Monthly Archives: August 2015

As for Me and My House…

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)


The theme for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America’s 2016 Creative Festival is a good challenge for all Orthodox Christians to think about, regardless of jurisdiction. The theme is this verse: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15) This is a great verse for us to personally study and embrace. It is also a good verse for us to study with our Sunday Church School students. (Readers in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America will likely be studying this with your students later in the year, anyway, so this blog post can help you to begin thinking in that direction!) This blog post will help us to ponder this verse in context, and then think of ways to apply and teach it.

Study and think about the passage:

Take a moment to read the whole 24th chapter of Joshua to better understand the context of this statement of faith. In the verses prior to verse 15, we read that Joshua was reminding the Israelites of everything that God had done for them over the years. He told them to put away all other idols and serve only God. Then he made the bold declaration of his plan that he and his household would serve the Lord.

In the verses that follow, we read that Joshua carried on a dialogue with the Israelite people. As he was doing this, the people kept saying, “We will follow God!” and Joshua replied that God is Holy and therefore His people can not follow any other gods; only Him. This happened multiple times; it is almost as though Joshua was trying to talk the Israelite people out of following God; certainly he was testing their resolve; checking to see if they were sure of their decision. But the people insisted that they would follow only God. Finally, together they made a covenant to follow the Lord. They even set up a big rock to remind themselves of that covenant.

It’s interesting to note that Joshua didn’t force the people to follow God. He simply encouraged them to choose for themselves and then he set the example by choosing to follow God with his household. Orthodox Christian parents can choose that entire their household will follow God while their children are still under roof, just as Joshua chose to do with his family. But, in the same way that Joshua related to the children of Israel who were not in his household, parents cannot force their children to follow God once they leave home. Children are baptized into the Faith while they are young and parents can still set their course in the direction of the Church, but parents cannot force the children to continue in the faith. That has to be the children’s choice, and, God willing, it will be! So just as Joshua did for his fellow Israelites, let us invite the children in our care to follow only God for all of their lives. Let us lead the way by our own example, removing any idols in our life that could interfere with that complete following. While we follow, let us also keep reminding the children (and ourselves) of all that God has done for us along the way. Let us also remind each other that we need to follow Him without distractions. And the whole time, both when our own children or our Sunday Church School students are following Christ with their family at home, and when they have moved out on their own, let us pray for the children that they will always choose to serve the Lord!

Consider how to apply this passage (include your family, if you have children living at home):

  1. Study Joshua 24:15.
  2. Think about the verse and its implications. Consider questions such as these: In order to follow God more completely, is there anything that needs to change in my/our household? What are the idols – the things that I/we are allowing to be more important than God – that are keeping me/us from following fully? How can I/we really serve the Lord? What does serving Him look like in everyday life?
  3. Commit to serve the Lord with all of your heart. Make a plan for how to do that.
  4. Place a reminder, a “stone of remembrance” of sorts, somewhere in your home that will help you to remember this passage and your commitment to following God more fully. It could be an actual stone or perhaps an artistic rendering of Joshua 24:15.
  5. Serve Him!

Teach this passage to your Sunday Church School students:

  1. Find leveled ideas for teaching Joshua 24:15 here: http://www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf/lesson-plans-2016
  2. Find ideas (including a short skit, a craft, and a snack suggestion) that you can incorporate into a lesson on Joshua 24:15 here: http://cciog.com/cckids/kids-bible-lessons/alphabet-bible-lessons/a-as-for-me/
  3. Print this free printable to use with a preschool or early elementary lesson on Joshua 24:15: http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/Pages/BibleCrafts/BibleCraftsJoshuaHouse.html
  4. This lesson is written from a non-Orthodox perspective, but can be used to help Orthodox kids think about who they will serve, and how they can show that they are choosing to serve God: http://hannapublications.com/samples/WS106L12.pdf
  5. Here is a printable primary-leveled story of the end of Joshua’s life, including a focus on Joshua 24:15. The pdf includes the story and related activity pages. http://www.godsacres.org/ss.Joshua.Goodbye.pdf
  6. Find a lesson on serving God, geared to older elementary students, here: http://ministry-to-children.com/bible-lesson-serve-god-joshua-23-24/ and another, here: http://www.jesusisall.com/pages/ss/092406b.pdf

Resources for Orthodox Christian Parents and Teachers

Here is a list of many of the sites that the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education visits when searching for ideas and resources for our online ministry.

