Meet the Staff 2015: Hanna

It's that time of year again - summer is coming, and that means amazing LECFamily programs led by equally amazing staff! We have an all-new lineup this year that I think you are going to LOVE! So be on the lookout in the next few weeks so you can get to know our staff even before you arrive! Next up, Hanna!

Hanna Sanders

A native Virginian, Hanna moved to Florida after 23 years in the same town in July 2014. While in Virginia, she studied history at George Mason University, where she was active in Campus Crusades for Christ. Additionally, over the summers, Hanna worked as a camp counselor at a Christian Adventure camp called Camp Highroad. Hanna now resides in Melbourne, Florida where she works as a waitress at a local restaurant. She is active with her local young adults program, and is excited to bring the Lord’s love to LECFamily this summer!

Who is your hero, or who has had a large impact on your life and who you are? Why/how?

My biggest hero is my grandmother. She lived a life I hope to emulate, full of love, faith, and humility. She was always, and still is, my inspiration to be a teacher. 

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment has been being a camp counselor in college. Nothing has been more rewarding that being able to pour out Christ’s love into children. It was such a blessing to be a light to children who perhaps have never heard of Jesus before, and to let them know they are loved. 

If you could see 24 hours into the future what would you do with this ability?

If I could look into the future, I don’t think I would use it. Part of the fun of living is not knowing what is going to happen next!

What kind of animal best describes your personality and why?

The animal that best describes me is a cat. I am fiercely independent, love naps, and am not a big fan of dogs ;)

Give some love to Hanna in the comments as she prepares to love on our families and guests all summer!

A GUARANTEED way to get kids listening to the Sunday sermon ...

Are you listening now? Are you in disbelief? Are you still terrified of what might happen if you allow kids to be in worship - and I mean ALL of worship? Yes - gasp! - even the dreaded sermon?

Take a page from Tusakwilla UMC in Casselberry, FL, where their pastor has a passion for intergenerational ministry and did a little intergenerational worship experiment this Advent and Christmas season!

As my ministry intern and I were planning Advent last year we made the bold decision not to offer Children’s Church from the First Sunday of Advent through Baptism of Our Lord Sunday. Six weeks – no Children’s Church. Why? Because we felt it was important for our youngest worshippers to worship with their families and the church family as together we all heard and experienced formational Scriptures to our faith. Our God is coming. Our God is with us. Our God is love. Emmanuel. 

In making the decision to not offer Children’s Church, we knew that we would need to supplement the worship experience for the children in our congregation. So, we set about gathering activities that would invite the children to engage in worship in the pews. We found the usual puzzle pages and coloring sheets, but we wanted something more. And then I had an idea that bubbled up with great excitement! “What if,” I said “we played Advent BINGO? What if we made BINGO cards incorporating words that might be used during the worship service so that the children have to stay engaged to listening throughout the service in order to complete their card?” From idea to reality, Advent BINGO came to TUMC. 

Through the help of an online BINGO card generator we were able to customize our BINGO cards each week. I advised the congregation that the children had the cards at the beginning of worship on the First Sunday of Advent so if they heard a “BINGO,” there was a purpose behind it. After the first week we learned that we needed to limit the “game” to the sermon as some children were achieving BINGOs before we offered the Pastoral Prayer. After the first week in worship children asked for multiple BINGO cards. After the second week in worship adults asked for BINGO cards! 

I was amazed at the words that the children recalled hearing in the sermon and their delight as they shared their joy with me warmed my heart. The adults in the congregation were thrilled to see the children so involved, so engaged, and so well behaved in worship. And their parents were grateful to have the opportunity to worship as a family and to not feel stressed during that time in the pew. 

I look forward to using BINGO as a useful tool in worship throughout my ministry. This is not an activity that we have every week in worship, which helps it remain special and fun. I am committed to finding more ways to mindfully and purposively engage our children in worship. What do you do in your congregation? What is something old that you can make new and apply it to our worship experience?

