Ministry For Children and Young Adults


Blog Post by the Rev. Dr. Craig Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader


Imagine a church building decorated wall to wall with arts and crafts devoted to super heroes! The walls are plastered with posters, objects are hanging from the ceiling and stacked on the floors. As soon as worship is over, more objects are moved into the sanctuary. It is colorful and obviously created with children in mind. This is what is happening at St. Mark in Ballwin where I preached on Saturday and Sunday. They are preparing for “Super Heroes of the Bible,” their theme for VBS. The church is full of energy and excitement. During worship, the children’s director announced that VBS had 201 children signed up. Two-hundred-and-one! The church is at capacity and have created a wait list! 201 children will be playing, learning, laughing, eating, and getting to know Jesus in creative ways.

This gives me excitement. This gives me hope.

The film, Children of Men, is about a future in which there are no children. The last child is born 18 years ago, and the movie begins with his death. There is great sadness throughout the film as we see empty schools and playgrounds. I must admit that watching this film makes me think about the church, and the work we must do to continue to draw children and young adults to the faith. This difficult but faithful work will take leaders with creativity, imagination, and love.

The Education and Youth sub-team, led by Melanie (Mel) Smith has such a vision. Mel and Kaitie Kautz have an idea to build a cohort of children and young adult leaders within the presbytery. This group of leaders will share information, learn from one another, and build systems of nurture and support throughout the presbytery. The cohort group will learn and share the latest methods of youth and young adult leadership. They will be using Ministry Architects, an outstanding organization that focuses on youth leadership. Mel and Kaitie are inviting a small group of congregations to be part of the cohort in the beginning, and plan to grow the cohort over time.

As your Transitional Presbytery Leader, I want to connect the fragmented parts of Giddings Lovejoy together, and build us into the unified presbytery that God is calling us to be. The youth and young adult cohort group is a model of this effort. If you are asked to participate in this initial group, please seriously considering saying yes!

Rev. Craig M. Howard

Faith Into Action

Blog Post by the Rev. Dr. Craig Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader
(Photo by PCUSA Staff photographer)

Big Tent was amazing!!

Big Tent St. Louis was one of the best Big Tent events ever! From the music, to the food; from the Washington University setting, to the inspiring preaching and workshops, the event was accomplished with precision and excellence.

But the shining lights were the volunteers from Giddings-Lovejoy. They did a tremendous job. The leadership from our denomination headquarters in Louisville made sure I knew how outstanding our volunteers performed. The participants had mounds of praise for our volunteers as well! These volunteers included: The five congregations that hosted participants on Friday night. Greeters. Registration table. Hospitality table. Golf Cart drivers. Mound Ridge and their work with the youth. Directors to the various classrooms throughout the campus. General information providers. Stage manager. Food providers. The entire staff of the presbytery who volunteered and filled in gaps where needed. We did it all, and we did it well!

Let me share just one example. For the first time in the history of Big Tent, the participants were invited to attend a local congregation. We opened the doors to five of our congregations: Second, Third, Oak Hill, Cote Brilliante, and Ferguson. Big Tent sent a bus full of participants to each congregation. The congregation served food, provided a program with an opportunity to respond from the Big Tent participants. The energy and enthusiasm of these programs created a spiritual awakening throughout the Big Tent event. The effects could be felt on Saturday in Bible classes, workshops, and worship.(read more here)

Furthermore, On Sunday morning, I preached at Cote Brillante. The congregation was still abuzz about Friday night! The patterns and habits of hospitality they displayed for Big Tent, were still present, as a new visitor came forward to join the church. This spiritual electricity continued through each of these congregations, as they rode the Big Tent wave of faith, mission, and purpose.

This is how it works. When we put our faith into action, we realize we are better than we thought we were, and we can do far more than we even imagine.

During the economic downturn of 2008, Rham Emanuel, the current mayor of Chicago famously said, “Let’s not waste a good recession!” Friends, let’s not waste a good Big Tent! Let’s use the energy, creativity, imagination, and plain old hard work we just displayed to continue bringing our presbytery together. It is amazing what we can do, when we turn faith into action and work together.

Craig M. Howard