10 Tech Tools for Faith Formation

Recently I was privileged to attend a workshop organized by the Institute for Christian Formation & Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary.  “E-formation Learning Exchange” was a two day event for Christian leaders (both professional and volunteer) organized with the objective of exchanging and expanding “knowledge of and confidence in technology to nuture spiritual formation, learning to engage a world in continual change.”  So many new ideas and cool websites!  I’ll write about becoming a Faith Formation Curator in another post, but in the meantime, here are a few free tech tools to test drive:

1. Find activities and ideas for faith formation at Curating Faith Formation , one of several websites offering a wide variety of resource links grouped either by age or formation area.  Take a look, for example, under Adult Faith Formation, at Spirituality & Prayer  or Justice & Service.

2. Publish a website with Weebly!  I actually learned about Weebly last year when my daughter published a website for her music studio.  I have used Weebly myself to create a central clearing house for school library databases and a personal online writing portfolio.  Lots of templates to choose from and easy-to-follow, intuitive directions.  Basic account is FREE.  (You can pay to add bells & whistles later if you choose.)

4.  Keep up with your To-Do lists with Astrid.  You can make and share all kinds on lists on this site.  One conference attendee said he uses Astrid to clear email: as he checks his email each morning he forwards the ones requiring an action to Astrid and uses those to make his daily To-Do list.

5.  Another option for clearing out that pesky email inbox is Google Reader.  I subscribe to several blogs, with posts which typically either serve as a distraction to my scheduled work or as clutter in my inbox until I delete them unread.  If you send your blogs to Google Reader, however, new blog posts will all show up there rather than your inbox.  Then all you have to do is use a coffee break to read through the various posts at one time.

6. Publish gorgeous email newsletters with Mailchimp.  Like Weebly, there’s lots of polished templates to choose from (or create your own).  Mailchimp offers a wide range of tutorials and training info on various ways to utilize their programs.  The basic subscription is FREE.

7.  Need really nice, really free images for your Mailchimp newsletter and Weebly website?  Try stock.xchngCheck the fine print but most of the images are FREE for nonprofit use.

8.  OK, this one is just for funIf this then that lets you set up all sorts of “recipes” for actions you would like to see happen.  Want a reminder to tell you when you need to wear a jacket to work?  Remind employees to turn in time cards?  Find your lost phone?  Have all sorts of quirky things happen automatically?  Try browsing the existing combinations in ifttt.com!

9.  With all this emphasis on social media, how about a lesson plan for Facebook?  Here is a thoughtful introduction for young adults on using social media from the Holy Geek   Be sure to also check out the Shirtless Dancing Guy while you are there–great visual lesson on leadership!

10.  And (finally), this is just the beginning!  Check out the E-formation tumblr site, where you can find all these and many more links!

What’s your favorite faith formation website?  What’s your best tech tool?  There are a multitude of new ways to connect, engage, involve, and reach our communities.  How will you build your church’s network?

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