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On the diocesan website, there is now a suite of tools to help with your planning for formation this Fall. They are all available in Adult Formation Resources. There is no rigid way to use these tools. Browse them for inspiration, delve into them to expand your parish’s learning, or contact the Missioner for Christian Formation to discuss any questions about them.

1.      Do you know what your parishioners want or need to learn?

Many times we cast around for the latest popular book to study during Advent and Lent and hope that it strikes a chord with folks in the parish. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Often the same people show up, faithfully, season after season. But what if you could find out what others might need or want? For example, did you know that the majority of people in our society find the most meaning in their families and work*? What if Christian formation helped them to integrate their faith and life where it’s most important to them? What if we could expand our formation offerings to be more person-focused? People are at different stages of life: retirement, newly moved, graduated, in recovery. Some are very new to the church; some are mature in their faith. Some work during the day or are taking care of children in the evening – their formation needs vary. One thing you might try is a simple survey to learn about when folks are most available, the areas of formation that they have most interest in, and what kinds of formats they prefer. There is no one size fits all. This survey can also be easily edited in Google to fit your context better.

2.      Once you’ve discovered the needs, where do you turn?

The next place you might look is the Areas for Christian Formation. This is a listing of programs, books, and curricula in a range of subject areas covered by the survey: Prayer, Life tasks/Milestones, Church Life, Justice/Civic Life. Many of the resources are either free or low cost, online, tried in the diocese, and Anglican. They could provide your starting point for offering formation that responds to the needs revealed in the survey. If you’ve found that you have a number of parishioners needing the basics of Christian faith for baptism or other needs, then you can also turn to this section. Or, if like most parishes in the diocese, you offer formation through bible study, then here is a page to refresh and engage more people with the study of Scripture.

3.      You’ve made some choices and you’re excited, now plan it!

Once you’ve made some decisions regarding who and what, now you can plot it out on a calendar. This is an editable calendar that I’ve shared with children and youth ministry leaders, but it can work for any formation event or series. It’s helpful to plan around seasons in the Christian calendar and have visible the dates of events like vestry, synod, and vacation times like Spring Break. It can help to avoid crunching things too tightly together and foster organic, thematic connections throughout the year.