Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life

Traci-SmithOne of my seminary colleagues from Princeton, Traci Smith, has recently come out with a book that I think many folks here may find helpful, and I wanted to give her the chance to share with you a little bit about the book. It’s called Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life and it is definitely worth checking out if you have kids and are interested in finding ways to engage with them and their faith. I’ve asked Traci to share a bit below.

Thank you, Adam, for allowing me to stop by your internet home to talk about a project that is very near and dear to me, my new book!

Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life, is based on the simple idea that faith is learned as it’s woven into the fabric of everyday life. The book is divided into three sections: traditions, ceremonies, and spiritual practices. There are about 50 practices in the book for all kinds of situations and families. There are ceremonies for life events like graduations and the birth of a new baby, traditions for holidays and every day, and spiritual practices that range from the very ancient to the very contemporary. Each practice is organized like a recipe in that it is clearly laid out with regard to age and steps to follow

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Progressive Youth Ministry Recap

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The David Crowder Band. Free swag. The Skit Guys. Chris Tomlin. Lights. Smoke. That was my first experience of a youth ministry event. I was right out of college, it was 2002, and I was in Sacramento for the National Youth Workers Convention. I went some of these during the first couple years of being involved in youth ministry, but over the years, it always felt like an odd fit for me.

I didn’t really connect theologically with much of what was happening, and I began to wonder what else might be out there.

A couple of years ago, I tried out a new youth ministry event, but found that it was much of the same, even though they promised that it would be “new.”

And then my friend and colleague in Chicago, John Vest, started talking to my friends Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt (JoPa Productions), and good stuff started to happen. It all culminated in the first Progressive Youth Ministry event two weeks ago at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago.

So for me, and I know for many others, this was, hands down, the best youth ministry event I’ve been to. It was a place where folks who self-identify as progressives (and that can mean different things to different people) could have the conversations that we want to have, could think theologically about youth ministry with others in our tribe, and feel like we weren’t constantly having to explain to someone why we weren’t going to do See You At the Pole this year, or take our kids to Acquire the Fire, or debate Romans 1:26-27.

This was an event in which we heard presentations on queer theory, death of God radical theology, sex and others that were asking thoughtful and challenging questions. Below are just a few of the highlights for me of the week:

  • Getting to see and meet so many wonderful folks that I’ve only known online. There were good people there!
  • An open space conversation I hosted on how to create an effective and meaningful youth ministry program and offer it to kids who are absolutely over-programmed (we’ll let you know when we find the answer)
  • Hearing Tripp Fuller PREACH on why process theology doesn’t suck. Seriously good stuff – would love to have a video recording of that.
  • Hearing the amazingly vulnerable and powerful testimony of Jeff Chu, an editor for Fast Company. It was recorded and it’s seriously worth 26 minutes of your time. You can watch it here.
  • Daniel White Hodge gave a really engaging and thought-provoking talk on the theology of hip-hop and how it has caused young black men and women to be portrayed in the media.
  • Also – getting a chance to see Tripp Fuller and the Homebrewed Christianity folks doing their thing, LIVE, was great.

The music was good, meaningful conversations were had, and I just think it was one of the best youth events I’ve been to. I’m glad it will be offered again next year, March 18-20, 2015, also at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

If you’d like to read a few other recaps of the event, check these out:

Below are some of the sketchnotes that I drew during the conference. If you want to see and download all of my sketchnotes, you can do so here.

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Sketchnotes from the 2014 NEXT Church National Gathering

384128_493133257373186_971370114_nI wasn’t able to attend the 2014 NEXT Church National Gathering this year, but was very grateful for the parts of the event that were livestreamed. I was even more grateful when I heard that the 2015 National Gathering will be held in Chicago at Fourth Presbyterian Church, and I will definitely be there.

There were some great presentations, though I’m sure that some of the best stuff that happened at NEXT were the workshops, conversations over meals, and all of the relational parts of the event.

It was fun to see some of my friends give some great presentations, including Erin Dunigan and her sharing about Not Church. She shared a quote from Peter Neilson who said that “We [the church] must be prepared to go where the people are…and stay there.” She was reflecting on how many times we church folk create programs that are an attempt to reach people “where they are,” but there is often an assumption that they won’t stay there. So, people talk about Theology Pubs that are successful, but then inevitably someone on the Session or Church Council will ask, “Well, that’s great…but when will they start attending worship?” (which is a really polite way of saying, “Well, that’s great…but when can we convert them into a giving unit?”).

What a difference that is to think about going to where the people are…and staying there. That’s what Erin has done with Not Church, and I imagine that is going to be a lot of what the next church is going to look like. Now, how that equates with a job where one can provide for their family…I’m not sure. But I think we’re going to see more of this in the coming next church.

I was also struck by a comment during a presentation by Jim Kitchens and Deborah Wright, in which they critiqued the “best practices” model of change in church. They said that when faced with adaptive change, best practices are things that worked great for churches that don’t exist anymore. And a desire to find the best practices out there and mold them into your context…well, it just won’t work.

Below are some of the sketchnotes that I drew for the parts of the conference I was able to watch. If you’d like to download a PDF packet of all the sketchnotes, you can do so here.

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