The Journey Pilot Group officially ended yesterday. 30 people gathered back in September to launch on an 8-month experience of spiritual formation. We traveled in five separate cohorts, comprised of 15 pairs of traveling companions. We watched twenty-four videos, read the Gospel of John and the book of Acts, met eight times with our traveling companions, eight times with our cohorts, and shared in three public worship moments, culminating in an affirmation of baptism at the Easter Vigil.
It is hard to say when the Journey actually began for me. Spiritual formation has been my passion for many years. I tried to create a self-paced, online spiritual formation journey during our years with Hart Haus (2002-2007), but the technology and my theology were not quite ready. The idea continued to marinate during my ministry coma and move to Minnesota (2007-2009).
The idea was reignited during the Deep in the Burbs project (2011-2015). My thesis advisor, Mary Hess, continually encouraged me to pursue the use of digital media for spiritual formation. The research in and with suburbanites reinforced the need to provide content that people can use in their own space and time.
The Journey tries to find the balance between embracing the radical autonomy and personalized time/space of the suburbanite, on the one side, with the desperate need for cultivating physical time and space for human connection, on the other. The individual work of watching the teaching videos and reading the scripture can be accessed online, anywhere, anytime. The planning of the traveling companions and the cohorts is completely up to the users, so the travelers can gather in time and space that fits into their world. The public worship moments connect the cohorts to a local congregation. I believe this is a redemptive use of digital media.
I am deeply grateful for the Pilot Group who tested the program with me. We had our official evaluation meeting yesterday. The general consensus is that it was a success. There were some valuable suggestions made to tweak the process to make it better, but, overall, the travelers found great benefit in having made the Journey. I will spend the next few weeks compiling their evaluations and writing up an official report.
I look forward to seeing what the Journey becomes and how it unfolds in the next iteration.