Communities of (Digital) Practice:
Preparing religious leaders for lively online engagement
By Dr. Elisabeth M. Kimball and the Rev. Kyle Matthew Oliver Center for the Ministry of Teaching, Virginia Theological Seminary
Given at the Religious Education Association Annual Conference in Boston, November 2013
The digital revolution has expanded the skill set needed for leadership in faith communities. Theological education has adapted slowly. We chronicle the transformation of a teaching and learning center at a denominational seminary from static resourcelending enterprise into a dynamic learning lab for digital engagement. Convening communities of digital media practice in an action research setting, the center equips religious educators to be substantial contributors to online conversations about faith. Using situated learning theory, we discuss our research with faith formation practitioners and seminarians.
Who are we?
Understanding action research as “the systematic collection of information that is designed to bring about social change” (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992, p. 223), this project began with a simple mission: to transition an underutilized, brickandmortar seminary Christian education resource center (filled with books, curriculum, and classroom manipulatives) into a relevant and responsive digital resource center and learning lab for faith formation leaders around the world and for our seminary students, faculty, and staff. Our goal is to join these constituencies in developing the new media skill sets for effective pastoral, educational, and missional leadership.
Several factors contributed to our general belief that such a transformation was necessary:
- the pervasive anxiety in faith communities across the United States as religious affiliation declines (ARIS 2008, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, and FACT 2010),
- a related measurable decline in mature faith and religious identity,
- increasingly acerbic religious rhetoric in the public square,
- continued shrinking among Christian denominations of publishing houses and professional education staff, and
- a combination of resistance to and confusion about how to train our seminary students for ministry with new media.
To that end, in July 2012, our director (Kimball) hired the first digital missioner and learning lab
coordinator (Oliver). Among the goals for this new missioner were to “pilot new collaborations with select partners and networks in support of Christian formation in and across diverse contexts and lifespan” and to “promote and support technologyenhanced instructional design among VTS faculty and alumni, equipping them to better meet the technological expectations of a digital age.”
In the course of reaching out and getting to know these constituencies, Oliver heard a number of significant patterns:
- a growing awareness among congregational educators that traditional models for parish faith formation, especially gradebased Sunday morning instruction and inperson small group experiences on weekday evenings, are no longer reaching the large numbers of people who most need these formative experiences (most commonly cited reason: “they say they’re too busy”);
- a desire to identify new kinds of engaging faith formation resources, especially online images and videos, and to learn to adapt curriculum and other trusted resources and content for new kinds of delivery; and
- a vague belief across multiple denominations that digital communications technology might provide some of what’s needed for a proper response to these and other challenges.
As the emails, phone call records, and notes from informal discussions at conferences and other gatherings continued to pile up, we realized our center was a hub for a set of important conversations among practitioners who would be reshaping congregational religious education in North America. We decided to become partners and coaches in this work in an increasingly formal way and began to gather together groups of colleagues to that end.
How do we work?
Believing that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice (Wenger, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002) and that innovation and failure go hand in hand (“Fail early. Fail fast. Fail often.”), we jumped in.
This paper describes the process and results of eighteen months developing a dynamic epresence and digital laboratory to promote and facilitate lifelong Christian formation in diverse settings. We have attempted to harness the power of new media to cultivate trusted relationships with religious educators (in congregations, schools, camps, and faithbased initiatives) and to stimulate collaboration and learning within our seminary community. In these communities of practice , content (in the form of knowledge, skills, and best practices) was developed, curated, 1
1 Borrowing the term from cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, communities of and exchanged by all parties.
According to Etienne Wenger (2007), the domain (more than a club or network), community (trusted, mutuallyenriching relationships), and practice (develop shared repertoire of resources) distinguish a community of practice from other groups.
