It can be hard to find formation resources that fit within our context as Canadian Anglicans. The national church doesn’t have the same resources as other provinces in the Anglican Communion do such as the Episcopal Church in the US or the Church of England. Also, we are a diverse and spread out church! A good resource developed in one diocese might not reach the eyes and ears of those in another diocese. This blog is an initial shortlist of some recently produced formation resources that could work in your context. I’ve chosen them based on three criteria:
- they are current resources, developed within the last five years, and have support for updates or continuing distribution
- they engage learners in a holistic way with an understanding that Christian formation is about transforming our minds, our hearts, and our practices
- they have been designed primarily by ordained and/or lay leaders within the Anglican Church of Canada
For Newcomers to Christian Faith
Christian Foundations: Grounding for a Life of Faith
Out of Wycliffe College, a graduate theological school rooted in the evangelical Anglican tradition, comes this small group resource. It’s an introduction to the basics of the Christian faith with a focus on these core questions:
- What is the story of Israel?
- Who is Jesus?
- How did the Church get started?
- What do all Christians believe?
- Why are there so many sorts of Christians?
- How can I grow in my faith?
- What is my part in the kingdom of God?
Each gathering includes prayer and shared reading of the biblical narrative, church tradition, and contemporary scholarship. They also include discussion of relevant issues such as refugees, the “spiritual but not religious”, literalism, and faith and politics. Short, interactive quizzes after each module strengthen learning and retention. The course is offered in a workbook available for $30.00 each from www.wycliffcollege.ca/christianfoundations
Whose it for: Those with no background in the Christian faith and those who want to refresh themselves on the basics of faith. People who enjoy a more traditional seminar approach to learning and don’t mind testing themselves on their new knowledge.
Developing the Life of Prayer
The VITA Retreat: Prayer that Makes us Whole
A homegrown resource! Following a successful four part pilot program called "Pro Vita Mundi", the diocese of New Westminster is launching the VITA Retreat: a three day prayer retreat for adults of all ages who are looking to refresh and renew their prayer and ministries. Using lectio divina as a guiding metaphor, the retreat leads participants in a range of prayer practices with a grounding in the beauty of God as revealed in creativity and Creation. Small groups foster relationship building and conversation about experiences of God in prayer. Daily times of corporate prayer rooted in the Anglican tradition round out the event. The next retreat is scheduled for March 22-24 at Loon Lake Retreat Centre in Maple Ridge, BC. Registration is open here: https://conta.cc/2TC8HAV
Whose it for: anyone needing a retreat and some refreshment through a generous approach to prayer. Those looking to reinvigorate their relationship with the Holy Spirit and bring that relationship more fully into daily life and ministry.
Spiritual Leadership for Lay Leaders
Designed specifically for all the hardworking lay leaders such as wardens, treasurers, committee chairs, and parish council members to grow in their spiritual leadership. It’s a ten month program designed by the Reverend Canon Dawn Davis, rector at Trinity Anglican in the diocese of Toronto. The program begins and ends with a day retreat and includes 3 six week modules that teach prayer practices, biblical study, small group facilitation, and ministry as call and vocation. Here’s an article about the impact it’s had on lay leaders: https://www.toronto.anglican.ca/2017/11/22/new-program-brings-lay-leaders-closer-to-god/
Whose it for: Lay leaders who want to take the next step in their spiritual journeys and link it to their ministry in the church. Clergy looking to strengthen the leadership of their parishes and offer nourishing practices to their core members.
Renewing Authentic Evangelism
Spirit of Invitation
A series of six short films with a small group resource to foster conversation and action around the practice of invitation in the church. It’s a refreshed way of looking at evangelism with an Anglican ethos. The resource is free for download and use and the creators freely invite users to adapt to their own contexts. The resource was developed by a working group in the diocese of Toronto.
Whose it for: parishes looking to reimagine what evangelism might look like and gaining skills in inviting people to experience the God who journeys with them.