New Year

How do we covenant with those new to faith?

How do we covenant with those new to faith?

“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

Revisiting A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition each year offers a sense of beginning and renewal in the world for those few suspended moments as we begin a new year. The task for us is keeping our commitments as followers, apprentices of Christ as leaders of the church. Discipleship always comes with a cost, and in these days of uncertainty, discipleship may become more difficult to live out and to share with those who are seeking. True Discipleship is a necessary way of living if we are to call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, and it “ain’t” easy (ie. Mother Theresa, Sojourner Truth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer). AND it is never too early for disciple-making.

Our children, at their youngest, are trying to figure out what to trust. Since they do not yet have the ability to speak or understand words, our actions as disciples help them realize who loves them. We may say to an infant that we love him, but if we do not feed him, hold him, change him, cuddle him, laugh and play with him, soothe him when he is hurting, nor look into his eyes, then that baby knows we do not love him. Likewise, by feeding, holding, cuddling, playing, soothing, and connecting through eye contact, a child will know love.

Children seek love and comfort wherever they can find it, just like those who walk through the doors of the church for the first time, or those we encounter in our work out in the community. Our covenant with God must go beyond words. Our actions speak the loudest.

Let us, by our actions, live into our covenant with God.




A Disciple’s Journal: A Guide for Daily Prayer, Bible Reading, and Discipleship 2016 by Steven W. Manskar

What Every Child Should Experience – Updated

...and the child grew

…and the child grew

What Every Child Should Experience – A Guide for Leaders and Teachers in United Methodist Congregations is a resource developed through Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to assist leaders and teachers of children in United Methodist Congregations in the area of faith formation. You will find this guide useful in choosing and studying scripture, selecting and writing curriculum, offering parents and guardians useful developmental information, and addressing issues facing today’s children.

Section 1 – A comprehensive guide to scripture significant for children as they develop cognitively and theologically.

Section 2 – Comprehensive charts that address the needs of children and the concepts they can understand at different stages of development around the beliefs and concepts of God, Worship, The Bible, Home and Family, Everyday Life, Community and Methodist Heritage.

What Every Child Should Experience – A Guide for Leaders and Teachers in United Methodist Congregations 

What Every Child Should Experience – Individual downloads by age 

Spanish and French translations are forthcoming! 


Communicating with Children

Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

So often I find myself in bleachers watching two very special little boys play one sport or another, and I am amazed by how much effort coaches and volunteers put into planning these games and matches.  There is usually excitement all around, and inevitably there are tears. The one thing that I see as a disconnect as one observing is the struggle for communication. Leaders really want to connect with the children, but sometimes the message is lost in translation.

I once witnessed a former coach who led the young players in a game of “Simon Says” but replaced “Simon” with “Jesus”.  You know I had to sigh… The coach told the story of how important it is to do what Jesus says. He used the text from James 1.19b “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger”, and lined the children up in three groups behind signs that read “QUICK TO LISTEN”, “SLOW TO SPEAK”, and “SLOW TO ANGER”, and then commenced to playing “Jesus Says” with these tiny athletes.

Coach: Jesus says, raise your right hand!

Everyone raised their right hands.

Coach: Spin around!

Of course most of them did spin around, so they were sent to the back of the line.

Coach: Jesus says, hop on one foot.

Most of the children looked around to make sure others were hopping before hopping themselves. 

It was at this point that I said softly to the people around me, “Do you think he realizes that Jesus didn’t say these things?” After a few naughty chuckles, we did what we could to follow the message. But, in the end, the message was a bit too complicated for anyone under the age of 12 or 13, and the children were having a difficult time keeping their right hands raised.

There were two things that crossed my mind. How often do we stretch so far to make a point with children that we lose the essence of the lesson? Why can we not just make our messages simple? I also wondered why the coach didn’t say, “Jesus says love your neighbor” or “Jesus says love God”. This seems a fitting message that children understand. I think that there are times when we take a simple message for our children and complicate it to a point that they leave more confused than when they came.

Although the Disciples frequently misunderstood Jesus, we have the gift of the written word to study and search so that we can share the simple messages of God with children.

BOOKS to share with children: 

God Created by Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones

Adam and Eve and The Garden of Eden by Jane Ray

Noah’s Ark by Jerry Pinkney

The Moses Basket by Jenny Koralek

Exodus by Brian Wildsmith

Psalms for Young Children by Marie-Hélène Delval

Let’s Make a Joyful Noise: Celebrating Psalm 100 by Karma Wilson

Jonah and the Big Fish by Sekiya Miyoshi

On Noah’s Ark by Jan Brett

Cain and Abel by Sandy Sasso

J is for Jesus: an Easter Alphabet and Activity Book by Debbie Trafton O’Neal

The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie dePaola

The Lord’s Prayer illustrated by Tim Ladwig