Central to the work of the church is forming and nurturing faith in people of all ages. Faith formation begins at or before baptism, and needs to be life long. Adults are still learning! Faith formation is not the work of the church alone, and neither is it centered on its programming (I.e. worship, Sunday School, youth group). Faith formation is most effective when it is a collaborative endeavor that is centered on the home and family, supported by the congregation and its programming.
The congregation’s commitment to supporting families as they seek to form young people in the faith is rooted in the promises of Holy Baptism. In that sacrament the parents of younger children promise
“to live with them among God’s faithful people,
bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
place in their hands the holy scriptures,
and nurture them in faith and prayer,
so that they may learn to trust God,
proclaim Christ through word and deed,
care for others and the world God made,
and work for justice and peace…”
in order to help their children “…grow in the Christian faith and life.” (ELW)
Likewise, the congregation promises “to support (those who are baptized) and pray for them in their new life in Christ.” If the congregation is to be effective in supporting baptized children to grow in their faith, that support needs to encompass the whole family, including encouraging and equipping parents to live out the promises they make on behalf of their children.
Again, the congregation and parents are partners in forming young people in the faith, sharing the task of faith development in children and youth. This Faith Formation Plan is an attempt to spell out the ways this congregation will provide support to children, youth, and families—those currently participating, those who are inactive, and those not yet connected to our congregation.
An effective ministry of faith development will encompass on-site and off-site programming for children, youth, and families, intergenerational opportunities for worship, learning, and service, as well as resources to equip parents to do faith formation in the home. All of these combine to equip each person with the knowledge and understanding, as well as the identity and sense of call, to embrace the Christian faith and live the Christian life.
We understand that the first priority is to respect the dignity of each person, making sure to protect those most vulnerable. To ensure the safety of children and youth in our care, background checks will be obtained and procedures will be followed, in compliance with the congregation’s Child Protection Policy. In addition, we will use curriculum from time to time to teach children to understand and advocate for their own safety.
In Sunday School, children, youth, and adults will learn the stories of the Bible, the basic stories of the faith. In addition, we will provide a safe and affirming environment for participants to explore questions of the faith, and what it might mean to be faithful in their understandings and in the way they live their lives.
The Christian Education schedule includes a number of intergenerational opportunities per year:
Back to School Breakfast – the Sunday after Labor Day
Blessing of Animals – the first Sunday in October
Epiphany celebration – 9:30 am the Sunday we celebrate Epiphany
Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt – Easter Day
There are also special ways for children, youth, and families to be involved in special worship services (e.g. Christmas Eve tableau, putting away the alleluia on Transfiguration Sunday and bringing it back out Easter Day, festival processions on Easter and Pentecost, Thanksgiving Eve family-friendly worship). Children and youth 4th grade and above also serve in worship as acolytes.
Children’s Church provides an opportunity, during the sermon time, for children age 4 through grade 3 to leave worship and engage the readings and themes for the day at an age-appropriate level. Children rejoin the worship service during the hymn of the day.
Confirmation is offered for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders who choose to participate, equipping learners with the theological understanding and tools to live as Lutheran Christians by focusing on the five parts of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (Baptism, Eucharist, Ten Commandments, Apostles’ Creed, and Lord’s Prayer), as well as Lutheran history, theology and worship. Upon completion of this three-year program, eighth graders will be invited to take part in the rite of Confirmation, in which he/she affirms the identity and calling given him/her in Baptism, taking on adult responsibility to live it out.
Those who choose to participate in Confirmation will do the following:
Beginning in the fall of 2016 special programming for families takes place 6-7:30 pm the second Wednesday of each Month, October-May. These Wednesdays are for the whole family, but are geared especially for children preschool through 5th grade. Our purpose is to bring families together for worship that teaches, activities that help form faith, and relationship building.
Faith formation takes place, first and foremost (and best!), at home and within the family. And so, we have had to shift some of our efforts so that we focus on how to help parents teach and model the faith at home. We do so by:
We recognize and celebrate faith community and life-cycle milestones in worship, and use these opportunities to provide support to children, youth, and families:
Provide resources to understand and teach the significance of Baptism; Presentation of garment, towel, and candle; Gift of a children’s Bible (Follow up by recognizing baptismal anniversaries: The pastor sends a card from Baptism until Confirmation; Give at-home resources for families to mark baptismal anniversaries)
Verbally recognize these kids when Blessing Backpacks (done in August to mark the beginning of a new school year)
Recognize new acolytes in worship the weekend of their training
Start of Confirmation
Give a Bible and a Small Catechism to each 6th grader
Give a personalized hymnal to each; cake reception; post names in Good News and on LCGS Facebook page
High School Graduation
Breakfast and Godspeed in August; list in Good News (Follow up with a breakfast for college students the First Sunday of Christmas)
In addition to the above, those who receive their driver’s permit and/or license will be recognized within the youth group.
The above plan is reflected in the following year-long calendar of activities:
HS Youth to Winterfest
Intergenerational Epiphany event
Recognize newly-trained acolytes
Transfiguration putting away of the Alleluia
Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt
Easter Day procession & return of the Alleluia
Rite of Confirmation—present hymnals; cake reception
God’s Work. Our Hands. (spring edition)
Pentecost Day procession
Vacation Bible School
Breakfast and Godspeed to HS grads
Blessing of Backpacks—verbally recognize those beginning kindergarten
Train SCS teachers
Sunday School Breakfast and Open House
Present a Bible and a Small Catechism to 6th graders (start of Confirmation)
God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday
MS Youth to Alive!
Blessing of pets first Sunday in October
Advent Craft Workshop
Thanksgiving Eve worship
Christmas Eve tableau