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

Alignment in preaching and teaching

April 28th, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

“We are church,
we are Lutheran,
we are church together,
and we are church for
the sake of the world.”

– ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Rev. Kevin Strickland and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Rev. Kevin Strickland and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

As the ministry of publishing of the ELCA, we often measure our work against this inspirational statement from our presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.

We are church: to us, this means that we are called to create resources that are used to assist congregations, synods, seminaries, and others as they proclaim the gospel through their ministries.

We are Lutheran: our publishing is rooted in the grace-based, both-and theology of our heritage while as a reforming tradition we are always looking to the needs of the church for the future.

We are church together: We collaborate with individual creative partners all across the ELCA and well beyond to other Lutheran expressions around the world, our full communion partners, and other Christian and interfaith partners in ministry.

We are church for the sake of the world: Many of the resources we create inspire congregations in their missional outreach serving God’s people in their neighborhood and through global partnerships.

Today, I was reminded of our work as we are “church together.” One of the ways we are church together, both within the ELCA and through full communion partnerships is in the ways we use the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) as a standard preaching and teaching framework. On any given day, thousands of people around the world are reading from, inspired by, and proclaiming the Gospel in concert as they use this common set of Scripture. For me, it provides a rich meaning to being “one body in Christ.” While we recognize that not every congregation in this tradition uses the RCL consistently, the vast majority do and find this common framework helpful.

One of the ways that use of the RCL can be lifted up, no matter what the age of a congregation’s members is through an alignment of the preaching in worship with the teaching in faith formation gatherings. We take this consistency of messaging seriously through our publishing programs.  Our Sundays and Seasons resources, both print and online, provide RCL liturgy, music, visual art and preaching resources. Our Lectionary for Worship and worship planning calendar resources assist worship planners and leaders. And, for congregations that use a printed worship bulletin, we offer RCL bulletin inserts for adults and for children Bread for the Day, our annual devotional book, connects individuals with the RCL on a daily basis. And, to make sure that faith formation can easily be linked to the readings and preaching in worship, we have two RCL-based Sunday School resources for children: Spark Lectionary and Whirl Lectionary.

As you might imagine, I was delighted when I saw this post on Facebook from the Rev. Kevin Strickland, Asst. to the Presiding Bishop, Executive for Worship for the ELCA:

Whirl quote























And, in a follow up email, he went on to say:

“I have used a variety of resources over the years that are lectionary based for children’s Sunday school and other faith formation opportunities, but after reviewing the whirl curriculum and seeing it first hand at the congregation I am a member of, I was more than pleased. Whirl is one of the best lectionary based children’s curriculum I have seen. Children are engaged in the liturgical year, but more importantly, they learn how the calendar of their own lives is marked and loved by God each and everyday through these connections made in this resource.”

If you are trying to connect what is happening in worship with what is happening in faith formation, consider Pastor Strickland’s affirming words for this curriculum. You can download a free sample lesson to try out in your congregation! And, we offer free webinars to learn more and have your specific questions answered. Our webinar schedule is found at 

Thank you, Kevin, for lifting up this important and every effective faith formation resource!





Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Teach God’s Love from the Very Beginning!

April 22nd, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

Frolic Bible groupWhen is the last time you told your toddler…the one in your family or one who attends your church… how much God loves them?

At Sparkhouse, we believe it’s never too early to teach children about God.

And, we think that Christian faith is essential to early childhood development.

It’s because of these two beliefs that we are excited to introduce, Frolic, a new way to help children take their first steps of faith!

By connecting Christian faith with developmental milestones, Frolic helps lay a foundation for faith that lasts a lifetime. Frolic is designed to nurture young children in their first three years both in church and at home. Frolic helps children relate to Bible stories and faith lessons by introducing age-appropriate faith concepts that help our youngest children understand God, themselves, and the world around them.

So how does Frolic work? Frolic helps churches support families through a curriculum that pairs online and print resources. Frolic Online and Frolic Print Resources equip your church to:

  • Connect with families by sending them monthly personalized enewsletters with helpful articles, tips, and activities centered around faith and child development.
  • Transform your nursery into an intentional ministry site with the Frolic Nursery Guide.
  • Support parents by inviting them and their little ones to Frolic Faith Development Classes.

Who can use Frolic? Frolic is a simple but profound curriculum designed for church leaders, volunteers, and parents to teach children about God’s love. And, there are a whole selection of board books, read-to-me books and the Frolic First Bible to connect church and home!

Frolic books

To learn more, download the Frolic brochure from our website!

