Presbyterians Today

JUN-JUL 2018

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34 JUNE/JULY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay on social justice issues and asking the groups what they can do to make the world a better place. "We started two years ago with David LaMotte, a singer, author and peace activist, offering a workshop for all teens in our presbytery," Watts said. "We then followed up by using our group time and our retreats to study LaMotte's book Worldchanging 101. We even had a Skype session with him a year after he was here." Watts says the conversations among the teens have left her hopeful. Starting young Samuel heard God calling him when he was just a boy. David was young when he picked up his five stones out of the creek to take on Goliath. Jeremiah also was a youth when God called him to become a prophet. The Bible has a long record of calling children to be the change needed in the world. But how young is too young? Is there such a thing as age- appropriate missions? D'Angelo-Veitch offers this advice when gauging age-appropriate missions: "Listen to the children. Take your cues from what they are talking about, what interests them. Listen to the things they share with you that they have seen in school, in the news, on the street or in the church." D'Angelo-Veitch recalls that Third Presbyterian fifth-graders were once having a "cheeky conversation" about what would be the perfect class- room pet. After a lot of silliness, the fifth-graders began talking about animals available through Heifer International. Before long, the kids came up with the idea of having an auction to raise money to buy Heifer International animals. "If you listen to the children, they will show you what excites them," she said. Other tips Christian educators have when it comes to engaging the littlest of future advocates is to show them what serving looks like — and take them along to help. Little hands can stock food on food pantry shelves and carry a bag of clothes to a shelter. Again, the important thing is for the children to see the world beyond a church school classroom. Last year for vacation Bible school, First United in Salem created comfort bears for the local rescue squad. It was a project that captured the atten- tion of the pre-K group, Thetford says. "Our littlest ones were thrilled to be creating something for someone else," Thetford said. "Every day for five days straight they were excited to make more bears. It never became 'Oh, I have to make another one.' They would tell me of the ideas they had for how they were going to decorate their bears that day. Each day was differ- ent. At the end of the week, our rescue squad came with the ambulance to pick up the bears. The kids were so excited." At Culver City Presbyterian Church in Culver City, California, children look forward to participat- ing in the Big Sunday Lemonade Brigade, an event that raises money for a community emergency fund. The event was started by Big Sunday, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that promotes service and volunteerism at every age, says the Rev. Dr. Frances Wattman Rosenau, pastor of Culver City Presbyterian. At one Big Sunday Lemonade Brigade, Wattman Rosenau says, a dozen volunteers from the church's family fellowship set up a table on the main street to sell lemonade. To the delight of the children, firefighters from the firehouse across the street joined them for a cup of lemonade and a chat. Culver City Presbyterian hosts a service opportunity like the lemonade stand for its children a few times a year, Wattman Rosenau says, noting that it helps the children feel con- nected to the community. "They are full of questions about who we are raising money for and why do they need it," Wattman Rosenau said. "Our littlest Christians make a big difference to our neighbors." Whether it's stuffed bears, lemonade stands, pitching tents or creating blessing bags, when it comes to raising the next generation of advocates, Thetford observes that "all the hands-on tools that can be used, should be used." "We are creating a sense of empathy in our kids, teaching kindness and compassion for others. Memories of these mission moments they experience are seeds being planted," she said. "And we all know what can happen when seeds are planted." Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today and a rural ministry network pastor in Washington County, New York. TIPS ON RAISING MISSION-MINDED KIDS » Listen to what children and teens are talking about. » Invest energy in projects where kids' interests are. » Don't laugh off silly conversations; they can lead to a mission project. » Recognize mission moments in the mundane. For example, grocery shopping can open a conversation on hunger. » Engage in intergenerational mission projects. Modeling one's faith in action is the best way to raise future advocates.

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