The domain of our work is most broadly Christians engaging in the “new public square,” the online information ecosystem that serves as an increasingly significant mediator of our shared cultural experience. This domain of practices, while ubiquitous, is particularly anxietyproducing for many faith leaders, especially demographically (technology is intimidating for many in the aging leadership of religious institutions) and theologically (in part due to the presumed impersonal nature of online communication in a community that values relationship, incarnation, sacraments, etc.). Our goal is to create an environment conducive to transformational learning , 2 such that individuals who initially view this domain as a missional distraction or intimidating quagmire come to recognize it as a creative and increasingly important venue for faith expression and leadership (e.g., Drescher, 2011; Cheong, FischerNielsen, Gelfgren, & Ess, 2012). In so doing, participants will build commitment to the domain and shared competence within it.
We are working with three somewhat distinct communities, ranging from entirely external (to our institution) to entirely internal. The external community is an informal, selfidentified network of alumni and professional colleagues in the Christian education field. Many of these colleagues are located near us geographically and represent the patrons of our physical resource center. A growing number are practitioners with whom we have connected through their “digital initiative” or ours (on social networks, via our website, etc.), at conferences and other professional events, and through collaborative research and development projects. The internal community is a growing number of seminary students, faculty, and staff who recognize the need for new media skill development as a matter of basic cultural competency for ministry or for some more specialized application in their fields of interest. The third community blends the other two and adds additional constituencies. It is our annual eFormation Conference, an international gathering for judicatory and congregational educators, church communicators, and
practice as understood in social learning theory are groups of people who share (an intentional) concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991). Of particular interest to us is the mutual accountability that is formed in a community of practice, linking individual actions to shared outcomes and changing worldviews. 2 We share with Mezirow (1991) a commitment to “perspective transformation” and with Brookfield (1986) the confidence that this can be achieved through the development of competence in critical reflectivity. As facilitators we challenge participants to examine their worldview, their previously held values, beliefs, and behaviors about teaching and learning in religious education, while attending to the significant realities of a hyperconnected global environment.
other faith leaders exploring new models, tools, and skills for faith formation in a connected, digital age.
With all of these communities, our practice is to model a cycle of connectionactionreflection: (1) We convene individuals around an identified purpose (e.g., congregational “faith at home” initiatives, young adult program development, using technology for faith formation, social justice advocacy, etc.), providing initial resources to stimulate a researchbased approach to project learning. (2) We support those individuals as they curate and develop new resources and implement action plans in particular ministry contexts. (3) We maintain an ecology of support and feedback emphasizing continuous experimentation, assessment, and mutual support. Through this pattern of action research , we build functional cells within the 3 community—sustainable partnerships and networks that will continue this action/reflection method in ongoing, digitally mediated contexts.
Our efforts have yielded a year’s worth of data that capture our efforts to convene and support communities of (digital) practice in faith formation and religious engagement. This paper will describe these communities’ embrace of new media as both subject and vehicle for continuing that mission.
What did we do?
Our projects to convene and serve these communities each had a different character. We describe three efforts here and summarize them in tabular form below.
Digital Media for Ministry
Digital Media for Ministry (hereafter DMM) was an independent study offered to VTS degreeprogram students in the Spring 2013 semester. The stated purpose of the study was “to 4 help prepare students to minister in technology and mediasaturated environments,” with a desired outcome of instilling “a greater understanding of the educational, pastoral, and missional dimensions of the online environment and practical experience with creating media for that environment.”
3 We are committed to a reflective process that allows for inquiry and discussion as components of the ongoing discovery. Our use of action research assists participants in assessing needs, documenting the steps of inquiry, gathering and analyzing resources (data), and making decisions that inform practice in their local contexts ultimately leading to their desired outcomes. Thus, our participants are responsible for active learning, making progressively more decisions as ministry leaders, and are held accountable by the group for the learning outcomes they articulated at the beginning of the project.
4 It will be offered again Spring 2014, and we hope to offer a full, formalized semestercourse by 2015.
The requirements for this studentdriven course were as follows:
- one substantial reading (book, series of articles or blog posts, etc.) chosen in consultation with the instructors;
- one or two 500word posts to a blog(s) of each student’s choice;
- one selfdesigned individual or group digital media project for selfpublishing online, with a preferred focus on faith formation or evangelism in a particular context; and
- three ninetyminute evening meetings for checkin, discussion, support, and food.
