Archive for June, 2013

Psalms for young childrenI love the psalms.  Here is a lovely book that makes the psalms accessible for children.  The author, Marie-Helene Delval, has captured the spirit of the psalms, and rendered them in language that is “prayable” for our younger saints as well as deeply touching for us older saints.  She includes the psalms of sorrow and lament as well as the psalms of praise and joy.  For example, here is how she renders Psalm 88, the most despairing psalm of them all:

God, please listen to me.

I am full of sadness, I am crying.

I feel lonely and scared.

Do you really love me?

I’m calling you, God.

Please comfort me!

And this is how she renders Psalm 8:

People are so small

next to you, God.

You put the stars and the moon

in the sky, and the birds in the air

above the cows and horses in the fields,

and the fish that swim in the seas.

You created all the beauty

in the world!

I highly recommend this book, and look forward to using it in many ways, including worship planning.

Psalms for Young Children, by Marie-Helene Delval, illustrated by Arno.  Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008.  ©2003 Bayard Editions Jeunesse as Les Psaumes pour les tout-petits.


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…and proud of it!

Do you ever wonder where the folks are who are enthusiastic about small church ministry?  I find myself wondering how many of us there are and where they are.  Here’s a blog that’s a gathering place and a source of encouragement for small church enthusiasts.  It’s called New Small Church, and its creator is Karl Vaters, a longtime small church pastor in California.

Here’s some of what led Karl to launch this venture: “I’ve read all the pastoral ministry books and attended all the seminars, just like you. And I’ve found great help from many of them. But, after a while, I started getting frustrated with the books and seminars because all the “can’t miss” principles for growing my church … did miss.

“My church stayed small.

“But it was (and is) a good church. And I was (and hopefully still am) a good pastor. So I started asking myself some questions about Small Church ministry.

  • “Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be like this?”
  • “Why can’t I find help to understand how to do that?”
  • “Why does it feel like I’m on my own, learning by trial-and-error most of the time?”

He went on to write a book entitled The Grasshopper Myth.  The blog builds on the book and is a way to make it a conversation and not just a monologue.  I read the book and recommend it.  This author is deeply respectful of congregations of every size and of those who serve there.  What’s the “grasshopper” in the title all about?  Check out Numbers 13:32-33.  You can order the book on the site, or access it from amazon.com.

Click on the website name above to explore.  And here’s a post Karl wrote that was published recently on Qideas: Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing.

Many thanks, Karl!

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Small congregations often feel their limitations keenly.  They look at other congregations that seem to have more resources and seem to be successful and think wistfully of what they could do if only they had more: more people, more money, more (fill in the blank).

Actually, it’s not just small churches that find themselves thinking this way.  Here is a TED talk about how our limitations can actually be a source of great creativity.  What if we saw our limitations as a gift from God and a call to creativity?  Thanks to David Lose who teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota for calling attention to this video on his blog In the Meantime.    Check out this video, and check out Lose’s blog.

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