Orthodox sites:

  1. Ancient Faith Ministries: http://www.ancientfaithministries.com/

This site offers a mix of audio and publishing ministries to Orthodox Christians. Ancient Faith has talk radio, Orthodox Christian music, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, and even an online bookstore.

Podcasts of particular interest to parents and teachers include:

  1. Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education: http://www.antiochian.org/christianeducation

Our website offers a variety of links to online resources.

We also offer the following online ministries:

  1. AODCE’s parenting blog: https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/
    This blog consists of a variety of regular blog posts. The posts range from parenting ideas to book reviews to a featured saint and more.
  1. AODCE’s SCS teachers blog: https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com/

Ideas for Sunday Church School teachers are posted regularly on this blog. Blog posts contain lesson ideas, craft suggestions, classroom management and lesson plan guidance, and much more.

  1. AODCE’s Pinterest site: https://www.pinterest.com/aodce/

Find a variety of boards featuring everything from Orthodox photos to articles and resources to quotes from the church fathers to learning activities for kids on our pinterest site.

  1. Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America: http://dce.oca.org/

The DCE offers a myriad of helpful resources for parents and teachers. Here are a few:

Find focus units for learning about Pascha, the Nativity, the Orthodox Family, and more here: http://dce.oca.org/page/focus/

Find mini units here: http://dce.oca.org/page/mini/

See a variety of downloadable and printable bulletin inserts here: http://dce.oca.org/page/bulletins/

Find free printable activity books here: http://dce.oca.org/page/activity-books/

Find even more resources here: http://dce.oca.org/page/resources/.

  1. GOARCH: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/folder.2012-03-22.9458973042

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese offers a variety of helpful educational tools, including downloadable curriculum and many other ideas for helping children learn about the Faith.

  1. GOARCH’s Center for Family Care: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/family/
    Find support for Orthodox Christian family life at this website. It also features ideas for how to live the Faith in the context of family life.
  1. The Children’s Word: http://myocn.net/orthodox-christian-news/orthodox-christian-childrens-newsletter/

This OCN-published children’s bulletin can be downloaded and printed weekly. Each issue is free and will help children learn about the Gospel lesson of the week, or a saint, etc.

  1. Illumination Learning: http://illumination-learning.com/main/

This site calls itself “a collection of Orthodox Christian resources for family-centered catechesis.”

  1. Orthodox ABC.com: http://www.orthodoxabc.com/

Orthodox ABC offers printable pdfs that feature lessons on the basics of the Orthodox faith.

  1. Orthodox Children’s magazine: “Little Falcons:” http://www.littlefalcons.net/

From the website: “Little Falcons is perhaps the best magazine for young people in the Orthodox Church… it succeeds by being fun, educational, interesting, while teaching… Orthodox piety.” Each issue features an aspect of The Faith, including articles, stories, activity pages, and pictures. Many back issues are available, as well.

  1. Orthodox Children’s Press: http://www.theorthodoxchildrenspress.com/

The site states, “We are a publishing company with a desire to provide Orthodox Christian children with books and goods that strengthen their faith and love of the Church.” The site also offers simple craft ideas for Orthodox kids.

  1. Orthodox Christian Network: http://myocn.net/

The OCN was commissioned by SCOBA to be a media witness for Orthodox Christians throughout North America. The OCN features podcasts, blogs, vlogs, and more.

  1. Orthodox Education Blogspot:  http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/ features a variety of Orthodox activities that families and teachers can use to help children learn about their faith.
  1. PRAXIS: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/praxis

This Orthodox Christian professional educators’ magazine benefits teachers, Sunday Church School teachers, and parents alike. Some issues are archived and immediately accessible on the website.

