October 8, 2019

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)


*Faith Formation through a New Lens?


Faith Formation through a New Lens?

by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)

John Roberto is the founder of a nonprofit called Lifelong Faith.  He and his staff have consistently reached out to a variety of US churches in different denominations to learn about and share what vital faith formation looks and sounds like in the 21st C. In a recent article, Roberto challenged me to imagine the role of Christian Educator or leader of faith formation in new ways for our children and grandchildren.  Roberto is careful to note that Sunday School is still important for some generations, and that must be respected. But this isn’t the case for everyone.

Young adults, youth, and kids spend so much time online that we need to lead in creative, Christ-like ways from the perspective of where people are at.   He is passionate about faith formation and calls us to open our minds and hearts to how our young people are learning and growing today.  So much learning takes place on the internet, Roberto believes faithful congregations or groups of congregations will need to have a “Learning Architect, a Digital Designer, and a Curator of excellent resources.”

A Learning Architect will be that person or persons who recognize places where people in your congregation are spending time anyway.  This leader will deliver faith formation programming that suits our different daily contexts, for instance faith formation for the home, the workplace, the coffee shop, online communities, and more.  I haven’t heard much buzz yet about context-centered faith formation resources in WDC.  Maybe some of our congregations are using or developing these, but I have not heard much about this, other than a couple churches trying to gather community people at a local movie theater and having a “talk back” and “linking the film to faith” session afterward.

A Digital Designer is easier to understand.  This person or persons designs and posts content on a variety of digital platforms from a church website to Facebook to Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms yet to emerge.  Roberto calls this the possibility of “24/7 faith formation.”  Some of our younger congregations and church plants in WDC are already doing this, and leading the way for the rest of us.

Most of us know that we can look up almost anything on the internet today. This includes faith formation resources.  Not all videos, Sunday School lessons, or prayer apps are created equal.  The third faith formation position that Roberto imagines is a Curator of excellent resources. Thankfully we have a good start on this on our Anabaptist Faith Formation website http://www.anabaptistfaithformation.org/, and also https://www.lifelongfaith.com. Shana Peachey Boshart and others review each resource through a Jesus-centered, community-oriented, peace-loving lens before it is posted. In other words, we have our Curator for excellent resources already.  Maybe in this way, we are ahead of the curve.

Whether you agree with Roberto’s ideas for 21st C faith formation leadership or not, I hope they are a jumping off point for helping you and your own congregation’s faith formation group think and pray and dream together into the future.

Resource:  Roberto, John, “Guide for Developing Lifelong Faith,”  Vibrant Faith, July 2019.

WDC announcements

  1. Sabbath as Resistance:  Your worth is not based on how hard your work or how much you produce.  By taking time to Sabbath, followers of Jesus witness to the Reign of God.  Sabbath practice is opposed to the oppressive systems of the world.  You are invited to join Mennonite Church of the Servant, 2401 N. Woodland, in Wichita, for our annual fall series, Wednesday nights October 16, 23, 30 and Nov 6 from 7-8 p.m. “Sabbath as Resistance” is based on the work of Walter Bruggemann and will be led by Pastor Asia Frye and include sessions on Sabbath as Freedom, Sabbath as Resistance, Sabbath as Witness, and Living as Sabbath People. For more information, contact mcswichita@gmail.com.

    2.  Speakers on MCC Borderlands Tour: Mennonite Church of the Servant, 2401 N. Woodland in Wichita, invites you to a presentation on the spring tour of the U.S.-Mexican border area on Friday, October 18, at 7 pm. On the MCC-sponsored tour, participants witnessed conditions along the border, and talked to immigration advocates.  Dayle and Bill Toews are the presenters. For more information contact Pat Cameron, patcam@southwind.net.

  1. BBQ & Bluegrass:  All are invited to First Mennonite Church of Halstead’s Annual Hog Roast October 20 from 5-7pm at the city park Gazebo at 3rd & Locust in Halstead.  A pulled pork meal with fixings will be served and bluegrass music provided by Smokey Mountain Bluegrass Band.  Cost will be by donation.  Proceeds will go to Offender Victim Ministries in Newton and Mennonite Central Committee refugee relief/immigration welcome efforts. Bring lawn chairs.  In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the church at 4th and Santa Fe.
  1. Advent is coming! It’s less than 8 weeks until the first Sunday of Advent.  Contact (or stop by) the Resource Library for Christmas program ideas, worship resources, family Advent devotionals, DVDs and more!  crlib@mennowdc.org or 316-283-6300

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Fall weather has finally reached us, the dam is out, and we’re looking at recruiting for summer staff and Scrapbook Retreats in November!  Please share these announcements with your congregations and friends.  Thank you!
  1. Monster cookies, $5 tees and conversation!  Camp Mennoscah will be at Bethel College Fall Fest this Saturday, October 12, peddling monster cookies made by Leslie and Meg, bottled water or tea to wash them down, souvenirs to show your support, and a place to share your stories.  Stop by on your way around the Green!
  1. Fall Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats at Camp Mennoscah are waiting for you!  Sign up quickly to claim your place at either the Nov. 1-3 or Nov. 15-17 retreat.  These weekends are full of fun, fellowship, and enough time to fill your cup with craftiness!  Register online at campmennoscah.org!
  1. It’s summer time!  Camp Mennoscah will be recruiting for summer staff positions at Mennonite colleges and universities from November 8-14.  We’ll start at Goshen College on November 8, then head back to Kansas for Hesston, Tabor, Bethel, and McPherson Colleges for Nov. 11-14.  Come talk to us about a position for next summer!

Mennonite church announcements

  1. REMINDER —IBA BENEFIT DINNER:  The annual Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA) benefit dinner will take place Friday, October 18 at 6 pm at First Mennonite Church in Newton, KS. A smothered pork burrito dinner will be prepared and served by Chef Carlos Lujano. (Chicken and meatless burritos available by request)  Dinner is by donation. This is a great opportunity for a Sunday School class, small group or individuals to come to support IBA that equips Hispanic leaders in Mennonite Church USA for ministry.  IBA is a program of Mennonite Education Agency’s Hispanic Ministries for Leadership Development and Pastoral Education. For any inquires contact Violeta Ajquejay Suastegui at: VioletaA@MennoniteEducation.org or call 316-281-4342.
  1. Save the date – Bethel College worship and arts symposium focusing on multi-cultural worship – November 21-23.  More information at: https://www.bethelks.edu/academics/convocation-lectures/worship-arts-symposium.

WDC Sprouts announcement guidelines:  Announcements pertain to Western District Conference (WDC) ministries and churches, institutions with which WDC has formal relationships, and Mennonite Church USA agencies and ministries.  

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