Pick My Brain – Resources for Faith Exploration and Catechism

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

Every year, after Christmas, there is a season when many pastors become seekers.  And sometimes they even appear desperate!  Here is what they ask me:

“What’s the best you have on teaching Anabaptist history to youth?  How can I help new believers learn about the Confession of Faith?  Got anything new on Mennonite theology?  Isn’t there a DVD about….?”

You see, even though they are thrilled that youth have signed up for a Catechism or Faith Exploration class, sometimes even pastors need a helping hand in figuring out what might work the best.

As a result, I have compiled a somewhat massive list of books, DVD’s curriculum, websites, stories and suggestions for multiple approaches to learning on this very subject:  Resources for Catechism and Faith Exploration is attached to this email.  It is meant to be mostly comprehensive and fairly overwhelming.  It also represents why each year pastors turn into seekers…there is no one-size-fits-all perfect resource. In addition to specific resources, here are few of the best practices I have observed:

  1. Involve the parents.  They continue to be the most influential persons in the lives of youth with regards to faith formation . Communicate big picture / process kind of things as well as what specifically you are discussing with the youth.  Some of the assignments for the youth should include gathering information / stories from their parents on their own faith journeys.
  2. Focus on the student’s learning, not on your teaching.  Every youth has a preferred way they like to learn, and it may include art, music, meditation, conversation, field trips, research and reading.  Spice it up!
  3. Include Spiritual Practices each time you gather.  Don’t just talk about prayer, do it.  Help them feel comfortable with praying in a variety of ways…aloud, written prayers, silence, lectio divina, more.  The Resource Library had GREAT stuff on youth and prayer, youth and spiritual practices.
  4. Invite a Conversation Partner or Mentor to accompany youth during this time.  Provide specific prompts for regular conversation. Make sure there is trust and safety in this relationship.
  5. Help the youth to realize that Baptism is a symbol, a milestone, not a ticket.  (I will just let you ponder that one….).

Remember to look at the Resources for Catechism and Faith Exploration.