Our role as instructors was largely consultative; we suggested possible readings, provided feedback on a short project proposal, and facilitated student conversation and peer critique. Eight students enrolled in Digital Media for Ministry, with one graduating student dropping the class due to workload concerns in her other courses. We summarize the student demographics in Table 1.
Table 1: Digital Media for Ministry student information
Gender 4 female, 3 male
Degree Program 5 MDiv (ordination)
2 MA (lay)
Race 7 white (nonhispanic)
Age 3 aged 20–35, 2 aged
35–50, 2 aged 50+
Denomination 6 Episcopal, 1 Baptist
The eFormation Conference began its life as the eFormation Learning Exchange in June of 2012. The Learning Exchange was a gathering, by personal invitation, of national faith formation professors, consultants, and practitioners (most of whom specialize in using technology for this work) with a mostly local group of volunteer and professional educators and communicators from the congregational level. The event was minimally structured and combined prepared presentations that introduced important concepts (e.g., Roman Catholic catechist John Roberto on moving from faith formation programs to networks [Roberto, 2012]) and spontaneous talks
for sharing favorite online tools and approaches to using them in faith formation settings. After the event, feedback was positive and enthusiasm high. In November 2012, the leadership team from the first event began making plans for a larger international conference.
The 2013 program design attempted to strike a balance between skill building and tool training on the one hand and conceptual development and strategic planning on the other. A rough breakdown of the conference program is given in Table 2, and a complete conference program is in the Appendix. 201 people participated, including 21 via an online “webinar track” through the Friday and Saturday sessions.
Table 2: eFormation Program Design
Program Element Objective
Develop skills and get handson training for use of a variety of Web communication and learning technologies.
Friday Evening Plenary: “An eFormation Experience in Word, Music, Symbols, Images, and Ritual”
Encounter examples of faith learning and practice as expressed in the media of the four eras of communication: oral, written, massmediated, interactive (Lytle, 2013).
Saturday Content Workshops
Be introduced to learning models and best practices for using technology for the work of faith formation.
Saturday Plenary: New Media Ecology with NPR’s Sarah Lumbard
Hear outside perspective on the task of forming communities online.
Friday and Saturday Consultation & Networking Time
Meet informally with presenters and exhibitors to explore presentation followup and possibilities for collaboration.
Sunday Application Workshops
Create a plan for applying ideas from the conference in home learning setting.
The Hybrid Faith Formation Network Initiative (hereafter HFFNI) was born out of a failure of communication. At a conference for Episcopal faith formation professionals, a reader of our center’s print publication, Episcopal Teacher, approached Oliver with a question about his article on John Roberto’s work on faith formation networks (Roberto, 2012). She said that while she could tell it contained an idea that would be important to the future of her work, she couldn’t imagine what such a network would look like in practice at her congregation.
The conversation led to a semiformalizing of the model, combining Roberto’s with classic small group ministry models and borrowing ideas and language from hybrid learning theory:
- identify an area of shared interest for learning and growth (e.g., prayer at home) and connect interested individuals or families via a contextually appropriate “hub” (social networking group, shared blog, or email listserv),
- gather the group for monthly inperson meetings to build community and introduce important concepts and skills, and
- in the intervening time, learn “alone together” by trying out leaderprovided activities and discussing the results online (and hopefully discussing other faithlearning joys and challenges along the way).
Over the course of several months, we shared the model with other colleagues and gathered an interested group willing to try such efforts in their congregations during the 20132014 program year. Our action research orientation suggested a parallel approach in which the colleagues would be members of a learning network led by our center and leaders of faith formation networks in the contexts where they serve. The network of leaders gathered once per month in a Google Hangout (inperson gathering were not possible due to the geographic distribution of members) and in the intervening time engaged in guided readings (Lytle, 2013; Gould, 2013) and discussions via a Google Plus community. Table 3 describes the participants, their contexts, and the projects they led. All participants were Episcopalians.
