"I will pour down rain on a thirsty land, showers on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessings on your children. They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like poplars by a flowing stream." —Isaiah 44:3-4
The promise of God's blessings for children has been affirmed down the generations of faith from the time that God first promised to Abraham and Sarah that their offspring would be as numerous as the stars. Jesus not only welcomed the child, but asked everyone to enter into the eternal realm of God's blessings as children. Children are not only invited, but show us the way.
Children have the right to develop spiritually, intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally, and to live in conditions of freedom and dignity. Because children are powerless and often live with adults who are poor and have little voice, there is a tendency not to see or hear them. Too often, their basic needs go unfulfilled.
The United Church of Christ has a long tradition of affirming public policies that generate and distribute resources in ways that provide all people, including children, with the potential to live healthy and productive lives. The covenant of God is with all children of our nation and the world, not just with the children who share our church life.
Homegrown Faith and Justice: Conversations on Faith Formation at Home
What is the unique role parents and guardians play in the faith formation of their families? What are the joys and challenges parents encounter as they try to raise children with faith, empathy, a sense of fairness and the courage to act justly? How is the church supporting them, and how might we further support their efforts? Join us for this conversation with a panel of colleagues on the intersections of faith formation, justice advocacy, and the unique role of parents as the primary faith teachers of children in day-to-day life. Learn about Homegrown Faith and Justice, a use-at-home resource for families that's been published thanks to a sponsorship from the United Church of Christ Minnesota Ashley Endowment Fund.
Bullying and What We Can Do to Stop It
Bullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time. Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional.
There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly. As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying. Learn more.
Tracking Child Poverty
Our 2012 Message on Public Education explores, in depth, how poverty impacts children's performance at school.
Additional UCC Web Pages that Address Justice for Children
All creatures great and small, our loving God made us all!
NEW - Resources -- weekly activity sheets
S A F E F U N G A M E S
Coloring Game - Simply move the mouse over the screen to "paint" images. Try to make a butterfly or anything else your imagination sees.
Sparkle Stars - Move your mouse over the screen to see "stars" follow your cursor.
Random Designs - Practice clicking your mouse buttons to change the colors of the designs.
When you are finished with any of the games below, simply use the back left arrow (Alt + Left) to return to the previous page.
Drawing Pad - Simply use the pencil to sketch anything that you can imagine.
Matching Fruit - Match the fruit in this memory game, once they are all pair up, try again!
Marble Puzzle - This one is a little harder, hop one marble over another until only one marble is left on the board.
Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil is an annual fall advocacy and prayer project of the Family and Children's Ministries partnership of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This year's vigil begins on September 14th, five weeks before the National Observance of Children's Sabbath weekend on October 17-19 sponsored by the Washington DC based Children's Defense Fund (CDF).
This year’s theme is “Precious in God’s Sight: Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child.” The 2014 Children’s Sabbath focuses on how we can ensure every child a strong start in life by investing in early childhood development. Needless to say, these are rough times for children and there are numerous other issues relating to children’s health and safety which need our prayer and advocacy. A free worship, faith formation and advocacy resource packet for Christian faith community can be downloaded at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/faith-based-action/childrens-sabbaths/. Thousands of congregations from multiple faith communities unite during Children’s Sabbath weekend to simultaneously witness for children through prayer, education, and worship.
As usual, this year’s Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil booklet written by UCC and Disciples faith leaders and edited by Disciples pastor Rev. Tim Graves will be available for download at: http://lightacandle.blogspot.com/ or available on Facebook at: “Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil”. Light aCandle daily meditations can also be received by email or the RSS feed. Also available is a brochure with tips for implementing the Light a Candle Vigil in your congregation.
It is important to note that our Family and Children's Ministries Light A Candle for Children vigil and advocacy program and the Children's Sabbath Celebration is a part of a growing children's advocacy movement that seeks to unite communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.
