Thirty-six biblical practices can be explored over three years — and beyond
by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — “Follow Me: Biblical Practices for Faithful Living,” curriculum that’s meant for the entire congregation and will be rolled out in July, is “a big, bold thing. I’m excited to tell you about it,” Katie Snyder, who’s a certified Christian educator, curriculum specialist and POINT coordinator for the PC(USA) Store, told participants during an Association of Presbyterian Church Educators webinar Thursday.
“It’s curriculum that’s meant for the entire congregation, and I do mean everybody,” Snyder said. Follow Me focuses on 36 practices, with at least four sessions — six during Lent — devoted to each practice. Snyder defined practices as “what Jesus did, said and embodied, the things that Christians have routinely done over the centuries.”
The first three practices to be released in July are Follow Jesus, Welcome All and Confess. After that three additional practices will be rolled out each October, January April and July over the next three years, with the final three practices — Heal the Sick, Practice Gratitude and Speak the Truth — scheduled for an April 2024 release.
According to Snyder, many educators now believe that behaving leads to belonging, which in turn leads to believing. Thus the focus on the practices, Snyder said, citing a personal example: Snyder grew up in a church that allowed young children to participate in communion. Her own memories go back to taking bread and juice at age 4.
“I understood the practice was sacred and part of our faith, and that everyone else in the pews was engaging in the practice at the same time,” Snyder said. “Doing this thing helped me understand what being a Christian is about, and that I am part of a community that does this thing that makes us different from other people. Later I understood the liturgy. All those took root and grew into the faith I have now.”
The practices can be explored in any order, in person or online, in Sunday school classrooms, coffee shops and from the pulpit. “Pick and choose what will work for your congregation,” Snyder suggested, using two questions as a guide: “How do we worship with this practice?” and “How do we take it out into the real world?”
There are guides for young children, multiage children, youth and adults, a well as a congregational guide and adult reflection guide.
Each practice that’s being studied comes with a foundational essay written by a scholar who explores the different dimensions of the practice. Those essays “are the backbone” of Follow Me, Snyder said. Preachers can use the essays to help build sermon series on one or more of the practices as the congregation is studying that same practice outside of worship.
Worship helps are also included, one for each session. Those can be worship activities, hymn selections — even decorating ideas that can enhance the worship space.
Families “need support at home. The pandemic has revealed that to us,” Snyder said. Guides help families practice the practice at home, with conversation starters like “When have we welcomed people to our home?” or “When have we not welcomed people to our home?” Further conversation comes from photos and stories on topics like baptism, and families are encouraged to occasionally take a field trip together to, for example, an orchard to learn about gleaning, a practice that’s explored in the Book of Ruth.
In addition to the guides, Follow Me includes Infographic posters available for purchase and links to YouTube videos targeted at adult students — at least five videos per practice. “Our writers have agreed to share their personalities with us through these videos. They are short discussion starters,” Snyder said.
Pricing, which can be seen here, depends on which packages are purchased. A digital version for adults will be available via Amazon. Coming soon, Snyder said, will be a free preaching guide.
While Follow Me is not lectionary based, it is easily adaptable for hybrid use, Snyder said. “The curriculum scales and flexes to meet your setting,” Snyder said. “So much is available through the digital format.”
There’s no assumption, Snyder said, that the spot where Follow Me classes and discussion groups will gather will have wi-fi access. “We know not everyone has that,” Snyder said. “There are options for and options without.”
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