After the Madness: Grow Christians

On Sundays in Lent, we've been highlighting opportunities to follow Jesus in new ways. After all, you can't yuck it up with the Saintly Smackdown forever. Today we're talking about Grow Christians.

A couple of years ago, Scott (of SEC fame) and Nurya Love Parish rode to the airport together after a conference. They started talking and were lamenting how there weren't great blogs around for Christian parenting that worked for Episcopalians and other mainline Protestants. Soon Nurya and Scott were plotting and scheming, and the result is Grow Christians.

Grow ChristiansGrow Christians aims to create an online community of discipleship focused on the practical details of life at home. Gathering reflections, stories, images and recipes from diverse folks, this group blog inspires generations to come together as they celebrate the presence of God through the Christian year.

Grow Christians started as a pilot project for Lent 2016, a partnership between Forward Movement and Plainsong Farm. Today Grow Christians is operated by Forward Movement, and Nurya serves as editor and visionary-in-residence.

Several times each week, Grow Christians publishes on topics related to faith at home. Lent Madness fans will be especially interested in articles about how to celebrate the saints' days at home. But there are also article on raising kids in the Christian faith or talking about difficult subjects. You'll find great writing, ranging from poignant to prophetic, from humorous to handy.

Visit Grow Christians (, where you can sign up to receive emails whenever there's a new post. You can also find Grow Christians on Facebook. You might like to know that Grow Christians sometimes gives stuff away, and there's a giveaway running right now. You could get a bunch of great kids' books for free! Find the details on how to enter over at Grow Christians.


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Spread the Madness and Share Some Jesus

Lent Madness regulars will know that the Saintly Smackdown is sponsored by Forward Movement. Since 1935, Forward Movement has been inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists through print publications, conferences, and now digital resources. If you’re an Episcopalian, you’ve probably heard of Forward Day by Day, our flagship daily devotional read in print by over 500,000 people each day around the globe. If you’re not an Episcopalian, you’ll still find lots of what Forward Movement does of great use, including resources to encourage scripture engagement (you know…Bible reading) and daily prayer (talking to Jesus about why your saint isn’t in the next round, etc.).

While Tim and Scott are constantly hawking wares from the Lentorium, we’re glad that Lent Madness is free—just like grace—for anyone who wants to play. It’s part of Forward Movement’s ministry and mission to find new and innovative – and sometimes fun! – ways to draw people into a transformed life as a follower of Jesus. Continuing to offer Lent Madness—and a vast array of formation and meditation resources free of charge is paramount to us. And you can help us do that.

Free Forward Day by Day

The Rev. Kempton Baldridge distributes Forward Day by Day on a river towboat crew. Photo: Gregory Thorp.

Every year, Forward Movement gifts more than 100,000 items of literature to prisoners, hospital patients, nursing home residents, and military personnel—free of charge. Thanks to support from a grant from the Constable Fund of the Episcopal Church, Forward Movement is able to offer excellent Christian formation materials to congregations free of charge, though even this effort involved a considerable investment—stuff’s gotta get written, edited, proofed, printed, shipped, and arrive in your hands to be actual stuff. Resources in Spanish for growing Latino/Hispanic communities take some time to become self-sustaining, so these resources require donor support to help get them off the ground and into hands and hearts. Grow ChristiansOur latest free offering is Grow Christians, a community of disciples practicing faith at home.

If you love Lent Madness—and we’ve heard from so many that you do—we hope you will consider making a generous gift to Forward Movement. Offer it in honor of your favorite saint if you like. If you want our church to be enriched by low-cost or free resources, please consider making a generous gift. Every gift given to the glory of God and for the support of all the saints, known and unknown, helps more than we could ask or imagine.

You can make your gift online or by phone (during business hours, 800-543-1813). Thank you for playing, and thank you for your support.

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Saints alive! Great resources for free!

Regular readers will know that the Lentorium is chock-full of wondrous gems and glorious tchotchkes at bargain prices. But not everything great costs money. Some of the best things in life are free, and that's why we'd like to make sure our global reading public knows about some excellent free resources from Forward Movement, the official sponsor of Lent Madness.

Meet the SaintsThe Celebrating the Saints curriculum is a free year-long study of the lives of the saints. Celebrating the Saints equips facilitators and youth and adult participants to follow Jesus while learning more about twenty-six of the monks, missionaries, prophets, doctors, evangelists and more who are named saints in the church's calendar. Celebrating the Saints is designed for use in weekly youth and adult formation times and lessons are easily adaptable. Each hour-long class stands on its own and can be used independently or rearranged in any order. The curriculum provides course overviews, step-by-step instructions, discussion questions, activity suggestions, and handouts for the participants. If you are using the guide on computer, tablet, or smartphone, the hyperlinks are enabled.

Celebrating the Saints also offers corresponding lessons for children. This all-ages format allows families to learn about the same topic, each in their own class, and have a shared starting point from which to talk, discuss, and learn together when you return home. You can learn more or download the courses (children or youth/adult). The course is also available in Spanish. If you want to see a preview, here's the children's course sample or youth/adult course sample.


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There's more to Lent than madness

Now that Lent Madness is well underway, brackets are getting busted left and right. Mechtild of Magdeburg easily knocked Isaac the Syrian out of the running (77% to 23%) in yesterday's battle, the only Saturday contest of the season. Come back tomorrow, as the week starts off with John Wycliffe vs. Moses the Black at eight o'clock in the morning, sharp.

Of course, we at Lent Madness HQ hope that you have adopted a Lenten devotion beyond the madness. There are many ways to make good use of this Lenten season of repentance and renewal. You might cultivate habits of daily prayer or study. You might be more intentional about serving the poor or sharing of your abundance with those in great need. Obviously, if you're playing Lent Madness, you haven't given up the internet, and we don't suggest that (but if that's what you need, go for it!).

If you're looking for some help to get through Lent, there is still lots of time. Forward Movement, the official sponsor of Lent Madness has loads of resources to help you on the journey.

Ashes and the PhoenixNew this year, Ashes and the Phoenix brings together daily meditations, powerful poetry by Len Freeman, and Jason Sierra’s inspiring woodcut art on your Kindle, Nook, or iBook device. If you are looking for a resource focused on mission outreach and social justice, check out Meeting Jesus on the Margins (Kindle, Nook, or iBook), featuring meditations from Becca Stevens, Mike Kinman, and our own Hugo Olaiz, among other excellent writers.

At this time in our national life, when there has been much conversation about refugees, even as the number of displaced persons continues to rise around the globe, we invite you to engage this season in A Season of Prayer: 40 Days in the Desert. Each day will offer a prayer or scripture reading focused on themes of hospitality, migration, and refugee welcome.


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