Integrating religious education means two things. First, that education and faith formation occurs not only in the classroom, but throughout congregational life - in worship, in social service and public witness, in small groups and in spiritual practice. From my experience and education in the theatre, I know there are things we learn through shared experience, ritual and performance that we cannot learn in more traditional instruction-based ways. Our children – and our adults – spend so much time as recipients of information, sitting at a computer, sitting at a desk, listening to others. Embodied religious education in the form of shared song and shared service, in conversation circles and in regular spiritual practice, can wake us up from this passivity our culture works so hard to instill.
Secondly, integrated religious education means that regardless of our age or stage in faith formation, we are all learners and teachers, and we are all equally invested in growing our community’s spirit and souls. Religious education does not just mean our programming for children, or youth, or even for families with younger children. It means all of us, invested in one another’s spiritual growth and the responsible search for truth and meaning. It means creating learning opportunities across generations, and it means that whether we are hosting specific age or stage-based learning opportunities, or creating intergenerational worship or educational experiences, all of these experiences serve the overall purpose of manifesting a unified church, committed to fulfilling our shared covenant across all our diversity.