  1. Phyllis Onest: http://www.phyllisonest.com/

Phyllis Onest’s website offers resources for Orthodox Christian educators, including sections for parents, teachers, and clergy.

  1. Various Orthodox parenting/teaching blogs:
  • http://www.orthodoxmom.com/ About the blog: “… a place where parents [can] meet and talk about all the mishaps and triumphs of raising children within the Orthodox Faith.”
  • http://manymercies.blogspot.com/ About the blogger: “…I am a designer & homeschooling mother; convert to the Orthodox Christian faith, making our home a little church. I’m bookmarking resources and sharing what I have.” This blog includes many free printables that can help children learn about their faith.
  • http://charmingthebirdsfromthetrees.blogspot.com/ About the blogger: “I am an Orthodox Christian woman who is happily married to an Orthodox priest. I am a mama to three little ones and I enjoy trying to create a peaceful and lovely life for my sweet family.” The blog includes many ideas of ways to help children learn.
  • http://www.creativehandscreativeminds.com/ About the blogger: “I have taught drawing, art history and history classes to children in my local homeschool community. This blog is a place to share some of the projects I have done with my own children and with children of various ages in the classes I have taught.”
  • http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/ About the blogger: “I am a mother to three busy children and a graduate of Pratt Institute (BFA) and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.)… I am thankful for the online chance to share Orthodox ideas to keep our children engaged and wish your families many blessings.”
  • http://craftycontemplative.com/ About the blog: “Orthodox Christian faith, family, and finger painting… This blog documents my struggle to create a home environment and lifestyle that leads my family to a place of prayer.”
  • http://orthodoxsundayschoolresources.tumblr.com/ About the blog: “This blog was created by a young Orthodox Christian girl from Greece in order to share with all the Orthodox Sunday School teachers and Orthodox parents material useful for a Christian education (Orthodox coloring pages, stories, handcrafts, songs, etc).”

Other (Non-Orthodox, But Useful) Sites:

  1. Crayola: http://www.crayola.com/

This thorough arts/crafts website offers art and craft ideas, free printables, and lesson plans. Parents and teachers will find this site helpful to use with children of all ages.

  1. Danielle’s Place: http://www.daniellesplace.com/index.html

This website is full of educational ideas, including crafts and printables. The site also includes a section on Bible games, one on Bible crafts, and one for VBS craft ideas.

  1. DLTK Kids (Bible section): http://www.dltk-bible.com/

The Bible part of the DLTK Kids website offers craft ideas and other resources based on the Bible.

  1. Family Education.com: http://www.familyeducation.com/

This huge site is filled with articles and helpful advice for a variety of family-related things. Of particular interest to the educational aspects of parenting is this page, which offers educational printables at so many ability levels: http://printables.familyeducation.com/.

  1. Help Teaching: http://www.helpteaching.com/free-printable-worksheets.htm

This members-only site offers thousands of printables as well as a test maker. Non-members can still use the test maker; but are limited to 10 questions per test.

  1. Kids Sunday School.com: http://www.kidssundayschool.com/

This colorful, well-organized Christian Education website features lesson plans, object lessons, craft ideas, activities, printables and more! Preschool and grade school leveled. Members of the site have access to everything; some parts are free to the public.

  1. Making Friends: http://www.makingfriends.com/

This website offers craft ideas (including making things from recycled items) and free reproducibles, including Bible-themed activities.

  1. Ministry to Children.com: http://ministry-to-children.com/

This website features lesson plans, object lessons, and printable coloring pages for Bible stories; all offered for free!

  1. Scholastic: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/ and http://www.scholastic.com/parents/

Each of these sites offers articles, lessons, and ideas on many topics of interest to grownups and the kids with whom they work. Information is offered at a variety of age levels, from birth to grade 8.

  1. Sunday School Kids.com: http://www.sundayschoolkids.com/

Sunday Church School teachers will find a variety of ideas, resources, and printables at this site.

  1. Super Teacher Worksheets: https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/index.html

For a fee, visitors to this website can become members and have access to thousands of printable worksheets. Some of the worksheets are available for free to anyone, however; and the worksheet generator is especially helpful for creating review activity sheets for Sunday Church School!