If you are interested in becoming involved our ongoing United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) children's advocacy efforts please contact one of our three Ministers for Family and Children's Ministries including myself, Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly (email@example.com), Rev. Olivia Stewart Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove (email@example.com).
You are encouraged to use and adapt the Family and Children's Ministries' Light a Candle for Children Vigil and Children’s Sabbath Celebration resources in whatever ways you feel are most appropriate for your congregation. Remember, a congregation does not need to have children among its active members to be engaged in children's ministry!
Visit the Kids2Kids website.
KIDS To KIDS, a children's mission program that gives children in North America opportunities to learn about and serve children from other parts of the world.
Here you will find everything you need to create a memorable experience for your whole faith community. The program can be adapted for use in small or large congregations, in urban or rural settings with many or few resources and everything in-between. It can be held during the day or evening. It can be adapted for church school classes or other small group experiences including Vacation Bible School.
This curriculum is web-based so that it is available to all, free of charge!
Bullying happens at school. It happens at church. It happens in all kinds of communities, in fact in every community.
Bullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time. Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional.
There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly. As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying.
General Synod 27, July 2009, passes resolution to support LGBT students in public schools and their advocates. "Affirming Diversity/Multicultural Education in the Public Schools" seeks to create a progressive Christian witness in support of organizations that provide diversity education at school to build tolerance for all people, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families, along with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, social classes and faiths. The resolution was sponsored by the Northern California, Nevada Conference, where UCC pastors who provide diversity education and public school districts that include information around gender identity and sexual orientation in their curricula have been harassed by organized protests and lawsuits.
Staff across several ministries of the United Church of Christ have gathered together resources on this page from a number of points of view. Just as the reduction of bullying must be a collaborative endeavor, this page is our effort to bring the perspectives of several portfolios on the UCC national staff.
Resources from the UCC
- Bullying Is a Form of Abuse: Help Stop Bullying! by Jan Resseger, UCC JWM Minister for Public Education and Witness
- Short resource for use in workshops: What Is Bullying?
- Bullying: A Theological Reflection , by Ann Hanson, UCC JWM Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice
- Using Language to Abuse, by Rev. Loey Powell, Minister and Co-Team Leader, Justice and Witness Ministries
Information from other Organizations
- May 2013: From the National Education Policy Center, here is a short research-based brief, Addressing School Environment and Safety for LGBT Students, on steps schools can take and should be encouraged to take by churches and other community groups to make school a more welcoming place for all students. The recommendations are clear and very practical.
- April 2013: At its annual meeting the American Educational Research Association released Prevention of Bullying in Schools, Colleges, and Universities: Research Report and Recommendations. This document is far more readable than it sounds. It includes eleven pithy information briefs on different issues around bullying and harassment, each brief well documented and each providing information followed by recommendations. Good table of contents makes this more accessible.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opened a new website in the spring of 2012: StopBullying.gov. In 2011 The U.S. Department of Education also released guidelines "affirming the principles that prevent unlawful discrimination against any student-initiated groups" at school. The Department issued this guidance specifically to support the right of students to form gay-straight alliances at their high schools. "Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and similar student-initiated groups addressing LGBT issues can play an important role in promoting safer schools and creating more welcoming learning environments."
- October, 2010: Here is new guidance for schools and legislatures to develop laws and policies that protect the rights of LGBT students: Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation. This resource, from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, the National Education Policy Center, and the Williams Institute of the University of California School of Law, makes recommendations about improving school climate, reforming curriculum and teaching practices; recommends policies regarding iimproved climate in school sports; and even presents a sample draft bill that can be adopted by any state legislature.
- National School Boards Association “Dealing with Legal Matters Surrounding Students’ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” helps with issues like formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance, student rights around dress, curriculum and LGBT issues, issues around events like “Day of Silence,” rights around same-sex couples attending student events, and harassment of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The UCC Justice & Witness Ministries and 12 other organizations endorsed tihis resource.
