Loving our ‘Leavers’

One of the core ideas of Sticky Faith is that young people need to feel a part of their church community at each age and stage of their development in order for them to grow a faith that sticks with them through life.

The big faith challenge for a young person comes when they leave their home (and their home church), and step out into a world which doesn’t provide the foundation and routines that they’ve come to lean on.  So where does our responsibility lie when a young person in our church comes of age and leaves home?  Do we wave them off with our best wishes and hope to see them again at Christmas… or are they still a part of our community, even after they’ve left?

There are many ways which we could communicate to our young people that we still consider them part of our church family.  One easy way is to celebrate with them as they finish school and acknowledge their achievement.  Get them up at the front on a Sunday morning when they’ve finished their exams.  Tell them we’re proud of them.  Tell them we’re praying for them no matter what.  Tell them we’d love to hear from them and they’re welcome any time.  Give them a slot in the newsletter to share about their new experiences, or invite them to come back and speak to the youth about what college or Uni is like.

Another way is to reach out and remind them that we’re thinking of them.  What young person doesn’t glow a little- even the lads!- when you offer them some unexpected encouragement.  I’ve come across a website that I adore called Giver’s Log which is all about, well, giving.  The category ‘Happy Mail’ is dedicated to ideas for care parcels that you could send to a uni student to let them know you’re thinking about them.  And get this- all of the parcel ideas weigh 13 oz or less!  (As it’s an American site, this weight is what separates a letter from a parcel.  It’s probably not the same here, but it will still be pretty cheap to send!)  Check it out:

As our young people are finishing exams and taking next steps, let’s get encouraging!

Grace & Peace

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Confession Time…

I came across the following blog post the other day and immediately, thought, ‘Yep.  Been there.’  I think, no matter what age our children are, if we admit it we’ve all had Sunday mornings which ended up more of a frustration than a blessing.

What I love about this article is how the mum has decided to turn difficult Sunday mornings right back round and make them a special, spiritual time once again.  Have a look!

why God loves it when young mommies go to church at happyhomefairy.com

What do you think?

(And if you feel the need, ask one of our ministers how you can make your own ‘dog collar’ from a washing up liquid bottle.  They’ve all done it!)

Grace & Peace

Praying Together at Home: Prayer Pots

Many of us like the prayer cube which is used at TOFs before our meal for family prayer.  If you don’t have one at home, why not make your own Prayer Pot?

 

Here are two fun examples-  click on the photos to find out more about them.

 

prayer pail

 

 

 

Have fun creating your own meaningful family prayer pail- and come back and tell us about it!

Fresh Ideas for a New Term

We’ve joined Pinterest!

Pinterest is an online ‘notice board’ for sharing ideas and inspiration.  Parents, children’s volunteers and local preachers are welcome to have a look and find resources for Bible stories, crafts and prayer- as well as encouragement and ideas for living our faith as a family at home.  Have fun!  (click on the image to go to our shiny new Pinterest board)

Pinterest

If you have any ideas our resources you’d like to pin on the board, get in touch!

Lent- What Are You Picking Up?

I have a confession to make- sometimes the story of Lent makes me wish I could disappear off to the wilderness for 40 days.  Now I am in no way saying that what Jesus did in the story in Matthew 4 was have a holiday.  He went to the desert and didn’t eat or drink the whole time.  I can’t even pull that off for a few hours.  He was tempted by Satan himself- not someone I’d like to run into, personally.  But the modern-day working mum in me reads the passage and a little part of me thinks ‘Forty days of peace and quiet and nature!  Oh my goodness, what I would do with all that time!’

I guess what really inspires me about the story- and hopefully redeems me from the bit of blasphemy above- is what Jesus gains through the experience.  Because the very next story in Matthew 4, is where His ministry begins.  And He gets to work with clarity and confidence.  It makes me wonder what it must have been like to have that time in the desert, completely reliant on God with no distractions.    Sure we read about the difficlut parts of the experience, but don’t you think it must have been amazing to be so close to God during that time that you could hear Him and the angels speak?

Recently a friend- who happens to be Buddhist- made a statement which really challenged me.  While bemoaning the busyness of life (something she and I do frequently), she commented,

‘I realised a while ago that meditation is the thing that centers me and helps me find meaning in life- and I had cut it out completely.  So now I get up half  hour earlier so that I can make sure it’s the first thing I do each day.’