Table 3: Hybrid Faith Formation Network Initiative Participant Information
Lay Position Gender or Ordained?
Context Network Convened
Minister for families (staff)
Female Lay Pastoralsized
Faith at home for families
Former leader of Christian education committee and current parish council officer (volunteer)
Male Lay Urban parish
making transition from pastoral to programsized
Spiritual practices for participants in parish fellowship dinners program
Faith formation officer (staff)
Female Lay Midsized
Skills for digital faith formation for leaders in parishes
Assistant pastor (staff)
Male Ordained Corporatesized suburban parish
Group bible study for individuals; general online learning program for individuals
Minister for youth (staff)
Female Lay Programsized
Idea exchange for parish teachers; faith at home for Sunday School parents
Assistant pastor (staff)
Male Ordained Programsized
Faith at home for families
Minister for children and youth (staff)
Female Lay Corporatesized suburban parish
Faith at home for families
Table 4 contains our attempt to compare and contrast the three initiatives. From the perspective of the leadership offered by our center, we are interested in how they complement one another
(allowing us to reach different segments of the communities we serve with appropriate training, coaching, and instruction) and how they build collegial relationships among reflective practitioners (hopefully leading to the formation of new networks and initiatives, including ones that we don’t have to directly facilitate). In each of the three initiatives, we observed the deepening process of participation that characterizes learning in communities of practice, and measurable outcomes as a result of that participation.
Table 4: Comparing CMTConvened Communities of Practice
NEED TABLE 4 CONTENT ORGANIZED IN A COPY AND PASTE-ABLE FORMAT
What have we learned?
Creating a community of practice requires careful attention to expectations. There is a significant difference between working with students in a forcredit class with established boundaries and accountability, with conference participants who voluntarily paid a registration fee, and with professional practitioners who were volunteering their time (albeit for professional development purposes). In all three cases, it was important to negotiate expectations. But the process and ongoing system of accountability for meeting these expectations required progressively more time and effort as we moved from class to conference to hybrid network.
The geographic distribution of our HFFNI combined with the extended nature of this community’s work together ruled out the opportunity for inperson interaction. Such interactions are the more familiar approach to establishing a community of practice, and this is partly because they much more effectively nurture the building of trust. We found it quite challenging and timeconsuming to help build the trust necessary for the HFFNI participants to embrace the collaborative nature of identifying common learning interests and being vulnerable in the learning of unfamiliar technologies. Yet, as the weeks unfolded, participants increasingly communicated directly with each other, node to node in the new network, healthily bypassing us as the perceived hub.
In future iterations of the HFFNI, we hope to use the facetoface web conferencing time more for community building and less for negotiation of logistics. We found that smaller web conference conversations with interestgroup clusters were particularly effective in creating a willingness for participants to be vulnerable and to learn more from each other than from us.
On the other hand, the distributed nature of the HFFNI program allowed participants to be deeply embedded in the continuing work of faith formation in their contexts while interacting with an ongoing learning community, thus bringing domain and process together in a messier but rich manner.
The experience suggests that some effort to facilitate continuing networks of collaboration beyond the DMM class and eFormation Conference could be worthwhile. This would likely assist in learning transfer—continuing the community support into the period of practice in the domain and establishing a structure for future accountability and followthrough. We do have anecdotal evidence that some informal longterm networking did take place in the DMM and eFormation communities; certainly most participants are better connected to our center than they had been, some have created intentional groups/circles on Facebook and Google Plus, and many are regularly following one another on a variety of social media platforms. Encouraging participants to form more cohesive continuing communities when they graduate (DMM) or return home (eFormation)—preferably independent of our center’s direct facilitation—would serve the church well.
The inverse is probably true for the HFFNI participants. Encouraging them to gather together for a period of intense personal interaction (perhaps at the eFormation Conference, which some of them attended) could strengthen their cohesion and make them less reliant on our continued leadership, freeing us to start the process anew with different cohorts.