- From the Safe Schools Coalition, guidance for schools and issues relating to LGBT Concerns.
- GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network GLSEN's website contains regularly updated materials on ways to stop bullying and harassment. Here are samples: Anti-Bullying Resources; Educators... Materials and Curricula for Educators; Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel; The Principal’s Perspective: School Safety, Bullying and Harassment; GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey; From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America.
- PFLG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, has published Bringing the Message Home 2010, an excellent guide for legislative advocacy.
- Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, SIECUS: 2009 National School Climate Survey Reveals LGBY Youth Still Face Significant Harassment.
- National Education Association provides excellent resources for schools including a School Crisis Guide; NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me Campaign; and A Report on the Status of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Education: Stepping Out of the Closet, Into the Light. This in-depth report grew from NEA's National July 2008 Summit on GLBT Issues. Here is a taste: "This report is about young people.... about our students—gay, straight, male, female, queer, transgender—missing school, underachieving, or dropping out. It's about student-on-student cruelty, which in our schools we refer to as harassment and bullying. It's about their parents and guardians and the communities in which they live. It's also about educators reaching out to students who are in emotional and psychological distress. And it's about all of our colleagues, gay or straight, being able to do the best job they can do... We are acutely aware that the conflicts over issues involving sexual orientation and gender identity divide American society—as well as American schools, which are a microcosm of our society." (p. v) This guide includes tips for educators, links to additional resources, and an extensive bibliography.
- "The ABC's of School Bullying: Tips for Parents and Teachers" is an excellent short practical resource from NEA to help adults intervene to stop bullying. Search the NEA's site for additional excellent resources.
- The Learning First Alliance, an alliance of the large, national educational organizations has posted this guide to the resources on Bullying of all its the member organizations.
- United Methodist Board for Church and Society has posted an excellent resource guide for a discussion on abuse and bullying. Appropriate for use with adults and adolescents.
- From Education.com: Bullying at School and Online: Quick Facts for Parents.
- National Association of State Boards of Education: What Works—and Doesn't Work—in Bullying Prevention and Intervention is a short, practical guide describing effective and ineffective strategies for reducing bullying at school. Cyberbullying defines this web-based behavior and evaluates strategies schools and families can employ to eradicate it.
- Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance, the journal published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has made reduction of bullying a regular feature of coverage to support non-violent conflict resolution. An important resource here is, Cyberbullying: The Stakes Have Never Been Higher for Students—or Schools, Fall 2010 issue, explores syberbullying, defined as "the repreated use of technology to harass, humiliate or threaten." The article describes strategies that can be taught at school and practiced by adolescent including on-line safety skills and strategies for students to use to reject digital abuse in their own lives.
Books of Interest
- Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies by Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman.
- Coming Out Young and Faithful, from UCC LGBTQ advocates Leanne McCall Tigert and Timothy Brown, and published by the Pilgrim Press, is filled with stories and information, including ministry and advocacy resources. It will help individuals and faithful communities open doors of affirmation, love, and commitment to the needs of LGBT youths and young adults.
- After 25 years living in Los Angeles, J. Kelly Poorman returned to the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. He helped his UCC congregation to become Open and Affirming and he has written a book and a play for adolescents. Check out his J. Kelly Poorman's website for more information about his books.
- Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History from Teaching Tolerance of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This film is the true story of a student bullied through middle and high school in Ashland, Wisconsin, a student who later sued successfully for federal protection of his right to be protected at school. The film's portrayal of bullying demonstrates what bullying is and what can be done about it. It is disturbing without being sensationalized. Very accurate portrayal of the target's suffering and the anguish of his family. The case is successful: a hopeful story of empowerment. Highly recommended for middle and high school use.
- It's Elementary is a wonderful film from Groundspark, formerly Women's Educational Media, that shows what happens when schools and teachers introduce the subject of homophobia in an age-appropriate way into elementary and middle schools. In every location and for every child from first through eighth grade, students know about this subject and have misinformation they have gleaned from peers and the media. The children experience a sense of relief to be allowed to discuss the fearful messages they have absorbed and to give up their fear as they separate myths and stereotypes from facts.
