Nov 30

Beyond the “Giving Tree” – an object lesson for the 2nd week of Advent

Giving-Tree-imageObject needed:

A copy of the book, “The Giving Tree.”

Theme/Main Idea:

Even when things seem hopeless, God gives us hope. When nothing is left of the tree but the stump, there is still life there… just waiting for the right season to spring up again. Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree, ends with an old man sitting on a stump and the “tree” is happy again… but the ending of the book is pretty sad, really! The story of Isaiah, in today’s passage, is MUCH more hopeful.

Presentation:

“How are you this morning, children? My object lesson today is a book, and I am guessing it’s one that many of you have seen or had read to you before… anyone want to guess?

[take time for children’s guesses… I’d be amazed if someone got it!]

No… though those are all good guesses and well known stories. The book I have [reveal book at this time] is called, The Giving Tree! Do you know this book? Oh, it’s really good. We don’t have time to read it all now, maybe later we could, but for now I want to point out how the Tree in the book and the boy are friends. The book moves through the story with the boy getting older and returning each time to take something more from the tree. At the very end, what is left of the tree?

[turn page to where the old man sits on what is left of the tree… now just a stump]

Right! Just a poor old stump. But still, the story tells us, the tree is happy because the “boy,” now really an old man, can sit on her and she feels connected to the boy once again. And that’s it. That’s the story… kind of happy, and kind of sad. But, of the stories I know that talk about stumps, and I am not sure there are too many, The Giving Tree is only the second best story. I know a better one. It’s in the Bible! It’s a great story… really!

Hmmm… you guys don’t look convinced. Maybe I better explain…

Do you know about Advent? Advent means “the arrival of an important person or event.” It’s the start of the church year, and throughout the season of Advent we recognize the coming of Jesus as a baby. We celebrate that particular miracle on what day that is coming up? Do you know?

[let kids respond]

That’s right! Christmas! So, Advent is the time leading up to Christmas… It’s a time when we look back on the Bible passages that foretold Jesus’ coming so we can learn more about the wonderful gift Jesus was to the world! In the passage from Isaiah that we read this morning, for instance, the prophet talks about the promise of a ‘branch’ that was going to come and save everyone. Do you know what God was actually talking about? Or, maybe I should say… Do you know WHO God was talking about? [kids guess] That’s right… Jesus!

Jesus was the branch Isaiah wrote about. That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? It gets a little less weird if you understand why God promised that branch in the first place.

Back then, the people of Israel were pretty discouraged. They had messed up big time, and they were suffering the consequences of some pretty bad choices. They had turned their backs on God and decided to do things their own way. It didn’t work out very well for them. So, like a big beautiful tree getting cut down, all of the ‘amazingness’ of being God’s people was taken away. They had to leave the places they were living and go live somewhere else. They were sad. They had gone from feeling like a big, important and beautiful tree to a lowly little stump. And, as they felt lowly like that stump, without any hope, that’s when God told them that out of that stump they had become a new tree would sprout! At first it would be so small, it would just be like a little branch coming out of the side of the stump!

Wow… incredible! When they felt their worst and felt like maybe God would just throw up his hands and be done with them, God gave them a promise. God told them that they would have a future leader, a great great great (you keep going on and on for a little while…) grandson of King David, who would help make them the type of people who are ‘right with God,’ close to him, and part of God’s family! That’s a wonderful promise to look forward to.

So, here we are in Advent, just starting out. Let’s remember how God kept his promise to send the branch—the seedling from the stump of Jesse (that was King David’s dad)—and that branch is Jesus, and most importantly… God still keeps all his promises today. In our own small way, we can help extend the hope that God gives us by supporting the work Intermountain does with kids and families.

We handed out change cans last week and have some more for you if you missed that (pass out cans to any that weren’t in church last week), and we’re hoping you fill them up between now and Christmas. You’ll hear a little more about Intermountain as we continue to move through the Advent season. But, for now…

Let’s pray:

God, thank you for your presence in each of our lives. Help us remember the promises that have come true and those that will come true in the future. Give us patience to wait for all the good things you promise to those that love you and place their trust in you. Help us hold out for the best, YOUR best God—for us, and for our church and our community. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

Key Text: Isaiah 11:1-10 (NIrV)

