I miss my hacker pals. You see, before I went to seminary, I worked with ascientific computing research group in the engineering department where I was pursuing graduate study. I wrote modeling software, which in my case meant developing a very technical program designed to study nuclear fuel recycling facilities and approaches (think SimCity with no graphics and no monsters).
What was so exciting about the work was the chance to learn with a bunch of really smart people who mostly had to teach themselves on the job. Our classroom study had ill-prepared us (we were mostly engineers, not computer scientists or software developers), and we only had one (very busy) advisor to go around. So the group formed a peer-training network; got connected to some mentors; and eventually started teaching classes,producing content, and even serving humanity as ways to share and apply what we were learning.
Little did I know in those days that I was already training for my current work in a resource center for teaching and learning in the church. It turns out that we self-starting grad students on the fourth floor of the Engineering Research Building had a lot in common with the lively faith formation networks I study and try to help support today.
After all, whose Christian classroom training prepared them sufficiently (in this case, for a life of faithful discipleship)? Certainly not mine. I’m constantly reaching out for help in work/faith/life to formal and informal networks of friends and colleagues: in person, by phone, and on social networks (including a private Facebook support group whose members ask and help each other answer several tough, real-life questions each week). Indeed, I now realize what a silly notion it is that Sunday school, adult formation classes, seminary, or any other single experience could possibly complete a person’s training to follow Jesus. It’s the work of a lifetime.
Like those hackers-turned-teachers-and-curators, some of the liveliest church circles I know of connect in person and online to share resources, encourage one another, and (not to get too mushy about it) engage in journeys of personal transformation. In my work as a curator for the Young Adult and Online & Digital Media centers here at the Faith Formation Learning Exchange, I hope to share the best of their stories and their resources with you. If you know of ones I should be passing along, don’t hesitate to be in touch.
There’s no definitive guidebook for forming disciples in the digital age. We’re just going to have to hack one together—with God’s help, and with each other.
This post was originally published at Faith Formation Learning Exchange, where Kyle curates content for the Young Adult and Online & Digital Media pages.