In many respects I am the product of a traditional formation path. Sunday school took place in a one room undercroft with about ten kids of a variety of ages. Because I was the only person my age, when it came time for preparation for Confirmation I went through a one-on-one course with a wonderful woman named Mrs. Cross. I attended a liberal arts college that required both Biblical studies and World Religion. I then went on to a three year residential Episcopal seminary where I received a Masters in Divinity.
And yet, a significant amount of my formation through the years has taken place outside of the traditional formation path. I began attending camp at the age of ten and, as most people know, that experience shaped and formed me in immeasurable ways. While I was in college I participated in a college and young adult group that forced me to dig deeply into many of my faith assumptions. Also during this time I began spiritual direction, teaching a high school Sunday School class and leading local and church wide youth programs. All of these experiences lead me into becoming an avid reader and attending a number of courses, conferences and retreats.
The reality is formation takes place in a wide variety of experiences and delivery systems. The other reality is that the once heralded “one-size-fits-all” method to understanding education may be the least effective. From cultural and contextual particularities to different learning styles, leading educators now believe in providing a much more flexible and adaptive approach to education. The same is true for formation.
With this in mind there is a strong and diverse cadre of folks in ECMN exploring a broad portfolio of options and opportunities for formation. They are focusing on meeting the formation needs and desires for those in the ordination process as well as all the baptized. Not an easy order, but an incredible time for imagination and innovation to, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, “…equip the saints for ministry.”