Opening Doors To Discipleship is a series of four courses in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition to help teachers and leaders equip themselves to be faithful teachers and leaders. Once you register with the web site, you will have access to all four courses.
Factors to consider when nurturing disciples through educational ministries vary from congregation to congregation. Local, regional, and cultural influences affect the needs of faith communities. Your contextual impact list may include—but is not limited to—area schools on flexible schedules, extracurricular activities 24/7, youth and adults seeking relationships not religion, invisible parents before or after a child’s baptism, isolated or disenfranchised senior adults, and a weak or strong economic environment. Planning sustainable ministries requires churches to consider context.

What plans and tools are helpful when school is year-round, with breaks every six to eight weeks, instead of only the summer months?
  • Offer mini-courses, short-term book studies, and thematic approaches for youth and adult faith formation.
  • Develop a unit or seasonal approach for school-aged children, with additional optional content presented and repeated during school breaks.
  • Include multigenerational education, worship, and celebrations throughout the year.
How do you plan for individuals and families involved in extracurricular activities 24/7?
  • Send links to extra, interactive activities online, recommend faith-based apps, or text prayers of the day to hand-held devices.
  • Select curricula with a strong home/faith community component to help households make connections between education, worship, and mission anytime and anywhere.
  • Introduce youth, adults, and volunteers to Opening Doors to Discipleship, online teacher and discipleship courses.
When, where, and how will your congregation address cultural and generational needs, such as youth and adults seeking relationships not religion, invisible parents before or after a child’s baptism, isolated or disenfranchised senior adults, and a weak or strong economic environment?
  • Create a culture that nurtures relationships of respect, love, and support through mutual, lifelong partners and mentors of children, youth, and adults beginning long before confirmation—from birth, after first joining the community, and throughout life’s milestones.
  • Provide ways to explore common biblical texts through the Reformed faith lens and through experiences that bring the text to life relationally and missionally.
  • Find ways to meet the needs of individuals on their terms at a popular cafe, through a devotion time during children’s choir practice, at a Zumba class after Bible study, with a service project that offers a place to contribute, and through the lows and highs of life.
What cultural influences affect your faith community? How can you plan for the variety of needs? What tools will you need to create a sustainable discipleship and educational ministry? Consider your context.

Contact a Presbyterian Reformed Educational Partner (PREP) representative, listed under CONTACT US, for more information about this topic or other articles in the e-newsletter archives.

Article by Candace C. Hill, Coordinator of Educational Ministries, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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