— Rev. Sarah B. Miller, Senior Pastor – Tuskawilla UMC, Casselberry, FL

Wow! What an incredible story of being creatively inclusive. How have you incorporated kids into worship in your church in a way that is inclusive?

Questions about how Sermon Bingo works? Email for more info!

Looking for more ways to be intergenerational in faith formation experiences? Contact us about our workshops for pastors, leaders, parents and families!

Intergenerational Worship Wars Part 1: What happened?

Rev. Melissa Cooper, Program Coordinator

If you've engaged the "intergenerational" conversation at all, you know what I'm talking about. 

Most folks are open to trying out intergenerational programs. Most parents love getting a take-home sheet from Sunday School (they may or may not use it, but they're glad to get it!). A potluck or church-wide supper is always a hit. 

But there's one place where things come off the rails when we talk intergenerational: worship

It's ironic, really, because when age-level ministries were being developed, and as they became an expected part of the congregational experience, there was one "assumed" thing: worship was for the whole community!

Now, however, we live in a culture of Christian silos, with congregations primarily segregated by age, sometimes even in entirely different buildings! The larger the church, generally the more segregated we become, too.

And in that bastion of intergenerationality, the Sunday morning community worship service, even there, many of our churches have again separated. One pastor commented to me, "Most of the children have probably never seen me."

Although overwhelmingly pastors, parents and ministry leaders agree that it's important for kids to worship, the conversation becomes contentious when the topic of kids in "big church" comes up.  

The greatest opponents of kids in congregational worship are no longer the classic, cartoonish "grumpy old folks" - most often those who most vigorously support "Children's Church" are the parents of the children themselves.  

However, the importance of children in worship with the rest of their church community cannot be overstated: they need to be present in worship, and they need to be there for more than just a few minutes of singing.  

The fabulous research done by the Fuller Youth Institute tells us that the most common thread among high school and college aged students who were found to have mature faith was intergenerational worship experiences. 

It's not done easily, and it's worth doing. Over the next few posts, we'll be exploring the most common arguments against intergenerational worship and why it's important we find ways to overcome the challenges faced in re-integrating the worship experience for all ages. 

So, what are the most common arguments you hear against all-ages in worship? Share in the comments!

Meet the Staff 2015: Sam

It's that time of year again - summer is coming, and that means amazing LECFamily programs led by equally amazing staff! We have an all-new lineup this year that I think you are going to LOVE! So be on the lookout in the next few weeks so you can get to know our staff even before you arrive! Next up, Sam!

Sam Reyes

Sam assures me that he is in one of these two photos. We'll figure out which one when he arrives, I guess.

Sam assures me that he is in one of these two photos. We'll figure out which one when he arrives, I guess.

My name is Samuel Reyes; I am a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY; and hail from the great shores of Panama City, FL. I studied Psychology at the University of South Florida, and plan on pursuing youth and college ministry. I have a passion for working with young adults; and God has been developing my heart to seek more intergenerational discipleship and worship as well. I a swammer (a retired swimmer), I love pretty much all things comics and superheroes, and I love playing games of all varieties (board games, card games, video games, sports, etc.).

Who is your hero?

My hero has always been my dad; he has always been there for me. He is very wise and practical; and for as long as I can remember, he is daily grounded in the Word of God.

If you died today, what legacy would you leave in the world?

If I were to die today, I feel like the legacy that I would leave is the students that I have worked with in both Tampa and Panama City.

If you could see 24 hours into the future, what would you do?

If I could see 24 hours into the future, I would try to use that knowledge to plan the most efficient and effective day possible.

What animal best represents your personality?

If I were to describe my personality in terms of an animal I would say that I am like a black bear. I just kind of do my own thing; I can be curious and playful at times, and for the most part I’m relaxed, unless provoked.

Give Sam lots of love in the comments and welcome him to the LECFamily family!