Where I’m Coming From, Part 2

From part one: Back in 2009 a lamentable (but predictable) loss of membership started for the UUA. In the same year I’m introduced to Faith Formation 2020.

Wherein John Roberto lays out four scenarios for the future of faith formation. While there’s a fair amount of uncertainty, one thing is sure. We’re not going to see a lot of churches in scenario one: Vibrant Faith and Active Engagement

Fortunately, Roberto has given us some hope. Sixteen Faith Formation 2020 Strategies: “practical ideas and resources for addressing the challenges and opportunities in each scenario over the next ten years.”

  1. Faith Formation through the Life of the Whole Church
  2. Faith Formation using Digital Media and Web Technologies
  3. Family Faith Formation
  4. imageedit_15_4810638464Intergenerational Faith Formation
  5. Generational Faith Formation
  6. Milestones Faith Formation
  7. Faith Formation in Christian Practices
  8. Transforming the World: Engagement in and Formation for Service and Mission
  9. Spiritual Formation
  10. Multi-Ethnic Faith Formation
  11. Faith Formation for Spiritual Seekers
  12. Apprenticeships in Discipleship
  13. Pathways to Vibrant Faith and Active Engagement
  14. Faith Formation in Third Place Settings
  15. Empowering the Community to Share their Faith
  16. Interfaith Education and Dialogue

As Roberto says,

The sixteen strategies are not just “good ideas.” Each one is grounded in practices that are already being implemented in one form or another in congregations and religious organizations today.

Of course, no congregation is going to be able to implement all sixteen strategies. So where to begin?

The first thing to note is that not all of the strategies apply to all of the scenarios.

For example, the first strategy, “Faith Formation through the Life of the Whole Church,” assumes people are already coming to church. So it applies to scenarios 1 and 4, “Vibrant Faith and Active Engagement” and “Participating but Uncommitted.”

The fourteenth strategy, “Faith Formation in Third Place Settings,” is more of an outreach strategy. So it applies to scenarios 2 and 3, “Spiritual but Not Religious” and “Unaffiliated and Uninterested.”

So if a congregation wanted to focus on the people who were already in their pews, they might want to start with the first strategy.

And if a congregation was primarily interested in outreach, scenario fourteen might be the one for them.

Six of the strategies, however, apply to all four scenarios.

  • Faith Formation using Digital Media and Web Technologies
  • Milestones Faith Formation
  • Faith Formation in Christian Practices
  • Transforming the World: Engagement in and Formation for Service and Mission
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Multi-Ethnic Faith Formation

Of these, one was a no-brainer—”Faith Formation using Digital Media and Web Technologies.” If we aren’t fully engaged in this brave, new, networked world, we’re toast.

But there were two other strategies on this short list that caught my eye and captured my spiritual imagination. “Transforming the World: Engagement in and Formation for Service and Mission” and “Spiritual Formation.”

Why? One, because they do apply to all four scenarios, so working on these two might make a church more attractive to both friends and members and the spiritual but not religious and nones.

And two, most of the congregations I’ve worked with are already engaged on some level with these two strategies. The trick is how to up that level of engagement to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

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