Jesse’s family is like a tree that has been cut down.
A new little tree will grow from its stump.
From its roots a Branch will grow and produce fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on that Branch.
The Spirit will help him to be wise and understanding.
The Spirit will help him make wise plans and carry them out.
The Spirit will help him know the LORD and have respect for him.
3 The Branch will take delight
in respecting the LORD.
He will not judge things only by the way they look.
He won’t make decisions based simply on what people say.
4 He will always do what is right
when he judges those who are in need.
He’ll be completely fair
when he makes decisions about poor people.
When he commands that people be punished,
it will happen.
When he orders that evil people be put to death,
it will take place.
5 He will put on godliness as if it were his belt.
He’ll wear faithfulness around his waist.
6 Wolves will live with lambs.
Leopards will lie down with goats.
Calves and lions will eat together.
And little children will lead them around.
7 Cows will eat with bears.
Their little ones will lie down together.
And lions will eat straw like oxen.
8 A baby will play near a hole where cobras live.
A young child will put its hand into a nest
where poisonous snakes live.
9 None of those animals will harm or destroy anything or anyone
on my holy mountain of Zion.
The oceans are full of water.
In the same way, the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the LORD.
10 At that time, here is what the man who is called the Root of Jesse will do. He will be like a banner that brings nations together. They will come to him. And the place where he rules will be glorious.

Nov 18

Operation Christmas Child 2016: Learning Empathy, Giving to Others

Recently we participated in Operation Christmas Child with the help of staff members who helped donate items for the annual event. The children had the opportunity to put together gift boxes for children in various places around the world. We spoke about how this gift might be the first gift some of these children would receive and how we can learn to be grateful with what we have been given, even if we know our lives are far from perfect.

Children took the opportunity to write letters to the children that would be receiving their gift, taking the time to pray for them as they did so. They were reminded that some of the children in Intermountain’s care have very similar stories to the children that would be receiving their gifts. Another great connection made by the children was one between our Fall series on the Lord’s Prayer and the work of Samaritan’s Purse. While reflecting on the line in the prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread,” the children remarked that it was great to be given enough that they could share with others!

What a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of very difficult circumstances, we can learn to be grateful and give to others something that might be an encouragement to them? Our children are an encouragement to me daily, and I hope that we can carry ourselves with the same attitude of selflessness and love that they are learning to express during their time at Intermountain. I hope you are encouraged to read a few samples of the letters our children wrote for their Operation Christmas Child boxes:

img_20161114_140518242_hdr img_20161114_140947868 img_20161114_141553418 img_20161114_143010832_hdr

Nov 16

A thank you to our supporters: FREE ADVENT MATERIALS!!

By Otets at lb.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16297772
By Otets at lb.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16297772

Once again, I would like to make available to you and your church free Advent children’s object lessons! While written primarily for a Children’s Sermon format, these object lessons could be used in a Sunday school setting, youth group, or even as sermon illustrations! Though written as a companion and a resource to couple with change cans, none of the lessons are dependent on Change for Children (CFC) participation! Our desire is that they would be a gift to you and a thank you for your support. If you choose to dovetail CFC into these lessons, it’s as simple as contacting us and requesting our prayer cards or setting a goal of numbers of cans returned by Christmas!

Click here for: CFC 2016 Children’s Sermon Packet

In my twenty years in children and youth ministry, the object lessons I have used for children’s sermon times have been a very effective way of communicating the truth of God’s Word.  Many of the adults in the congregation would tell me they preferred my children’s sermons to my “regular” sermons!  Jesus taught in object lessons and word pictures, too, so it should be no surprise to us that this method is highly effective—surely Jesus knew what he was doing and set an example for us to follow!

These lessons have been carefully crafted around the stories of the Advent season (Revised Common Lectionary, Year A) and how the message of God’s love for us in Jesus impacts our hearts and lives. I hope this resource blesses you, saves you time in preparation, and makes your workload a little lighter. It is my hope that our relationship will truly be a partnership of mutual benefit. As Intermountain’s Chaplain, I want to be a resource to you and an encouragement in your work with children and families. The children’s sermons can be found on the “Resource” page, as well as examples from previous years, should those object lessons fit better with what you are planning.

So, enjoy these lessons, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you and build a stronger relationship between the chaplain’s ministry at Intermountain and the good work you are doing in your church and community.

