Transformation Stories

“Our experiences with Vibrant Faith Ministries have been infectious. We achieved the results that we directly worked for, but what surprised me most were the results that I didn’t solicit or even know about at the time. For example, across the street from our congregation is a senior residential living home. While we talked a great deal at church about reaching out to the community with God’s love, we emphasized very specific projects and outreach initiatives, such as the local food shelf. But, as is often the case, I completely forgot about the seniors living right across the street from our congregation.

Each year, our church hosts a pancake breakfast that brings in a great number of folks from the community. During this event, shortly before we were done serving for the day, the senior residents from across the street walked in the door. After they were served, I went over to the woman who was working at the center that day. I told her how much I appreciated them joining us. She looked at me and said, ‘It was the least we could do after all your church has done for us.’ I visit there occasionally, but didn’t think that I had really done much to reach out other than walking through the door. In my vanity, I said that I hadn’t really done that much. She said, ‘No, for the past several months, members of your church have been bringing treats for the residents every Sunday morning after church.’ I had no idea, but at that moment I knew that Vibrant Faith Ministries had helped make a real and lasting change to who we are and how we ‘do church.’”

Pastor Darrell Kyle,
Trinity Lutheran Church,
Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

“Our congregation has been a part of the Milestone Ministries for several years. One of the most powerful parts of the ministry was best stated by one of the parents who came to me and said, ‘Thank you, Pastor. When I come with my child, I’m no longer a spectator, but a participant!’”

Pastor Mark Asleson,
Dilworth Lutheran Church,
Dilworth, Minnesota

“The men’s group at church was on its annual golf retreat. The event allows each member to bring a non-member. This is not used as a means of recruiting new members, but simply as a way to enjoy good fellowship with others. On Sunday morning, an informal worship service was held out by the pool as a way of ‘passing on faith’ among the men. We used the ‘caring conversation’ that we normally use as part of our bulletin insert each week. This particular session had the men discussing the question, ‘Where have you received help from others?’ ‘Where have you felt God’s help in your life?’ ‘How can you reach out to help others?’ The conversations the men had were electrifying. Amazingly, the service continued as Sam, one of the non-members, suggested that in lieu of the morning’s lively conversation, the refund from the golf course (which each participant was to receive) should be sent to purchase stoves in Guatemala. This outreach ministry had been mentioned earlier in the morning’s ‘caring conversation.’ All the men agreed. Once we arrived at the golf course, another non-member, Mark, handed me $100. He said he was moved by today’s service and wanted to extend the help to purchase another stove in Guatemala. I’m not sure that a formal sermon would have fostered a better spirit among the men than the use of passing on faith through simple ‘caring conversations’ that allowed everyone to participate in a non-threatening manner.”

Pastor Tim Glenham,
Morning Star Lutheran Church,
Matthews, North Carolina

From Pastor Becky, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Hermosa, SD

Thanks for everything. People REALLY enjoyed the training events! It brought a lot of meaning to our Sunday milestone of the blessing of the backpacks! FYI — We began worship by saying the mission statement out loud during the time of annoucements — a simple way to bring focus.

Pastor Becky,
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church,
Hermosa, South Dakota

From Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village, CO

Rev. Dr. Paul Hill lives and breathes Vibrant Faith Formation. After years of ministry and teaching at the seminary level, he is now at a point in his career to leave a legacy of passing on the faith. Throughout our year of coaching, Dr. Hill helped us analyze the systems at play in the congregation with his non-anxious, objective presence and playful sense of humor. He always asks insightful questions, never making assumptions. It was obvious that he cared about each of us and took time to listen and pray. His insights were valuable as an objective perspective.

With our council, Dr. Hill laid out a foundation for Vibrant Faith which was compelling and inspiring. His passion clearly motivates people to move towards and embrace this model for faith formation. With his coaching, we made concrete goals to take the next steps in growing faith formation with staff and congregational members. Our young families have incorporated the concepts and are now teaching other parents how to model faith in their homes. Confirmation small groups are Four Keyed and youth are learning the language. God is moving!

We would highly recommend Dr. Hill for a coaching contract with your church. He will meet you where you are without judgment. He will inspire you to take the higher road and name God in all your congregation’s activities. He will ask you questions about theology and practice to lead your congregation into Vibrant Faith Formation.

Walking in faith,
Pastor Ron Glusenkamp and Pastor Ruth Ann Loughry

Recommendation from Faith Formation Coordinator
Resurrection Catholic Parish

Dear Paul,

I am pleased to recommend the Vibrant Faith Workshop to congregations and their staffs.

The mission of Vibrant Faith Ministries is to provide individuals, families and congregations with the resources they need to live a more vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.

