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The Session-at-a-Glance section suggests the duration of core activities for a one-hour session. Be aware of the flow of the session and maximize time for "teachable moments" as group interest allows. For example, if participants are intrigued by the story, "The Cellist of Sarajevo," because someone is taking cello lessons or comes from Eastern Europe, allow the discussion to flow. The ultimate goal is to encourage participants' reflection on and development of the qualities of our faith, not to be locked into conducting any specific activity.
A session isn't a race, and shouldn't feel like one. On the other hand, participants need to feel excited about attending and being part of the group. By meeting their need for challenge, physical activity, and enjoyable moments, we build a sense of community that will draw them into wanting to partake in the program. If the children don't come, there will be no opportunity for teachable moments. So, if a group is reluctant to engage in reflection and discussion, leaders may wish to expand the games or the artistic or musical expression activities to build community, at first, and gradually increase time for shared reflection and insight over the course of the Toolbox of Faith program.
A session can easily be expanded beyond an hour by increasing the games or expressive activities that you offer. If you have less than an hour, you may need to skip an activity entirely. For example, in the integrity session and with an active group, you may choose to leave out all of the expressive options (building compasses in this case) in order to invite participants to move about in the games to understand bodily what it means to go in a certain direction. This may help focus them on what it means to hold your own course no matter what direction people want you to go. On the other hand, a leader with a quieter group or a group that includes children who cannot meaningfully participate in movement activities may wish to omit the games and focus on the compass-building.
When scheduling the program, remember to include times for congregational traditions around holidays. Being part of the life of the congregation is as important as holding religious education sessions in the age group setting. Don't miss intergenerational services, such as Flower Communion. In addition, you may wish to schedule less formal mornings to celebrate themes such as winter holidays, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day.
The Toolbox of Faith program lends itself well to a retreat format. The tool theme could be used as part of a day-long family program which ends with building something for the congregation, such as a picnic table or playground. It would also complement a Habitat for Humanity congregation-wide program.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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