I recently participated in a webinar sponsored by the Central East Regional Group (CERG) on an update to “Faith Formation 2020”. Here are a few tidbits from that webinar I wanted to share.
Faith Formation 2020 was a study and report commissioned by the Catholic Church to identify how the patterns of faith community participation have changed- and are likely to continue changing. The author, John Roberto, presented not one but several “scenarios” of the future of faith formation based on different ways people are likely to view religious institutions and the type of connection and participation people have with such organizations. You may have seen recent surveys illustrating the rapidly growing group of “Nones”- those who consider themselves “religiously unaffiliated”, sometimes identifying as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR). Within Unitarian Universalism, surveys have shown that while adult membership in congregations is at about 160,000; there are ~650,000 who identify as Unitarian Universalist but are not members of a congregation.
These are cultural trends religious institutions across the spectrum are wrestling with. While the way religious education/faith development/faith formation has been done will still appeal to a certain segment of the population, how can other groups be reached and participate in the Unitarian Universalist movement, albeit in new and different ways?
One of the recommendations from the report is to develop “faith formation networks” for your community. It starts by identifying a target group you’d like to reach and then identifying resources to meet their faith formation needs. This exercise is helpful as it orients existing resources and opportunities- such as Religious Education classes, worship, social actions- with additional resources that may be in the form of social media and online learning. Instead of faith formation centering around a physical building, the activities within a physical building are only part of the spectrum of faith formation opportunities made available to seekers.
You can peruse the following website for more information on the study and report http://www.faithformation2020.net/
What would a faith formation network based out of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills look like? What would it include that is unique to Somerville and Somerset County NJ?