Every Fall at Oakdale Wesleyan Church we have all-church spiritual formation. This is where everyone, children to adults, both on Sundays and through the week, learn together. In the past we have gone though SoulShift / Duckville and The Circle Maker. In 2015 we put together our own program for the first time. “What God Wants” is a study on offerings to teach stewardship. The sermon series can be found here. The material outline and lessons learned from putting together our own all-church formation is below.
What God Wants
If God is really God, then why does he need my money? That is a great question, and the answer is that God doesn’t need money . . . nor food. So why did ancient people offer up so many animals? What do we offer our time, money and influence? This series will look at offerings through the whole Bible to help us see What God Wants.
Part 1: The Sin Offering
Week 1: God wants Holiness – a live sacrifice, without defect, given with a pure heart
starting text Romans 12:1
- Children’s lesson Abraham & Isaac (Abraham’s Big Test Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “We Don’t Need More Money: We Need Wisdom” God’s Wisdom is better than human wisdom
- Application: holiness through Jesus
- Visual: the priest
Week 2: God wants Homage – the altar of sacrifice
- starting text Matthew 23:15-23
- Children’s lesson Elijah and the prophets of Baal (God’s Fire for Elijah Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “We Don’t Need More Money: We Need Wisdom” Choosing God’s way/wisdom
- Application: forgiveness
- Visual: the altar & flash paper (people wrote their sins on the paper and we burned them outside)
Part 2 – The Freewill Offering
Week 3: God wants Hearts – willing and cheerful giving
- text 2 Cor. 9:6-15
- Children’s lesson the rich young ruler (Jesus and the Rich Young Man Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “Earn All You Can” The right way to earn
- Application: let God have your heart
- Visual: seed & real investment
Week 4: God wants A House – offerings
- starting text 2 Samuel 7:4-7, 12, 13
- Children’s lesson Solomon Build the Temple (Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “Earn All You Can” What all has God given you to use?
- Application: capital campaigns, evangelism, & discipleship
- Visual: a dream home
Week 5: God wants Honor – tithing
- starting text Mal. 3:8-12
- Children’s lesson The Parable of the Talents (Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “Save All You Can” Saving versus hoarding and budgeting
- Application: tithing
- Visual: shekels
Part 3 – The Wave Offering
Week 6: God wants Help – helping others
- starting text Deut. 10:18 & 1 Cor. 11:17-22
- Children’s lesson The Widow’s Offering (Arch Books) optional Dorcas (Sad Day, Happy Day! God Loves Me Storybooks)
- Sunday School – “Give All You Can” Sharing
- Application: special offerings
- Visual: mite and cooking bbq during the sermon
Week 7: God wants Humility – redemption
- starting text Ps. 24:1-2
- Children’s lesson Hannah (A Mother Who Prayed Arch Books)
- Sunday School – “Give All You Can” Ownership and Stewardship
- Application: testimonies of God’s faithfulness & blessing
Sunday School Material
- Earn. Save. Give Wesley’s Simple Rules for Money by James Harnish (adult, youth, and children’s versions. The adult version is simply a book to read. The youth version has activities that can be used for adults and youth.
- Building an Active Faith, Children’s Discipleship Series, Book 4 by Bill Bright
- Pastor writing discussion questions to lead from the sermon into the Earn. Save. Give. material (available on YouVersion)
- Arch books listed above
- Consumer to Steward: cultivating a generous spirit (SoulShift Bible Study) by Brian Fry
- “The ABC’s of Tithing” by Wesleyan Publishing House
- Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey
- children – My Giving Bank by Larry Burkett
- adults & children – Special offering to local service organization (done during the month of November)
- adults – capital campaign (to be started later)
- When making your own all-church spiritual formation, start preparing early. When using other’s material we started work at the beginning of the summer for the Fall teaching. Three months was not enough time, even with assistance, to prepare and go through all the material. Only preparing three months ahead led us to shifting children’s lessons, and not always having the best alignment between the Sunday school material and the sermons. We’ve started planning the 2016 all-church formation already, almost one year out.
- Get buy-in from the leaders and influencers. Soulshift and What God Wants were successful at our church in part because the lay-leadership requested the Soulshift material and the topic of stewardship be taught to our congregation. Top down decisions on spiritual formation will require more time for buy-in.
- Bring in leaders early in the planning. While I as pastor gathered the possible resources we might use (I did this myself since I as the sermon writer was in the best position to know the topics), I left it to the Sunday School Superintendent to chose the exact material and organize it. I also brought her in to help be organize my sermon topics. Books were distributed to teachers as early as possible.
- Don’t forget all the components. For all-church formation the age groups are: adults, youth, and children, and the formation times are: Sunday worship (sermons and children’s lessons), Sunday School, and mid-week. We started our adult and youth mid-week portion late (and thus had poorer participation) because we were so busy we just forgot.
- Go all out! Promote all-church formation and make it exciting, visual, and participatory. It is worth spending money to get things like banners, and put books or other material in the hands of every family. This helps to continue the teaching at home.