Our Faith Formation Directors, Faith Formation Coordinators, Catechists, Pastors and Pastoral Ministers along with other parish teams we able to work with the Vibrant Faith team in a day long workshop.  The workshop provided us with an opportunity to recognize and mark faith milestones while demonstrating ways that we can expand our understanding of church to include our homes by supporting individuals and households to integrate Christian practices into everyday life.  This was accomplished through prayer, input, sharing, group planning, project creations, resources and networking opportunities.

Our goal for the day was accomplished, in that, attendees learned of ways they can expand their understanding of church to include the home, supporting individuals and households to integrate Christian practices into everyday life.

It is for all the above that we are able to recommend Vibrant Faith Ministries.

Prayerfully, Rosemary Baloun, June 1, 2010

LCMS attendee excited about Vibrant Faith Ministries!

Vibrant Faith Ministries works ecumenically and this is what we heard from an LCMS event attendee.

Paul and Jim,

I pray that God is blessing your day!

On Saturday, a group of 10 people from my church, St. James in Howard Lake, attended the Vibrant Faith Ministries workshop sponsored through the LCMS South District. Marilyn facilitated the event, along with Pastor Kinney from the South District. I don’t think I can adequately capture in an e-mail the impact of this workshop. However, I wanted to make sure that you were aware of how fundamentally important that experience was to me, those from my church who attended, and to the entire group of participants.

First, I want to make sure you know how BLESSED we were to have Marilyn facilitate. She was fantastic – smart, witty, authentic, affirming – she made everyone feel like they were important because they were beloved children of God responding to a call in the heart to embrace and share a vibrant faith. I really could not be more pleased with her – she was an absolute joy to watch – God has certainly blessed her!

Hi Paul! Last weekend was our first ever “Blessing of the Backpacks” in worship and it is certain to become an annual event. This was one of the ideas you gave us when we met last spring. It was a wonderful in worship to see teachers, students, school board members, support staff, etc. all gathered around the altar (with backpacks, lesson plans, etc. piled under the altar) and receiving prayer and blessing. And, the whole service wrapped around this theme. Pr. Jack preached on the Ephesians reading, “putting on the armor of God” and specifically encouraged our young people with those words. It was a wonderful weekend, a wonderful way of lifting up that life with God and everyday life are not two separate things! Thank you for the idea. We are grateful to be together in ministry with you!

Shelly Satran,
Associate Pastor,
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Florida

“In our staff meeting, we were reflecting on the weekend. Dawn was talking about how she did the caring conversation/Four Key piece in her education ministry meeting recently. One of the team members shared a story about how her daughter usually grabs a “busy bag” just as the sermon is starting. However, she didn’t do it last Sunday. When her mom asked her why she was just sitting there, her daughter replied, “He’s talking to me.” Mom said, “Who is?” Her daughter replied, “He is. The preacher. He usually talks to you. Today he is talking to me.”

There you go.
Go get a Kleenex and wipe those tears.
:D

THANK YOU,
Kristen, Bethlehem Lutheran

Vibrant Faith in Action at Grace Lutheran Church! (organized based on the Five Principles)

#1 – John is being confirmed this fall (currently a 9th grader) and attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering. He delivered one of the congregation’s temple talks during the stewardship response program. John shared about and thanked his church family for the prayers and financial support that made it possible for him to go learn about the wider ministry of the church.

#2 (& the 5 Principles) – Prior to sixth grade students beginning confirmation ministry, each student and his or her parents are visited by one of the pastors or the youth director. The purpose of the visit is to learn about the family’s faith activities and to invite/encourage parents to participate in their child’s faith education during the confirmation ministry. We also share activities and ideas to help parents discuss faith at home with their student.

#1, 3,4 & 5 – Youth who had attended summer camp at Lutheridge (confirmation camp) remembered the example of their counselors. During their time at the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, on the service project day, they initiated and led the singing of camp songs and skits. They also modeled the counselors’ caring conversations in their interactions with children during their service time of reading with elementary school students.

#2 – Each week, confirmation concludes with the “Final 15.” The parents join the students as the highlights of the night’s lesson are reviewed as well as important information about ministry events. Then, the families are given a slip of paper with a “Focus Question.” The Focus Question relates to the lesson’s theme and is for families to reflect on and discuss during the week. We try to equip them for caring conversations and to teach faith to their own children at home or in the car on the way home that night.

#6 – Sneakers & Squeakers (children’s group, grades 1-5) visited the state educational forest. The ranger shared information about God’s creation and trees and forest management as part of the summer’s theme: “God’s Creation Adventures.” Also, on these outings, older members of the congregation were “recruited” to accompany the group. These older (retired) members shared a prayer and faith story related to the topic or location of the outing.

#3 – Pastor Oviedo, who leads the Hispanic ministry at Grace, organized the children’s “Stations of the Cross” this year on Palm Sunday during Sunday School. He led it from the perspective of how the Passion and Holy Week are observed by Christians in Mexico.