  1. Teacher Help.org: http://www.teacherhelp.org/bible_lessons.htm#.VU0EgpI4nTY

This website is a compilation of links to other sites that can be useful to Sunday Church School teachers who are teaching their students about the Bible.

  1. Youth Ministry Resources: http://www.teensundayschool.com/

This site offers lessons, activities, games, etc. for those working with teens. Members of the site have access to everything; some parts are free to the public.

Ideas for Classroom Decorations, Part 3: Bulletin Boards Based on the Saints

Prepare your Sunday Church School classroom by dressing its walls with bulletin boards and/or displays. These can act as teaching aids to help your students focus on what they are learning in class. The displays can be very simple or ornate: it depends on your time and abilities, as well as your students’ needs. This mini-series will offer ideas of ways to decorate your classroom with decor which is useful, yet will also enhance the learning  environment.

This third blog post in the series focuses on bringing the lives of the saints into our Sunday Church School room through classroom displays. A saints display can feature one saint or several. This display could change periodically, or stay the same (especially if it features many saints and you’ll be adding to it as the year goes by). It can feature the saint’s icon, objects related to the saint, snatches from the saint’s life, the troparion or kontakion to the saint, etc.

Ideas for Classroom Decorations, Part 2: Bulletin Boards Based on Scripture

Prepare your Sunday Church School classroom by dressing its walls with bulletin boards and/or displays. These can act as teaching aids to help your students focus on what they are learning in class. The displays can be very simple or ornate: it depends on your time and abilities, as well as your students’ needs. This mini-series will offer ideas of ways to decorate your classroom with decor which is useful, yet will also enhance the learning environment.

This second blog post in the series focuses on bringing the scriptures to light through classroom displays. Perhaps you wish to select and highlight a theme verse for the year. Or, if you are so inclined, reserve one display area/bulletin board as a scripture passage display that changes throughout the Sunday Church School year. It is up to you how often you change the display!

Here are a few resources for scripture-based display ideas. May they inspire you!

Clearly, these suggestions are only starting places. Base your classroom displays on what you are studying or whatever scriptures your students need to take root in their hearts and minds. If you’re not the artsy type, ask another member of the parish who is so inclined to help you think of ways to add scriptures to your classroom. Take full advantage of having the children learn in your classroom by adding visual displays that support what the students will be hearing and learning from you.

The following are display ideas based on specific scripture verses:

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Check out this display based on Matthew 5:16 (let your light so shine before men…) which can be put on the door to your classroom: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/7f/7f/68/7f7f68d60044b606d5f626d4000eba20.jpg

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Display Mark 10:45 to encourage your students to have a servant’s heart: https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/c56c3-img_4149.jpg

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Don’t have a bulletin board? No problem: create a display with a whiteboard. See this example, where 2 Corinthians 4:7 is directly written on a whiteboard, and then combined with individual clay pots (which your students could decorate). It is a simple yet beautiful display. https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/f9abb-img_2727.jpg
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Craft a Hebrews 13:8 display for your Sunday Church School room, using old calendar pages: http://web.archive.org/web/20130512030934/http://www.houstonpark.org/Bulletin%20Board%20Archives_files/image049.jpg

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Matthew 7:24 is alluded to in this display for the Sunday Church School room: http://web.archive.org/web/20130512030935/http://www.houstonpark.org/Bulletin%20Board%20Archives_files/image059.jpg

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Make a Galatians 6:14 display for your classroom about boasting in the cross of Christ: http://web.archive.org/web/20130512030935/http://www.houstonpark.org/Bulletin%20Board%20Archives_files/image069.jpg

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Isaiah 40:8 makes a great fall bulletin board for the Sunday Church School classroom: http://web.archive.org/web/20130512030936/http://www.houstonpark.org/Bulletin%20Board%20Archives_files/image073.jpg

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Here is a great display idea for the Sunday Church School room: a bulletin board based on Hebrews 6:19. “We have this hope as an anchor for our souls:” https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/cc/e0/e8/cce0e8f018ad37198f9fb880dc1ab287.jpg

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