This week we have the option to discuss where we will go from here, what future projects we plan to create or be involved in and how we might engage course material. I want to give an example of how this class has influenced my life most recently and an example of what I would like to do in the future.
My most recent plans to engage course material and in the very near future is to add substance to a final in another class. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Pastoral Care and Counseling with Clinical track. *If any fellow classmates have an elective ever I would strongly recommend some of these classes to benefit your future congregation or place of work!* In my Social and Cultural Foundations class we often discuss ways that religion shapes our lives.. you guessed it- how does religion shape our social and cultural foundations? For our final prompt we have been asked to write a paper on how religion has played a role during therapy sessions with our clients and below I will explain a little how that has happened thus far!
This course has challenged me in so many ways but recently some of our course material was contradicting what my client was saying in session. One of the basic rules of therapy is to follow the client or meet them where they are. Obviously the goal of therapy is to work through something or improve your life but you didn’t get to the difficult part of your life overnight, so you aren’t going to be in a better place over night and as a therapist it is important to keep this in mind. My client has conflicting views of God that just recently “entered the room” as we say, and I have been trying to just stick with them where they are until recently. He began asking big complicated questions and connecting his loneliness of how God was alone before man was created and how he has been alone since childhood. I decided to tell him I was in a course of study that was currently educating me on the Divine Council and asked if he would like me to bring in course material for us to look at together. I did this to bring him some comfort about God and it has seemed to help somewhat. This is just one example of what some of my clients and I talk about in relation to religion. I believe religion plays a big role in all of our lives and sometimes we may not have a space to bring in these big questions and have someone respond to us empathically and educationally!
One of the difficulties I had as a youth director was trying to find course material that would expand on what the students already knew. They were tired of the same old lessons we used from same site since I was a youth. I only knew how to just talk and listen to people, and that was before school to be a counselor so I tried doing that as well. It worked well but I wanted to be engaged in conversation about Biblical text as well as what our spiritual lives were looking like at the time. I think for our class it worked well to go through categories of the Bible at one time but for middle school or high school students I imagine it would be best to go through a Bible study in small chunks. I would like to start with Genesis and focus on the creation story. I did not write a make on the creation story so going back and engaging in that material would also be beneficial to my knowledge as well. I would plan each 6 weeks of Bible study out ahead of time and work it as a 6 week session together. I have found that intense group studies/conversations can hold to purpose of the group for about 6 weeks before people begin to lose track. I would prepare each week by going back through Bandstra’s information and using the Bible Oddessey. Bandstra had so much information packed into each chapter that I think I could get 2 or even 3 weeks depending on the chapter from each one. For the interactive aspect outside of the Bible study I would start an instagram hashtag and have each of the youth participate in the hashtag challenge each week for a free ice cream cone, points off of their mission trip (my youth used to get points for volunteering or participating in events with the church and each point was worth $5 they could use off their mission trip. It was really an incentive to the parents to make them come but the older you are the more exciting the mission trips became to older youth did this still). I would do instagram because they are already on it and youth engage better with visual that they can attach their learning to.
This is an example of a tentative plan I have once I am out of school and able to work with a church. I have been so thankful to be apart of this class in the past because it has challenged and educated me about the Old Testament, something I thought I already knew everything about. Obviously there is always room for growth but I have always been taking the verses of the Bible at face value, we all try to put them into our own lives but I had never tried to go deeper with them. I haven’t studied the cultural context of ancient Israel, I haven’t read the social context of the family systems and I haven’t read into the relationship God with people . This course has challenged my understanding of God and has allowed me to grow for my future congregants/clients.