Faith Formation Ministries recently announced the launch of Dwell Digital—online accessible versions of the popular curriculum’s leader materials, available this summer. The ministry also has hired a curriculum coordinator, Jill Benson, to provide personalized support to Dwell users and to oversee the ongoing refreshing of the curriculum. Faith Formation Ministries is a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church focused on helping churches grow faith for life.
The launch comes more than two years after the Christian Reformed Church’s Council of Delegates approved curriculum updates but had no funding for it. (See “Curriculum-solutions-approved, Little Funding Available,“ March 2017.) Last summer, Synod 2018, the CRC’s annual general assembly, said the financial commitment of the denomination will demonstrate that the development of Reformed curricula is central to our calling as the CRCNA.
Colin Watson, director of ministries and administration for the CRC, said the additions to the mandate required rebalancing of the denomination’s budget. “The Faith Formation budget has had to be increased to accommodate this new requirement,” Watson said. “There was not a decrease in other areas of Faith Formation. However, the entire budget for the CRCNA had to be re-balanced to ensure that this new initiative could be funded. So, simply stated, funding this new initiative comes from both ministry shares as well as funding appeals to individual donors.”
The support is welcome news to the Faith Formation staff. “When Jill joins our team in July, one of her first priorities will be building a Dwell community in which users can share ideas, ask questions, access training, and provide feedback,” said Faith Formation’s creative resource developer Karen De Boer. “We're so excited to be able to provide this kind of support to Dwell users. It's been a long time coming!”
De Boer explained that work on refreshing the children's resources has already begun. “Our reviewers were so impressed with the solid content and inclusive, vibrant artwork on each of those pieces that we will only be making minor tweaks (for example, updating images which appear out of date) when those pieces are due to be reprinted,” she said.
Dwell Digital has been in the works since January when Tim Postuma of Ministry Support Services said they began meetings with web developers. Cues were taken, he said, from the experience of others in the Protestant Church-Owned Publishers Association, influencing Faith Formation to continue to offer print leader guides alongside the digital versions.
“Dwell Digital will be helpful both for congregations who have used Dwell in the past and who are interested in giving their children's ministry teams the ability to access Dwell digitally and for congregations who have held off on trying Dwell because, although they wanted theologically sound curriculum, print leaders materials wouldn't work in their setting,” said De Boer. While the online leader materials are offered on a subscription basis (cost varies from $150 to $500 based on the size of program), Dwell Digital also will have non-subscription access to all lesson summaries that make reinforcing learning at home easier to coordinate.
“The part I'm personally most excited about,” said De Boer, “Dwell Digital will include a growing number of Dwell at Home resources to encourage and equip families to nurture the faith of their kids at home and which make the connection between church and home even stronger.”