With the Covid-19 pandemic, online formation like online worship took on a new neccessity. This page is dedicated to online faith formation resources. These can be adapted in ways that make the most sense for you, and for folks in the parish. They even can be incorporated or blended into in-person small groups as well. If you want some quick tips on how to run an online formation session, you can read this post. You can also view a recent webinar on online Christian formation.
If you are interested in apps for prayer, see here.
If you love podcasts, here is a list for Christian formation.
Lesson Plans that Work: Downloadable, free, 1-2 page outlines for lectionary bible study. These adult bible studies from the Episcopal church are available for every Sunday's gospel reading. They are discussion-based. On the website, click on the "Gospel Lesson Plan" and then select the age group plan you need. Here is a sample outline. You can also get lesson plans for young children and youth too.
The Bible Project: A Youtube channel with short animated videos on biblical themes such as exile and covenant, introductions to biblical books and literary styles, and studies on key words found in scripture such as agape. These videos can make great, accessible introductions for group studies. They have an emailed weekly bible study that groups can use too. They are made by a Baptist seminary professor and his minister colleague. They are clear in their belief that the Bible has an overarching narrative arc that Jesus' life, death, and resurrection fully reveals. The videos could be shared in a Zoom call or pre-viewed and followed by facilitated discussion.
Bible Odyssey: A website with articles, videos, and images that offers current scholarly insight into the people, places, and themes of scripture. The videos are organized by subject and could be good discussion starters for bible study groups. It would be nice if the resources were indexed to the lectionary, but it's worth browsing and is an accessible introduction to biblical scholarship. Some good overviews of current themes in biblical studies like sexuality, post-colonialism, economics, and race.
Love Letters: A process of biblical meditation that can be used in meetings of many kinds to incorporate spiritual formation into church gatherings outside of worship. It's a Canadian Anglican resource produced by Canon Dawn Davis in the diocese of Niagara. It follows the Sunday lectionary and includes an opening and closing prayer, some thoughtful heart-centred discussion questions, and a suggested spiritual practice.
The Discovery Series: A video-based program made up of 5 units of 3-4 sessions each. The units include teaching on: worship, baptism, the spiritual journey, prayer, the bible, spiritual gifts, mission, and service. The whole course is free and includes facilitator and participant guides. For an online small group, you might want to simplify the format and or pick and choose which videos would work for your group's needs. The videos could be shared on Zoom or pre-watched, and followed by discussion. The section on spiritual gifts uses a particular inventory, but another one could be swapped in, like this one.
Note: it was produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, so it refers to the U.S., the Episcopal church, and the Book of Common Prayer at times (mostly in the first unit on Episcopal worship). You might want to give the group a heads up on that and supply Canadian material. However, it's a pretty solid overview of the core of Christian faith in the Anglican tradition.
Animate on ChurchNext: Geared more toward individual study, this course includes short videos of big-name theologians and teachers introducing core aspects of Christianity: (1) Faith (2) Bible (3) Practices. Each course includes short reading assignments, videos, online discussion, and even self-assessments. It could be done with a group but it might need participants to login to the course and then logout to discuss in Zoom or over email or some other program. It also costs $10.00USD per course (up to 9). It's pretty engaging and accessible material and it honours the big questions people have. The speakers include: Lauren Winner, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Brian McLaren, Bruce Reyes-Chow, etc. It could work well if there's only one person in the parish whose interested and available. Clergy or lay leaders could include a Zoom or telephone call to have further conversation and build relationship.
Book of Alternative Services online: A low-tech hack! Email the link to a candidate with the relevant page numbers and set up some phone conversations. If the person doesn't have access to email, you could print the pages from home and mail it to them. Beginning on pg. 146, you could start with a great bible study of all the passages listed in the middle paragraph that speak to baptism. Ask about meaningful experiences and images of water from their lives. Move through the liturgy and offer a time of meditative conversation, questions, and enjoyment of the rich imagery and scripture that accompanies baptismal liturgies. Pretty much the whole story of salvation is told through the “Thanksgiving over the Water” on pgs. 156 and 157.
Baptism: Sharing the Divine Life: Part of the SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist) series: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life. This is an essay on baptism that emphasizes the invitation and promise of Trinitarian life. It’s downloadable for free in an attractive magazine format.
Baptism: A Lifelong Celebration (2004): A video that is a bit dated but produced by the Anglican Church of Canada and a pretty accurate reflection of how baptism is celebrated in our church. It also includes discussion questions at moments to pause and engage the viewers. The video could be watched together and discussed at the paused sections.
Godly Play Story of Baptism: This 8 minute video offers a good introduction to the symbols of baptism, and yes, it was written for children's formation, but it allows the life of the symbols to awaken imagination and reflection. This could be very helpful for a family preparing for baptism of one or more of their members. If meeting in person is not possible, this gives a sense of the tactile experience of baptism too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Juatr2NVOeY
Celebrating Baptism (2016): A 3 part video series from the Episcopal church, which is attractively produced and more up-to-date, but features only one family and so is lacking in representation of the diverse range of candidates for baptism; it could be used as a supplementary resource. A nice feature is the group discussion guide offered for each video.
Education for Ministry: A four year program for lay people to gain a thorough grounding in scripture, church history, ethics and theological reflection. Participants commit to one year at a time and meet in small groups with a trained mentor. The Canadian website for EfM includes information about the program, cost, online options, and curriculum: http://www.efmcanada.ca/index.html.
There are four EfM groups meeting within the Diocese, and an online group. For more information: The Reverend Paula Porter Leggett is the Diocesan Coordinator for Education for Ministry.
SSJE - Small Group Series Designed mainly for Lenten small groups, the SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Anglican monastic order) have produced small group programs on a Rule of life, the Gospel of John, the Marks of Mission, and Symbols of the Church. Courses are all free and come with downloadable resources including participant and facilitator guides as well as daily videos and email reflections for personal participation. https://www.ssje.org/monasticwisdom/
The Sanctuary Mental Health Course: An eight week small group course to learn, explore, and discuss questions about mental health and faith. The course is available online and until May 31 is a free download during the Covid-19 pandemic. Each session includes a short film, discussion questions, and prayer. The course looks at mental health through a psychological, social, and theological lens. The course is ecumenical and made in Vancouver. Films include testimonies from people who have faced mental health challenges as a person of faith. https://www.sanctuarymentalhealth.org/sanctuary-course/
A five session program to develop a rule of life. Developed by Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora, Ont. and available as a free download, it includes a program guide and a participant workbook. Each session includes prayer, lectio divina, group discussion, and other resources such as video/audio. Participants come away with a filled workbook that outlines the commitments they desire to make in five areas: creation care, time, talent, treasure, well-being. Can be done individually or in small groups. The guide also comes with sermon and worship resources to align with Sundays during the program. Available here: https://www.anglican.ca/gifts/i-intend/
A free eight session video-based course for parents to grow in confidence and ability to nurture their children and teen's relationship with God. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, foster parents, and ministry leaders can also find lots to use in their relationships. There's an outline of how to adapt the course to a completely online version here. The website is clear and easy to use. It's produced by the UK based Bible Reading Fellowship which has Anglican roots and sponsors Messy Church - a family-based worship ministry used in the diocese.