One of my favorite things about Faith Formation 2020 is the amazing amount of resources it puts at your fingertips. And when I say fingertips, I mean both Old School—a book you can actually hold in you hands and flip back and forth through the pages, and New School—a website that lets you explore the content with your keyboard and mouse or your touchscreen. To highlight some of those resources, I thought I’d do some posts on the main areas of the future of faith formation the book covers. To kick things off,  for the next few Fridays I’ll be looking at what the book calls “full-featured church websites.”

Two things to remember about these websites: first, “full-featured” refers to faith formation—these are websites that exemplify the notion of using the internet as a key component of a 24/7 faith formation network; and second, these are all Christian churches, so there’s lots of talk about God, Jesus, and the B-I-B-L-E. But we can handle that, right? Just set the input of your Universal Religious Language Translator to “Christian” and the output to “Unitarian Universalist,” then sit back and enjoy some pure Web 2.5 goodness. At any rate, I’ll start reviewing specific church websites next Friday. In the meantime, here are some of those features the Faith Formation 2020 folks took into consideration when they went looking for church websites that kick some serious you-know-what:

  • a learning center with courses and webinars on topics such as faith themes, Bible studies, life issues, and Christian practices, self-paced and facilitated by church staff and church members at scheduled times
  • audio and video podcasts of gathered learning programs at the church
  • links to selected online learning programs and activities from Christian churches, seminaries, universities, and publishers; links to courses on iTunes University and other online course providers
  • links to selected audio and video podcasts on iTunes, YouTube, and other providers
  • links to free e-book libraries, such as Google Books and Internet archive, and online Bibles, such as Bible Gateway and Biblica
  • a faith formation resource center with daily, weekly, and seasonal resources for all ages and families, including faith conversation activities, devotions and prayer, Bible reading activities and Bible studies, service projects, and rituals and traditions
  • a milestones and life transitions center with sections for each milestone that include rituals, blessings, commentaries, personal stories, and a “gathering space” for sharing stories and ideas
  • a worship center sharing audio and video clips of some of the sermons and other worship experiences, and extending it through the daily posting of images, songs, meditations, inspirational stories, prayers of the people, and online worship exercises
  • an online parenting center with “how to” parenting articles and videos, faith enrichment resources, a “gathering space” for parents to interact, a blog staffed by parent mentors, parent-generated ideas and activities, and links to highly rated parent and family websites
  • themed “gathering spaces” for synchronous and asynchronous interaction, including live text-based chat and live audio/video conferences, threaded discussions, collected blog links, self-paced tutorials on a range of topics, and so on
  • a library pod with access to e-journals, e-books, archived streaming video of speakers and events, a clearinghouse-type collection of links to resources, and other Internet-mediated resources
  • a mission/service opportunity clearinghouse for local, national, and international internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs
  • small group gatherings online for faith sharing, Bible study, and book discussions
  • a calendar of events with locations, times, and descriptions, with Web-streamed audio and video recordings of select offerings

Biblica? Wasn’t that a spin-off of Battlestar Davidica?