A couple of weeks ago Building Faith shared a resource about resuming formation classes from the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) and the Office of Christian Formation in the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA)\, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I know this is not been the year to criticize ourselves for things we didn’t do well, whether personally or professionally. And while I haven’t felt ‘too’ bad about the lack of formation offerings at my small church or lack of formation classes attended by my own children over the past year, I have been wondering what it will look like this fall.
Pre-pandemic I taught a weekly intergenerational class following our 10:00 service of Holy Eucharist. During the pandemic, I’ve offered zero classes on Sunday morning. Post-pandemic, I really don’t know how to offer a class due to our space limitations and new time restraints thanks to a much needed second worship service to allow for physical distancing. I’m not panicking yet, but am curiously wondering how it will all fall into place.
I think this is why the resource from ACPE and PMA keeps popping into my consciousness. It’s titled it perfectly: Post Pandemic Pondering and Planning – A Resource for Faith Re-Formation.
I’ve read so many creative solutions to children, youth and adult faith formation during the pandemic: Zoom Godly Play, story time over Facebook Live, Instagram Reel conversations between youth ministers, and various ‘bring your own blanket to the church yard’ classes. Across the church we’ve tried on different methods of communications and technology. We’ve found some that worked and many more that didn’t. And yet, we kept adapting.
As we head toward the program year, we’ll adapt yet again. This resource beautifully reminds us that, “as we emerge from the pandemic, we are called to explore and think about faith formation for the coming months and years. Our aim may be the same as it was pre-pandemic. But we and our faith communities are not the same. We most likely cannot go back to doing things just like we did.”
For all the members of our Grow Christians community connected to faith formation, I encourage you to prayerfully work through this resource. We can’t jump back into classes and schedules as they were pre-pandemic. Our lives are different. Our churches are different. Our formation classes will be different.
Rather than carrying on with the familiar ways of calendar and curricula planning, let’s be intentional about our post-pandemic offerings. ACPE and PMA invite us to think about what flourished prior to March 2020, during the pandemic, and what success might look like in the coming year. Who joined your church community and who is no longer present? What losses have you experienced? What have you celebrated? What short-term and long-term goals do you have for your ministry?
Now is the time to reflect on the previous year as we plan for the coming one. I hope you’ll share in the comments how you are preparing for fall formation so that we can continue learning from one another.