Chaplain Chris Haughee

Nov 13

Was Jesus’ ministry “trauma-informed?” [part 4]: Responding to trauma within the compassionate Kingdom of God

There is a movement taking shape across the country when it comes to ministry settings: becoming trauma-informed. I am personally invested in this movement and I am intrigued by the ways I see connections between Jesus’ teachings and trauma-informed ministry principles. In the first post in the series, I focused only the first identifier of a trauma-informed ministry: the realization of the widespread impact of trauma and potential paths for recovery. In the second and third posts, I examined how Jesus recognized the signs and symptoms of trauma in those he not only interacted with, but then became followers themselves of his life and teachings.

As a reminder of the full context of this point within the larger definition of “trauma-informed” practices, I will repeat the framework that is guiding this series. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the concept of a trauma-informed approach would mean that “a program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed:

  1. Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
  2. Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
  3. Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  4. Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

A trauma-informed approach to ministry starts with the realization of the widespread impact of trauma. Certainly, if a church or ministry is not aware or is in denial of the problem posed by adversity in childhood, toxic stress, and the effects of trauma on whose they minister too, it cannot properly address potential paths for recovery and healing. Secondly, churches and faith-communities seeking to be trauma-informed will be constantly growing in their ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in those they minister to.

Jesus knew the tremendous brokenness of the world, and he knew the power of the Kingdom of Heaven to address the needs of people traumatized by the evil of this world and the effect of sin. Jesus’ understanding of the fundamental failings of most human systems is clear in his critiques of both the religious establishment of his day, as well as the Roman political and military complex. But rather than just point out the failings of the system, Jesus suggested that a new system could be put in place that would result in the justice, equity, and safety that a trauma-informed society would want to emulate.old_fireplace_mantelpiece_-_annunciation_cathedral_toronto

Therefore, while a whole thesis or multiple books could be written on this subject, I want to address the third way in which I observe that Jesus’ ministry was trauma-informed: Jesus sought to respond to the hurt and damage that trauma had caused in the world by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into an alternative way of social organization- a “Kingdom of Heaven.” This present and future kingdom would be governed by policies, procedures, and practices that would reflect the principles of a trauma-informed organization.

These principles are:

  • Safety: physically and psychologically
  • Trustworthiness and transparency that builds trust and maintains compassionate connection
  • Peer support and mutual self-help
  • Collaboration and community that results in a levelling of power differences between those served and those serving
  • Providing opportunities for voice and meaningful choice
  • Individuality and uniqueness is honored—each one an individual, not a project or a category
  • Raises and addresses cultural, historical, and gender issues

For this first foray into the topic of Jesus forming a trauma-informed alternative to existing “kingdoms” in his day, I’ll attempt to focus my thoughts by looking at one passage of particular importance: Jesus’ interaction with Pilate in John 18:33-37,

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”(John 18:33-37, NIV)

Pilate, the fifth prefect of the province of Judaea, embodies the military and political might of the Roman Empire. He is familiar with the way that Rome governs—imposing “peace” through overwhelming military strength. Pilate, by nature of his position, was also familiar with the other significant rule in place over Judaea, the religious ruling and governing class represented by the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin—70 men who formed a supreme council, or court, in ancient Israel. These were the two main “kingdoms” in place that Jesus posed a threat to.

When questioned about his position in regards to these kingdoms, Jesus tells Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (verse 36). Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he has focused on what the kingdom is or what is like. Here, before the Roman authority, Jesus focuses on how the Kingdom of God differs: it will not use force or intimidation. It is a Kingdom that speaks on behalf of truth and truthfulness, and those who recognize that truth listen and respond in kind. Absent is any form of coercion, physical or spiritual.

Jesus represented a compassionate, not a coercive, call to align with a new and alternative “kingdom.” This principle of non-violence in the face of oppression was as radical then as it is today. Jesus understood that any peace enforced by the threat of violence would never provide the sense of safety and security the human soul longs for. Jesus is completely transparent and trustworthy, a leader of integrity that guides his followers by his example and willingness to sacrifice position and power to place himself in the role of servant and messenger of the truth. In this way, Jesus serves as the ultimate example of one who created a community where power was shared equality and equitably. Jesus gave a voice to those without a voice—the marginalized and the overlooked. His desire to build an inclusive and accepting community placed him in the crosshairs of the religious elite, those who would label him a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus raised cultural, historical and gender issues that still reverberate through the church two thousand years later!

One may argue how well the Church exhibits the qualities of the compassionate Kingdom of God that Jesus ushered in with his ministry, but that fault lies with us—Jesus’ followers—and not with his teaching or personal example. In future posts, I hope to example a few of Jesus’ specific teachings on the compassionate Kingdom of God for further evidence that Jesus intends for that Kingdom—embodied by the Church—to be trauma-informed.

