals: Passing On the Faith

’Tis the season of pumpkin spice and apple pie. As the epitome of this cozy and delightfully smelling season approaches, some of you may be looking forward to a day of glorious eating. Of course, others of you may stress about the preparation of the meal. Or you may find yourself in a different place this year, not able to enjoy the traditional American festivities of turkey, potatoes, and pie. For this moment, however, see if you can push aside any stress or hard feelings toward this holiday and let your imagination dwell in the comfort of a delicious meal enjoyed with someone you love. It’s on days like this that our eyes often seem too big for our stomachs as we are overwhelmed with the number of options on the table available to fill our tummies. How can we possibly give all of the foods proper justice?

Engaging Your Congregation in Sunday School

You see members of your congregation regularly attending worship and being active within their small groups and social circles, but are they thinking of or active with the children growing in Jesus’ love during Sunday School? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t the parents be involved with their children and not have to “bother” the congregation members? Of course, parents should be involved with their child’s faith, but it is also important to have your congregation members engaged as well.  It can help parents feel connected to the church community, strengthen relationships across generations, and, most important, help students grow in their faith (and many times, the members as well!).

So now what? How do you start engaging your members with your Sunday School? The following are a few ideas to help involve your congregation with Sunday School.

Teaching Parables: The Faithful Servant

This parable is both Law and Gospel. It’s an admonition to be ready for Jesus’ return at the end of human history, but it is also the Gospel message that Jesus makes us ready for His triumphant return—the day He will make us whole in heaven.

How to Engage Parents with Your Sunday School

As you say goodbye to your students and watch them walk down the hall, hand in hand with their parents, do you ever wonder: Are they discussing the Bible with their kids? Are the lessons I am teaching being reinforced at home? Am I engaging my students’ parents enough?

Discussing Scary Things with Young Children

As a student at Concordia University, Nebraska, I enjoyed attending chapel services on campus. Nearly ten years later, I still remember some significant messages I heard there. In particular, I remember when a professor shared that he had been in a car accident. Thankfully, no one involved had been hurt. As he would tell people about the close call, many responded by saying, “God is good,” which is, of course, true. This professor wanted to make it clear, however, that even if he had gotten hurt in the accident, that statement would still be true. God is always good, not just when we are blessed to avoid hurt or injury.

Teaching Parables: The Wedding Feast and the Great Banquet

In polite society, we are raised with table manners: don’t hum or sing, keep your elbows off the table, place your napkin in your lap, don’t burp aloud (although this is allowed in some cultures as a compliment to the chef), don’t reach over another person’s plate. There are rules for seating at a dinner party as well, and Jesus makes reference to these in this month’s parables of the wedding feast and the great banquet.

Teaching Preschoolers God’s Truth about Hard Issues

Preschoolers often have big questions. To them, their questions aren’t so big. As they encounter new experiences that range from scraping a knee to a death in the family, they are simply trying to make sense of the world around them. However, to the adult of whom the question is asked, who has more life experience and understanding, the answer may seem very complicated. So, we wonder: How in the world am I going to explain this?

Making Goals for Your Youth Ministry

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is a time of great transition. Youth are about to begin new classes and are meeting their teachers for the year. Some may be starting to participate in activities and sports. It’s a whirlwind season. It is a time that feels much like January 1; new goals are formed and strides toward them are being made.

Teaching Parables: The Rich Fool

There is a beguiling temptation to read Jesus’ parable of the rich man’s meditation as nothing more than an admonition against wealth: “Flee from the comforts of this life, for death is coming, and cometh soon!” Instead, the Holy Spirit leads our weary souls to a something more profound: a Gospel-oriented meaning where we find freedom from fear and the peace of Christ.

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:1321)

Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Teaching Parables: Teaching the Rich Man and Lazarus

This parable teaches the importance of viewing others as people who Jesus loves and wants to save, through the work of the Holy Spirit. It warns against valuing property above people. Interestingly, however, a great deal of what this parable has to offer Sunday School teachers is what it doesn’t teach. We’ll explore the central meaning of the parable in more detail, as well as the theological pitfalls and how to avoid them.