First Third Conversations

Love God, Help Others, Jesus Loves You, repeat

By Julie Hagen

I am 29 weeks into my Church School calendar (only 4 more weeks but who is counting) and have a rotation of  the above themes over and over and over again. Please know I’m NOT sick of teaching kids to help others.  That will never get old!  I think we can dig deeper. In all of our discussion on mission trips over the last few months, I’m encouraged by how we can help children think beyond just ‘help others’. How can we teach them to discover what it means to live with a servant’s heart? We first need to give them the language. 

The ELCA, like many other denominations, has a set of faith practices that are patterns for living a life of discipleship. They are

Pray - Study – Worship – Invite – Encourage – Serve – Give

These practices are a wonderful tool for children to develop the language to talk about faith.  What if we didn’t let ourselves get tied down by the themes in our weekly curriculum and began thinking more broadly about incorporating the Bible stories into the faith practices of our Christian walk?  Map it out with your program calendar and pick one practice to focus on for 4 weeks.    

You may most likely already be teaching some of these practices in your own context.  Prayer is always a part of our lessons.  We can teach many different ways to pray, teach the Lord’s Prayer through sign language or encourage children to find a prayer partner. Then have people share the power of prayer in their own life and help children discover what how they can live a life of prayer. Do our young people realize that in bringing a friend to church, they are actually developing the faith practice of invite?  We can put a band aid on as a reminder to help our neighbors, but then children discovered how their participation in serving at the food shelf is an act of service to others?  

I’d love to hear how you are incorporating these practices into your ministry.  How have you seen children live them out in their daily life?  When children are able to embody these practices, they can better understand their place in the greater picture, and understand what it means for them to live with a servant’s heart.

Join the conversation on!

Julie Hagen works with Lower Elementary children and families at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. She is a pracitioner on the ground who is a First Third Voice for 2012-2013.

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