 

© Chaplain Chris Haughee, 2016

Nov 10

A message for Veteran’s Day from one of our children

patriotic-thank-you
“Thank you for helping Intermountain. It’s helping kids. God bless you.” -an Intermountain child.

As we remember those who have served in our armed forces this Veteran’s Day, Intermountain and the Chaplain’s Department wants all our supporters–but especially veterans–to know that we recognize ALL the sacrifices you have made to make a better future for the children and families we serve! Our children in residential care, as well as the many children Intermountain serves through its community based services, are working hard for freedom from shame, negative self-image, substance abuse, and darkness in their past.

It’s a difficult work, but they are doing it with God’s help and the care of parents, foster parents, case workers, therapists, counselors, and more. We are free to do this work because we live in a country that values and fights for all its citizens to experience “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

 

Just as our veterans have been willing to lay down their lives and sacrifice their comforts in order to fight for the freedoms all Americans enjoy, we at Intermountain endeavor to sacrifice what we must in order to redeem the hearts, minds, and souls of children. As God has blessed us and blessed America, we are working together to make that blessing a reality for EVERY child in our midst.

Thank you,

Chaplain Chris Haughee

Nov 08

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association supports the chapel effort!

eddie-george-reads-poem

Eddie George reads his original poem, “Intermountain’s Common Place”

At the invitation of Doris Davis, an Intermountain volunteer, Chaplain Chris spoke November 8th to Helena’s local NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees) Association at their monthly luncheon, hosted by Plymouth Congregational Church. Many of the retirees had known of Intermountain’s work, but appreciated getting a better picture of the scope of services and the number of children served.

The lunch was a wonderful turkey dinner prepared by the various members of the group, and a number of members commented and shared stories of times they had interacted with Intermountain’s services and children in the past. Of course, many knew the Children’s Home as “the Deac’,” and were unaware of the chaplain’s ministry and the expanded community services in the Helena area as well as the Flathead.

An especially touching moment was shared between the group and chaplain Chris when group member and accomplished poet, Eddie George, shared an original poem he had written. The poem was entitled “Intermountain’s Common Place,” and was inspired by the effort to build Van Orsdel Commons, a permanent home on the Helena campus for chapel services and spiritual care of the children in residence. The poem appears here with his permission:

 

“Intermountain’s Common Place” by Eddie George; October 15, 2016

To rest the body and feed the soul

In a place of peace, that would be our goal.

To let the body be quite still,

Give peace to the mind to receive God’s will.

Build a place of Commons, we think is best

Where a child can find some peace and rest

To open their mind to God’s teaching way

To fill their heart with the joy of each day.

We think the cost would be quite small

For the peace to be found in Intermountain’s Common Hall.

Please help us raise this small amount

To bring peace and comfort to the children who count.

doris

Doris Davis explains to the group various ways she is hoping the group can raise money for the chapel project

 poem-by-eddie-george

Those who wish to give to the chapel project can do so here:

HELP BUILD VAN ORSDEL COMMONS!

Nov 01

“Days of Awe: Looking inward, taking account” by Janet Tatz, Jewish Educator

[note: this article first appeared in the print and online edition of the Helena Independent Record on Saturday, October 15, 2016]

I have just returned home after spending 25 hours in Butte, at the historic B’nai Israel synagogue. I was celebrating Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish year. This day is filled with communal prayer, fasting and contemplation.Janet-Tatz-2015

It is a “bookend” to Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, that preceded Yom Kippur by 10 days. Indeed, the entire month of Elul, which precedes the current month of Tishrei, is a lead-up and preparation for these most holy and soul-searching days.

I have long felt that autumn — with its colorful foliage, dramatic change of weather, back-to-school-agenda and fall harvest — was the perfect time to welcome and acknowledge a New Year. The seasons and our routines are changing. It is a fitting time to look inward and take account of how we have lived our lives, acted in relationship to others and worked toward making the world a better place. It is not enough to just attend synagogue on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Much preparation is in order, and so each day of Elul provides an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by, to give an honest assessment of how we have taken to heart the promises and good intentions that we set forth for ourselves the previous year. It is a tradition to sound the shofar, a ram’s horn, each morning during the month of Elul. For those who adhere to this practice, a wake-up call is clearly heard.

