As I shared last month, this year Religious Education is designed to be “more than Sunday, more than one way.” Rev. Kathleen and I have worked hard to make sure that to the extent we have volunteers to make it happen, this congregation offers multiple forms of ministry for kids with different personalities, needs, and schedules.
This month we will complete what may simply be a first iteration of experiments with monthly congregationwide community dinners (followed by optional theme-based programs) and social action projects, and we will be collecting feedback about these programs in formal and informal ways. If you didn’t participate, was it because the schedule did not work or was there another reason? If you did participate, in what ways was your experience meaningful, and what suggestions might you offer for future iterations of the experiment?
One thing we have learned already in the “more than Sunday, more than one way” approach is that Sunday evenings seem to be the time when families are most reliably available. This is why we are planning to have our middle school youth meet for OWL on Sunday evenings, when they are less likely to have conflicts with sport commitments. One challenge this presents is helping the congregation remain connected, when families with children may not be physically present on Sunday mornings while the rest of the congregation is gathered. However, we have noticed parents and even children attending services online on Sunday mornings. What have you noticed? What would help you feel connected?
We have also noticed that special events, like the pumpkin-carving event we had in October, tend to have high attendance, whereas weekly commitments don’t invite the same commitment from families. This may make a program like OWL more challenging to offer, as it requires a constancy of attendance. This also challenges those families who are more available to feel connected when they are present but others with children are not. What information does this offer us about the best ways to do Religious Education in a new era? As always, I welcome your thoughts!
Warmly in Faith,