- That's A Family! also from Groundspark, lets children take viewers on a tour through their lives as they speak candidly about what it's like to grow up in a family with parents of different races or religions, divorced parents, a single parent, gay or lesbian parents, adoptive parents or grandparents as guardians.
- Oliver Button is a Star (now available for $5.00 from the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus) is the artistically stunning 56 minute video based on children's author-illustrator, Tomie dePaola's book, Oliver Button Is a Sissy. As dePaola himself reads the story to a group of children, it is musically dramatized by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus—spliced with childhood home-movie footage and current interviews with dePaola himself, arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, and make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin. dePaola's own illustrations are animated and spliced into the film as well. This video celebrates the extraordinary gifts of four children who were teased, bullied, and harassed because their interests and behavior didn't conform to gender-defined expectations. We also learn about their parents and other adults who were their allies.
Prayer from the Hibbert Trust, in the UK, including the following words: "Bullies' words sting and slice through me. Bulllies' words twist into shapes that beat me and leave me like a trampled leaf... Help us to disentangle the knots of confusion and misunderstanding. To understand the hurts that others feel - that we have ignored. Help us to speak of what we feel. Help us to know when others need to speak so that then we can l listen."
A LItany for Safety in Our Schools, by Rev. Bill Johnson
Written by Ann Hanson, Former UCC JWM Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice
The best known parable of Jesus, the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10: 29-37, is one that can be considered from many points of view. Didn’t the ‘man’ realize that the path from Jerusalem to Jericho was fraught with danger? Who were the ‘robbers’ and what motivated their destructive behavior? And the priest – what did he learn in seminary? Why didn’t the Levite, a worker in the temple, have care and compassion in his heart?
Bullying always involves three parties: a bully, a victim, and a witness or witnesses. We can see these figures in the biblical story. The bully has, of course, already done his work and has left the scene before we arrive to watch. The beaten man in the road is obviously the victim. In this story the focus is really the behavior of the witnesses.
The Good Samaritan demonstrates several positive traits when he cares for the beaten man. We want to plant these traits into our children’s hearts and minds---to help our children to absorb the truth of these words. The Good Samaritan stops; he cares for the man lying in the road. The story is an empowering lesson about our responsibility to care for each of our brothers and sisters. It is also a lesson that runs counter to what children may hear and see on the playground, in school, on TV or even at home.
In this story there are also important lessons about the inaction of those who pass by. The priest and Levite may be experiencing widely varying feelings when confronted with the man injured along the road. Perhaps one of them feels aversion. Maybe the other fears that a similar tragedy might happen to him if he remains to assist the man who has been beaten and robbed. Perhaps in the future one of these passers by will be haunted by knowing he did nothing to help.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan can be understood as a starting place to expose personal and societal forms of bullying. Is what we hear on the playground, in the halls of school, what we read on Facebook pages so different than what we see acted out by adults in abusive political statements or from the pulpit, statements of racism, sexism, homophobia?
Jesus asks the lawyer: “Which of the three, the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer answers: “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus says to him, “Go and do likewise.”
On any given day, about 70,000 children and youth are held in juvenile residential detention in the U.S., and an additional 10,000 are incarcerated in adult jails and prisons. Because of their youth, size and developmental status, they are especially vulnerable to maltreatment while incarcerated. According to Justice for Families, one in eight youths report having been sexually assaulted by corrections staff or other minors during their incarceration.
But incarceration is not their only connection to the criminal justice system. Children are twice as likely as adults to be victims of violent crimes. And an estimated 1.5 million children currently have a parent in prison.
