It’s that time of year when most congregations are gearing up for a new season of programming – Bible studies, small groups, children and youth ministry, as well as special sermon series and other events. This is the time of year when congregation leaders wish there were more hours in the day . . . or that they could clone themselves!
What if we could multiply the reach of all that program planning beyond the bricks-and-mortar spaces of the congregation’s facilities? What if we could reach people who can’t or don’t attend our programs in person, including our "spiritual but not religious" friends and relatives? And what if we could do this without a lot of extra staff and volunteer time to build new programs?
These are the questions that led veteran religious educator John Roberto to develop 21st Century Faith Formation – articles, books, workshops and trainings, and a resource-laden website. Using the example of a congregation planning a fall Bible study on the Gospel of Mark and promoting it on a single web page, Roberto explains that the traditional in-person Bible study on Wednesday mornings has limited reach. But it can be supplemented with an on-line video lecture on Mark by a college professor, an on-line daily devotional on Mark, a self-guided study of Mark that participants can complete on their own time. This expanded program allows anyone and everyone to grow from a study of Mark, whether or not they come to Wednesday Bible study. Additional resources like these are easy to find and come ready-made. And promoting the fall Bible study now includes links to all those options, as well as the sign-up sheet for the in-person events.
Rather than overhaul the congregation’s website to accommodate these communications, Roberto recommends using free (or low cost) and easy-to-use drag-and-drop websites (like Weebly and Wix) to begin offering a menu that participants can access from their phones. For more ideas on how to supplement your existing programming with these digital opportunities and how to reach those who are not reached by your current programming, contact the Center for Congregations.