Thursday, 11 September 2014

Faith Formation 21C with John Roberto

In early September  I attended workshops by John Roberto, author of "Faith Formation 2020" exploring the shape and nature of 21st century faith formation. Roberto challenges us as leaders to respond adaptively to the opportunities of the digital world.

"One-size-fits-all" faith formation strategies no longer work, according to Roberto, partly because of the diversity in generations and life stages, family life and membership, and religious and spiritual diversity. At the same time, people are more connected than ever thanks to electronic media and soacial media platforms. What might faith formation look like in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where information is personal, portable and participatory?

Roberto suggests a shift from thinking only about gathered groups to thinking about networks, from learning at the times and places that we designate to learning anyewhere, anytime. What is the number one faith-forming place? Answer: the family. Blended learning provides resources for learning at home (or on the train or bus) along with face-to-face opportunities to discuss, explore, create and practice. What can churches learn from the school classrooms of the future? The 'flipped classroom' brings 'homework' into the classroom and provides learning content to be explored at home. People can explore information at home (as distinct from listening to a talk or lecture 'in class') and then discuss, explore and practice when they gather. This opens up a whole range of learning possibilities, from 'curating' or collecting online content to reshaping how we teach and learn when we are together. 

The Faith Formation 2020 project has two websites, "Faith Formation 2020" and  "Faith Formation Learning Exchange". The umbrella website for the project, which features a free quarterly journal, is called Lifelong Faith.  

The Assembly FED unit will be working with synods' children youth and family ministry staff on follow-up and support to those wanting to implement some of these fresh approaches.