Another great way to learn more about how Frolic can transform your birth-to-three ministry is to attend one of our free webinars! Register at

And, don’t forget….when you see those precious little ones next, be sure to tell them “God loves you!”








Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Christian Book Fair Opportunity for Your Church!

April 11th, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

Do your kids or grandkids beg you to buy books from their school’s annual book fair? It’s hard to resist, isn’t it?  What’s not to like with kids who love to read!  I hope you do support them!

But, don’t you wish you had a similar opportunity to not only nurture their love for reading, but also their faith?

Good news! Now you do!

Book Fair




I’m delighted that my Sparkhouse Family colleagues have put together something new for congregations (or early childhood schools in congregations), a Sparkhouse Family Book Fair!

Here are a few of the details about this time limited (April 22!) opportunity:

 Book fair basics:

We are giving congregations the chance to sign up to receive a FREE box of ten Sparkhouse Family titles. Your congregation will promote your Book Fair, display the ten free titles for two weeks, and take orders from the families in your congregation and community.

Where do you sign up for the Book Fair?

What will Sparkhouse Family provide your congregation?

We will send a box to each registered congregation during the first week of May. We will also give you customizable marketing materials so you can promote your Sparkhouse Family Book Fair. As an extra bonus, Sparkhouse Family is running a sweepstakes for all participating churches—families can sign up to win a cash prize!

What will come in your box from Sparkhouse Family?

  1. Ten Sparkhouse Family titles:
  • Water, Come Down
  • God’s Wonderful World: Frolic First Faith*
  • God Finds Us: Frolic First Faith*
  • Jo and the Slow Soup: Frolic First Faith
  • Ava and the Skimpy Picnic: Frolic First Faith
  • Frolic First Bible
  • The Spark Story Bible
  • The Story of King David: A Spark Bible Story
  • The Story of Creation: A Spark Bible Story
  • Creation, Noah’s Ark, and Other Bible Stories DVD (Holy Moly)

*Half of the boxes will come with Pray to God and God Made Us All and half will come with God’s Wonderful World and God Finds Us (these are all Frolic board books).

 You can see the more information about the titles and pricing here: Sparkhouse Family Book Fair 2016 Pricelist

  1. 10 Brochures: 10 copies of a brochure to have on your display table for families to take home. This will show them all the different brands and products SHF has to offer, along with a 10% discount (plus free shipping) on all products at through July 2016.
  2. A How-To-Host Guide: This handy document will give you tips and the step-by-step directions you’ll need for a successful Sparkhouse Family Book Fair.

When will your congregation receive your free shipment?

By the second week of May.

 What marketing materials will Sparkhouse Family provide to your congregation?

  • Customizable poster
  • Customizable bulletin insert
  • E-newsletter
  • Social Media Graphics
  • PowerPoint Slide
  • Looping DVD
  • Clip art pieces of the characters and logos

 What else will be found on this landing page to help you host a successful Sparkhouse Family Book Fair?

  • Order form
  • Sweepstakes sign up sheet
  • Info/Pricing Guide of each product featured at the Book Fair
  • Digital file of the brochure

 What is the sweepstakes and how does it work?

Sparkhouse Family will send your congregation a sign-up sheet for families to enter their contact info for a chance to win. The Book Fair coordinator will then take a picture of this sheet and send it to us where we will pick two winners. The winners will receive $200 cash (for themselves) as well as a complete set of Sparkhouse Family storybooks ($335 value) for their church!

 Who can sign up for a Sparkhouse Family Book Fair?

Any church within the contiguous United States.

When is the sign up deadline?

April 22, 2016

What are the requirements for your congregation?

  • You agree to promote the Sparkhouse Family Book Fair using at least 2 of our provided marketing materials
  • And, display the box of free resources at your church for two weeks sometime between May 15 ad June 11, 2016
  • Take orders
  • Collect sign-ups for the sweepstakes
  • Place the orders and distribute them to your church members or others who participate!

Where do you sign up?

 How do you take orders at your church?

You will be provided with an order form. It is up to you how your church collects payments from your families.

 How do you place the orders once you have received them from those who purchase at your Book Fair?

After your Book Fair, you’ll go to This will take you to a specific Book Fair section of the store where you can easily put in the orders you’ve received. If you have a church account with us, you may use that, or you may use a credit card. You’ll need to enter the promo code SPRINGFAIR at checkout to receive the discounts and free shipping!

 Have additional questions? Contact my colleagues who are the experts on this at:

Remember! If you want to sign up for the Sparkhouse Family Book Fair at your church, you must do so by no later than Friday, April 22, 2016!  Thanks!




Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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