Wednesday, June 11, 2014

eFormation on the Holy Hill, Part II

Day two (Tuesday) of eFormation primarily focused, for me, on video production. I took a seminar series on video pre-production, production, and post-production and we talked about how that might be used in a parish setting. Useful information, though i was thinking it could have been done in two sessions versus three. I also attended a "designing adult education in a twenty-first century church" or something similar. We talked a lot about how to do adult Christian formation with people who work or commute long hours or otherwise simply do not have an hour or two a week to spend. Perhaps the best seminar was one on "curating" information on Christian formation. Before this, my assumption is that people could simply look up whatever they wanted online. As was pointed out, however, there is so much information available that it is very useful to people for a church to compile a page of trusted sources for Christian formation. So, I'll be putting a web page together on our church web site.

Wednesday was essentially a wrap-up day focusing on what people had learned about eFormation and looking forward to implimenting what we had learned. During lunch, we participated in a live-taping of "Easter People" the VTS Key Hall webcast.

Monday, June 02, 2014

eFormation on the Holy Hill

Old Chapel garden--where the altar once stood
For the first time in almost decade, I have returned to Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), my alma mater. I must say, it is a little strange wandering around buildings that hold so many memories from 20 years ago. The Addison Academic Center, brand new when I was here, is nearly two decades old. The old chapel is gone, consumed by fire several years ago and now a prayer garden. The new chapel is rising. Key Hall, once a classroom and storage space, is now the bright, airy location of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. Can't believe it has been nearly 20 years since I left this place.

One thing that has not changed is the seminary's commitment to teaching and learning. It has been a privilege to be back here for a conference on "eFormation"--highlighting how electronic media have changed how we are formed as disciples of Jesus and how we help form others. Like any conference, there is far more available than one can hope to take in. I focused my attention on only a few. On Monday, I attended "Stealth Christian Formation" with Tim Schenck (pronounced skank--make of that what you will). Tim talked about how to make everything we do in church a formation opportunity--as exemplified by the phenomenal success of Lent Madness, which he launched several years ago.

The next seminar was "Getting Started with Online Christian Formation" with Chris Yaw. I decided to take this class because Good Samaritan is a subscriber to ChurchNext, Chris' online video educational site.  He had some good reflections on this very early venture into helping churches set up online schools for members new and old. It seems like a great way to both connect with people who may never darken the doors of our church (not exactly a great image, actually...) and to teach and form people within our church without having to make things up from scratch--which many clergy end up doing because they don't know what resources are there for things like Confirmation classes. It was a good presentation and motivated me to actually start our own online school through our parish web site.

Finally, I ended up attending a "Curating Faith Formation: Digital Content for Bible, Theology, Spirituality, and More" with Sharon Ely Pearson and John Roberto. This was a fascinating seminar highlighting not only the HUGE array of web sites and materials available, but the critical task of curating--filtering, if you will--those resources for one's own congregation via the church web site. Oddly, it never occurred to me that people would look on our web site for links to help them study the bible, raise their children with Christian values, or deal with the challenges of growing older. I figured that it was out there and they would just find it. As was pointed out, however, Google is notoriously unselective when presenting resources, so some human curating is both necessary and valuable.

So, all in all, a great day of learning. Also, a great night in the new(ish) "pub on campus--named "1823" for the year the seminary was founded.