To say that the pandemic has turned our world upside down is an understatement. In our ministry we have skirted potholes and faced detours. We have planned programs only to have to re-route, postpone, or scrap our ventures entirely. In spite of these challenges, faith formation leaders have proved to be a persistent and creative bunch. You have pivoted programming and maintained connections with families, always with the goal of sharing God’s love.
In peacetime or war, in times of plenty or hardship, the message of God’s steadfast love endures. We know that generations before us have responded by delivering faith in new ways that met the needs of their day. The stories and teachings of Jesus have been shared at the seaside and in the desert, in rustic churches and grand cathedrals, in homes and in communities. Whether we teach in person or online, our call is to love and serve the Lord and pass along the gift of faith to the next generation.
Covid has prompted us all to take stock and re-assess. This is a good time for faith formation leaders to step back from the day-to-day details of ministry and climb up to the balcony to reflect. What are surprises or successes of the last two years? What new ministry or approach is needed for the future? Which programs can you let go of?
We are called not only to adapt, but also to innovate. Innovation is a pro-active and intentional process. The first phase involves dreaming, planning, and preparation for a new direction. If the initiative involves something that marks a big shift away from familiar routines or traditions, it is wise to try it as an experiment with a set period of limit. Then, while implementing the experiment, it is crucial to take notice. Pay attention to the impact. Who participated, and who was absent? What kind of energy was present? Where did the spirit show up? How did it meet your ministry mission and goals for faith formation? Finally, take some time to debrief and reflect on the experience. What needs tweaking? How can you iterate? Use these observations to help determine your next steps before repeating the cycle.
Here are three resources that you might find helpful as you re-imagine faith formation for these times:
- Re-Imagining Faith Formation: A Holistic Vision and Approach – SNEUCC zoom offering on Thursday, June 23. Patricia Berry and Kathie Jackson of United Congregational Church in Middletown, RI will share the process that has energized their team and their ministry.
- 8 Game Changers for the Post-Pandemic Church- An on-demand PRC webinar with Kay Kotan. (Did you know that all PRC resources and recordings are available free of charge to all SNEUCC congregations-- clergy, staff, and lay leaders?)
- Post Pandemic Pondering and Planning: A Resource for Faith Re-Formation- A set of reflection pages that can help you and your congregation evaluate and plan next steps.
Prayer: O God, show me the way. My destination is deeper discipleship and a faith filled with vitality. Be a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.
Debby Kirk is the Faith Formation Team Leader of the Southern New England Conference. She serves on the Faith Formation Team and oversees the Youth and Young Adult Ministries programs of the Conference. She organizes leadership development programs ...