This title of this post is misleading, but misleading in a good way. It’s misleading because I have used the seven-session Animate Faith education series for adults, college students and youth. Of course, I’ve tailored it for each group, but the DVDs and leader materials are so multipurpose that I’ve found really cool uses of this curriculum with many different groups that I work with.
Animate Faith came out last summer, and our church used it as we kicked off our Adult Education class. We had a great turnout, and people really loved the curriculum. The videos were engaging and way more interesting to watch than some other theologically progressive Adult Education curriculums that I won’t name but are essentially just a collection of old, white, liberal men who just come off as talking heads.
We bought the personal journals, leader journals and the DVD, but (and I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this) you really don’t need the personal journals. I love the personal journals – they are engaging, filled with great Paul Soupiset artwork and a breath of fresh air from other “fill in the blank” type of participant materials that other curriculums might use. But not many of our folks used the journals very much. We could fill out time by simply watching the DVDs and having discussions.
The facilitator guides were super helpful, and were filled with way more topics, questions and discussions than we had time for in our 1 hr class period.
And that’s another thing I’ll mention. It is seven sessions, and so we planned to spend seven weeks on Animate for our Adult Education Class. But, we were limited to about 45 minutes on a Sunday morning before worship. And you know how classes go on a Sunday morning. By the time people showed up and were all there and ready, it was about 9:10, we probably started showing the videos around 9:15am and then really started to get into some good conversation around 9:25am. At that point, we only had about 20 minutes before the pastors had to go and get ready for worship.
There are many ways to use Animate. If you choose to use it for a Sunday morning class where you have limited time, I’d recommend setting aside two Sundays per lesson. Others might use it for a small group program, where they have more flexibility and more time for each of the lessons, and then perhaps one week would be fine.
As I mentioned above, I’ve had good success with showing the videos to college students, as well as some of my older youth in youth group. Each time, they get different things out of the video presentations, ask great questions and we’ve had really good conversations.
I think that Animate really stands out as something new and different in the world of Christian Education curriculum. Part of it could be the fact that I love everything that sparkhouse has been coming out with. But I think that the Animate series allows new voices to enter into the conversations in our churches today.
I was having a conversation with someone this past week about Marcus Borg. Now, I like Borg. He’s a nice guy, and I agree with him on many things theologically. But…to be blunt…he connects with an older generation. I think he, and all of those Jesus Seminar guys, are part of the “old school liberal theologians” who still have a place and who have done a lot of good theological work, but I think there are new voices coming into the conversation that connect with a broader audience.
I know some people who don’t like Borg, but will listen to Brian McLaren speak and read his books. I think McLaren and Borg are asking a lot of the same questions and trying to get people to a similar place theologically, but I think it’s much easier for some folks to listen to and hear from a McLaren, Scandrette or a Bruce Reyes-Chow.
So go check out Animate. You won’t regret it.
Or to see more posts about Animate over at Patheos, go here.