June 11, 2013

A weekly communication for:

WDC Churches and Pastors

WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members

Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and

forwarded to congregational leaders and members.

WDC Sprouts is also available at:  www.mennowdc.org (Publications)


*Pick My Brain

*News and Transitions


Pick My Brain – Restoring the Saltiness

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation

Sometimes we need to go back to the basics.  In recent conversations with several pastors, I was struck by how they perceived their flock’s lack of prowess regarding Christian Formation.  Traditional classes were thinning, spiritual practices seemed rare, language for articulating Christian faith was sketchy.   As a way of moving them ahead,  I coached them:  Keep it simple, keep it basic, use language your congregants can understand, connect ideas and theology to real-time experiences, provide small and achievable goals. In short – go back to the basics.

It is common knowledge that we are in a Post-Christian, Post-Biblically-Literate Culture.  Could we as Mennonite congregations also be in a holding pattern with regards to our Christian Faith Development?

Hold on, my friends, there is hope!  There are proven techniques, there are loads of resources, there are peer groups, there are events, all designed to catapult us out of our doldrums.  And, there is the Holy Spirit, who is our constant encourager.

First a couple of excerpts from my presentation “Let’s Talk about the Future of Sunday School,” from 2011.

How to Disciple and Form Faith:

1.  Engage people in action that helps them learn new territory in a new way.

a.  Our senses are heightened when we are stretched .

b.  Connecting a new learning with real life experience is essential.

c.  When we are emotionally engaged with a topic, we remember it forever!

2.  Offer an environment of genuine love and respect among all.

a.  A place of emotional safety means that all are free to reflect on the meaning of the shared experience for themselves, as well as listen to how others might be growing.
3. Use methods such as open-ended questions to encourage folks to express what they are learning, observing and feeling.

4.  Prepare spiritual leaders who are grounded in scripture, and equipped with experiential learning methods.

Now for some resource suggestions – in DVD and print: (go to our on-line catalog at www.mennowdc.org)

DVD:   The Kingdom Way of Life: Restoring what it Means to Follow Jesus 

Zondervan, 2011.

From the beginning, the first disciples were invited to follow Jesus. How do we embrace the kingdom way of life? Presenters: Scot McKnight, Mike Metzger, Tim Keller, Jon Tyson. Session 1: Did Jesus preach the Gospel?; Session 2: Living the Gospel in Culture; Session 3: The Both/And of the Gospel; Session 4: The Transformative Kingdom; Session 5: Culture-Shaping Project and Debrief.

Book:   Creating a scene in Corinth: a simulation

by Finger, Reta Halteman.  MennoMedia, 2013.

Combines brilliantly designed interactive learning with first-rate historical scholarship to provide a group simulation experience. Any resemblance to life among twenty-first century believers is purely intentional.

Book:  The God-hungry imagination : the art of storytelling for postmodern youth ministry  

by Arthur, Sarah. Upper Room, 2007.

Arthur casts a new paradigm for postmodern youth ministry in which imagination and story take center stage. Explores the role of imagination and narrative in spiritual formation, reframing the youth pastor as the “resident bard” and both scripture and the church as “narratable” worlds into which youth are invited .NOTE:  this is great stuff for ALL ages, not just youth!

Book:  Sensible shoes: a story about the spiritual journey

by Brown, Sharon Garlough. InterVarsity Press, 2013.

Follow the stories of four women as they are drawn into a spiritual formation journey at a retreat center.This FICTION book is packed with christian formation stories, language and connected to “real-time” experiences.  See #1 above!

And here are some websites: 

www.yearofthebiblenetwork.org – your go-to source for digging deeper into Scripture.
http://www.buildfaith.org/ – an online Christian education community with consistently wonderful blogs
www.faithformationlearningexchange.net/  – the most comprehensive, research based amazing site out there!

And now some events:  (All info is on our website: www.mennowdc.org)

Year of the Bible Launch – 8 hours of Back to the Basics!  2 pm Aug 1 – noon Aug. 2

Shaped by the Story – WDC Annual Assembly – 2 pm Aug. 2 – 9 pm Aug. 3

The Art of Bible Storying featuring Michael Novelli – Sept. 15

“You are the Salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost it’s flavor, how can it be restored?”  Mt. 5: 13.
News and Transitions

Our sympathy to Marlene Bogard, WDC Staff, on the death of her mother, Irma Harder, on May 27.  A memorial service will be held on June 22 at 11 am at the Schowalter Villa Chapel, Hesston, KS.  Condolences may be sent to Marlene at:  mbogard@mennowdc.org; 316-283-6300.

Kevin Goertzen, Mennonite Mission Network Church Relations Associate and former WDC pastor, has accepted a call from the Springdale Mennonite Church in Waynesboro, VA to become their lead pastor beginning in September.

Lou Gomez completed his service as Pastor at Calvary Mennonite Church, Liberal, KS, on May 26.

Grace Mennonite Church, Enid, OK, has withdrawn their membership from Western District Conference.

