Grand Rapids, Michigan was the location in late November 2023 for a gathering of over 1,200 pastors, educators, and other ministry leaders. These church professionals - with connection to the Michigan District Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod - gathered under the theme of ABIDE.
Since the sessions only allowed for an hour presentation and teaching time, display tables were requested and Visual Faith® materials laid out so that participants were able to see and examine finished projects and other examples of visual faith practices. Since our ministry is focused on visual and hands-on processing, this "show and tell" was vital for promoting understanding for what we shared.
Jessica presented on Visual Faith Tools - drawing attention to each person's unique Spiritual Life I.E.P. (individualized education program) for their faith. She shared learning extensions ... that become practices ... that become a lifestyle for drawing close to God in His Word and in prayer.
Participants were invited to try some hands-on visual prayer experiments, learn about prayer centers, and gather ideas to integrate into their classrooms or for personal practice.
There was much interest and conversation about creating a culture of prayer and sharing the love of Jesus with students!
Pat's session, Visual Faith: Significant Practices for Personal Benefit and Faith Teaching, began with a look at how busy lives, social media, and the internet are significantly impacting the ability of the child of God to spend focused quality time with the Lord. Many in the room confirmed a big change in students' focusing abilities in recent years.
The presentation included discussions on the connection between visual reminders, learning styles, "spiritual amnesia", and remembering God's Word. The group participated in a few visual prayer practices and heard about some Visual Faith® Ministry "best practices" for personal and classroom use.
It was encouraging to hear that many were already aware of, using, and creatively adapting our visual faith resources within their ministry settings. We LOVE to hear that!
Participants were invited to join our Visual Faith® Ministry - Christian Educators and Teachers Facebook Group. Sharing photos and some story of how Visual Faith® resources are used (as suggested or creatively modified to meet the specific needs of a teaching situation) inspires others with ideas to use in their personal ministry situations.
Visual faith is certainly for personal focus and edification, but it is also always much more. Conversation, fellowship, and mutual blessing often come along with the sharing of these practices.
A final note: one of the keynote speakers for the event was none other than Ann Voskamp. She is the NY Times best-selling author of several books, including One Thousand Gifts, which is the inspiration behind many of our gratitude projects, including our Gifts of Joy Journal now available to order as a Lulu book in the new VFM bookstore on our website.
Ann's sharing was grace-filled and deeply rooted in God's Word as she humbly shared from her heart. We were able to pray with her for God's blessing over her family and ministry responsibilities. What a GIFT to meet her!