Spending time behind bars can have a tremendous effect on the lives of young people. According to Justice for Families, 69 percent of families surveyed reported that it was difficult or very difficult to get their children back into school following a detention. Once in the system, many remain incarcerated or return on new charges. The Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates that within three years of release from detention, up to 72 percent of juvenile offenders are convicted of a new crime. The number of young adults aged 18 to 29 in U.S. prisons is more than 775,000. Once they exit the system, young people who have been incarcerated suffer significant earning losses compared to their peers who have not been incarcerated – up to 30 percent for as long as ten years after their release. This can be offset by good experiences with employment, marriage, and graduation from high school.
There is growing concern that too many children are moving directly from public schools into juvenile detention in a pattern so prominent it has become known as the school to prison pipeline. These may be students whose reading skills are so low in middle school that they fall behind and drop out as they enter high school. They may have fallen into sequential sanctions of zero tolerance discipline policies. They may be students who have never felt connected to any of the adults at school or who have never participated in a co-curricular activity.
We are making progress. In March 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished capital punishment for juvenile offenders. And in June 2012, the Court issued a historic ruling that mandatory life without parole sentences cannot be given for children 17 and younger who are convicted of homicide. The ruling does not ban juvenile life without parole sentences, but requires courts to consider each case carefully, taking into consideration the diminished culpability of children and their capacity for change. This ruling will affect hundreds of people who received life sentences for crimes committed as children, and their sentencing must now be reviewed.
Churches should be concerned about the children who feel hopeless or thrown away. Here are resources that will help you explore the entire continuum of the school-prison pipeline. Then we hope you will find a place where a group from your church can be involved ... anywhere along the pipeline.
November 2012: The National Research Council has published Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach.
The Equal Justice Initiative is a nonprofit human rights organization that focuses on children and the incarcerated, challenges injustices, and works for criminal justice system reform. It currently seeks to end prosecution of children under age 14 as adults and placing juveniles in adult detention. See especially All Children are Children: Challenging Abusive Punishment of Juveniles, EJI, 2012.
The Child Trends Data Bank offers information on children, youth and young adults in the justice system.
There are also several relevant UCC General Synod resolutions which offer more detailed background and discussion, including the Juvenile Justice Resolution (GS23-2001), calling for opportunities for alternative sentencing, education and prevention, and a resolution on Access to Excellent Public Schools: A Child’s Right in the 21st Century (GS23-2001), which led to the convening of the UCC Public Education Task Force.
On the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Read a New York ACLU Report, Criminalizing the Classroom.
- Read a report from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, Deprived of Dignity: Degrading Treatment and Abusive Discipline in New York City & Los Angeles Public Schools.
- Read the Advancement Project's Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track or Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track.
- Locating the Dropout Crisis from Johns Hopkins University, or Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance School Discipline Policies from the Civil Rights Project.
On Juvenile Justice
October-November 2009 Youth Criminal Justice Alert: The United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries has become part of an amicus brief in two important cases coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 9, 2009: Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. Joe Sullivan at the time of his crime lived at home, was mentally disabled and was thirteen years old. That day two older boys convinced Joe to participate in a burglary. That morning the boys took money and jewelry then left the female victim's house. Later that afternoon Ms. Bruner was sexually assaulted but never saw her attacker. One of the two older boys accused Joe Sullivan of the rape, which he denies, and the evidence against him is flimsy, at best. The two older boys received shorter sentences and Joe Sullivan's trial was held in adult court before a six person jury and lasted one day. At age 16 Terrance Graham committed the only offenses for which he has ever been convicted. He was an accomplice to an armed burglary and attempted armed robbery of a restaurant. Graham pled guilty to these offenses stemming from this single incident, and as part of a subsequent probation violation he committed as a juvenile, he was sentenced to the statutory maximum penalty. While these crimes are serious and merit appropriate punishment, they absolutely do not merit life in prison without the possibility of parole. Minors are recognized under all social conditions as persons who are not yet fully developed mentally, psychologically, or physically. To condemn them to life in prison is cruel, unusual and extreme punishment for these or any other crimes. The cruelty and inappropriateness of such sentencing is recognized throughout the world, and has been codified in human rights declarations for decades. Please Note: Joe Sullivan is one of only two 13 year olds who have received life without parole sentences for crimes which the victim did not die. Both of these sentences were imposed in Florida.