Where are we going?
We believe our biggest service in calling together these communities of practice is providing safe, structured places for discernment, innovation, action, and reflection. In time, we have watched class, conference, and network participants work through hesitation and technophobia (or in some cases overexuberance and technophilia) to a focused attention on the details of their educational and communication goal: identifying a message, designing a method, and then creating new media to achieve it (Lytle, 2013, p. 127). Participant learning has had direct impact on their primary audiences: their congregations, students, or classmates. Watching that unfold has often been rewarding.
Besides the adjustments mentioned above, we are also interested in helping practitioners learn to reach a wider audience and participate in more diverse conversations—i.e., among people not necessarily connected to their ministry settings. Although many of them do this in a de facto way by identifying as people of faith when they participate in the everyday conversations happening all over the social web, they are much more anxious (and understandably so) about making religious connections more explicit and conversation partners more diverse.
One of our HFFNI participants (a priest) was told by his congregation that by showing up in the places where they spend time in their everyday lives, he helps to “sanctify” the conversations that happen in those places. Increasingly, he and they are aware that large swathes of the digital space also play host to those public conversations. We are glad he has been “taking the plunge” and bringing his pastoral and educational perspective to bear in public online, and we hope to help others do likewise.
Contributing substantially to public conversations about faith takes practice, and building communities of practice fluent in digital media will continue to be essential for improving the value of these conversations—both as religious education and as social and civic engagement more generally.
Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. K. (1992). Qualitative research for education: an introduction to
theory and methods. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Brookfield, S. (1986). Understanding and facilitating adult learning. San Francisco:
Cheong, P. H., Nielsen, P. F., & Gelfgren, S. (Eds.) (2012). Digital religion, social media and culture: Perspectives, practices and futures. New York: Peter Lang Publishing
Drescher, E. (2011). Tweet if you [love] Jesus: Practicing church in the digital reformation. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.
Gould, M. (2013). The social media gospel: Sharing the good news in new ways. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lytle, J. A. (2013). Faith formation 4.0: Introducing an ecology of faith in a digital age. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.
Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: JosseyBass.
Roberto, J. (2012). Faith formation 2020: Designing the future of faith formation. Naugatuck, CT: LifelongFaith Associates.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A
guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Appendix: eFormation 2013 Conference Program
The publicly available materials, including some session recordings, can be found at http://www.eformationvts.org/conferencematerials/
Friday Bootcamp Workshops
Your Ministry Gone Google – Parts 1 & 2 – Randall Curtis & Robbin Whittington
This three hour workshop will teach you to more efficiently use Google’s three major products: Gmail, Google Docs and Drive, and Google Calendar. You may have used these programs before, but you will learn how to get the most out of Google so that you can spend less time at your computer and more time in your ministry. Each participant should have a Google account before attending the session and bring a laptop to get the full benefit of the workshop (your experience and abilities with Google will be very limited if only using a tablet).
Social Media in the Congregation: Using Facebook and Twitter – Anna Rendell
Does using social media really make an impact? Have you been thinking about creating a Facebook page for your congregation or do you have a Facebook page for your congregation that you are not using effectively? What’s a tweet and how can you use Twitter in your congregation? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, this workshop is for you! Learn skills and tips for effectively utilizing Facebook and Twitter in your congregation, and why using social media matters.
Seeing Face to Face: WebBased Video Conferencing – Julie Lytle & Kyle Oliver
Sustained relationships are essential for effective faith formation yet it is increasingly difficult to find time to meet physically. Improvements in Internet connection speeds and lightweight browser plugins are making reliable, affordable web conferencing available like never before. Churches and schools are getting in on the action, facilitating facetoface connections for small groups, distance learning students, and even guests who want to see what your church is up to. Join two experienced users in surveying the videoconferencing landscape (including Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and Adobe Connect) and find the tool that’s right for you.