Five Principles for Passing on Faith

#5 (also #1 Key & AAA adult) Walter is a study buddy with Dustin. Walter immigrated from Germany. Dustin is Hispanic and his parents are from Mexico. Walter has been Dustin’s Study Buddy for three years. Even during the summer, they meet regularly and faithfully almost every week. Dustin is now a leader in Sunday school, translating the teacher’s instructions into Spanish and leading some of the warm-up games/activities.

#2 (& AAA Adults) – Each summer, we schedule a lunch gathering with youth and our OWLS (Older Wiser Lutherans) group. Using table tents, we invite caring conversations during the meal. Afterward, we have board games and electronic games (Wii) scattered around the fellowship hall. The youth & OWLS spend about an hour playing these games together. Last summer, I was taking photos, observing and encouraging. At one station, several people were playing Wii bowling. I walked up and Tyler, a youth, looked at me with a surprised look on his face and said, “Pastor Greg, she’s kicking my butt!” Betty, the OWL, rolled another strike and said with a smile, “I bowl all the time at Carolina Village.”

Three Characteristics of Christian Disciples

We have adults write short, affirming letters to youth on mission trips and pray for them. Olivia, the youth, shared with the congregation one Sunday morning, that Carol had written her a note affirming Olivia’s growth in faith saying, “I saw you baptized, sing in the children’s choir, and get confirmed.” With surprise and appreciation, Olivia said, “This lady’s been watching me all this time!”

“This is our 14th year of including the home in the passing on of faith. At the end of our second year of Confirmation, we interview both the students and their families. At each interview, we ask the student if they wanted to change back to instruction with their classmates only or if we should continue to include parents/home members in the class? In the past 14 years, we have had more than 300-plus students go through these interviews and only three have answered that they would prefer just students. That shows just how important it is for parents to be involved in the faith formation of their children.”

Pastor Greg Williams, Grace Lutheran Church, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Their Stories Become Our Stories

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Hear how one family started doing family devotions after attending a VFM training!

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Vibrant Faith@Home

“We look forward to spreading the word about Vibrant Faith @ Home. What a fabulous resource with outstanding authors. I love the diversity and ecumenism! And, I also appreciate the ordinary holiness connections and practical tips.”

Linda Moses,
Holy Family Catholic Church, Diocese of Dallas, Texas

“I LOVE the summer ideas on Vibrant Faith @ Home. I cannot wait to pass them along to my young families at church. What a great job of making every day things about God! I’m very excited to try them with my children, too.”

Emily Dalen,
Director of Children and Family Ministry,
Mount Olivet Lutheran,
Plymouth, Minnesota

“The site is wonderful and features so many good resources. I will continue to visit and encourage others to give it a try. The materials are relatable and help our church meet people where they are in life.”

Roberta Balsewicz,
Religious Education Consultant,
Catholic Diocese of Joliet

“Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what will you do? Check out Vibrant Faith @ Home’s Facebook page and website for great ideas for families and people of all ages.”

St. Michael Catholic Church,
Bedford, Texas

“I searched the menu on the site and found many places where I can go and become energized. Thank you for your input. I LOVE the ideas on the website for families of all kinds.”

Irene

“Thank you for sharing the wonderful resources provided on the Vibrant Faith @ Home website!”

Cindy Twillman

“The Vibrant Faith @ Home website is such a wonderful resource for congregations and families!”

Sue Van Oss,
Director of Christian Formation,
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,
Duluth, Minnesota

“As a parent, I’m always looking for resources to help me live out my faith within our family. When I reviewed the Vibrant Faith @ Home website, I was astounded by the wealth of topics and resources there. Curious as to who was contributing and what ‘slant’ they may have doctrinally, politically, etc., I clicked over to the author’s page. I was happy to find a true variety of contributors from a wide range of denominational backgrounds, including a few female pastors (yes!). The site is all about experience, bringing families together through shared experiences and conversation, whether they are a young couple starting out or seasoned grandparents. I found, more than anything, that this site was big on encouraging thoughtful communication and intimacy within the family, something I highly agree with.”

Cara Sexton,
Blogger at WhimsySmitten!

“Vibrant Faith @ Home is a great website for families in all stages of their walk with Christ. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for encouragement and resources for cultivating a vibrant faith in their home!”

Eryn Hall,
Blogger at Mama Hall

21st Century Faith Formation Training

“The 21st Century Faith Formation program gave us the framework and tools to engage the world in a meaningful and effective way with the Gospel. This was a program that focused on what we can do, rather than the problems! Kudos!”

“The 21st Century Faith Formation program changed my perspective on my role in Christian formation. I gladly claim my new and improved identity as a curator and designer of faith formation networks. Thanks be to God for your wisdom, energy and insights.”

“While I felt I was knowledgeable about the trends and basis of Faith Formation 2020, the training program really gave me the understanding and tools to create lifelong learning networks, which I can use in so many ways. And, all of the tools and resources are amazing!”