The Way of the Wolf: the Gospel in New Images

I recently signed up to do devotions for a group I am in.  When thinking about what I was going to do, a book I had used many times for devotions when I was a camp counselor came to mind. Despite having used it many times early in my ministry, I had not thought of Martin Bell’s “The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images” for years, but something brought it to mind.  “Rag-Tag Army” in the book had always been one of my favorites, and I thought it would work well for our group of Spiritual Formation leaders.  After sharing the devotion, several others were excited in that they had also used that book years ago, but hadn’t thought of it in a while, and others had never heard of the book before.

This little book has great stories that re-present the gospel message in new ways.  The short stories and poems open our hearts and minds to new and fresh ways of hearing Jesus’ Good News.  The group enjoyed the story so much that they asked if I could share another treasured story from the book called “Barrington Bunny.”  One of my own favorites has always been “The Porcupine Whose Name Didn’t Matter.”  The stories that resonate with me are stories of those who feel lost or insignificant, and how they are reminded that in the forest of God’s Kingdom, no one is insignificant or unworthy.

It’s amazing how often we put aside books that have deeply touched us somewhere along our journey, yet somehow forget about them.  I was reminded that sharing these treasures and resources with a new generation is a gift that we have to offer.  If you are interested in finding “The Way of the Wolf,” it is available on Amazon.

Rev. Karol Lewis
Director of Christian Education
First UMC, Cuyahoga Falls


Social Media Workshop

On Thursday, September 21, 2017 there will be a Social Media Workshop from 9 a.m. until Noon at Faith UMC in North Canton.  Rick Wolcott, the EOC Director of Communications, will lead us in a workshop focused on learning how your church can implement a copyright –  and Safe Sanctuary – compliant social media strategy using Websites, Twitter, Blogs, Photos, Music, Facebook, Videos, and more.   The registration fee is $5 per person.   Go to to register.

What Every Child Should Experience

This is a great resource available to us from Melanie Gordon through Discipleship Ministries of The UMC.  It was developed “to assist leaders and teachers of children in United Methodist Congregations in the area of faith formation.  You will find this guide useful in choosing and studying scripture, selecting and writing curriculum, offering parents and guardians useful developmental information, and addressing issues facing today’s children.”

Click on the link in the Blogroll to the right to download a PDF copy.

Media Center is a Great Resource!

The Media Center offers an extensive collection of worship, Sunday school, and small group curriculum, as well as equipment resources. Any church in East Ohio may join the Media Center for a once-a-year, affordable membership fee. The cost is based on the number of members in the joining church.

Media Center staff is available to consult with you to find the right media resource(s) for your program and/or group. These are just some of the items available to East Ohio members:

VBS kits
DVD players
LCD projectors
All videos in the Media Center are licensed for church use.

Resources may be reserved up to a year in advance. They may be picked up and returned either in person at the Area Center, or via mail. Ordered resources will be shipped to your church a week prior to the time they are needed, allowing plenty of time for shipment and review. The church would then return the materials to the Media Center via Library Mail, for the cost of postage.

For more information on how to use the Media Center, please watch these member testimonies or contact Susan Arnold. She may be reached by e-mail or by calling 800-831-3972 ext. 139.

The Media Center recently acquired the following resources:
• The Good Book; 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible’s Biggest Ideas offers a user-friendly guide to the Bible’s biggest ideas. By encouraging readers to spend just fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, reading key Bible chapters, Deron Spoo helps them understand the context and content of the Bible in a way that can open the whole Bible to them.
• The Daniel Prayer; Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations explores what believers in Christ can learn today from this prayer that forever changed the course of a nation. She shows how this type of prayer is one born deep within the soul, erupting through your heart and pouring out on your lips as the Spirit of God infuses the words with spiritual electricity.
• VBS Hero Central Super Starter Kit: Discover Your Strength in God! has everything you need to help your kids discover their strength in God and realize that they are God’s heroes!
• VBS Super God! Super Me! Super-Possibility! Starter Kit helps participants know that the super power given us by Jesus Christ is greater than any other power -imagined or in existence.
• The Committee; Pilot & 15 Episodes is a humorous, yet poignant, series that examines the struggles congregations face as they look toward a preferred future.

