Derek Olsen, one of the more interesting Daily Episcopalian columnists at Episcopal Café, wrote an article a couple of days back about the power of the Internet to be part of the solution to the challenge of Fixing Adult Formation. I’ve had some similar thoughts myself and was struck in particular by the following:
In short, I want to suggest that instead of wringing our hands about the state of adult faith formation, we realize that, for those of us reading these words now, a significant effort is happening online and that both learning and formation are happening based on what people find here.
It ain’t your momma’s Sunday School.
What of the budget cuts? An electronic acquaintance has a quote from Margaret Mead in his email signature: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I’ve thought about this quote frequently as I’ve surveyed the Episcopal side of the internet. What has dawned on me is that every major online resource that I use has been created by an individual with a passion—not by a funded church committee. Take Chad Wohlers’s site on the Books of Common Prayer or the currently anonymous bcponline.org. Ditto for Project Canterbury or The Lectionary Page or MissionStClare or DailyOffice.org or my own office site. Even the Episcopal Café itself—as far as I know—comes out of Jim’s own passion (and that of his dedicated news team)—with only web space coming from the Diocese of Washington, D.C.
Obviously, I’m a bit biased–having started this site as a personal labor of love–but I’m inclined to agree. Where I disagree is the extent to which Olsen elsewhere makes it look like formation material created online (even on the blogs) needs to be distinct from “brick-and-mortar Adult Sunday School classes and forums.” I hope that our Courses page will continue to fill up with offerings that very explicitly challenge that distinction.
In his action items at the end of the post, Olsen writes “we need someone who’s willing to bring some organization to all of this.” I totally agree and have some thoughts on this issue as well. More soon!