As Laurie Franklin, spiritual leader of Har Shalom (Mountain of Peace) in Missoula recently taught, it is a powerful statement that one of the Jewish morning prayers begins, “My G-d, the soul you have placed in me is pure.” It expresses the belief that we are fundamentally holy. But alas, as the rest of the day unfolds, we make choices that are good or, perhaps, not so good. As days, weeks and months pass, the holy spark within us shines less brightly, dulled by the accumulation of our very human mistakes.

And that is where Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur come in. With great wisdom, Torah and sages of Judaism gave us a path back to our higher selves. That path is called “tshuvah” (CHOO-vah) which means “return.” It is a renewal of spirit, a repairing of relationships between people, G-d and the earth. This isn’t easy. It is difficult to admit we have “missed the mark,” gone astray, not lived up to our highest ideals. It is not easy to say, “I am sorry,” to ask forgiveness and make amends. And, of course, it is not enough to simply apologize for a wrong that needs righting. The true test of one’s sincerity is that, when presented with the same temptation that led us astray in the past, we resist that path. Actions truly speak louder than words.

Rather than confess our transgressions and missteps individually, on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the congregation rises as one to proclaim where we have “missed the mark.” We speak as one voice as we ask forgiveness for such sins as: distorting facts to fit our theories, turning a deaf ear to the cry of the oppressed, using violence to bring about change, appeasing aggressors, indifference, poisoning the air and polluting land and sea. Together, we ask G-d to forgive us, pardon us and grant us atonement.

The list goes on and on and is repeated several times throughout the day: For the sin we have committed against You by malicious gossip, gluttony, narrow-mindedness, hating without cause, fraud and falsehood, arrogance, insolence, hypocrisy, exploiting the weak … You get the idea. In so many ways, try as we might, we have not lived up to our better selves. Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur serve as an annual “reset” to help us try once again to live up to the high ideals and values we hold most dear.

One prayer, that I especially love, and that is recited not only at this most holy time of year, but can be heard in synagogues around the world each week, as we celebrate the Sabbath, a time for setting aside our busy work days and allowing for a time of “being instead of doing” rings true each time I hear the words: Grant us peace, Your most precious gift, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all peoples of the earth. Bless our country, that it may always be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate among the nations. May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes. Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands. Teach us to labor for righteousness and inscribe us in the Book of life, blessing and peace.

May it be so.

Oct 20

One girl’s mask – from a lesson at chapel

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”

–1 Samuel 16:7

Every October, I have an excellent opportunity to talk with the kids in chapel about the masks we wear and how God sees through it all and sees who we are underneath the façade. The lesson usually goes something like this…

“One night every year in America, people encourage each other to put on masks and costumes and go around looking for candy by knocking on doors! Do you know what this night is called? Right…

On one side, the mask reads: (fake) happy, perfect, excited. On the other: suicidal, sad, mad, hurt

On one side, the mask reads: (fake) happy, perfect, excited. On the other: suicidal, sad, mad, hurt

Halloween!

These costumes and masks are a lot of fun. Maybe a little mischief gets thrown in… something gets ‘egged’ or a house is adorned with toilet paper. But, for the most part, these ‘tricks’ are accepted as part of the tradition associated with October 31st every year.

Now, take those same behaviors and those same masks and costumes and try wearing them around town a month later, you will receive a VERY different reaction. In fact, some people have gotten in trouble this fall for wearing clown costumes and trying to scare people. It usually ends up badly for everyone when a mask is worn at a time that is not appropriate. Here are some examples…

Besides Halloween, there are many reasons people wear masks:

  • So they can ‘get away with’ doing something they wouldn’t normally do
  • To hide who they really are
  • To be a part of the crowd… if everyone else is wearing a mask
  • For protection… from the cold, from germs, and other things

Okay… now that your imagination is engaged, it is time to switch gears a bit. Think about your heart rather than your face! How do we put ‘masks’ on our hearts? I am convinced that we wear masks on our hearts for the same reasons we wear masks on our faces!

What can start out as something we wear for protection, or to blend in with others, or to hide who we really are… well, those masks can become so comfortable that we never want to take them off.”

Then, we break from our discussion and the children take some time to draw out the masks that they see themselves wearing. One girl really used this lesson as an opportunity to open up and share some of what was going on for her beneath the surface. Her picture is used above… notice how one side of the mask shows her outward appearance: excited, perfect, and (fake) happy. But, amazingly, she trusted us to see what was going on just below the surface: feeling hurt, mad, sad, and suicidal.

