Sharing Life Together – a new experiment in faith formation.
First question – Is this Sunday School?
Maybe. But probably not. OK, not at all. It is something different but the same. Some of the things we do might look like it, but there is more happening. Sunday School began in England when poor families were moving to cities and children were working in factories all week. Churches felt called to use Sunday, the children’s only day off, to teach literacy and basic education for those who couldn’t attend any formal school. It became a faith teaching ministry which grew to a peak in the 1950s, and while it is going strong in many places, for many the model of classroom learning is not working any longer. So if you are looking at how children and adults can grow in faith, Sharing Life Together will do that, but not in a traditional way.
Ok, what is different?: What is different is everything. The first and most important element is that we are not in a standard age-separated classroom model. Sharing Life Together is for all ages, from “9 months to 99 years”. We believe that we are better together and that all have something to learn from one another.
So our whole family comes? Yes. Some might feel more comfortable with family members at different tables and others might want to be together, but we believe the whole family having the experience of learning the same material and concepts will carry the things we learn into the week ahead. Families have precious little time together and we believe that Sunday morning should be a time for family.
What: Building connections and building faith. We sing some, share what is happening in our lives, and learn scripture together.
How: Church is a community of disciples, not a building or as a set of programs. By beginning with community, we all learn from the gift of the wisdom of our faithful elders, and we all learn from the gift of the wonder of our curious youngsters. We build relationships by sharing our stories of joy and struggle, talking about faith and reading scripture, playing and singing as we learn.
When: We gather at 9:15 and wrap up about 10:00 for our worship leaders to be ready for worship. You are welcome to stay around to visit or finish up a project.
Where has this come from? The ideas behind Cross+Generational ministry are ancient. Faith was not passed by pastors and teachers but by parents and grandparents, up until the 19th and 20th century. This is a return to an older model where the family is the primary place where faith is learned. Our friend Rich Melheim has pioneered many of the ideas we use, which are being done in many different places. You can learn a bit about that at http://www.crossgenlife.org . We also have been influenced by the work of Pastor David Hansen and his congregation, Spirit of Joy! in The Woodlands, TX. (the link is to the description of their Sunday Morning Cross+Generational faith formation ministry. Note: this is NOT the Spirit of Joy where Pastor Bauerkemper served before coming to San Marcos. That congregation, by the same name, is located in Seguin.)