From November 7-10, 2011, leaders from across a variety of ministry settings gathered to envision the future shape of faith formation in The Episcopal Church. Through a scenario planning process the leaders identified significant forces affecting faith formation, determined two critical uncertainties that will shape future directions, and created four scenarios or narratives to capture the possibilities for the future of faith formation. The four scenarios are not predictions, projections, or prophecies but rather an attempt to provoke a realization that the future need not simply be more of the same.
The scenario planning process centered around a key focusing question: How might Christian lifelong faith formation over the next ten years affect the renewal and transformation of The Episcopal Church in 21st century America? After careful study of the significant driving forces, two uncertainties were selected from a longer list of potential uncertainties that might shape the broader context of church and faith formation over the next decade or longer. The two chosen uncertainties together define a set of four scenarios for the future of faith formation in The Episcopal Church that are divergent, challenging, internally consistent and plausible. Each of the two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that represents a continuum of possibilities ranging between two endpoints.
- The Relationship of Technology and Community – Will the continuing evolution of technology enhance human community and connection or will technology diminish community and connections among people?
- The Response of The Episcopal Church to Changing Global Realities – Will The Episcopal Church’s response toward emerging global realities, such as increasing cultural diversity, economic uncertainty and resource availability for all people, lead the Church toward an outward-focused engagement with the world or toward an inner-focused, separation from the world?
One of the resolutions to come before General Convention (Building the Continuum: An Electronic Learning Community) addresses one of the scenarios: A Church Engaged in the World & Community and Connection Enhanced by Technology. Little did the groups working on developing this scenario know that the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education had already proposed an “Online Learning Community” that would address the needs of this possible scenario.
This is a world in which The Episcopal Church utilizes all of the potential in current and emerging digital and web technologies to connect with people 24x7x365, build relationships and engage people in lifelong faith formation and mission to the world. Faith formation in physical places – congregations, camps, conference centers, and school – are all web- and digitally-enhanced, extending their programming into the everyday lives of people, anywhere and everywhere. People connect and mobilize for mission and collective action in the world using the new communication tools and web technologies. The Episcopal Church becomes a leader in utilizing the new technologies to develop lifelong disciples who are growing in their Episcopal faith and are actively engaged in transforming the world.
At the moment, there is NOT one concise location on The Episcopal Church’s website that is a portal for Christian formation resources . . . links to best practices, resources, people and programs. With the decrease in staffing positions on the local and diocesan level, such a portal is needed especially small congregations who struggle to find the resources and connections for engaging and current pedagogy in Christian formation.
Your support (with funding!) of Building the Continuum resolution at General Convention will help accomplish this!
- Investing in the Future (rowsofsharon.com)