- 2012: All Children Are Children: Challenging Abusive Punishment of Juveniles, Equal Justice Initiative.
- October 7, 2009: Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
- 2009: From Time Out to Hard Time: Young Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System, Lyndon B. Johnson School of PUblic Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
- Check out the website of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, that offers policy analysis, guidance for program development and technical assistance.
- Read a report by Peter E. Leone and Sheri Meisel for the National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice: Improving Education Services for Students in Detention and Confinement Facilities.
Making Our Churches Safe for All, is a guide to help your church design policies and procedures to help prevent abuse of children. Additional resources are recommended in this guidebook, which can also be ordered in glossy, printed form from the UCC Insurance Board.
The web page of the UCC's Parish Life and Leadership is also filled with resources to support the creation of your congregation's safe-church policy. Contact your own church's insurance carrier if you do not carry insurance through the UCC Insurance Board.
One way to help protect children and youth from child abuse is to provide the ministry of human sexuality education in your congregation.
Your congregation can find further resources to help prevent child abuse and neglect at the Faith Trust Institute. Abuse prevention resources include a Teen Dating curriculum, "Love: All That and More."
Stewardship is a way of life for Christians, a spiritual discipline and approach to daily living that enriches our lives at any age. For children, simple concepts can be discussed and built upon as they grow older. Stewardship education begins with the understanding that God is the source of all that exists, and then we can explore how we are part of what God has brought into being.
An introductory educational packet for children is God's Gifts, My Gifts for use in church and at home. This resource packet teaches that God is the source of who we are and what we have, and is our model for being generous and faithful. Elementary-age children will have fun in class or at home using these five colorful and snappy foldout sheets with individual and group activities, including scriptural texts and prayers to reinforce the church; personal decisions, loving God, self, and others. Use for confirmation and new member classes. Set includes five active lessons: Share Love With Your Offering (available as a single sheet for $.75 each); Seek God with Your Whole Heart; Rooted in Love; Love is the Greatest; Dare 2BU. Set of all five activity sheets plus stickers: 1-10 set, $5.00 each; 11-25 sets, $4.50 each; 26 or more sets, $4.00 each. Item #SCCRS Call United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394 .
Younger children will especially like the interactive nature of Church World Service's global educational site, Build a Village. Children and teens can see how life is different for children in other parts of the world, using a site of the United Nations.
Responsible citizenship is also an important part of stewardship. Young people can learn about our democratic process at a site designed by Congress.
As children move into adolescence and the teen years, more complex questions arise about one’s place in family life and in the world. The responsibilities and joys of receiving God’s gifts are expanded to include more areas of life. Teens will benefit from the spiritual practices outlined at Way to Live, a web companion to the book by the same name, produced by the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. You can order this book.
Adults working with teens can find interesting information about youth trends and studies at the website of the National Study of Youth and Religion. The National Study of Youth and Religion is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The project researches the shape and influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of U.S. adolescents; identifies effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of the lives of youth; describes the extent to which youth participate in and benefit from the programs and opportunities that religious communities are offering to their youth; and fosters an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in youth's lives to encourage sustained reflection about and rethinking of our cultural and institutional practices with regard to youth and religion.
Churches are beginning to see their ministry role in teaching financial literacy to young people. Straightforward financial knowledge and practices can be found at the Kiplinger Financial News site. To help teens start saving money, check out the website of Youth Saves.
Financial habits are stewardship practices, and these sites will help families to consider their choices about spending, shopping, television use, and other decisions influenced by the media and advertisers:
Parents and church leaders will find all sorts of information and ideas for programs and activities at the website of the Youth and Family Institute.