Augsburg Fortress
One Mission Blog - reflections on the ministry of publishing

Contagious “Spark” Enthusiasm!

October 26th, 2011 by Beth A. Lewis

The Augsburg Fortress mission statement includes this statement:  "Augsburg Fortress is called to provide products and services that communicate the Gospel, enhance faith, and enrich the life of the Christian community…"

When you read it, I hope you'll note the word "called."  Those of us who work in this ministry of publishing that is also a business have a strong sense of calling.  We could work in secular publishing or some other industry.  But, we choose to work here because we think that the faith formation and worship resources we create for congregations is important work.  And, I hope that you'll note the words, "communicate the Gospel, enhance faith and enrich the life of the Christian community…."  That defines our sense of calling even more explicitly. 

So, with that background about who we are and our sense of vocation, I think you'll know why I was so thrilled to receive the email below a couple of days ago (along with permission to quote from it):

"Hi Beth;

It has been on my mind to write for a few weeks now and the longer I wait – the more I think of to tell you!First, I want to share with you again how terrific the lectionary SPARK series continues to be.   When I comment to a teacher about doing something creative or playful or unique, they often say,  "It was in my lesson!"  

Last week the Grade 3-4 lesson on Paying Taxes had a baseball game to explore ways we "give back" to God and an activity in the leaflets involving adding and subtracting coins to yield a number that became a chapter and verse.  The kids then scrambled to find it in their Bibles and then discussed how that verse fit the message for the day's lesson.  Amazing!  And that was one class.

At our Fall Teachers Meeting last week someone commented about how seldom she had to go searching for extra resources since we began using SPARK online – and there were lots of heads bobbing in agreement.  All the options in the online curriculum are unbelievably complete – I can't imagine only having the print leader's guide.   

Next, I have to share with you an experience I had in Chicago two weeks ago at the Group Kid Min Conference…. I was in a workshop on technology and how churches use it to meet the needs of the next generation. 

The presenter asked us to share ways we were currently using technology in our churches.  There were stories of transmitting radio programs for families in the church parking lot and elaborate electronic check-in systems.  I was the only one in the room (about 40 people) who used an online curriculum in a weekly Sunday school program.  I sang SPARK's praises and talked about all the options the teachers had to choose from each week including a prep video. How everything was organized in a website that we manage AND how easy it was … even for "old school" teachers.  And… how economical it was.

Someone in the class asked me how to find information about SPARK and you should have seen the hands jotting down the info when I said it was a part of Augsburg Fortress.  

It doesn't stop there… Last week a pastor from a neighboring UCC church contacted me inquiring about SPARK.  They follow the lectionary in worship and they want to meet with me and see how our program works.  A few days later (honestly!) I got another call from an ELCA pastor in our area with the exact same request… they want to add education to their Saturday worship and they heard about us.  They visited last Saturday (and watched the baseball game and the coin counting activity mentioned above.)  I was able to show them our SPARK site and how we access info.  

 Which finally brings me to the main reason for my note … to say thanks for being a part of creating a Sunday School series that is so full of life.  Keep getting the good word out there and keep SPARK around for a long time!

 Blessings in your day.

Jo Ann Tomm

Director of Christian Education

Cross of LIfe Lutheran Church

Brookfield, WI 53045"

My goodness!  Thank you, Jo Ann! 

You can see why this email thrilled me.  The experience she reports from Cross of Life Lutheran Church is completely aligned with our mission as the ministry of publishing to create resources that "communicate the Gospel, enhance faith and enrich the life of the Christian community…."

What is your story about the impact Augsburg Fortress or sparkhouse resources are having in your congregation?  We'd love to hear from you!




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Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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