Share Your Story with the World through Blogs – Sharon Ely Pearson
Learn how to share your own perspective on the world, the church, and ministry to a wider community through blogging. Derived from a mashup of the words “web” and “log,” blogs are platforms for sharing written content, videos (vlogs) and photos. Explore how WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Posterous, and Tumblr work and how you can create your own content in this form of digital ministry including posting, photos, comments, tagging and linking to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Expanding Social Media in Your Congregation: Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and More – Anna Rendell
You’re on Facebook, but now you—and your congregation—want to use more social media. Learn how to use Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, and LinkedIn in your congregation; and how to keep yourself organized and save time by using Tweetdeck.
Faith in Motion: Creating Video for the Web – Curtis Prather & Kyle Oliver
The JudeoChristian tradition has always depended on the ability to tell a good story. And since at least the ascendance of YouTube in the past decade, web video has been one of the most powerful tools available. From quickanddirty to polishedandprofessional, our presenters believe any church or school can learn to use web video—recorded and live—to tell the story of your organization and the story of the gospel. Join us to learn the basics of shooting, editing, and streaming.
The Digital Church Welcomes You: Building an Effective Online Website Presence – Peter Turner
Your website is the first — and possibly only — impression that people have of your parish, school, diocese, or ministry. What impression do visitors get when they visit your website? This
talk covers the do’s and don’ts to creating a dynamic website and the steps involved and, and includes review of a case study, practical examples, and resource materials to take away and use.
Designing an Online Faith Formation Center – John Roberto
Learn the “basics” of developing an online platform (website) for faith formation – filled with great content and experiences. This workshop will utilize the Weebly.com platform for designing a website and engage you in designing a website for a target group (children & parents, youth, adults, families) and learning how to add content and experiences that provide a online center for learning and faith growth. Examples of online congregational faith formation centers will also be presented.
Designing Dynamic Presentations – Lisa Kimball
How can you use the latest technologies and tools to create dynamic presentations. Explore how to get the most from Powerpoint, Prezi, Google Slides, and more to promote optimal learning.
Friday Evening Plenary
“Faith Formation in the Connected, Digital World – An eFormation Experience in Word, Music, Symbols, Images, and Ritual” – Dr. Lisa Kimball with Guest Presenters and Worship Leaders
Saturday Workshops & Plenary
eFormation with Families: “Analytics Don’t Lie” – Leif Kehrwald
Ever send faith stuff home? How do you know it gets used? The research is clear about what families ought to do to grow in faith at home. But what are they willing to do? In the last year we have posted more than 300 faithforming activities for 20,000+ viewers and users of Vibrant Faith @ Home (www.vibrantfaithathome.org) and we’ve learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t. Based on site analytics we’ve identified twelve characteristics of a faithforming activity that will actually get used at home. Our authors rely on these everyday, and so should you.
The New World of Curriculum – Sharon Ely Pearson & Dirk deVries
Teaching in the digital age has taken on new meaning, and this includes how we use resources in faith formation. Digital delivery is becoming more popular in providing Christian education materials as educators and students are going online to find reliable, valuable and
uptotheminute information. Online curriculum offers flexibility as well as ways to connect to multimedia in ways we have only begun to discover. How has curricular design kept up with how content is now delivered to digital immigrants teaching digital natives? What does the future look like for Christian education resources?
Faith Formation 4.0 – Julie Ann Lytle
Jesus told stories (1.0Oral), Paul wrote letters (2.0Written), Reformers used the printing press while televangelists used radio and television to bring the Good News into every home (3.0MassMediated). Today, faithful people are integrating digital media and social networking into their efforts to invite and welcome new members (evangelization) as well as share Christian wisdom and practices (faith formation) (4.0Interactive). Their efforts depend not only on knowing the Christian message of God’s enduring love, but also how to use today’s tools appropriately, In addition to exploring the four eras of faith formation and the inherent characteristics of various communications media that influenced them, this workshop introduces a mantra, “Message, Method, then Media,” and the theological, educational, and technological wisdom necessary to guide decisionmaking in the Digital Age.
