Piano Recitals, Picture Books, and Stewardship

What can we learn from intergenerational sharing?

girl playing piano

I love getting to know children because they are so insightful and honest, and have many gifts to share with other kids and the grown-ups in their lives. I worked as a Director of Children’s Ministry for 8.5 years and learned that 4 year-olds are the best theologians, 3rd and 4th graders have an innate sense of fairness and want to make sure everyone has what they need to live, and middle and high school students just might be the most generous people on the planet when it comes to sharing time with others. So – because my own children are grown-ups, and I don’t get to spend time with kids in my current job, I decided to start teaching piano lessons to beginners (as one does!). 

This year our spring recital was part of a concert performed by kids at a senior living facility. The performers included a handbell choir, vocal choir, vocal and instrumental soloists, and my three beginning piano students. Throughout the concert I was struck by the continuous smiles on the senior residents’ faces, and I was moved deeply when I heard the group humming softly while my students were playing songs that were deeply familiar to the residents. Songs like, When The Saints Go Marching In, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Brahms Lullaby, and Beethoven’s Shepherd’s Song.  

So – what does this have to do with stewardship? Well – everything. The kids were sharing themselves and their musical gifts. They were stepping out in faith and doing ministry – making connections with people, and bringing moments of joy. After the performance, the directors had a conversation about sharing our kids and their music with the seniors on a regular basis. Next up? A Disney sing-along. We’ll choose songs from older Disney movies like Cinderella, Snow White, and Mary Poppins so the residents can sing along easily. We might even amp the fun factor and invite everyone to dress up as their favorite Disney character. Ministry will continue to happen. Relationships will start to grow, and who knows where God will lead us next!

Something else that has unexpectedly reshaped the way I think about many things is reading and sharing picture books with children. If you want to start reimagining how to approach the intersection of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry with stewardship, these books are particularly helpful:  The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates, Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, and Around The Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill.

Over the past three years, my work at Luther Seminary has me reimagining what stewardship is all about in so many new ways – especially when it comes to thinking about doing stewardship with children, youth, and families. This month we have the opportunity to hear from three experts in Children, Youth, and Family ministry and the intersection with stewardship. We’ll hear from three Luther Seminary students and recent graduates.

  • Emily Brown – a pastoral intern who is always on the lookout for ways to involve children and families in the life of her congregation
  • Grant Brockhouse who is a youth director with a helpful perspective on mission trips
  • Pastor Emily Dalen – a new pastor with 20+ years of experience in children, youth, family, and intergenerational ministry.

Each of these writers will help us reimagine what it means to do stewardship with kids and families. They will help us think about how all people can share their gifts, no matter how old they are. They will help us see how celebrating the gifts of all of God’s children is a life-giving adventure and God’s spirit shows up. We hope you enjoy their wisdom and imagination.

  • Arlene Flancher

    I have landed at Luther Seminary as a program coordinator for CYF and Stewardship after working for 12 years as a medical technologist in hospital labs, 15 years as a product developer and project manager in publishing at 1517 Media, and nearly 9 years as a director of children and family ministries in a congregation. My passion is ministry with kids and families - especially kids ages birth - 6th grade. My favorite church season is Advent. No question. When I'm not working, I will be walking outside with my dog in all kinds of weather, teaching piano lessons, reading, binging on Netflix, mentoring kids, seeking natural beauty, trying to garden, meeting friends for coffee or lunch, or spending time with husband of 38 years and our expanding family.

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