RE Models

Below are some current formats that Unitarian Universalist Religious Education might take. Some are currently being used in congregations and some are dreams that may some day come to be used. In either case, I offer this list as a resource for those interested.

Option 1 – Classroom Curriculum, using curriculum based age-segregated classrooms, such as the Tapestry of Faith series, Bibleodeon, Compass Points, etc.

Benefits:
o    Known program in the congregation
o    Has strong foundation
o    Physical space is designed for running in this model
o    Already strengthening and building upon foundation
o    Staff & volunteer leadership is grounded in philosophy
o    Congregation has invested in this model
o    Sunday morning worship does not need to change
o    Curricula materials exist and can be used, either from UUA or other sources
Challenges:
o    Doesn’t easily match desire to move to multigenerational community
o    Inconsistent participant attendance
o    Adult volunteers becoming less interested and able/willing to make large time commitments, which this model is dependent on
o    Children/adults segregated (upstairs/downstairs church)
o    Adult volunteers teaching children can’t attend worship

Option 2 – Workshop Rotation: revolves around all children together to hear a single story repeated 3-4 times/month, then each week break into multi-age groups to engage in message of story through a variety of methods (i.e. movement, arts & crafts, discussion). This model generally includes some adult members of the congregation sharing their passion/skills in 3-4 week rotations, while other adults rotate with the groups.

Benefits:
o    Volunteer requirements are in smaller time-chunks
o    With more volunteers needed, allows for more multigenerational engagement
o    Sunday morning worship does not need to change
o    Adults who otherwise might not volunteer to work with children might volunteer/be encouraged to volunteer in order to share something they are passionate about, such as quilting, woodwork, etc.
o    Children who don’t attend weekly won’t necessarily be lost between sessions
Challenges:
o    Children/adults segregated (upstairs/downstairs church)
o    Demands much more administration & coordination from RE staff
o    Requires significantly more adult volunteers throughout the year
o    Each workshop needs to be written as they don’t yet exist
o    Adult volunteers teaching children can’t attend worship

Option 3 – Spirit Play: Sort of a mash-up of workshop rotation and Montessori educational philosophy. Classes are divided by ages and revolve around a central story each week. Once the story is read the participants are given freedom to use materials in the classroom to engage with the story in a multitude of ways.

Benefits:
o    Self-learners will thrive in this environment
o    UUS:E space is conducive to requirements of a Spirit Play classroom
o    Volunteer teacher prep is minimal
o    Sunday morning worship does not need to change
Challenges:
o    Spirit Play teachers must be certified through a Spirit Play training, which can be cost prohibitive.
o    Because teachers must be certified, pool of potential teachers can be limited by money, adult availability to attend training, training frequency and locations
o    Does not invite multigenerational community building
o    Adult volunteers teaching children can’t attend worship
o    Learners who need more structure will disengage from program/church or be disruptive to classroom environment

Option 4A – First Hour/Second Hour: Entire community worships together then breaks into multigenerational learning.

Benefits:
o    Whole community worships together every Sunday
o    Whole community learns together every Sunday
o    Relationships between generations forged
o    Regular attendance not necessarily important
o    Minimal volunteers needed to lead education
o    Families can worship and learn together
Challenges:
o    Creating Sunday morning worship to appeal to children and adults on a weekly basis
o    Adults who don’t like children may disengage from community
o    Finding educational materials that will engage children & adults simultaneously
o    Physical space for both worship and education may not be large enough
o    Some portion of community only attend one hour or the other
o    Minimal existing curricula available

Option 4B – First Hour/Second Hour: Entire community worships together then breaks into age-based groups for learning. Some congregations using this method run “traditional RE” (option 1) for the children during 2nd hour, or run 1-session workshops, discussion groups and/or adult RE multi-session curricula during that same 2nd hour.

Benefits:
o    Whole community worships together every Sunday
o    Relationships between generations are forged
o    Regular attendance not necessarily important
o    Curricula resources exist for both children and adults
Challenges:
o    Creating Sunday morning worship to appeal to children and adults on a weekly basis
o    Physical space may not be adequate for this model
o    Some members of community will not attend one or the other hour
o    Adult volunteers teaching children miss out on attending classes

Option 5 – Full Week Faith: a mash-up of good old-fashioned family ministry, first century-style mission driven church, and a faithful leveraging of technology and social media to expand the reach and breadth of our ministries.

Benefits:
o    Whole community worships together
o    Community becomes involved in one another’s lives outside of Sunday morning
o    Daily reminders and connections to UUism are supplied to members of church
o    Flexible model with many entry points for individuals
o    Provides concrete opportunities for living our faith in daily life
o    Through public acts of faith engagement, church becomes known in community

Challenges:
o    Creating Sunday morning worship to appeal to children and adults on a weekly basis
o    Radical shift in job descriptions of church employees, to allow for larger focus on community building and communication, less focus on preparation for Sunday morning
o    Sunday no longer central focus point of church
o    Staff need to be trained in use of social media, marketing, communication

Option 6 – Sacred Sunday, Worship Wednesday: Sunday morning serves as time when community gathers to engage in moment of centering/prayer and then activities that revolve around mission of church & passion of people, while Wednesday (evenings?) become a time when “traditional” worship service is offered, perhaps following a community meal.

Benefits:
o    Whole community comes together to engage in multigenerational passion-based activities each Sunday morning (i.e. justice activities, gardening, hiking, music, etc.)
o    Worship Wednesday brings community together for “corporate” worship mid-week, offering 2nd time in week when community gathers
o    Lifespan religious education happens organically through gathered community
o    Possible to better meet variety of worship preferences
o    Volunteers lead only what they are most passionate about
o    Could draw in folks who otherwise don’t participate in congregational life
Challenges:
o    Community worship is not focused on Sunday morning
o    Expects/invites people to attend 2x/week
o    May not be able to recruit enough volunteers to have a wide enough variety of activities to engage full community
o    May feel too radical to folks wanting traditional “church” experience
o    Week day evenings can be difficult for some families, particularly with small children
o    No traditional classroom-based Religious Education

Option 7 – Multigen, Multi-Modality Ministry: Sunday morning all-ages interactive worship, where “lessons” are taught during worship and offer moments of audience participation. (i.e. round tables are set up rather than rows of chairs and the sermon is a series of readings/quotes/sermonettes followed by questions that each table answers among themselves).

Benefits:
o    Community together on Sunday morning
o    Religious Education and worship integrated into one experience
o     Worship will be interactive, closer in style to youth worship, which may invite in youth and young adults who have drifted away
Challenges:
o    No traditional classroom-based Religious Education
o    Worship will be interactive, perhaps too much so for those who want to sit and receive

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Published in: on 17 May 2015 at 23.37  Leave a Comment