Soul Matters Online RE
Approach & Structure
There’s no getting around it. Online church is complicated. All of us are trying out new things and preparing to be flexible in the face of the unexpected challenges that will surely come our way. To support you in this new landscape of diverse and flexible programming, we’ve developed a new and fairly complex pedagogy to guide our work. And yet at the same time, we’ve been working hard to keep our actual packets simple and user-friendly.
So, complex pedagogy and simple usage. That’s our aim. That’s our promise to you this year: We’re going to tackle this new complicated world of online RE head on, all the while making sure we provide you with a simple structure to help you make your way.
Which means we can begin this year with enthusiasm and confidence! Yes, it’s not going to be easy, but with a clear plan and by leaning on each other, it’s also going to be an exciting year.
In that spirit of excitement, confidence and partnership, here’s an overview of the pedagogy behind our packets and the work we plan to do for you and with you this year!
Our Pedagogy for Online RE
Our Approach in a Nutshell:
multi-use building blocks
to support four relationally based environments/ministries
that encourage “lead-with” strategies,
build off each other,
and are tied together by a thematic & actionable through line
Now let’s tease that out piece by piece…
Multi-Use Building Blocks
Instead of four weeks worth of class curriculum, our packets will now contain four sections of “building blocks” that you can use to create whatever kind of programming you offer: worship, small groups, mid-week storytime, etc. Each section is designed around a particular “lesson” or angle on the monthly theme. The building blocks in each of these themed sections include:
Four Relationally Based Environments/Ministries for Online RE
In this time of physical separation, we need to pay extra attention to the key relationships that nurture our children. So our packets support and encourage four distinct types of relationship and relationally-based environments:
It’s difficult to create compelling online experiences. Too often leaders assume they can create those compelling moments on their own using their skill and charisma. It turns out that doesn’t always work. Remember Mr. Roger’s secret? He always pulled in guests when engaging his audience. In other words, he “led with” rather than led.
So throughout our packets we will sprinkle tips for how you can pull in children, families and other co-leaders as you present your online programming. After all, it’s fine to watch your DRE light the chalice, but if you know your DRE is inviting one of your buddy’s families to light the chalice or help tell the story, you’ll be a whole lot more excited about tuning in. If you lead online yoga for families, that’s cool, but if you recruit a family from your church to lead it alongside you, twice as many families will show up. And sure, you can do a neat science experiment to illustrate the monthly theme, but if you do it with Sandy’s mom who is a chemist, that’s definitely something kids - and parents - show up to watch!
Programming that Builds Off Each Other (i.e. “passing the baton”)
As you know, Soul Matters was founded on the idea of bringing coherence to church life through monthly themes. Themes allow us to tie the various aspects of church life together. To enhance this commitment to connected programming, we will include programmatic “through lines” to compliment our thematic through lines. So the content and design of our RE packets supports what we call a “pass the baton” strategy. This allows what you do in worship to flow into your childrens’ small group. And what goes on in those small groups will set up and flow into your home life ministry. Which in turn will set the stage for the wider all-church activities you organize.
This is why our building blocks now include a “Take it Home” section. And why we’ve added a brand-new section called “Connecting with Other Families” which supplies you with plenty of ideas for special programming and events that bring church families together or mobilize them to engage their community.
Two Packets to Keep Things Simple
Structuring our packets around building blocks is not our only strategy to keep things simple and more user-friendly. This year we’re also separating out our material for younger and older children into two separate packets!
Two Age Groupings
Each month you will receive two separate packets divided by age group and their separate needs for online faith formation:
For youth, we distribute:
We heard loud and clear that online Zoom groups aren’t working well for this age group. So we’re curating resources for this age group that are action and object based - like embodied meditations, arts activities and Wonder Box elements, as well as activities that employ treasure hunt and “find & show” strategies.
Second Through Fifth Grades
This age is more comfortable with online meetings than the younger children, but still needs short, active, experiential small group activities to build their relationships and keep their attention. They are already spending a lot of time online getting information handed to them, so making sure RE is experiential is extra important. With this in mind, we will be leaning on 4 strategies to ensure compelling online interactive experiences:
And, of course, we’ve not given up on games! We will keep hunting for games that work well online. After all, spirituality without fun and silliness is, well, no fun at all! :)
For more information contact Susan: firstname.lastname@example.org. Soul Matters Sharing Circle LLC