At Zion Lutheran Church, ministry with children, youth, adults, and families goes beyond Sunday School. Here’s what we do to help form the foundation for a lifetime of faith.
Worship is our most formative activity as people of God, and children of all ages and their families are intentionally welcomed into worship every Sunday morning. In November 2014, we removed several pews and created a children’s Pray & Play area in the sanctuary: families find kid-friendly bulletins, age-appropriate Bibles, Sunday-specific activity pages, books, and toys. Because we want everyone to worship together, there’s no separate nursery; however, if you ever need to excuse yourself with your child, please feel free to do so.
During worship, Pastor Tim invites kids forward for “Telling the Story,” a chance to hear about the Gospel reading and learn a key phrase in American Sign Language. Kids of all ages are also invited to serve in formal roles during worship, including ushering, reading scripture, reading prayers, and helping with Communion.
Each week after worship, children, youth, and adults grab a snack and gather at Faith Table, the centerpiece of our faith formation ministry. Think Sunday School, but better! For about a half hour after worship, we model a Faith5 approach to faith formation: we check in with each other, hear the Gospel reading again and talk about it, pray for others, and bless each other for the week. Read more about Faith5 here.
The Faith Formation team at Zion Lutheran believes that at home, throughout the day, any table can be a Faith Table: the kitchen table at breakfast, the dinner table at the end of the day, the coffee table in the living room whenever, the nightstand at bedtime. All can be places for growing in faith and love.
We follow up on the Faith Table conversation with a midweek email, which includes a brief reminder of the Faith5 approach, a link to the primary reading (usually the Gospel) from the previous Sunday, a discussion question, a prayer starter, and a blessing. You can sign up for the weekly email by clicking here. We encourage our families to use this email as a resource for continuing faith formation at home, at a time that makes the most sense for them.
Several times throughout the year, we have a big intergenerational faith formation event, and it includes food! This is a great opportunity for us to build connections among families and members of all ages. Children and families are also invited to join in on our “God’s work. Our hands” Sundays—our quarterly events in which we take part in service projects in the community. We also have bowling nights and pool parties!
Youth in middle school and high school are regularly invited to participate in worship, Faith Table, and the special events listed above, as well as the bowling nights, pool parties, and more!
Youth in middle school and high school are also invited to participate in Zion Lutheran’s Confirmation ministry. Confirmation is a two-year faith formation process that combines formal classroom teaching and informal conversations out in the community. After two years of study, action, and reflection, confirmation culminates with an Affirmation of Baptism, in which the youth are invited to speak (“confirm”) their baptismal vows for themselves, renewing their baptism as they prepare to lead adult lives founded on faith.
Whether or not they have completed the confirmation process, youth are often invited to meet with Pastor Tim and other adult leaders at a local coffee shop to check in with each other and talk about matters of faith and life. These conversations build on the confirmation ministry as we continue learning about what it means to live out our identity as people of God.
Faith formation for adults at Zion Lutheran also starts with worship. A large percentage of the congregation at Zion Lutheran helps with worship in some way, whether by ushering, reading, leading prayers, assisting with communion, or providing music.
Adults are also invited to participate in the Faith Table ministry. We believe that Faith Table is at its best when there’s an intergenerational group around the table!
Pastor Tim and other leaders in the congregation host Bible studies and education forums throughout the year. Pastor Tim also advocates a create-your-own approach to faith formation: if you’d like to discuss a particular interest area, book of the Bible, or matter of faith and life, find one or two others and we’ll put a discussion group together!