May Study Circle–Sticky Faith: Build A Lasting Faith in Teens





Shana Peachey Boshart will be hosting this month’s study circle on “Sticky Faith.” Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s research points to practical ways parents and church leaders can nurture in teens a faith that “sticks.” Join the conversation to share practices that work or how these books have impacted your ministry. Sign up today to join this conversation on Tuesday, May 16 at 3:30 EDT/2:30 CDT.

March Study Circle–MERGE

What does it mean to do short term mission responsibly?  What’s the difference between responsible and irresponsible short term mission?  What’s the role of education in short term mission?  Who’s teaching whom?  And just how do you plan a mission trip anyway?  Are there valid alternatives to “going on mission” and/or complementary activities you can do at home?

Krista Dutt and Kathy Neufeld Dunn hosted  a conversation about these questions and others based on the hands-on resource, MERGE: A Guidebook for Youth Service Trips.  This study circle is intended for those who have taken youth services trips before and those who have never led such a trip. See video below to listen to the conversation.

MERGE weaves practical how to’s, biblical story, personal and group reflection, ritual and action goals after you get home to create a balanced, thoughtful experience for youth and adults.  In 2009, when Mennonite Mission Network asked Krista to write this book, this was the only resource that included ideas for pre-planning, as well as action plans for after you return home “down from the mountain top.”  This resource is intended to be a small part of a broader discipleship and faith formation ministry in your congregation.

Scripture Emphasis:  Exodus

Content Summary:

  • Introduction & Timetable for the trip

Before You Go:

  • Trust – Building a Team
  • Inner Life – Preparing to Meet God
  • Awareness – Understanding Culture
  • God’s Activity – Joining in God’s Mission

During the Trip:

  • Faith in Action – Serving and Learning Away from Home

After the Trip:

  • Reflection – What Did We Just Do?
  • Integration – What to Do with What We Learned?

There is also a journal included in the guidebook that you may reprint for each participant. You can order your copy of MERGE here.

Kathy Neufeld Dunn is the Western District Conference Associate Conference Minister for Kansas supporting pastors and congregations in the region.  She also serves as the Resource Advocate for WDC, coordinating and leading trainings and other educational events for pastors and congregations.  Most recently she was the pastor of First Mennonite Church, McPherson, KS.  She’s also had the privilege of leading a Service Venture trip.  She and her husband, Michael, share their home with three cats.  Cats are easier to herd than youth or young adults on a service trip.  (Just kidding.)


Krista Dutt currently works alongside Anabaptist churches in the Chicagoland area for Mennonite Central Committee.  She worked as Chicago City Director and Program Director over a ten year period for Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR) which is when she wrote Merge.  She graduated from Bluffton (College) University and AMBS.  She lives in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband, Jim and son, Ben and a host of pets of their choosing.

Below is the conversation that took place on Tuesday, March 21, 2pm EST with Krista Dutt, author of the book,  “Merge:  A Guidebook for Youth Service Trips”, hosted by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, conference minister for Western District.  In this conversation, Krista talks about why service trips are foundational to faith formation, best practices, and why the term “mission trip” isn’t the preferred word choice.  Brought to you by The Gathering Place–an online community for spiritual formation, resourcing, and networking faith formation leaders in Mennonite Church USA.

Study Circle–February

Sustainable Youth Ministry (ch. 10)

By: Mark DeVries

Tuesday, February 21st from 3:00-4:00 EST


Is the role of a youth worker/pastor to be a confidante to all the youth?

Is that really possible?

This study circle session will focus on the value of building social capital for each youth in one’s sphere of influence, or as DeVries calls it:  “a constellation of relationships.”  Participants will glean from DeVries’ work and the experience and expertise of the study circle participants to discover strategies to ensure that each youth in one’s sphere of influence has a number of adults in whom they can confide and share freely.

Sign up today!


This month’s study circle will be hosted by Randy Keeler, Professor of Religion at Bluffton University (OH) and long-time youth ministry worker.

Study Circle–January

This month The Gathering Place and Anabaptist Faith Formation Network is thrilled to have Melody Pannell, assistant professor of social work at Eastern Mennonite University, guest host this month’s study circle.

Welcome, Melody!

Melody will lead a discussion of Drew G. I. Hart’s book, Trouble I’ve Seen:  Changing the Way the Church Views Racism.






In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-black stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy.

Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

Bring your questions, bring your experience, bring your imagination, bring your open heart–all are welcome to this month’s study circle.

This study circle discussion occurred on Friday, January 20 at 2pm EST/1pm CST. You can view the discussion below:



December Study Circle

let-the-children-comeLet the Children Come

Author chat with Jeanette Harder

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

3:30pm EST/2:30pm CDT


It’s become clear to me in recent years how critical is the link between personal safety and faith formation.  If children are to develop a trusting relationship with God, they must first have safe and trusting relationships with adult caregivers.

