Enduring Connections: Creating a Preschool and Children’s Ministry, Janice Haywood. Chalice Press, 2007. Written for the minister or layperson who leads the childhood ministry in a church, this book gives guidance for developing a ministry that builds connections—between a child and God, and between a child and their community of faith. The focus is on childhood ministry that makes a spiritual difference in the lives of children and families.

The Power of God at Home: Nurturing our Children in Love and Grace, J. Bradley Wigger. Jossey Bass, 2003. Wigger provides a biblical model and practical suggestions to help the family become aware of God’s presence in everyday life. He uses honest examples from his own family that open a window to grace and encourages parents to take a second look at their how home and faith connect in their own lives and encouragement to be more thoughtful and intentional in caring out the role of primary educators for our children.

Out of the Saltshaker—and into the World, Rebecca Manley Pippert. Inter-Varsity Press (USA and UK), 1999. How do we connect to the world and share our faith? Evangelism is scary for many. Pippert’s classic on the topic goes to the heart of what evangelism should be: not something we do, but a way of life. She provides practical, deep, insightful angles on any form of evangelism.

Reaching Out in a Networked World: Expressing Your Congregation’s Heart and Soul, Lynne M. Baab. Alban, 2008. As the world changes, especially in the ways we communicate, the church needs to keep pace in order to be relevant. The use of technology has radically changed the ways we form community and networks. Baab gives practical suggestions as to how the church can present its face to the world faithfully and effectively.

A Practical Guide to Community Ministry, David Bos. Westminster John Knox Press, 1999. How does a congregation best serve its own neighborhood? This practical guide for congregations and parishes addresses this question by reviewing the growth of the ecumenically-oriented community ministry movement in recent years. Bos believes the typical “community ministry” rising from that movement possesses three vital and energizing characteristics: it is congregation based and very local; it is a social ministry that sees issues through the prism of its own community; and it is ecumenical. He focuses on community ministry as a particular way of ministering to society, in which congregations of more than one-denomination and of a particular locality (neighborhood, small town, rural country) share goals and resources. Community ministry, in his view, is a local social ministry in which congregations minister in faith, hope and love to the neighborhood immediate to them.

The Book That Changed My Life, Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen, eds. Gotham Books, NY, 2006. In this delightful collection of essays on the transformative power of reading, our most admired writers, doctors, professors, religious leaders, politicians, chefs, and CEOs tell about the books that mean the most to them. For Doris Kearns Goodwin it was Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, which inspired her to enter history writing, a field traditionally reserved for men. For Jacques Pépin it was The Myth of Sisyphus, which taught him the importance of personal responsibility, dignity, and goodness in the midst of existentialist France. A testament to the life-altering importance of literature, this book inspires us to return to old favorites and seek out new treasures.

The Emmaus Readers, Listening for God in Contemporary Fiction, Susan M Felch & Gary D Schmidt, eds. Paraclete Press, 2008. Ten contemporary literature selections, brief author profiles, and discussion and reflection questions are arranged into eight chapters. Included are selections from: Flannery O’Connor, Frederick Buechner, Patricia Hampf, Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard and Alice Walker.

Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, Alan J. Roxburgh. Baker Books, 2011. The burgeoning missional church movement is a sign that believers are increasingly feeling the call to impact their communities, which is a good thing. But, says Roxburgh, these conversations still prioritize church success over mission―how can being missional grow my church? But to focus on such questions misses the point. Roxburgh calls Christians to reenter their neighborhoods and communities to discover what the Spirit is doing there―to start with God’s mission. He then encourages readers to shape their local churches around that mission.

