Alive@5 last month was an invitation for people at the start of a new year to take the time to stop and wonder at God's Creation, to slow down and smell the flowers, to appreciate the beauty and gift of humanity made in the image of God.
Last week, the Adelaide College of Divinity Academic Board approved two new Diploma pathways, one in Children, Youth & Family ministry, and one in Discipling Adults. One of my final tasks at College has been to propose these new Diploma 'pathways' for approval within our Bachelor of Ministry. These are one-year full-time (equivalent) tertiary diplomas; students can continue towards a BMin if they wish. The pathways require studying at least one unit across all four areas of the degree, but then allow for specialisation within the total 8 units.
When the new BMin was created, the "Pastoral Studies" stream was split into a "Leadership" stream and a "Christian Education & Discipleship" stream. The latter stream is the one that I headed up briefly after the change. It allows for a range of units that are broader than the usual ordination requirements, so that we can provide for lay workers and members of the church who want to be better equipped in faith and ministry. This is an open path for following your call.
The new BMin allowed for some quite different subjects in the first year - a stronger focus on mission and culture, and seeking to engage learners whose focus was more on the practice of ministry that formal study of theology. So, for example, the two first year core units in our CE&D stream are "Spirituality for 21st Century Disciples" and "Media and Communication in Contemporary Culture". Not your usual first year BTh subjects.
Yesterday I flew to Melbourne for the day to present a paper at an annual Symposium on Children's Spirituality hosted by the UCA Centre for Theology & Ministry. This is a great initiative by Chris Barnett to promote some academic reflection on ministry with children. It was attended by about 75 people from across the denominations - churches and schools - and Uniting Church ministry candidates.
Marian de Souza from ACU spoke about "The spiritual dimension" of education. Glenn Cupit from UniSA talked about positive and negative influences on the spiritual lives of children. Due to an early flight home I missed the final presentation.
My paper was from the perspective of faith communities. I showed video excerpts from two inveriews that were conducted as part of my research. I invited people to think about what the interviewees were saying in terms of faith/spiritual development and children. I used Stephen Bevans' Models of Contextual Theology to help people think about how a leaders' or churches' theological perspective on faith/revelation and culture/context might shape its approach to faith development with children. ie. is there a correlation between these things and how they view and engage with the "world of the child"?
I didn't really have enough time (hard to do all that with video clips in 45 mins...) but I did receive a few positive comments afterwards.
It's been helpful to help me work through a bit more how valuable this approach might be for my ongoing research.
School holidays here, so it was good to have 30 people at Alive@5 tonight with quite a few away.
Our theme was "In Your Dreams". Last month we looked at the Bible as God's adventure stories, so it makes sense to spend a few month looking at "big stories" in Bible. We matched up the OT story of Joseph (featured last month in a game but the story got lost in th process) and a couple of bits of the movie "Up", which is of course is about dreams lost and found.
Arrival Activity - photo books and an invitation to find a picture of something that you dream of... cut it out and stick it on a page an draw yourself as the dreams.
Welcome, Song, prayer of thanks
Theme Intro - introduced the theme of dreams with Grace's remarkable "Tree of Evergreen Lucidity" picture from Year 12.(still hunting for a photo to post....)
Bible - The story of Joseph read with images from The Action Bible on screen.
Theme reflection - What do you dream for? TV and movies tell us that we can be anything we dream and that's a lie. God hopes that we can be our best selves. What is God's dream for our world? We're invited to become part of God's dream.
Our Alive@5 theme was "Listen!". It was actually about prayer: us listening to God and God listening to us. There were enough ideas that we will (obviously) do more on prayer in the future. Here's the rundown. As usual, it's far from perfect, whatever that means, but its ours. And as usual, we'd do it differently next time...
Arrival Activity A quiz of 9 mystery sounds recorded around the house. Two ipods plugged into Belkin audio hubs with a few headsets coming out of each. No-one guessed the MegaSketcher...
Arrival Video - "Space and Time" from Proost, looped. I wasn't sure how this would go in this environment but it definitely chilled us out. nice.
Welcome Theme intro etc....
Video - "Prayer" by Kore from the UK. A good intro I thought and the kids wanted to see it again later.
Song - "Praying" by Mandy Dyson/Treagus from "God Gives 4"
Video of the Lord's Prayer from the Gospel of Matthew DVD. (not a good choice, mainly because it's so brief. it was like a video blip of Jesus... We would have done better with a telling/retelling of the narrative).
Tomorrow night at Alive@5 we're exploring prayer. For the last couple of years I've written a blessing each month related to the theme of the evening. We close each evening saying a blessing together. Tomorrow night I'm giving out copies of these blessings for people to take home. When our girls were smaller, they each had a little box next to their bed with a bunch of little evening prayers printed and folded. They were mainly from Iona. At the start we'd hold hands (one twin in top bunk, one in bottom bunk, me sitting on bottom bunk) and say one of the prayers together. But they could also choose one and read it for themselves anytime. I like to believe they were learning about prayer. Anyway, here are some of our Alive@5 blessings. They're meant to be simple. They were all written rather quickly!
Blessing God Surprise us with unlikely friends Surprise us with impossible dreams Surprise us with acts of kindness Surprise us with unexpected visitors Surprise us with showering rain Surprise us with sprouting seeds Surprise us with your unconditional love
Bless us on the journey, God Bless us on the open road Bless us on the difficult climb Bless us at the dead end Bless us in the thick scrub Bless us on the mountain peak Bless us at the coming home Bless those who travel with us And everyone we meet
Tonight at Alive@5 we explored life and faith as a journey. It' s Lent thing. Dr Seuss, an inflatable bubble, stilts... Read on...
Arrival activity A big world map (blue, no country names etc) that we had printed for Interactive Christmas in 2011). People were invited to place a Lego figure somewhere they'd visited, and write a on slip of paper their name and the place). There was an option to make a transport vehicle from Lego. Lots of conversation around the map. Not much Lego-making.
On-screen Sometimes we play things onscreen in the background during the arrival activity. 1. Funny images of transport (really - Google "overloaded"), video of "Where The Hell is Matt?", and Adam Cousens' great clip "This Road Ahead". Overall this was a bit too much 'background noise". Another time I'd try to have the Adam Cousens' clip as something people could watch (but not in plenary).