We are blessed in East Ohio to have such a vital and helpful resource!

Development Through the Lifespan

I get questions often about teacher training.  Folks are tasked with the job of leading this training and are looking for resources to be successful.  There are many great resources provided to us through our connectional system.  One such gift is the chart “Development Through the Lifespan” that can be found on the website.   This chart provides developmental characteristics in 12 different areas and covers from infants through older adults.  It can be used for teacher training, camp staff training, parenting classes – really anywhere understanding developmental characteristics will enhance the learning process.  Ask the participants to read down the column that pertains to them so they can see that the chart is well done.  Then have them read through the column for the age-level they are challenged to teach.  It provides a good understanding for them to make sure they are teaching to the appropriate level, thus making them more successful.   You can find the chart at the following link: –



So, we are all working on “making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  Discipleship Ministries has just released a new resource to help us in this task.  The initiative is called #SEEALLTHEPEOPLE, and the resource guide is titled Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A guide for Congregations.   

To learn more and download a copy of the the resource guide, go

Messy Church is growing in East Ohio

The Spiritual Formation & Christian Education Committee and CEF co-sponsored a workshop in February focused on Messy Church.  Since that time, Messy Church has been percolating in several churches around East Ohio.   Many are talking, planning and getting ready to launch their Messy Church.   Want to know more?   Following is a blog post written by Rick Wolcott, the Director of Communications for East Ohio Conference, that was written not long after the workshop.

Messy Church is Fun for the Whole Family

By Rick Wolcott*

Welcome to Messy Church, the fast-growing ministry that engages people and builds relationships with those who are not involved in a church.  It offers Christ-centered activities for all ages built around hospitality, creativity, and celebration.

“This is one of those programs that can help any church find new ways to reach beyond the walls of its building,” said U.S. Army Chaplain Jim Lewis.

Founded in The United Kingdom, Messy Church has spread to at least 3,500 churches across 20 different denominations in 30 countries.  In fact, more than 500,000 people around the globe take part in the once-a-month ministry.

“We have been doing Messy Church since October,” said Sherry Cullers of Heartland Crossroads Ministry, a cooperative ministry of four small town/rural churches in the Western Pennsylvania Conference.  “We’re seeing that it is bringing some of the lost and the forgotten into the church in a non-threatening environment.”

Cullers joined 75 other people at Faith United Methodist Church (Tuscarawas District) in North Canton on February 21 for the Messy Church Workshop, jointly sponsored by the East Ohio Conference Spiritual Formation Committee and East Ohio Conference Christians Engaged in Faith Formation.

“There are different activity stations all built around themes.  You introduce the theme and let them know a little bit of the story behind that theme, and they get to do some hands on activities and then come together for a celebratory meal,” said the Rev. Janet Zimmerman, director of Christian Education at Church of the Lakes UMC (Tuscarawas District) in Canton.

“The adults enjoy the crafts almost more than the kids do,” Cullers said.  “It’s encouraging to hear people sharing their stories.”

“I think it’s a great idea to interact with people who know the story and who don’t know the story because we have a great story to share about God’s great love for all people,” said the Rev. Kris Patt of Church of the Cross UMC (Canal District) in Wooster.

“Everybody needs a base and a good foundation for their faith,” said Emma Robinson.  “I’m 87 years old and I came to this workshop because you should never stop learning, you should never stop learning.”

Messy Church is designed to give local churches another way to connect with people in their communities.

“It’s not a program or social club, but a different type of church service with a strong focus on building relationships with families outside of the church.  It’s church that incorporates activities, art, reflection, prayer, storytelling, and fellowship,” said Kathy Schmucker, Spiritual Formation director at Faith UMC.

“Messy Church is a practice of hospitality and welcome that meets people where they are.”

“It’s a very fun, non-threatening way to get people involved, to build relationships, and to get people to hopefully want to learn more about Jesus Christ and to have a relationship with Jesus,” Zimmerman said.

You can learn more about Messy Church by viewing Messy Church .