We would like to believe that child abuse doesn’t happen in our churches, but research and experience tells is it does. How do we as formation leaders create a safe environment with trustworthy adults?

In Let the Children Come, Jeanette Harder outlines how to take significant steps toward preventing the tragedy of child abuse and neglect—steps such as building relationships with children and families and recognizing the signs and risk factors for abuse and neglect.

Jeanette is a member of my conference and has agreed to join us as we talk about her book.  I admire Jeanette and the way she has gently, courageously and persistently gone about the work of equipping faith communities to protect children.  She has a wealth of experience, so come ready to learn and ask your questions!

There ARE steps we can take!

Read about them in Jeanette Harder’s book, Let the Children Come, then join the study circle December 13. Sign up now! Jeanette and I look forward to seeing you there!


Shana 2014



Shana Peachey Boshart, Central Plains conference minister for Christian formation and editor of Anabaptist Faith Formation Network, an Anabaptist resource website.

November Study Circle: Overplayed

overplayedSports/Activities vs. Church

It’s a dilemma that both parents and congregational leaders often wrestle with. This month, join Shana Peachey Boshart, of Anabaptist Faith Formation Network as she facilitates our Learning Circle on this important resource.  If you are a parent, youth worker, teacher, pastor, this is a very helpful read with much wisdom!

Join in the conversation and we seek to empower our families and churches to find a third way. Sign up today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

3:30pm EST/2:30pm CST



Join our Facebook page to enter to win this FREE book by writing why this topic matter to you! 5 winners will be announced on November 1st. Sign up here to participate in the study circle.


October Study Circle

no-limitsFaith Reminds Us of the Limits of Politics.”

Tuesday, October 25 at 3:30pm EDT/2:30pm CDT.

Politics has limits? These days it is easy to get the impression that everything rises and falls on the impending election. What do you think? Does it?

“Perhaps part of the reason for growing political cynicism is that too much hope has been (mis)placed in government,” writes Cherie Harder in this blog post.

How much hope can be placed in government? How does our faith in Jesus inform our political advocacy? What are the limits of that advocacy? For me, advocating to government leaders on behalf of Pastor Max Villatoro has provided lessons on where I put my hope.

As a person of faith and a faith formation leader, what issues stretch and confound you about this election? Let’s talk about it!

Read this blog post by Cherie Harder, skim Article 23 of our Confession of Faith, and if you really want to dive deep, check out Anabaptism and the State: An Uneasy Coexistence by Sandra F. Joireman. (That is totally optional!)

Then, join the conversation on October 25.  I’m looking forward to it! Sign up today!

Shana 2014






September Study Circle

Our September Study Circle will discuss Randy Keeler’s article

“Anabaptist Youth Ministry Revisited.” 

Wednesday, September 21, 11:o0am EDT/10:0am CDT.


Randy is the Bible and Religion Professor at Bluffton University, and has done extensive research with youth and Anabaptist theology. In this article, Randy proposes that Anabaptist-Mennonite youth ministry will “include a particular understanding of discipleship, commitment to life in community, and the rejection of violence in any form.”

Here’s the link to read:…/Anabaptist-Youth-Minis…

There is a lot of fodder for discussion in this article!

Before our conversation, read the Intro on Page 1 and the section, “Reformulating a Contemporary Vision” (p.24 and following). If you have time to read more, read the section “Anabaptist-Mennonite Theological Considerations” (starting on p. 6).

As you read, jot down a response to the article to share with the circle.

Have you already formulated your own thoughts about what makes youth ministry distinctly Anabaptist?shana study

Please come and share your thoughts!

This is one of my favorite topics because I think it’s really important that Mennonite youth leaders be thinking theologically about how we do what we do.

Make sure to sign up to save your spot for the study circle convo!

Talk soon!

Shana Peachey Boshart

 Shana Peachy Boshart (3)

Study Circle


Amplifying Our Witness  by Benjamin T. Conner

This month we will be reading Amplifying Our Witness:  Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities by Benjamin T. Conner.  Nearly twenty percent of adolescents have developmental disabilities, yet far too often they are marginalized within churches. Amplifying Our Witness challenges congregations to adopt a new, practice-centered approach to congregational ministry — one that includes and amplifies the witness of adolescents with developmental disabilities. Replete with stories taken from Conner’s own extensive experience with befriending and discipling adolescents with developmental disabilities, Amplifying Our Witness:

  • Shows how churches exclude the mentally disabled in various structural and even theological ways
  • Stresses the intrinsic value of kids with developmental disabilities
  • Reconceptualizes evangelism to adolescents with developmental disabilities, emphasizing hospitality and friendship

We will be gathering to reflect on this book, Tuesday, May 24, 2pm EDT.  Sign up here.  Space is limited.