Ron Schrag, husband of LaVerle Schrag (retired associate pastor at First Mennonite, Hutchinson, KS), died on June 1.  Condolences may be sent to LaVerle at:  rschrag2@cox.net
WDC Announcements

1.  What is “Year of the Bible”?

  • An opportunity to focus on the Scriptures for one year.
  • A way to nurture your Christian faith, growth and development.
  • Much more than simply reading through the Bible, although you may want to do just that!
  • Immersing yourself in new faith practices as part of a congregation, small group or individually.
  • For all ages, all abilities!
  • Filled with possibilities!

Year of the Bible is happening in Western District Conference!  Check out the website yearofthebiblenetwork.org.

2.  Please include this announcement in your June 16 church bulletin or email. (Attached are two versions of a Year of the Bible logo for your use):   A Buffet of Resources – that’s what you will find at the Year of the Bible Launch, Aug 1-2 on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton, KS.  Attend and network, get ideas, make a plan, engage in conversation and receive inspiration from dozens of leaders.  Teachers, parents, pastors, all welcome!  Brochures and info at www.mennowdc.org or your church office.

3.  Please include this announcement in your June 16 church bulletin or email:  Shaped by God’s Story:  Word and Spirit in the book of Acts is the theme for our annual Western District Annual Assembly to be held at Bethel College, North Newton, KS on August 2-3.  Our worship and learning will center on stories from the book of Acts, and we invite you to read it in preparation for our gathering.  Brochures and info at www.mennowdc.org or your church office.

4.  Most wanted:  Church Planting Dreamers.  WDC is looking for people ready to experiment, share creative ideas, and think outside the box.  For people seeking alternatives to church planting, wanting to connect with others, and willing to bless the non-churched people in their communities.  You are invited to attend the Church Planting Dreamers luncheon at the WDC Annual Assembly, August 3, 12 pm at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton, KS.  Register on the Annual Assembly Registration form, available in your church or online at: www.mennowdc.org.  (Note to churches:  you may use the attached bulletin insert to publicize this event.)

5.  Family Camp–for everyone!  Camp Mennoscah’s Family Camp, July 27-28, is back with an intergenerational flair.  There will be time to enjoy the river and the pool, a Family Talent Show and campfire, and we’ll worship together as part of God’s family!  The brochure is available at www.campmennoscah.org.  We’ll see all of you there–parents and kids, grandparents and aunts, young adults and youth!

6.  They’ve started!  Camp Mennoscah’s summer youth camps began on June 9 and this first camp is a riot! You won’t want to miss playing gaga dodgeball or swimming in the pool.  Our theme this summer is All Things New:  Look What God is Doing!  Find your registration form and other information at www.campmennoscah.org and see what’s happening on Facebook.  A grand time is ahead!

7.  Missing–one nurse, 3-4 kitchen helpers!  Thank you to everyone who has been so generous with their time and skills and are volunteering with our summer camps!  Camp Mennoscah needs a nurse for the week of July 21-27 and kitchen helpers for the weeks of June 23-29 (yikes!  This week is coming up soon!) July 7-11, and July 28-Aug. 2.  Contact camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 to let us know you can help.

8.  For churches using the Summer Gather ‘Round curriculum:  Marlene Bogard at the Conference Resource Library has a large compilation (3 dozen!!) of children’s books that complement the weekly Scripture passages and themes.  Contact her for access to these fine resources for worship or education:  crlib@mennowdc.org, 316-283-6300.

Kansas Announcements
1.  New Creation Fellowship Church Garage and Bake Sale–Saturday, June 22, 8am-noon (107 W. 27th, North Newton).  Proceeds will support Wes and Deb Bergen in their Mennonite Mission Network assignment in Ghana. Stop by to purchase gently used goods, have a cup of coffee and homemade cinnamon roll, and learn about the church in Ghana. Contact Deb at: deb.bergen@gmail.com if you have items to donate.

2.  Please use this announcement in your June 16 and 23 bulletins.  The West Zion Mennonite Church Concert Series continues with a concert on Sunday evening, June 23 at 7 p.m.   The church is located at 101 S. Washington Avenue in Moundridge, KS.  Featured performers include Jill Wiebe, harp; Christopher Shaw, organ; Rosewood Winds (a woodwind trio comprised of Amanda Friesen, flute; Valerie Klaassen, clarinet; and Kristin Kliewer, oboe); Jan Gilmore, vocalist; and Donna Stucky, piano.  During the concert, a free-will offering will be received and after the concert there will be a time of fellowship, with refreshments served.

Mennonite Church USA Announcements
1.  Next year’s plans tbd? There’s still time to apply for Mennonite Voluntary Service, Service Adventure and DOOR Dwell! MennoniteMission.Net/Serve

2.  Applications due by July 31: Anyone wishing to begin study at AMBS this fall must complete the application process by July 31.   Our new 80-credit-hour MDiv has two expressions:

  • MDiv Connect, which allows study from a distance with brief visits to campus.
  • MDiv Campus, which builds on the community living and mentoring at AMBS and the diverse setting of the campus for challenging ministry.

3.  AMBS Fall Preview:

Fall courses:
Browse the list of courses offered this fall

Anabaptist Short Courses: See a list of what’s coming for non-credit distance learning

Read about the experiences of students in spring Anabaptist Short Courses.

Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org