The United Church of Christ’s Faith Formation Team and the OPEN Network (A Convergence Initiative) are partnering on a national conversation about Children’s Ministry in Progressive Churches. (http://www.theopennetworkus.org/) This conversation will be held at the United Church of Christ’s national headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, from September 18-20, 2017.
Brian McLaren in his new book The Great Spiritual Migration makes the following proposal
We call upon Christian leaders and parents to begin afresh with children, youth, and college aged adults. It has been said that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction – meaning that if one generation doesn’t pass on the faith to the next, it is gone. . . . In recent decades hundreds of congregations have been doing creative experimentation with adults, especially young adults. But often while the adults are singing new songs, praying new prayers, hearing new insights in sermons or study groups, and engaging in new (and ancient) spiritual practices, the children are being taught the same old curriculum. The methodology may be innovative, using videos and computer screens rather than flannel graph and chalkboards, for example, but the theology kids are taught (is) a system of belief centered on a view of God that needs to be enlarged and matured. . . One new generation of children and youth can bring about a new day in the Christian faith. (pp. 158-159)
This gathering is designed to begin to do this. We want to bring together Children’s Ministry leaders from churches in several progressive leaning denominations and OPEN Network churches in order to network with each other, share resources and begin a discussion of children’s ministry resource development for progressive churches.
Here is what we are asking you to do if you would like your denomination to be part of this conversation.
1. For a donation of $2000 you may invite 6 people to the gathering. For a donation of $1000 you may invite 3 people to the gathering. For your donation your attendees will receive 2 night’s hotel and 4 meals. You or they will need to fund their own way to Cleveland.
2. Your invitees should be people leading Children’s Ministry in the local church and that local church should be progressive socially and theologically.
3. Please let me know by April 3 if you will be participating in this conversation and, if so, at which level you will be participating.
4. You or someone else from your denominational offices dealing with Children’s Ministry in your churches is welcome to attend. At present we are asking that you pay your own lodging fees. Please let me know by April 3 – if you or someone else from your offices is planning to attend.
When I’m asked by others about the purpose of the Faith Formation Team my answer is that we exist to help UCC churches imagine what could be in faith formation rather than perpetuate what is. It is my hope that this gathering be the impetus for helping all of our churches act seriously about turning Christianity back into a “youth movement.”
I’m sure you have questions. Please feel free to get back to me with those either at Beckwithi@ucc.org or at 216-736-3875.