Advanced Web Design Seminar – Randall Curtis & Robbin Whittington
Dive deeper with this seminarstyle session on advanced web development topics, including search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Help take your website to the next level.
eFormation Learning Technologies in School Settings – Tim Welch
Learn a variety of ways to integrate technology into faith formation within schools (grades 112). This session will explore web tools, application ideas, how to use a tablet in learning and faith formation, and how to “flip” the classroom using the new online resources. The session will include many examples. Participants at all levels of tech familiarity will feel comfortable in this workshop.
Keynote Presentation: The New Media Ecology
Sarah Lumbard, Vice President, Content Strategy & Operations, National Public Radio
Interactive Session with Keynote Presenter Sarah Lumbard
This is an opportunity to engage in discussion with Sarah Lumbard and the key ideas presented in her keynote presentation in a smaller group format.
World Wide Witness: Empowering Digital Evangelists – Kyle Oliver & Weston Mathews
Social media have created a new public square where opinions matter and where change gains momentum. Many Christian thinkers see this phenomenon as an opportunity to practice and witness to their faith in positive, noncoercive ways. Our speakers will hold up best practices for online evangelism and reflect on its place in forming the faith of disciples on any stage of their journey.
Christian Formation through eLearning Methodologies: Examples and Best Practices in the Latino/Hispanic Context – Victor A. FelibertyRuberté, Pablo Velásquez Abreu, Omayra Caraballo Pagán, and Diana Rivera
The objective of this panel is to explore the myths and realities of virtual methods and to explain some pedagogical models for elearning and eformation through the proven experiences of two programs: one Chruchrelated in Colombia and another Universitybased from Puerto Rico to the world.
Mobile Apps for Faith Formation: What Do We Need, and How Do We Get There? – Kyle Oliver
Mobile technology is shaping the landscape of teaching and learning in ways that even education scholars can barely keep up with. So how can pastors and faith formation practitioners use the best of what’s out there and help to shape future offerings? Our speaker curates apps for a faith formation learning center and has dipped his toes in the development waters as well. Come learn with him and others who believe that apps can help disciples nurture their faith at home and on the go.
eFormation Online – Learning through Online Courses – Chris Yaw
It is widely understood that the vehicle for formation delivery in most local churches is undergoing tremendous strain. There is a wondrous new frontier of online learning opportunities opening up to congregations, including the possibility that every church can now have its own online school. In this workshop we will consider the ways online courses are being developed for churches, church members, and the religiously curious, examining pedagogy and instructional design in an atmosphere of lively discussion, curiosity, and imagination.
eFormation Learning Methods – Tim Welch
Discover a variety of digital tools and methods that can be utilized in faith formation with all
ages, including digital storytelling tools (photos, video, Prezi, YouTube Editor, etc.) and Blogger/Wordpress as a delivery platform. The session will also explore the “flipped” classroom as a great tool for agegroup and intergenerational models of learning.
Formation in Cyberspace: Social Media and Interactive Communication in the Church and Academy – Victor A. FelibertyRuberté, Rolando Méndez, Edgar GiraldoOrozco
The objective of this panel is to define the communication strategies and social media engagement activities for teaching and learning in the context of the Church and Academia.
Sunday Workshops & Plenary
Bringing eFormation to Life in Your Setting – Application Workshops
Children & Family eFormation – Leif Kehrwald, facilitator Youth eFormation – Randall Curtis, facilitator Young Adult eFormation – Kyle Oliver, facilitator Adult eFormation – Lisa Kimball, facilitator Older Adult eFormation – Robbin Whittington, facilitator MultiGenerational eFormation – John Roberto, facilitator Leadership & eFormation – Julie Lytle, facilitator
Images of the Future of eFormation Formation –Dr. Lisa Kimball with Guest Presenters
Experience images of the future of eFormation in word, worship, music, and art. Listen to a variety of voices imagining the future of faith formation in a connected, digital world. Create your vision of the future of faith formation in your setting.