I’m usually pretty open about the fact that I struggle to fit any prayer or devotions in most days.  What I perhaps don’t often say is that there was a point in my life where that time in conversation with God was the thing that kept me going each day.  It was what helped me face life’s highs and lows, and make sense of them.  It was in those moments of reflection that I heard God’s call to do the work that I am doing now.  So it surprised me when I thought about this from my friend’s perspective.  Why on earth have I let this time in my day slip to the bottom of the priority list??  Is everything else really more urgent?

I tell this story because it’s helped me see the story of Lent in a different light.  We give things up because Jesus set a good example for us- sacrifice is a really important part of the Christian faith.  But this year I’m pondering about the things which fill the space that’s left behind.  Yes we give something up- quite often it’s something we feel we might have become dependent on.  But what do we lean on during this time instead?  When we have cravings for the thing we’ve sacrifice, do we fill it with another addiction?  Or maybe it’s even easier for those of us who are busy to fill that space instead with little tasks which seem important at the time.  Would it be so wrong to fill that gap with something that might, in the long run, build us up and make us healthier and happier instead?

So in this second week of Lent- the one where we start to realise just how hard it will be to give that pesky thing up- I’m asking a new question:

What are you picking up for Lent?

What’s filling the gap for you?  Is it something just to get you through- or is it something which is actually better for you?  For me it’s making more time to read my Bible and pray, but for you it might be spending more time with family, using exercise time to focus your thoughts, developing a God-given gift or skill, or simply spending time in the presence of people who build you up and believe in you.   Chances are these are all things that you’ve been meaning to do, but somehow they seem less important than other things.  Maybe, as we let go of something for Lent, it’s ok to pick something up that helps you to hear God’s voice more clearly in your life.

What are you picking up for Lent?

What’s Next??

For Methodists in Lancashire, 2013 is our district ‘Year of Evangelism.’  Now if prayer is a scary word, I think most of us would secretly confess that evangelism is even scarier!

But if you really think about it, evangelism starts with the simple act of sharing.  We cannot effectively share God’s message in words if we’re not first sharing it in love.  What could you share with someone in your life or your community- a cup of tea and a word of encouragement?  How about a home-cooked meal?  Could you babysit for a struggling parent?  Help out a new neighbour to welcome them to the neighbourhood?  Or give some time to someone who needs it?

Through the year we’ll be exploring how we can embrace evangelism in our church, in our homes and in our church family.  So as we begin this new year, I encourage each of us to give some thought to a simple question- ‘What can I share?’  And let’s keep one another in prayer as we journey together in the coming year.

The Prayer Torch Journey

The Circuit Family Prayer Torch has finished its journey around Clitheroe right on schedule. It began with a prayer walk through Clitheroe in July, which inspired some guests from the park to come into church for a cup of tea, then visited all the holiday clubs in the Circuit before being passed from home to home among our church family.    I’ve been inspired by the beautiful and heartfelt stories written in the accompanying prayer journal- I hope you will be too!

Trinity Prayer Walk

‘At our home it reminded us to take time in our busy week to share with each other and be thankful for the good things, as well as ask for help with the challenging things.  ‘

‘The prayer torch brought with it a lot of excitement in our house. The thought of ‘holding a prayer’ galvanised the children into full-bodied engagement with prayer and with God… We enjoyed writing our ‘sorry prayers’ in washing up liquid, and then washing them away.’

‘Even though I do not have a family of children at my house it was lovely to be able to invite some of those in a similar position to me to call and have a prayer time and a cuppa.  Several friends came to share some meaningful prayer times.’

Prayer and a Picnic

‘We used the Inspiring Prayer book to help us find the right words.  We each took a turn to choose a prayer… As we often sit together at meal times we decided this was the time to focus on prayer.’

‘The prayer torch focussed our minds to do something different as praying is not something we have done as a family before.  It reminded us to take time to reflect on what is important, something we often forget in our busy lives.’

‘I took the prayer torch to a neighbour and prayed with her for herself and her friends.’

2012 Chatburn HC006

Of course, we don’t need the prayer torch pray at home.  But if you find it a challenge to know what to say or do, here are some family-friendly resources which might help (available to borrow, if you would like- just get in touch!):

  • Prayer Godventure 52, is a pack of children’s playing cards with 52 creative prayer ideas to thank God, say sorry to God, ask God to act (please) or simply chat with God.  Available at http://www.godventure.co.uk
  • Inspiring Prayer, this booklet includes Bible verses about prayer, written prayers, and prayer exercises, all beautifully illustrated in watercolours to do just what the cover suggests. Available at http://www.sgmlifewords.com
  • Or check out the suggestions and articles on the Mother’s Union website at http://www.themothersunion.org

Thanks to everyone who participated- we met our goal of ‘passing the torch’ until Christmas!  I hope we haveall been blessed in the experience.