Adult faith formation resources: The essentials

Editor’s Note: Lisa asked Kyle to help teach her Christian education class today, on the topic of planning, resources, and best practices for adult faith formation. A quick post seemed as good a place as any to collect recommended resources. And posting these “lecture notes” allows them to reach a larger audience—always our goal.

First, a bit on where I’m coming from: For about 15 months new, I’ve been working as the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. I was brought on board primarily to help grow the CMT beyond being a building with lots of curriculum and books (library skill set) to become an online hub for faith formation resource curation (online publishing skill set). (Learn more about the process, which we’re calling out “digital mission.”)

The task of connecting faith formation ministers (clergy, lay professionals, volunteers) with quality resources has become decentralized in a the era of new media and in a time when church budgets and personal schedules are under a lot of pressure. Our older answer was “Come to Key Hall and look around.” Our new answer, in effect, is “Point your browser here (and here and here and here)”—more on where in a minute.

We should first note that this distributes the onus of resource evaluation more equally between curator and user. There’s a ton of good stuff out there, and even more garbage. We can point you in the right direction, but we can’t vouch for every piece of content you’ll find in a given place.

That means, first of all, that we should mostly point you to places we know and trust. Here’s a few:

Building Faith – Easily the best faith formation blog in Episcopal circles (and widely respected even beyond them). Daily posts are often seasonal and frequently include to entire lists of useful resource links.
Faith Formation Learning Exchange – Best place for research on age cohorts. New redesign launches soon and will include recommended program resources, way more blog content, and i-depth articles by the sites curators (including yours truly).
Lifelong Faith – Website of our colleague John Roberto, a giant of the field. Includes practitioners resources and his free e-journal.
Center for Spiritual Resources – An exciting experiment in crowdsourcing resources for the church. We believe this site will continue to become a clearinghouse for both free and paid resources well beyond just Christian faith formation.
Vibrant Faith at Home – A source of realistic faith activities for all ages and household types. An invaluable library for resources “faith at home” initiatives.
Thoughtful Christian – Probably the best e-marketplace for Christian education materials. Tons of downloadable studies.
Storypath – This is a children’s resource but a great site to know about. Recommends children’s literature that can be linked to church life via theme- and scripture-based indexes.
Sticky Faith – Another non-adult site, this one based at Fuller Seminary and focusing on making research on youth and young adult faith development accessible to youth ministry practitioners.
Publishers we like and trust include Church Publishing/Morehouse, Augsburg Fortress/Spark House, Leader Resources, Forward Movement, Living Compass, and the Society of St. John the Evangelist.
The centralizing of resource centers also means you need to think through whether the stuff you’ve found is trustworthy. Here’s a list of guidelines we helped develop for people who contribute content. They should be useful for you as well as you evaluate it.

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