The Church is changing rapidly. The ministry of Christian Formation is changing rapidly as well. Yet where is it going, and what is it becoming?
In a packed conference room of the Tamaya Resort during the 2013 Forma Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Episcopal formation leaders from all over the United States gathered to discuss this very question. Led by Wendy Barrie, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries for St. Bartholomew’s in New York City, a standing room only group pondered “The Church Post Sunday School.” While everyone in attendance cared passionately about the task of forming others in the Christian faith in this twenty-first century, no one could definitively tell us exactly how this task was to be accomplished.
While a few parishes have large, well-attended Sunday morning Christian formation programs, most parishes do not. One hears whispers and murmurings that the Sunday School movement is on its way out…if not in the final stages of dying already. But what will take its place? Will we return to the ancient practice of parents forming their own children in the Christian faith at home? Will Episcopal schools take on more of this task? What about the formation that takes place in summer camps? Will our children get most of their “formal” Christian education and formation at weekend retreats or summer programs?
Those are the questions I hope to explore with you, the readers and contributors of Episcopal Teacher, during my year as Guest Editor. I am thrilled at the opportunity to ask the most thoughtful, wise, and creative folks in the Episcopal Church these very questions. I also look forward to sharing with you the latest resources that will form the “puzzle pieces” of this ministry, even before we see the complete picture.
So where do YOU see the ministry of Christian formation going? We invite you to share your own ideas, to read and discuss the ideas within these pages, and to help navigate the road to a new and renewed ministry of formation that will transform our Church in the twenty-first century.This article was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Episcopal Teacher.