Knitting Into the Mystery: a Guide to the Shawl-Knitting Ministry, Susan S. Jorgensen and Susan S. Izard. Morehouse Publishing, 2003. Knitters are part of a long and quiet tradition that is both plainly practical and deeply spiritual. With needles clicking, they weave together not just garments to warm the body but also comfort and companionship to nurture the soul. This tradition is flowering today through knitting ministries, a worldwide ecumenical movement of small groups of women who gather to pray and knit for those in need. As they create shawls for people burdened with illness and sorrow, their handiwork becomes an expression, not only of their love and concern, but also of the loving care of the God who works through them. The authors―a United Church of Christ minister and a Roman Catholic laywoman ―share stories of how the knitting ministry has touched lives and hearts around the world. They offer directions for knitting the shawls and for starting a parish or community knitting ministry. The book also provides a selection of prayers from many faith traditions to offer along with each completed shawl.

Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults, Robert J. Keeley, ed. Faith Alive, 2010. Faith formation doesn’t just happen—it’s a Spirit-led lifelong process of shaping and reshaping. In this accessible anthology, twelve experts share their perspectives on faith formation at home, in worship, in education, in intergenerational contexts, in people with developmental disabilities, and more.

Becoming a Church of Lifelong Learners, John Roberto. Twenty-Third Publications, 2006. Roberto writes from his experiences in Catholic parish ministry, but his insights are invaluable. He adds the critical component of lifelong learning that gathers all generations to learn together and nurture faith through the life-cycle. The companion CD-ROM includes PowerPoint presentations for each chapter, along with articles by religious education theorists who have been instrumental in developing a new paradigm of lifelong faith formation.

What it takes to be a BFF, Lynn Baab., youth studies, 2008. What role can friendships play in the development of our lives and our faith? Do we surround ourselves with people who give us courage to be the best we can be, or do our friends drag us down? The study points to understanding the significance of friendships in providing a “collective courage” to help youth rise above expectations of their culture, live out faith in hostile environments, and exercise faith in countercultural ways.

Be One, Lisa Nichols Hickman., youth studies, 2008. Is your youth group ready to reflect on its life together? Learn about our unity in Christ by exploring Ephesians 4:1-6 and discover how to reflect on God’s call for unity in the church.

What Community Will You Seek? Martha Miller., youth studies, 2010. Have you ever heard that someone “fell in with a bad crowd,” as if they were wandering aimlessly and one day they were drawn in to the first group that reached out to them? Far too often that is what happens when young people leave the security of high school and move out into the larger world. This session encourages young people to be intentional in their efforts to form new relationships and to ally themselves with new communities as they move into adulthood. Participants will explore the qualities one should look for when connecting to a community, particularly when living away from home for the first time.

Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block. Berrett-Koehler, 2008. Modern society is plagued by fragmentation. The various sectors of our communities―businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government―do not work together, but exist in their own worlds. As do many citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation: How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.

Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace, Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung. Eerdmans, 2008. Instead of regarding work as a diversion from the spiritual life, Stevens and Ung are convinced that it is an arena and an incentive for spiritual growth. However, they acknowledge that this is not without its challenges. The authors examine life in the workplace through an innovative exploration of both the seven deadly sins and the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. This approach provides a framework to reveal how the Spirit has given Christians powerful gifts to overcome struggles they face in the challenges of daily work in a globalized world. The authors interact with one another and with the wisdom of great spiritual writers of history in order to draw out real-life dilemmas and to suggest practical tips for becoming vibrant disciples in the workplace. The book also has an intercultural approach — the authors are from Canada and Malaysia. This is a small group resource designed for good conversations. It has helpful discussion questions and activities to help in exploring what the Scriptures say about the 9 to 5 and our other callings to work. This is a good solid overview of missional thinking and how our various labors matters to God.

We, the Epic Story, Laura Keely and Bonny Mulder-Behnia, Faith Alive Resouces. Trace the narrative of God’s story from creation to new creation with 10  intergenerational events. Gather your whole church to share a meal, experience part of God’s story through a drama or other activities, and talk and learn together around tables. Themes covered in this series include creation, the fall, Abraham, the exodus, David, Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ death and resurrection, the spread of the gospel, and the new heaven and new earth.

Websites Website and journal based on the work of John Roberto, an expert in intergenerational ministry. Intergenerational event curriculum Some intergenerational activities

Mary E. Speedy is a retired certified church educator living in Mechanicsburg, PA.