Last week Robynne Howard, Director of the Cairn Family of Camps, and I hosted a Zoom training session to introduce three hybrid faith formation models your church may wish to consider for the fall as we continue to stay out of our physical church classrooms. If you missed joining us last week, or want to review what was said, I want to share with you the video from that training session along with some handouts and resources that might help your church as you determine how you will be connecting with children and young people this year.
During our get-together we presented overviews on three distinct models for faith formation: Family-Based Faith Formation, Zoom Sunday School and Youth Gatherings, and Online/Google/Bitmoji Sunday School Classroom. Each model leans towards realizing an particular aspect of faith formation: building faith within families, building faithful relationships with others in the church, and providing cognitive education that is appropriate for the age of the participants, with no one model being perfect or able to do it all.
During our training session we encouraged people to consider first what the vision of their church was for faith formation with their young people, and encouraged everyone to choose the model that best fulfills their own church’s set goals. For one church that answer might be using an online classroom, while another church might decide that supporting and resourcing their families with faithful practices to do together at home would best meet their church’s priorities. Each church will need to chose the right model for their own goals and circumstances.
We also encouraged churches not to set aside the benefits the other models offer and to try and weave a little of each model in over time into their overall approach to faith formation. If your church starts out with an online Sunday school model, you may wish to add in a Zoom check-in on the last Sunday of every month to keep relationships with teachers and friends growing while fulfilling your cognitive educational goals.
In advance of the Zoom meeting Robynne and I emailed a handout to each participant that outlined the curriculum choices that were best suited to each model, and asked participants to have it with them for our time together. Many publishers have created new materials for this fall specifically for our present circumstances and this handout outlines those options as they connect with each model. You may wish to have a copy of this handout beside you as you view the video, as we refer to it from time to time throughout our presentation.
And so, with this introduction, here is the link to the video recording of the presentation including the brief Q & A which followed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUCUthBC7xY&feature=youtu.be.
In the family-based faith formation breakout group some questions were raised about bibles, books and other resources for families to use at home as they build faith together. The following handout lists recommended children’s story bibles by age, wonderful books to give to families for their use or read yourself as you imagine helpful ways of supporting your families, and helpful blog links for families to find resources, ideas and answers to questions. I often suggest with the blog list that churches think of recommending one of the blogs mentioned from time to time in the church newsletter, bulletin, weekly emails or from the pulpit (perhaps weaving a point from a featured blog into a sermon). By spacing out recommended resources to families over time we don’t overwhelm parents with too much to look at, and we also have the added opportunity to touch base with our families regularly while pointing them in the direction of great resources they may be interested in following up on over the course of a year.
During her breakout group Robynne recommended some great games and team building activities that translate well to a Zoom platform. Two resources were highly recommended from GoCampPro and Michelle Cummings that the Cairn staff used for inspiration throughout their Zoom-based camp programming this summer. These attachments are titled ‘Virtual Back Pocket Games’ and ‘Virtual Team Building Games’
We hope this video and the accompanying handouts help your church make wise choices for your educational ministry this fall. This is not the final word though. If you still have questions, or want to trouble shoot your first few weeks of educational activities this fall Robynne and I want to keep chatting.
At the end of our Zoom gathering we mentioned three followup Zoom meetings happening a few weeks from now on three consecutive nights starting on Tuesday, September 22. It is our hope that between now and then you’ll have a bit of time to think a little more about a model or models you’d like to work with this fall, and even try them out at your church. Our Zoom gatherings will start at 7 pm ET and last one hour. We will start with a brief introduction to the model being discussed that night and leave most of our time for questions and conversation. You can sign up to join one meeting, or come to them all if you’d like. Here are the dates and themes of each meeting:
Tuesday, Sept. 22 – Family-Based Faith Formation
Wednesday, Sept. 23 – Zoom Sunday School and Youth Gatherings
Thursday, Sept. 24 – Online/Google/Bitmoji Classroom.
To sign up for any of the meetings please email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which meeting(s) you’d like a Zoom invite to.
Take care and blessings, Tori