Looking ahead to the Fall
For most churches, fall is a time of beginning or resuming classes for faith formation. We hope to help you with the work of discerning what type of learning your congregation needs to continue its journey of faith and carry out its mission. Below are resources that can help you choose a curriculum and plan your teaching year. We have highlighted book, video, and website resources we think are high-quality and worthy of your attention. Please contact us at Faith@Episcopal.co if you have questions, need support, or would like to share a resource of your own.
Choosing a Curriculum
Sometimes we focus on curriculum content before asking the important questions of what we are trying to accomplish, how formation fits in with our church mission and identity, and what resources and gifts we possess. The article Choosing a New Curriculum? Read This First! can help parishes and formation leaders be more selective in choosing curricula for all ages.
This 2018/2019 planning calendar comes pre-populated with major feast days, secular holidays, and scripture readings from the revised common lectionary. For a customizable calendar, download the Word version.
Online Video Resources
The following online resources can enrich your adult formation through the use of videos on a wide range of Christian themes. Use them to enhance your existing classes or to serve as the framework for a new course.
ChurchNext provides online Christian learning from expert teachers on topics ranging from liturgy, scripture, and church history to family, self care, and prayer. Videos may be used by individuals or groups.
On its web page The Work of the People provides this invitation to its users:
“Welcome internet travellers, to a place that hopes to guide you and provide you community on the journey of becoming fully yourself. The journey toward becoming fully human. This place is based on a Christian ethic, so some of us who consider Jesus the most human human, might call a journey toward our shared humanity a journey toward what the Christian tradition calls ‘Christ-likeness.'”
The Work of the People is a series of videos on topics ranging from beauty and justice to identity and vocation. Many of the presenters are well-known: Barbara Brown Taylor, Brené Brown, Brennan Manning, Richard Rohr. The videos provide thoughtful reflections that can be used as lead-ins for sessions of a faith formation series, or as the content itself for formation discussions. Check out video favorites here >
Individuals are offered a 30-day free trail of unlimited streaming and can then choose to purchase a subscription, from $7/month for unlimited streaming to $25/month for 10 monthly downloads, or $250/year for unlimited streaming plus 20 downloads a month.
Websites to Note
Building Faith, Virginia Theological Seminary’s Lifelong Learning website, is full of curated faith formation resources for all ages. There is no charge and users can subscribe to receive emails with information about newly reviewed items.
The Episcopal Cafe includes articles, art, and Podcasts that address contemporary issues around the issue of inclusion and empowerment: “The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition. The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity. Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.” Content can be used for personal reflection or to enhance group discussion.
Resources for Going Deeper into the Christian Faith
The Way of Love is Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s answer to the question, “How can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?” The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life provides a Rule of Life for what Curry calls “the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.” This Rule of Life embraces the practices Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest to help individuals, ministries, and congregations enter into a place of reflection, discernment, and commitment.
For each of the seven Rule of Life practices, The Way of Love provides a list of resources (see blue buttons at bottom of page) for exploring the practice and understanding how it plays out in daily life. (The list of resources is substantial.) The Way of Love is intended to be flexible enough for any format so that individuals, congregations, and groups can find unique ways to apply it to their needs. For example, book/study groups and faith formation classes might decide to work their way through the practices one at a time, or do an overview of the practices – drawing on select readings from the resources – before going deeper into a particular practice determined to be an area of growth for the group or congregation. The Way of Life Materials include a list of questions for each spiritual practice, helping individuals determine if and how they currently implement that practice.
Both an introduction to the Christian faith for newcomers and a good refresher for longtime church members wondering about basics of the faith, Transforming Questions helps to build community among seekers and longtime Episcopalians, those who are old and those who are young, those who are questioning for the first time and those who are questioning for the thousandth time. The following questions are posed and discussed:
Can we question our faith?
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus have to die?
What do we have to do?
How should I read the Bible?
Does God answer prayer?
Why do bad things happen?
Where do we go when we die?
Why do I need a church?
Where do we go from here?
Published by Forward Movement, the Transforming Questions curriculum is available for free online. There is also a companion booklet available called Faithful Questions, which can be purchased and used by class participants or individuals interested in digging deeper into the questions above.
Possible class formats:
If you have 100 minutes: Opening collect/welcome, meal and fellowship, presentation, small-group discussion, and closing collect/dismissal.
If you have 60 minutes: Opening collect, presentation, small-group discussion, closing collect.
Transforming Questions would provide a solid curriculum for a youth or adult confirmation class.
Questions on the Way responds simply and directly to the basic questions of faith, drawing from the catechism, An Outline of Faith, found in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP 845). In the introduction, editor William Swatos, Jr. writes, “It is certainly not the purpose of this book to replace the Prayer Book catechism…Our intention is to expand upon its content and to concentrate into one place much of the essential information upon which the Prayer Book catechism is founded.”
Audience: Inquirers, confirmands, anyone who wants to know more about the Christian faith as The Episcopal Church has received it.
Questions on the Way is available from Forward Movement for $4.00/copy.
This is the next generation of the classic Episcopal teaching series The New Church’s Teaching. “Visionary Episcopal thinkers and leaders have teamed up to revitalize the series with fresh voices and style, making it grounded and thoughtful enough for seminarians and leaders, yet concise and clear enough for newcomers.” The series currently consists of eight volumes, each with its own study guide, making it well-suited for both group discussion or individual use.
- The Episcopal Way, Eric Law and Stephanie Spellers
- The Episcopal Story: Birth and Rebirth, Thomas Ferguson
- A Faith for the Future, Jesse Zink
- Church Meets World, Winnie Varghese
- Formed by Love, Scott Bader-Saye
- Following the Way of Jesus, Michael Curry
- A Word to Live By, Lauren Winner
- Gathered for God, Jeffrey Lee and Dent Davidson
The Episcopal Tradition
These cards provide an engaging way to learn the parts of the Holy Eucharist. Distribute them in a newcomer’s or confirmation class, or keep a few sets as a resource for interested parishioners. The best thing about the cards is the photographs, which help convey the meaning, emotions, and spirituality behind the sometimes difficult vocabulary of our liturgy. Read more >
Discerning Spiritual Gifts
God has given us each unique and beautiful gifts.
Spiritual Gifts Inventory
Fill out the Spiritual Gifts Inventory to find out where your interests lie. Let this be a starting point on a grand adventure into self-discovery and a revealing of God’s Call in your life.