Blessing Based Spiritual Nurture (BBSN) and Holy Listening (HL) are used in a wide variety of ministries, for we understand the educational call of the church to be to Christian formation. Christian formation is that process in which each person’s spiritual connection to God and blossoming of holiness is fostered. Each grows more fully into the image of God in which they have been created, in the pattern of Jesus Christ our guide and vision as they worship, learn and serve. (Genesis 1:26,27; I John 3:2)
The issue of nurturing Christians is perennial because it is central to who we are as a people. Jesus himself as teacher commanded us in the Great Commission (Mt. 28: 19 -20) to be a community committed to teaching. This teaching is not confined to a classroom setting, where one who knows tells those who do not. In fact that kind of teaching may be the least effective way to nurture the growth of religious faith and practice.
Teaching and learning are integral to our developing an identity as Christians. It takes place through liturgy and music; in classrooms and at home; during study sessions and church suppers; in the hallways and on mission sites. Whenever the community gathers, teaching and learning are taking place.
What we are to be about is grounding that teaching and learning deeply in the soil of our faith, as we grow in our ability to practice this faith in the whole of our lives. We believe that BBSN and HL enhance and strengthen, encourage and sustain people on their journeys of faith.
Church members care for each other, young and old, in times of crisis using this form of nurture. Sometimes people of all ages come to a staff person or volunteer certified in BBSN&HL for spiritual nurture There they can be with a listener and burden sharer as he/she struggles with an issue. There the child, teen or adult gives the problem over to God and invites God to be a part of the solution.
Sunday School Closing Prayer and Blessing Time
Memorial United Presbyterian Church (Xenia, Ohio) uses the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday School, 1st – 5th grade. Each class has a Shepherd, providing consistency and ongoing relationship with elementary children. The Shepherds end each weeks class with a time of Holy Listening and Blessing. For Closing Prayer and Blessing Time the adults and young people in each classroom gather around a worship center, light a candle and listen to each other share joys and concerns which are given to God in prayer. At the end of the time each person receives from another, an affirmation of the Blessing of God in their lives.
Workshop Rotation Model Using BBSN
Helping children incorporate the stories of faith into who they are as Christians is a vital part of Christian Education. Therefore, choose with care and limit the number of activities offered during each Workshop Rotation session, so the children can spend time in the story; wonder about it; ask questions; practice putting themselves into the story. In this way BBSN and HL are incorporated into a classroom session, as sensitive leaders slow down and take time to encourage responding to the Scripture.