I’ve shameless stolen the title for this post directly from an article published in the current issue of Lifelong Faith: “Leadership for 21st Century Faith Formation” (Spring 2011). As you may have guessed from previous posts, I think the John Roberto (who wrote the article) and his colleagues at Lifelong Faith Associates are doing the most innovative work being done today in the world of faith formation (or faith development or religious education). And this article is a prime example. Roberto has taken the notion of being a curator (both online and face-to-face) and applied it faith formation in congregations. If you aren’t acquainted with the concept of curating (especially online), don’t worry, this brief article is an excellent primer. What’s more, Roberto has applied this idea to some work they’ve already have done on six ways to offer content to people across the lifespan:

  • Faith Formation on Your Own: through reading, online courses, audio and video programs, movies, television programs
  • Faith Formation at Home: through Bible reading, storytelling and caring conversation, prayer and devotions, rituals and traditions, service
  • Faith Formation in Small Groups: through Bible and theology study groups, social issues study groups, faith sharing groups, lectionary-based groups, service/mission action groups, support groups, special interest groups
  • Faith Formation in Large Groups; through courses, speaker series, workshops, film festivals, retreats, conferences, intergenerational programs
  • Faith Formation in the Congregation: through Sunday worship, church year events and celebrations, service/mission activities, ministry and leadership in the church and community

Put these two concepts together, and you have the recipe for a top-notch lifelong faith formation network that congregations of almost any size can develop. Actually, it’s not a matter of can, it’s a matter of must. I honestly believe that only the congregations that have established a vital web presence in regards to faith formation are going to survive the next ten years or so. And I know of no better introduction on how we can go about doing this than John Roberto’s article. So do yourself a favor and take a look at it: Becoming a Faith Formation Curator. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the article.

In this world of content abundance it becomes possible for a congregation to provide faith formation for everyone, anytime, anywhere, 24x7x365.

The role of the leader in faith formation is shifting from providing religious content and programming to curating religious content and experiences for all ages.

A content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes, and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific subject to match the needs of a specific audience.

Faith formation is no longer about offering “one size fits all” curriculum or programming for a whole age group or generation—assuming that everyone is at the same point in their spiritual and religious growth. Churches can now meet people at the point of their spiritual, religious, and learning needs and offer personalized opportunities for faith growth.