Some how the last month disappeared in a blur of helping churches in our presbytery respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Now that Easter is past, I want to focus on how we can help leaders resource the faith growth and mission expressions of their communities in the coming months. What will church look like down the track? Will we simply go back to old patterns or will we build on our learning about being church differently. This is an unprecedented opportunity to help faith communities shift from a mainly gathered focus to both non-gathered and gathered expressions of discipleship. John Roberto (of Lifelongfaith.com) first talked about gathered and non-gathered ways of being church in his Comprehensive Approach back in the late 1980s.
Churches have tended to centre their programs and activities on certain locations (mainly the church premises) and times that suit the faithful. Roberto and others such as Dick Hardel pushed leaders to think about other settings – home, school, workplace, etc – as well as letting people choose their own times to engage in faith development. More recently, Roberto has prompted churches to think about the digital environment as broadening the faith formation ecosystem to include 24/7 anytime, anywhere, connection to faith development resources or opportunities.
So I’m going to exploring the intersection of three things over the coming months.
a. Daily practices of discipleship – how can these be fostered more intentionally in this time – both inward and outward practices
b. The Blended Learning spectrum – mixing online and offline learning opportunities, with people being able to make choices about when, where and how they learn
c. Local and regional strategies for Christian education and faith formation – helping congregations learn both within and beyond themselves, connecting within and drawing on wider learning resources.
This is going to be a work-in-progress within our presbytery.My aim is to help leaders’ thinking about these things as well as their practices, and to work with some congregations on some pilot stuff. I hope also to connect with what others have done or are doing in these areas, both in Australia and overseas.
Feel free to tag along.
Meanwhile, here are a couple of short videos that I made with John Roberto a couple of years ago.
Richard Franklin says
I like what John Roberto has to say although I would like to see an example where the faith community moves forward with the resources using them to develop community in which faith is practiced and provides opportunity to join community through the facilities of the internet. I have been reflecting on the models where there is a group training to be disciples. see Pathways by Morgan and Discipleship culture by Breen. Both these writers talk of discipleship training which leads to faith practice which lead mission practice while growing in discipleship.
Richard, Roberto has examples of that but I don’t have them at hand. If you go to lifelongfaith.com he has a ton of resources and some stories. Personally I’d say that discipleship is learned for mission, in mission and from mission. And yes, we don’t have much in the way of online examples yet, and I guess that’s why I’m keen to work on it, but also to hunt them out.