Practicing Faith: Rethinking Teaching and Learning

The models most congregations rely on for forming faith are not adequately equipping children, youth, and their families to incorporate faith into their everyday lives. As culture shifts, so must our approaches to teaching and learning faith. This track will address the assumptions embedded in current faith formation models, explore its goal, and offer practical ideas on different approaches.

Track Leader: Irene Cho

Choose this track if you need on-the-ground ideas for faith formation ministries.

Title Description Takeaway Presenter
Youth as Leaders in Faith Formation This workshop explores how leadership experiences impact faith formation and how these experiences make faith relevant in the lives of students. Participants will discover what aspects of these experiences are important, how leading is different from helping or serving, and ways to implement these learnings in your context. Participants will reflect upon their own ministry context and set goals on how they might offer new leadership experiences for their students. Neil Christians
Collaboration Might Be Harder and Messier, But We Are Better Together All too often, leaders scrap together ideas and resources to keep faith formation programs going in their faith community, aware their colleagues are doing the same. What if leaders worked together? This workshop explores practical ways leaders can collaborate with each other, making faith life better for leaders and the children, youth, and families of their faith communities. Participants will take-away practical tips for collaborating across congregations, as well as the start to a plan for one ministry experience they would like to try collaboratively. Jen Rome & Emily King
Un-Practicing Faith for the Sake of the World Faith is a gift from God. It is not something that is practiced or formed. Sometimes it is weak. Sometimes it is strong. Sometimes it is absent. Letting go of the idea of faith as something that can be formed and practiced opens us to new ways of imagining ministry with young adults and others who love Jesus but are skeptical of the church. The Riverside Innovation Hub at Augsburg University is learning that young adults long for vocational formation, not faith formation. They long to live into the freedom they have experienced in Christ. This workshop will explore this theological claim and its practical implications for ministry. Participants will leave with a framework for reimagining ministry as vocational formation (rather than faith formation). Jeremy Myers
The Logic of Camp in Christian Education Camp is often seen as a supplement to congregational youth ministry. Recent research from the Effective Camp Project is clear that camp experiences have lasting impact on faith formation and congregational engagement. This workshop explores how the fundamentals of the camp model can be incorporated into congregational youth ministry settings. Participants will understand the role of camp in Christian faith formation, get tools for incorporating camp fundamentals into congregational youth ministry, and learn research findings that promote camp experiences in their congregations. Jake Sorenson
Enhancing VBS and Day Camp Ministries Many congregations struggle with traditional VBS, and some have connected with their local camp for help. The Camp2Congregation Project examined the impact of these traveling day camp programs. This workshop will share best practices, discover how congregations can improve their programs, and learn how a week of day camp or VBS impacts young people, families, and congregations. Participants will understand best practices of VBS and traveling day camp, learn the impact of a week of day camp, and have the opportunity to rethink their current programs. Jake Sorenson
Outcome-Based Ministry Gary has spent three decades focusing on outcome-based ministry in his congregation. Usingn a list of 40 ministry assets, this outcome-based ministry partners with parents to devleop personal ministry plans for young people. This workshop will describe this unique ministry design and how it facilitates personal growth and immersion in the life and mission of the church. Participants will come away with practical ideas, including a list of 40 ministry assets. Gary Pecuch
Learning Styles Teachers tend to have a dominant teaching style. Learners tend to have a dominant learning style. Drawing on 25 years experience, this workshop will illustrate how utilizing various learning methods can enhance ministry with young people. Participants will learn about various teaching and learning methods and come away with practical ideas of how to teach to students dominant learning styles. Gary Pecuch
Living Generously in an Imperfect World How might congregations counter society's non-stop messaging that buying "things" makes us look perfect and be happy? Drawing on the inter-generational assets of congregations, this workshop describes how The Generosity Project brings together people of all ages to interact and be equiped to know and practice God’s Story of generosity and grace in their daily life. Participants will re-think stewardship as discipleship, identify and celebrate the generations in their midst, experience effective approaches for facilitating all-age interaction, actively "embody" God's Story, and receive a plethora of ideas and resources to connect church and home for the faith practice of generosity. Linda Staats
Living Our Baptism: from Promise to Practice Did you know: The ELCA has a Framework for Faith Formation? The ELCA urges us to “put our faith into practice” by living out the promises contained in the Affirmation of Baptism. These promises are called the "Five Gifts of Discipleship." This workshop helps participants get-to-know and rethink current models, approaches and resources for faith formation.
Particpants will explore the ELCA's Faith Practices Initiative and discover creative and practical resources (including those from other denominations and organizations) to equip children, youth and families to incorporate faith into every day life. This will also be a time to network, share ideas, learn from others, and encourage one another.
Linda Staats
P*A*C - A Tool for Effective Communication Youth ministry is built on effective communication between people of diverse ages. This seminar will help you discover the parent, adult, and child "tapes" all people possess. You will be empowered to understand how the P*A* C interact with each other, and in turn you will be equipped to analyze any conversation. Your ability to communicate will be improved now and into the future. Participants will learn tools and skill sets to improve communication with their staff, volunteers, leaders, and youth. Dr. Mark Wickstrom & Kristen Theile
Redefining Urban Outreach Learn to navigate a different approach to urban ministry by taking a deeper look at understanding slang, defusing situations, partnering with communities and organizations, and creating outreach programs for your context. Discover new wasy to engage an urban community to create relationships and reach youth who have not grown up in the church. Participants will learn best practices of engaging youth in an urban context. Kristen Theile
