By Pastor Heather Roth Johnson and Amanda Boe
Before the Guttenberg printing press was invented, God’s people learned Bible stories through stained glass windows. One can find a stained glass window for almost any Bible story from Genesis to Revelation throughout churches around the world. Like the cracked effect of stained glass, somewhere along the way there has been a crack in creation that severs God from the natural world. This crack is the belief that God and science cannot coexist. Science is based on hypothesis and fact, and what about God? Well, God is not a tangible element to be held. If we really believe as Paul writes that “God…is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), then we must see that science is part of God’s creation. Science is where we can ask our questions, seek out answers to the how questions, and experience God right in the palm of our hands. In this light, science and God cannot be separated.
(Photo credit: Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN)
At St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, Pastor Heather Roth Johnson and Amanda Boe, Director of Children, Youth and Family, have integrated science, faith, and God into the life of CYF ministries. They believe that just like the stained glass windows above can connect the story of God to science we should be able to naturally weave God’s Bible stories into some kind of tangible science experiment.
One thing that Pastor Heather (left) and Amanda (right) did during the COVID 19 shutdown this past spring was Science Fridays—a YouTube series geared for kids on the Faith Finder Fun channel. Each Friday, they would produce a video that connected a science experiment to a Bible story. Below are some examples that show the why behind integrating science and faith; these lessons can be done at home using everyday materials.
It’s biblical! We are to remember what Hebrews 11:1 teaches us: “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen”. Much of the world we live in is unseen, but still very much a part of the world. Take oxygen for an example. We inhale oxygen, use it to blow up a balloon, and can feel the wind on our faces. But unless it is cold outside, oxygen isn’t something we see; we just know it is there. This provides a concrete example on how God can be around us, and though we may not see God face to face, God is with us in and around everything we do. For another connection on the unseen and God’s presence, use this experiment with bubbles.
Awe and Wonder: Science like faith spills into our daily lives without us even knowing it, and when we find it we are filled with awe and wonder. In the Bible story of when Peter heals the man who could not walk, he was filled with awe and wonder. Somehow his legs worked, and he began to leap and jump! Help students visualize this story with this experiment.
Natural Curiosity: Kids are made to be curious about the natural world around them. There are many science connections that can be made to Bible stories and faith concepts with nature. For example, think about the how the metamorphosis of butterflies can help young ones understand the Easter story. Kids can observe, ask questions, and engage in the mysteries of God. Another connection to Easter is found in this lesson that connects Jesus rising from the grave with an example of density.
Science is messy: But, hey, life is messy. No doubt that science experiments can make a stinky mess, dirty up tables, and even create small explosions that can get on the ceiling. The trick is to keep things simple with household ingredients and to move outside if you need to. Science, albeit messy, has a way of capturing the attention of young ones who love to make a mess. Along those lines, this edition of Science Friday connects Palm Sunday to the household ingredient of celery, which is in the same family as palm branches. But warning, the celery gets stinky.
Science, faith, and God should not be at odds with each other. God and science can enrich and build a strong foundation of faith.
About the Authors
Pastor Heather Roth Johnson is Pastor for Faith Formation and Evangelism Specialist at St. John’s. She has more than 20 years of experience in Children’s and Family Ministry and is a highly-requested speaker at local and national children’s ministry events. Coffee is her love language and swapping stories of life and faith is her favorite pastime. From baptizing the very young to holding hands with the young at heart, Heather enjoys caring for the soul, loving God’s people, and is a storyteller of the faith. She is married to Scott Johnson and they have two sons, Noah and Jacob.
Amanda Boe is the Children, Youth and Family director at St. John’s. She has over 15 years of experience working in ministry. What inspires her to keep working in CYF ministry is to see true growth in a child’s faith from when they are given their first Bible as a preschooler to sending that same child to church camp for the first time. She loves to use creative ways to keep kids engaged and learning about the love of Jesus! She sees herself as her own type of “hardware store” giving families the tools they need to grow strong faith and homes centered in Christ. For fun, she loves tackling home renovation projects like building furniture that can withstand the wear and tear of her 4 kids who all tower over her and are very active in High School and College sports. Amanda and Ryan are the proud parents of Nathan, Lincoln, Gavin and Elayna.
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Hybrid Ministry in a Post-Pandemic Church
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