"Faith formation curators will need to develop sources they can trust for high quality religious content and experiences"
What is a Faith Formation Curator?
With both an increasing diversity of religious and spiritual needs across all ages and generations and an abundance of faith formation resources, faith formation leaders in churches will increasingly need to become content and experience curators. The emerging role of the faith formation curator is to research a wider variety of content and experiences available from a great diversity of sources, assess and evaluate its quality and appropriateness, organize the content, and then make available the content and experiences to people (delivery).
How does content curation work? Just as librarians help us make sense of the overwhelming number of books and periodicals available in a library, content curators identify, organize, and share information that will be most relevant to their prospects. Each of the following elements of curating religious content are year-round tasks. The process of curating is continual.
1. Research Resources & Stay Up-to-Date
Faith formation curators will need to develop sources they can trust for high quality religious content and experiences. Develop ways to stay informed on the latest resources as they become available, for example joining mailing lists (email or RSS feeds) or the Facebook pages and websites of publishers, colleges/seminaries, religious and community organizations, and online resource centers so that you receive regular updates on the publication and dissemination of new resources.
What do you curate? Consider the following: 1) congregational programs and activities; 2) community programs and activities; people resources in your church and community; 4) print, audio, and video resources; 5) art, drama, and music resources; 6) online content: websites, courses, blogs; and 7) apps and digital resources
2. Aggregate & Evaluate
Aggregation is the act of bringing together the most relevant religious content and experiences on a particular topic or religious/spiritual need into a single location, such as a website or blog or printed catalog. Religious content and experiences can be aggregated in a variety of ways such as 1) topically (Bible, theological themes), 2) age-appropriate faith formation themes and life issues, 3) milestones and life transitions, 4) individual Christian practices, 5) social justice issues, and so on. There are dozens of ways to aggregate content to address people’s spiritual and religious needs.
Faith formation curators find the best resources to address a target audience or particular spiritual or religious needs. They develop standards for evaluating faith formation activities and resources, such as biblical and theological content, developmental appropriateness, ethnic-cultural responsiveness, ease-of-use, quality of learning experience, and so on. Faith formation curators highlight the relationship between the content and the spiritual and religious needs of people so they can see how it addresses their particular spiritual or religious needs, interests, passions, concerns, or life issues.
Faith formation curators now have available an array of delivery systems for providing religious content and experiences to people. Today’s digital and online technologies make it possible to deliver content via websites, blogs, iPods, iPads, iPhones and smart phones. The extended faith formation models make it possible to deliver the content in different formats: on your own, at home, in small groups, in large groups, in the congregation, and in the community and world. Faith formation curators can literally provide faith formation for everyone, anytime, anywhere, 24x7x365.
One of the best ways to connect people with religious content and experiences (in physical and virtual settings) is via an online center at your church’s website or on a new dedicate website or on social networking platform. Even if a congregation is not able to incorporate an online faith formation center into an existing website, faith formation curators can create a new, dedicated website for faith formation using a service such as Weebly which even provides free hosting and tools for creating a website.
Develop a communications/marketing plan to keep people continually informed of all of the faith formation content and experiences offered by your congregation. Keep in mind a few key insights about communication:
- Demonstrate how the faith formation offerings respond to something within the lives of people. Connect to their religious and spiritual needs, interests, passions, and so on.
- Describe the 2-3 benefits of participating in faith formation.
- Get people’s attention by connecting to things that interest people.
- Explain how people can access the resources.
- Use lots of approaches to communicate: print catalog, brochures, church website, online ads, e-newsletter, email, Facebook page, Twitter messages, and so on.
John Roberto is the Director of Lifelong Faith Associates and editor of the Lifelong Faith Journal.