Let's Kill Sunday School (Before It Kills the Church) If there were no such thing as Sunday school, what would you invent to form faith in the next generation? Come hear about a 10-year incubator that started with a dozen frustrated ELCA faith leaders and has grown into a movement of 6000+ churches experimenting with effective faith formation systems for the post-television world. Participants will learn "freaky, joyful ideas" on how to begin transforming age-segregated "class" models of faith formation into significantly meaningful Cross+Gen communities. ("Three years from now you'll be known as the 'church with no class!'") Rich Melheim
Faithification: Gamifying Faith Formation Gamification has become a popular approach to education, professional development, and even fitness. Why not take the excitement and motivation to faith formation? Take a look at various approaches to gamifying faith formation, learn some of the techniques for gamifying any sort of education, and consider how gamification principles can enhance faith formation in your ministry setting. Participants will gain fresh ideas on how to deeply engage students in the faith formation goals you have for them. Stephanie Luedtke
Promises Made, Not Broken Baptismal promises are often made by parents who have really good intentions but find themselves ill-equipped to follow through. We’ll explore concrete ways to empower parents to practice faith at home so that a child’s faith formation is enriched by Sunday School and Confirmation classes, not solely formed during them. Participants will walk away with a better sense of how to journey alongside parents in the faith formation of their children. They will also have some ideas they can implement immediately upon returning home. Jen Kempter Kooistra
The Role of Faith Formation in the ELCA Ever wonder how faith formation contributes to the ELCA's overall vision? This workshop will be an opportunity to meet Phil Hirsch, the new Executive Director of Domestic Mission, and learn about the role faith formation has within the ELCA. Participants will learn how faith formation ministry contributes to the ELCA vision. Phil Hirsch
Shifting from Fundraisers to Investments Tired of fundraisers and events that raise little money but take a lot of time? This workshop will help participants reimagine fundraising. Through a theology of stewardship, participannts will learn how to use the development (fundraising) cycle to cultivate major donors to support your ministry. Participants will be empowered to cultivate donors in their congregation and community to resource their ministry. Elizabeth Schoenknecht & Nathan Berkas
Unexpected Assets: Faith Formation in Rural and Small Church Contexts What are the challenges of faith formation in rural and small church contexts? What surprising assets might be discovered? What can be learned about leading vital faith formation "at the ends of the earth"? This workshop offers tools to answer these questions, as well as real-life on the ground examples from the current faith formation projects of Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish in rural Nebraska. Participants will get tools to assess and reimagine assets toward faith formation in their own contexts, as well as resources to help them as they make a plan. Rev. Breen Marie Sipes
No Purpling... (But God is Purpling All the Time)* Ever heard the phrase, “Girls are pink, boys are blue… no purple-ing!” in youth ministry? Ever thought about how that phrase might make environments unsafe for some of God’s children? To love people well means to be deeply intentional about language, Bible teachings, and behavior in church. This workshop will talk about why and how God loves LGBTQ folks through a lens of "queer theology." This hope of this workshop is not onlny to cultivate safe environments for all of God's children, but to transform unjust structures of society. Participants will gain a basic understanding of the concept of "queering" and how it applies to the lived reality of a Christian life and new ways to read and engage with Scripture. Participants will also have the opportunity to re-think youth ministry in light of the abundant diversity of gender, romantic, and sexual identities. Ross Murray, Greg Fedio, & Logan Rimel
Stories from the Frontline: Practicing Change Together* One of the best ways to improve ministries is to listen to stories and ideas from others in ministry. Why? Because we are in this together! This workshop highlights the importance of networking and the gift of being part of the larger church. Bring your creative ideas, success stories, and best practices to share with your peers. Participants will leave with successful ideas and practices they can try in their own congregations. Rachel Alley
Make a Joyful Noise! Music Ministry for Special Needs Children and Adults God loves all people, yet we do not always know how to engage all people in meaningful ministry. This workshop will address how to create a special needs music ministry based on Katy's experience at Clairemont Lutheran Church. Participants will receive a step-by-step guide for creating a special needs music program at their home church, experience a live demonstration, and have the opportunity to ask the Rise & Shine singers questions. Katherine Lundeen
Creating Space for God's Story to Stick Humans desire to connect to one another, and stories help us do that! Not only is there power in telling stories, but God's story can connect people across the borders of life. This workshop will help participannts learn practical and creative skills on how to use storytelling in worship (No more children's sermons!), why storytelling is effective, and how to use art to help connect people to God's story and each other. Participants will learn how to integrate the power story and the connectivity of art into the life of the congregation. Heather Roth Johnson
Scripture Tableau In this workshop participants will create a Scripture Tableau in which "players" portray a biblical story in freeze-frame poses. Join us for this creative and kinesthetic Bible study. Even those who don't want to be a player will be active interpreters! Participants will take away a new understanding of a biblical story and be equipped to lead this kind of Bible study in other settings. Shauna Hannan
What Kids Can Teach Us About Imagination We are born curious with wild imaginations. Jesus reminded his disciples that the kin-dom of God comes about when we become like children. This workshop will practice the gift of imagination, as well as other important gifts that children remind us are essential to the kin-dom. Participants will leave with practical ways for children's gifts to be recognized and lead change in the church. Janelle Hooper

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