Part of the work we do in chapel every week is to address the truths of God and God’s Word and how they can give our children the courage to step out from behind the masks and into who God says they are: wonderful, amazing, and capable children of God—with the right to be loved and to love in appropriate and affirming ways. Thankfully, this young lady was in a place where she could get the support she needed to handle the big feelings she had underneath her mask. She was able to hear clearly that God sees past the mask and sees our hearts. He knows our fear, our hurt, our sadness, our shame…

AND GOD LOVES US. HE LOVES US. NO MATTER WHAT. ALWAYS. FOREVER.

GOD…. LOVES…. YOU!

Oct 11

Trauma-Informed Ministry Training and Workshop a success!

Last month, twenty clergy and other caregivers attended the Trauma-Informed Ministry Training and Workshop, presented by Intermountain Chaplain Chris Haughee and ACE Master Trainer Brie Oliver. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences and Chaplain Chris and Ms. Oliver taught the group about the importance of caring for children with ACEs in a way that does not re-traumatize them.

ACE Master Training, Brie Oliver, explains the affect of ACEs

ACE Master Training, Brie Oliver, explains the affect of ACEs

A panel discussion included Intermountain therapists Mike Kalous and Terri Murray and asked questions like, “What does a ‘trauma-informed’ ministry look like? and “What does it mean for a faith community once they ‘get’ ACEs?”

Ms. Oliver also discussed the ways in which childhood trauma can affect a child’s brain and lifetime health outlook and the ways in which resiliency factors (i.e. having resilient parents, building social connections, and more) can help reduce the effects of ACEs.

Chaplain Chris outlined the “Ten Things your Faith Community Should Know about the Kid with ACEs,” including that the traumatized are biologically wired to worry and that a person doesn’t have to “know it all” to be able to help a child in need.

Members of Helena's Salvation Army add to the discussion

Members of Helena’s Salvation Army add to the discussion

Chaplain Chris also presented the concept of the trauma-informed approach outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There are six key principles to this approach: safety; trustworthiness and transparency; peer support; collaboration and mutuality; empowerment, voice, and choice; and cultural, historical, and gender issues.

The training concluded with an opportunity to put all the new knowledge gained throughout the day into practice, editing a lesson outline and building a sample outreach opportunity to community children by designing an after-school children’s group shaped by trauma-informed principles. The groups did a fantastic job explaining why certain choices were made for activities, games, and the Bible lesson based on accommodations needed for a specific child profile and scenario they were given.

Those in attendance expressed interest in seeing additional trainings occur in Helena and throughout Montana. If this is something you or your faith community would consider, please contact Chaplain Chris or Intermountain’s Development team at 406-442-7940.

Discussion continued over lunch and was very lively!

Discussion continued over lunch and was very lively!

Oct 05

Please consider Change for Children this Christmas!

Once again, I would like to make available to you and your church free Advent children’s object lessons! While written primarily for a Children’s Sermon format, these object lessons could be used in a Sunday school setting, youth group, or even as sermon illustrations! None of the lessons are dependent on Change for Children (CFC) CFC-logoparticipation, because we would like them to simply be a gift to you. If you choose to dovetail CFC into these lessons, it’s as simple as contacting us and requesting our prayer cards or setting a goal of numbers of cans returned by Christmas!

Click here for: CFC 2016 Children’s Sermon Packet

In my twenty years in children and youth ministry, the object lessons I have used for children’s sermon times have been a very effective way of communicating the truth of God’s Word.  Many of the adults in the congregation would tell me they preferred my children’s sermons to my “regular” sermons!  Jesus taught in object lessons and word pictures, too, so it should be no surprise to us that this method is highly effective—surely Jesus knew what he was doing and set an example for us to follow!

These lessons have been carefully crafted around the stories of the Advent season (Revised Common Lectionary, Year A) and how the message of God’s love for us in Jesus impacts our hearts and lives. I hope this resource blesses you, saves you time in preparation, and makes your workload a little lighter. It is my hope that our relationship will truly be a partnership of mutual benefit. As Intermountain’s Chaplain, I want to be a resource to you and an encouragement in your work with children and families. The children’s sermons can be found on the “Resource” page, as well as examples from previous years, should those object lessons fit better with what you are planning.

So, enjoy these lessons, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you and build a stronger relationship between the chaplain’s ministry at Intermountain and the good work you are doing in your church and community.

Chaplain Chris Haughee

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