A New Faith Forming Ecosystem Part 6: Digitally-enabled faith formation

by | Apr 21, 2015 | Digital, faith formation, Featured, ministry

This series on the new faith forming ecosystem is developed from John Roberto’s new book, “Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century,” available from LifelongFaith.com.  You can find part 1 (overview) here, part 2 (intergenerational relationships) here, part 3 (family) here, part 4 (age-specific faith formation) here, and part 5 (missional faith formation) here

The digital revolution has transformed almost every aspect of society. No facet of this revolution has more potential than its ability to change the way people learn. The availability of a vast array of knowledge and resources at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, together with the ability to connect instantaneously with peers and mentors across the street and around the world, make possible completely new learning environments and experiences. These opportunities are highly engaging and collaborative, and they are based on learners’ own interests and strengths. People can truly learn any time, any place, and at any pace today.

We have never had access to better technologies and resources for nurturing growth in Christian faith with all ages and equipping people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today. The new technologies and resources of the digital era provide tremendous opportunities for congregational faith formation to thrive in the twenty-first century. Just as an earlier era adopted the new technologies of the day—schooling and the printing press—to produce educational models using classrooms and teachers, catechisms and textbooks, the twenty-first century has digital technologies, tools, and media that can be utilized to create new models that will transform faith formation in a congregation.

We need to create new models of digitally-enabled faith formation that utilize the digital technologies and digital media to engage people with faith-forming content anytime, any place, just-in-time; and that can extend and expand faith formation in physical, face-to-face settings into people’s daily lives through digital content and mobile delivery systems.

RT @VibrantFaith: Digital faith formation allows us to engage people with faith-forming content anytime, anyplace. http://ctt.ec/99cP0+ Click To Tweet

We can develop blended models of faith formation that incorporate physical settings and online settings. These settings can be seen as a continuum: ranging from fully online programming to gathered programming in physical settings that use online resources.

  1. Gathered Program with Online Content: We can design a gathered program using online content from websites, videos from YouTube or other video sites, and blogs and other social media. With an abundance of high quality digital content, this first option is the easiest way to bring the digital world into a gathered program.
  2. Gathered Program and Online Content: We can connect church programs or events with online content that extends and deepens the experience through learning, prayer, ritual, action, etc. Gathered events and programs such as Sunday worship, church year feasts and seasons intergenerational and family programs, classes, youth group meetings, mission trips, retreat experiences, and vacation Bible school would all benefit from extending the experience with digital content for learning, praying, celebrating, having faith conversations, acting/serving, and more.
  3. Online and Gathered: We can “flip the classroom or program” by creating a digital platform to provide the content that people would learn in the gathered setting in an online learning space using print, audio, video, and more. And then transform the gathered program using interactive activities, discussion, project-based learning, and practice and demonstration.
  4. Mostly Online: We can offer opportunities for individuals, families, and small groups to utilize the digital platform as their primary learning setting and provide opportunities for regular interaction in face-to-face, gathered settings or in a web conference format, such as a Google+ Hangout.
  5. Fully Online: The rise of high quality and easily accessible online religious content—courses, activities, print and e-books, audio and video programs, and content-rich websites—has made designing online faith formation feasible.

Dive deeply into each area the ecosystem as part of Vibrant Faith University. 

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